Thumbnail photo credit to Steven Cook
Jonny Craig has struggled with drug usage for the better part of this decade. In fact, he’s struggled so much that he’s either left or been kicked out of three bands now. First, it was Emarosa in 2010, then Dance Gavin Dance in 2012, and, after some give-and-take, he is out of Slaves as of this year. While he is on mostly good terms with these bands (even touring with DGD while he was with Slaves, filling in on some songs), the consensus seems to be that he isn’t stable enough to fulfill persistent vocal duties.
Craig’s replacements had humongous boots to fill. Jonny’s voice is purely angelic, fusing deep soul roots with eloquent vocal techniques in all three of the aforementioned bands. Upon his second exit with DGD, Tilian Pearson (of Tides of Man) stepped up and went on to release four wildly-popular albums with the band, elevating their success to several headlining tours. Emarosa eventually found Bradley Walden, and gravitated more towards a refined, poppy sound near the end of the decade after some incredible post-hardcore outings. Slaves’ new vocalist, Matt McAndrew, was the runner-up for The Voice season 7. Only two songs have been released with Matt, but “Heavier” and “Prayers” are standout singles.
This is not to detract from Jonny’s efforts in these bands; Dance Gavin Dance’s “Downtown Battle Mountain II” is stellar, and an album that I consider to be one of their best, and this sentiment is echoed with Emarosa’s “Relativity”. Between his albums and his features, he has an impressive backlog. But his run-ins with the law, the whole “Macbook” scandal, and consistent use of hard drugs detracts from his public image immensely. None of the bands he was a part of have dissipated, and I believe that they have flourished without him.
Since Jonny has left Dance Gavin Dance, the band has charted at 42, 32, 13, and 15 in the Billboard Top 200. This meteoric success beats Jonny’s albums charting at 45 on the Heatseekers and 82 on the 200. Emarosa hit 191 and 69 with Jonny, where, without him, they hit 61, 132 and 137. The data shows that bands are either the same or better without Jonny, revealing that his departures do not contribute to bands being less successful without him.
Aside from charting success, these bands have all had touring success, plenty of merch sales, and dedicated fanbases following them through the rest of the decade, with all three gearing up towards new albums and large national tours. What do you think? Have Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa, and Slaves improved since Jonny Craig left them? Sound off in the comments below!
(Editor’s Note: We do not condone any of Jonny Craig’s actions that have harmed others – this is merely a discussion to examine whether bands flourish (as they seem to) when Jonny Craig isn’t in their band.)