Arts & Entertainment

Experimental Rock Band Dance Gavin Dance Masters Composing Funky, Energizing Music

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Despite bands having to cancel tours and push album release dates due to the coronavirus, experimental rock band Dance Gavin Dance decided it didn’t want to keep fans waiting longer for its ninth studio album “Afterburner,” released April 24. 

“I get excited everytime we release a new album, just to show the progression of musicians we’ve become since the last album to this one,” drummer Matt Mingus said in an interview with The Phoenix. “It’s been recorded for four or five months now, so we’ve just been sitting, waiting to release it.”

The 13-song album incorporates colorful, funk-style guitar riffs with fast drumming and a variety of sounds, including whistles and electronic drums. The contrast between singer Tilian Pearson’s melodic falsetto and Jon Mess’ loud screams has allowed Dance Gavin Dance to create a sound that’s uniquely its own. 

Mingus said the band’s songwriting process is “not really consistent these days, but that’s what helps give the album texture in a kind of way, the different methods we use for writing and collaboration.”

Dance Gavin Dance plans to release an instrumental version of the album, as it has done for previous albums, according to Mingus.

“I was so stoked when we finally did that, because like I said all of our music is written first, so the songs sound nice and still sound good without vocals,” Mingus said. 

Mingus said he found a lot of inspiration for the album in bands that Dance Gavin Dance has toured with recently, such as metalcore band Veil of Maya and progressive metal band Periphery. 

“We try to gain influence from all over the place whether it’s the guitar music scene or reggae music or rap,” Mingus said. 

Beginning with a high school drumline style beat, “Calentamiento Global” is a catchy Latin-style tune mostly sung in Spanish.

“I’ve always been a fan of Latin music and I was in school band and we’d always do Latin pieces in jazz band, so it’s always fun to incorporate small pieces into Dance Gavin Dance, but to do an entire song like that is pretty cool,” Mingus said. 

For the song “Three Wishes,” the band asked fans to send in videos of themselves cleaning around their houses to be a part of the music video for the song. 

“We figured why not have our fans be a part of it,” Mingus said.

Mingus said he and his bandmates have been throwing ideas around on ways to connect with its fans while being stuck at home and unable to perform on tour. 

Dance Gavin Dance released a drum playthrough of Mingus performing “Prisoner” on the Rise Records YouTube channel April 22, something it plans to do for more songs over the coming weeks. 

The song “Strawberry’s Wake” serves as a continuation of the band’s infamous “Strawberry Swisher” series that dates back to its 2009 album “Happiness.” The series is a collection of songs over multiple albums that sound similar and have strawberry-themed song titles. 

Mingus said the series began as just grouping songs together based on their sound and was pretty random, but now there’s more thought put into it. 

“It’s funny how it started with a song called ‘Strawberry Swisher’ and now it’s evolved to ‘Strawberry’s Wake,’” Mingus said. “I think that started because Will and I smoked weed out of a strawberry swisher blunt when we wrote that song and then we just called it that.”

Mingus said physical copies of “Afterburner” will not be available for a few months due to the coronavirus, but fans can still support the band by purchasing the album or streaming it on available platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

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