INTERVIEW: Kurt Travis (23/08/2010)

Upon hearing the news about Kurt Travis‘ recent departure from Dance Gavin Dance‘s (or DGD if you want to keep it short) lead vocalist and being replaced by original member Jonny Craig, lots of speculation and rumours were created as to why and how Kurt left the group he’s been working hard with since 2007. With no official word from him we thought we’d catch up with him ourselves and see what really happened, how it happened and what he’s getting up to now.

Zach: So since the whole news about your separation from DGD was announced you’ve kept pretty quiet Kurt, how’re you holding up?
Kurt: I’m pretty good thanks, I’m just relaxing at home. It’s been nice to see my family.

Zach: In some sources it’s said you left and others it’s been said you were asked to leave, would you be able to clear that up a little bit?
Kurt: I definitely was never going to quit, so yeah, I got kicked out. The band told me that they were going to break up because they weren’t happy with it, but before they did they were going do a tour with Jonny and just do ‘Downtown Battle Mountain’ songs. Things didn’t really happen the way they told me it seems. Oh well.

Zach: There’d been a lot of changes in line-ups, due to people leaving or being kicked out and new people being added into the band, do you know the story behind any of these changes?
Kurt: Well, ever since I joined the band, the line-up changed almost every tour. Jon and Eric left at the same time, so I asked my best friend Jason Ellis to play bass on tour and write our next record. I knew that he was doing me a favour and that he was only a temporary fix, and then I recruited Tim Ferrick to take his place. Everything seemed pretty good at that point, but Zachary Garren and another member seemed to have some issues with one another, thus led to him getting kicked out. Meanwhile, we had a tour in Australia to be played and I had wanted to say something close to a week and a half to practice. Bad decisions were made in my opinion at that point, but I felt I should press on despite the situation. Then we got Tim Ferrick‘s best friend Daniel Snook to play in Zachary Garren‘s spot. Dan went on one tour and Tim and Dan decided to quit. Tim had issues with another band member that were irreconcilable and Dan went with him. This was right after our European headliner with In Fear And Faith and we already had another tour booked in the US with Silverstein, so that woud mean we’d have to find two new members. Kids were already pissed off about all the member changes, and I was running out of musicians I thought were right for the part. I quickly asked two friends that were in one of my old bands called No Not ConstantJosh Benton and Tony Marks – to fill the missing parts for the Silverstein tour. I also asked Jon Mess if he’d come back to smooth things over and was pretty stoked that he came back to help us out. Finally, after a great tour the band decides to give me the boot. I can’t say I was surprised, I never knew what to expect with DGD and had no say in anything as far as band decisions which I felt was unfair, but what can you do?

Zach: Due to the constant changes over the past few months, did you ever expect your leaving to happen or was it a very sudden thing? In an interview with AltPress Jonny Craig said he’d been invited in on a few sessions you were having for him to sing along with you on some tracks?
Kurt: Like I said, I wasn’t too shocked when it happened, I was just trying to stay in DGD as long as I could, knowing one day it would come to an end. Tim had always hinted that I was next (getting kicked out) and that I should go with him, but I felt that it was beneficial for me to ride it out. I’m not a quitter, especially when it comes to music. As far as Jonny and I collaborating, it was in the works with a side-project that members of DGD were working on, not the actual band. Now I’m not sure what they have planned for the material that we were going to both sing on.

Zach: Have you spoken to any members of DGD or Jonny Craig since it was announced you were no longer in the band? Is there any bad water between any of you?
Kurt: I’ve always kept in touch with Jonny. He’s one of my longest friendships before, during, and even after me being a part of DGD, even now we laugh about what has happened. I’m actually helping Jonny out right now on his upcoming solo tour playing guitar, piano, and maybe some back-up vocals if we figure it out in time. We hit the road on September 8th and it’s going to be some much needed distraction from my current goals at hand. Jonny told me that he knows how I feel, and when he got kicked out of DGD it was depressing for him, because all he wanted to do was to get away from bullshit and go back out on tour. He’s really helping me out mentally, getting my mind off the concept of rejection that I’m feeling right now from working so hard for almost three years in DGD and having it stripped away from me. As far as the members of DGD there’s no bad water between us, although I do realise now that me being a part of the band was completely business, and not long lasting friendships. None of them have contacted me since I stepped out of the van when we got home after the Scream It Like You Mean It tour. When you spend so much time with certain people, you’d think that there was at least some friendship, but I’ve realised that it was only on the surface. It’s very sad because I love them all and wish the best for them, but I don’t think it’s mutual. I may be wrong. I hope I am.

Zach: But it’s not all bad, word on the street is you’re working on some other projects, anything you can share with us and inform your fans on?
Kurt: I’ve always been writing music for myself. It’s therapeutic for all people to have an outlet, mine is writing/playing/creating music and I’ll continue to do so until I die, whether it be successful or not. I have about ten songs, some recorded myself as a reference. When I came back from the Silverstein tour I’d already planned on working on a solo record not knowing that it would soon be my main focus by force. I’m planning on writing exactly that, a solo record as well as putting together a full band that will consist of tentatively Tim Ferrick, Zachary Garren, Daniel Snook and others I can’t say that will be more in the vain genre of progressive post-punk, whatever that means. Zach and I have been bouncing around ideas as well as Tim and Dan via e-mail, and things are moving quite quickly. As soon as I get done with Jonny‘s solo tour I’ll be diving into that project as well as finishing my solo record. I’m an extreme OCD perfectionist so things might come together slowly, but at the pace everyone else zealously works it should happen sooner than later. I’m excited for the future whatever it may have in store for me.

Zach: Sounds like you’ve got a lot of exciting stuff builing up then. Do you any words of advice for people starting up/joining bands?
Kurt: The music industry is a cut throat business. Nowadays, it’s integrity is musically gone to shit in my opinion, so the advice I would give kids starting out is don’t write music for anyone but yourself. It might not be the most successful, or maybe it will, but if you’re more concerned about your image than your material then maybe you should ask yourself what you’re getting out of it in the first place. For anything in life, you should ask yourself what is right for you, first and foremost. It may sound self-centered, but no one is going to look out for you in this world but you. It’s sad but it’s the honest truth. Also in any genre, i don’t care what style you want to play, look to the past for inspiration. In any music there’s A, B, C, D, E, F and G, then it goes back to A aside from sharps and flats. My point is the masterpieces in all music have already been written, until you make one. All music at this point is regurgitated and watered down which is fine, but learn from the past. Let it influence you, and make it your own. The more music you listen to and can appreciate, even if it’s not your “cup of tea”, will inevitably find its way through you whether you notice it or not. Just like studying for an exam, you must study the craft that you wish to master.

Zach: Any final words you’d like to give to your fans or get off your chest in this interview?
Kurt: Definitely! I love every single one of you that have supported what I love to do and are still supporting me! After the upcoming tour I’ll be busy writing, recording, and hopefully touring soon on my own! From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all of you beautiful people on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking avenues that have voiced their opinions and love. You have reached out to me and have encouraged me to press on. For that I owe you everything! Thank you very much, and I hope to see all of you on the Jonny Craig solo tour that I’m playing on.

Written by Zach Redrup