Fresh off their release of Downtown Battle Mountain II, Dance Gavin Dance has been trekking through the United States with a slew of bands on the Downtown Battle Mountain 2011 Tour. At their recent stop in Cleveland, Ohio, vocalist Jon Mess took some time to sit down with us to talk about the band's newest album and what life has been like for Dance Gavin Dance on this tour.
[email protected]: For the record can you say your name and what you do in Dance Gavin Dance?
Jon Mess: My name is Jon Mess and I do screamed vocals.
[email protected]: You guys are currently on a headlining tour with iwrestledabearonce in support of your new record Downtown Battle Mountain II, how’s the tour going so far?
Jon Mess: Yeah, we’re on the Downtown Battle Mountain Tour with iwrestledabearonce, In Fear and Faith, Just Like Vinyl and Close to Home. And we’re about three weeks into the tour. And... it’s going well.
[email protected]: This is your first major run of shows back with the Downtown Battle Mountain lineup, what about the touring and recording life made you come back to this environment?
Jon Mess: I came back last year when they asked me to. And I accepted, it was over the summer. I didn’t have anything going on at the time, which transpired into the new record. Which they asked me to do as well, and I said yes. And that transferred into touring which I also agreed to, mainly because I did a record. You can’t really do a record and then not do a tour. Sort of a necessity.
[email protected]: Dance Gavin Dance released Downtown Battle Mountain II earlier this month. How do you feel about the reaction it has received both critically and from the people coming to see you guys play songs off of it on this tour?
Jon Mess: It’s been a lot better than I thought really. People are enjoying the new record, they seem to be catching on really quickly. Usually when you start playing new songs people aren’t as excited, the crowd kind of dies down. Maybe not for the singles that you release, but for the other stuff. We’ve been playing a lot of songs that weren’t the two singles and people are really liking them, which is great.
[email protected]: Do you think part of the draw has to do with the reformed lineup, more specifically with you and Jonny [Craig] returning?
Jon Mess: Maybe? I’d like to think its because they enjoyed the songs. But yeah, people are enjoying the lineup as well, I think its high energy for them. Or at least that’s the response that we’ve seen.
[email protected]: If you would have named it something else, do you think it would have been different at all?
Jon Mess: We named it part two not because it’s musically the sequel but because its the lineup the sequel. It’s not because we set out to make a sequel to the album. We just named it that because there’s been so many member changes and this album has that lineup and I think people are enjoying that. Getting to hear the old stuff that we didn’t really get to tour that much on or at least tour extensively in terms of larger audiences getting to hear those songs. So I think that’s a big plus for the draw of the tour.
[email protected]: What are some things either personally or as a band that you think influenced you with recording this time around?
Jon Mess: Well, there was no real timespan with which we had to record and write. Much more of a relaxed environment this initially. That kinda played into Will [Swan]’s creativity with both guitar parts being able to spend more time on it. I pretty much approached the record the same way I have any other music. I wouldn’t say there is any influence for me. Maybe a little more chaotic and not making sense this time around. We don’t have any direct influence like our situations like a death or move or something like that.
[email protected]: One of the bigger criticisms of the first DBM was with the vocal delivery of both you and Jonny, and though personally I enjoy both, there is a definite difference this time around on the recording. Is there anything that you think helped make things a little cleaner on this record?
Jon Mess: I think the new one sounds better. It may not be more cohesive in terms of making sense together. It sounds better because we had more time and I’ve practiced more. We’re older and have gotten better, or at least that’s how I feel. I don’t know if that was a good answer.
[email protected]: You ended up going with Kris [Crummett] again, the same man you’ve been going with since the first DBM. Is there a pretty good comfort level now that helped the band out? Did you ever think of going with someone else?
Jon Mess: We were gonna go with Matt Bayles from Seattle, who did Botch, Minus the Bear, Fall of Troy records. We didn’t go with him mainly because, well Kris did the first Downtown Battle Mountain and thought maybe we’d keep going with him. We don’t really need a producer cause everything’s already written so we don’t anyone helping us structure songs or any of that. So it’s more picking from that perspective on how good they mix or how good their ears are, how well they track. Kris is really good at both of those.
[email protected]: Do you think it would have turned out completely different if you would have gone with Matt?
Jon Mess: I’m sure the tones would have turned out differently. Matt probably isn’t used to recording Jonny’s vocals and the way that he approaches it and Kris is really good with him on that. It probably would have made things more difficult. And I’m used to working with Kris. Yes, maybe it would not have been as good, but I don’t think who we record with matters necessarily in terms of how the songs come together because they are already written beforehand.
[email protected]: Do you think there would have been a huge difference in what this album would have sounded like if it were recorded after Downtown Battle Mountain as opposed to after all of the member changes and reformation?
Jon Mess: Yes... sure. It’s really hard to predict something like that, but you can speculate all day on how it would have sounded. I mean, Will’s always said he writes his songs with the vocalists in mind, so the songs would have sounded different. If Downtown Battle Mountain II was with Kurt, Will would have written the songs in line with what Kurt would write, so the songs would sound different yes.
[email protected]: Changing gears a bit, would you say the band has experienced any sort of backlash given the situation that has occurred with Jonny coming full-circle?
Jon Mess: Different fans not supporting? We have a lot of ‘Where’s my Macbook?’ getting yelled out and various things. I mean the band doesn’t really care cause the people came to the show and paid money to see us. If they wanna yell out ‘Where’s my Macbook?’, then whatever. I guess its a joke and at the same time kind of sad. We thought there would be people trying to come and fight Jonny, but nothing like that has happened.
[email protected]: But nothing really malicious?
Jon Mess: No really nothing at all. Maybe one or two kids yelling a few things and Jonny getting kind of upset. Really nothing to tell, honestly.
[email protected]: On the flipside, do you feel like there has been any outreach from some of your more loyal fans?
Jon Mess: Yeah, I could say some fans would be more apt to say the ‘I’ll stick with you guys’ kind of idea. Almost seems like people are oblivious to it, like the people at the shows. They just came to hear the music. They really don’t care. Jonny still has the same amount of people coming up asking for autographs and saying i love you as he did before this happened. I guess some people don’t care, some people do.
[email protected]: After this tour wraps, you’ll be heading to Europe until you take part in Warped Tour, are you excited to take this record to Europe and take part in Warped Tour?
Jon Mess: Yeah, I think it should be really fun. It’ll be a hard tour, Warped Tour at least. After the summer we’ll see how well the record did basically and where we go from there it’s pretty much what the future of the band will be.
[email protected]: Do you think it was a better idea to do the headlining run now instead of just hopping into Warped Tour?
Jon Mess: Definitely, it goes more will the publicity from all the situations arising. But yeah, it was a much better idea financially.
[email protected]: That’s all the questions I have for you, is there anything you’d like to add for those reading?
Jon Mess: Trying to get together something explaining my lyrics. People seem to think... there’s explanations that some things need. Some things mean stuff, some don’t. Hopefully I’ll get that done soon.
[email protected]: Everyone wants to know where you get your lyrics from.
Jon Mess: I get that all the time. And I don’t know how to answer that really. That’s why I’m going to get that out there.
Downtown Battle Mountain II is now available through Rise Records. You can read our review of it here.