Greeted by the tour manager for Dance Gavin Dance at the door at Scout Bar in Houston, I’m met with a quick handshake and friendly smile before being led to one of the bar tables in the back of the venue. The guys are finishing up their sound check for their third consecutive sold out show of the Instant Gratification tour, and even just through something as simple as checking sound levels of microphones and guitars, it’s obvious why. They’re in sync with each other, clear, focused on the music. When it’s finally wrapped up with an unidentified “Whoop!”, one of the guitarists carefully puts down his gear and walks over to me with a grin. It’s none other than Will Swan, one of the still standing founding fathers of Dance Gavin Dance, and after watching them play I’m more curious than ever. Luckily for me, he’s willing to fix that.
Adra: First of all, how’s tour life treating you so far? Are there any crazy stories yet?
Will: It’s been good. It’s been really good so far. On the last tour we just got off of, which was with Memphis May Fire, Crown the Empire and Palisades, I’d say probably the most fun thing that happened was that a couple of days into the tour, Matty Mullins sat us down and had a band meeting. He was like, “Hey, I bought everybody pizza, let’s go hang out and get to know each other.” So we go to the room, we start eating pizza … and that was cool. Then there was music playing, and we were dancing, and then dudes started making out. It was pretty crazy. It kinda turned into this full fledged orgy. There were Crown guys on Memphis guys, Memphis guys on DGD guys, DGD guys on Palisades guys. Turned into a huge group of naked leapfrog.
A: Not even naked twister, huh? We’re taking it to a whole other level.
W: Well, that was after the naked leapfrog. [laughs]
A: The newest album, Instant Gratification, was just released about a week ago. What’s the reaction to it been so far, and what does that mean for you?
W: It’s been really good. I’ve heard a lot of good criticism. Every record we’ve had, we’re not sure how it’s going to be received. Because it’s just like, different singer, different whoever, and fans are like “oh my god, what happened?” But having Tillian back to back, and Jon back to back for the second record – for the first time, having back to back the same vocalist in a long time for us is really cool. I think fans are happy that we have a little stability. The reception’s been great. Across the board, we’ve been getting great reviews and great feedback from everybody. That feels good. We’re still going to do whatever we want to, because I don’t really write for people to love it, as much as I want to write to make an awesome record. But having that feedback is great, and it means great things for us. We’ll have more opportunity to play with bigger bands, to different audiences, and just spread the music around.
A: And would you guys say you have a favorite song that you play live, or one that the crowd reacts to specifically more?
W: We’re brand new at playing these songs. We don’t leave too many songs off each record, eventually everything gets played. We find out what’s our favorite, what gets the best crowd reaction. On this tour we’re on now, we’re playing four new songs. “We Own The Night” gets great response, fans go crazy for that. “Eagle Vs Crow” is big, and I get to rap, so that’s fun. Just for the difficulty factor in pulling off that rap, because it’s new.
A: Were there any little known facts about writing the album, or anything interesting that went into the making of it?
W: It was written like all the DGD records are, pretty much. We’ll sit down, write the music – the music gets written before any of the vocals, once the vocalist gets it then we go and record. We never really have a producer be like, “Oh, do this, and we’ll spice it up here.” I would freak out if we had a producer that was imposing like that! That’s pretty much our typical DGD recording cycle, you know, music writing, vocal writing, recording. It hasn’t been any different, and I think keeping that same cycle has helped us keep our sound too.
A: Lastly, since this is the second album in a row that the band has been solid, what do you say that you would see in your future as a band now?
W: Looking into the future for DGD is pretty much impossible. I’d have to have a crystal ball, and even then I’d have no idea.
A: So I guess a better question would be – what do you hope for?
W: I definitely just want to keep spreading Instant Gratification around, and hopefully get to go into the studio with the same group of dudes and write something else really cool that we’re happy with. It’s kind of a long haul project, especially with the fact that we’re ten years deep now into the band, and I’d go more years. It’s been fun to watch it build, and right now it feels like a peak that we can keep climbing. I just want to keep moving uphill, and hope that the future holds good things. *