Posted March 13, 2013 by Jeff in Tunes

Jonny Craig: Sounding more like himself

Jonny Craig
Jonny Craig

Singer Jonny Craig has been in and out of pop/punk acts for the past decade. But since getting the boot from Dance Gavin Dance last year, he’s decided to devote himself fully to his solo career and pursue soul and R&B music rather than pop-punk. The decision makes a lot of sense since he has a voice well-suited to soul/R&B. He recently phoned in to talk about his current tour, which will emphasize a few newly written songs and allow him to bust out covers of tunes by Amy Winehouse and Justin Timberlake.

You just started the tour. How’s it going?
The first night of the tour was sold out and we’ve been selling a lot of the new sweatshirts with the new logo that I designed on them. It’s been amazing. In Albuquerque, we hit a bit of a rough spot and some funny stuff happened. There was this super annoying chick at the show. I don’t know she was. At the end of the night, we just shunned her and she stole our van keys that had the electronic starter . . . we had to call a locksmith and shit. I posted something that said, “Whoever this bitch was that stole our keys, thanks a lot. You just cost us a lot of money.” Some other dude said it was his girlfriend and I drugged her. That chick was not hot enough for me to drug, you know what I’m saying?

What are you including in the set?
I’m doing two new songs and one of them I haven’t even released yet. I’m doing a lot of the old stuff and some acoustic covers of [Justin Timberlake’s] “Cry Me a River” and “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse and “Rolling Stone” by The Weeknd. There’s a bunch of good ones in there.

You’ve said that music helped you cope with a difficult childhood.
It wasn’t that it was difficult. My parents got divorced at a young age. My mom moved us up to Canada when I was 8 or 9 years old. My mom worked two jobs to keep me and my sister happy. I never saw my mom and that bummed me out as a kid. That was the roughest part of my childhood. I’d come home from school and she’d come home at 8pm and we’d eat dinner together and she’d go to sleep so she could get up at 6am. I saw my mom for about two hours of every day. That was rough.

How was it that your grandmother introduced you to music?
It was more that she was super religious and would sit me down and we’d watch these Christian concerts. Ten or twenty people would be singing parts of songs and soloing. It was insane. I realized I wanted to sing like that . . . I decided what kind of singer I wanted to be from that. I think she knew what she was doing. I think she knew I could sing.

Now, I just want to focus on what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I want to be an R&B singer.

I know you grew up listening to Michael Bolton. But when did you discover indie rock and/or punk rock?
Michael Bolton really was an influence. My mom used to clean the house and shit and she’d play Michael Bolton. The best thing I got from him was the mullet. I went to pop punk and then I moved into more of singing my own style, like R&B, Boyz II Men and boy bands, too. When I moved to California, I had a complete identity change and started bringing my own style to the music I was playing. [Dance Gavin Dance] fit into the metalcore scene. Now, I just want to focus on what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I want to be an R&B singer.

You joined your first band when you were 15. That’s really young. Looking back on it, would you have done anything different?
I don’t think so. I don’t think I would change it. The people I’ve met have showed me so much. I’m more partial to bands that have good singers.

I’m not the kind of person who is going to just sit down and take things.

Talk about playing with Dance Gavin Dance.
I moved down to Sacramento when I was 18 or 19. It was a good living experience. I moved to a brand new state. I didn’t know anyone, but just wanted to play music. Later [bandmates] started to clash and see things differently. I had a drug problem and they let me go and then I came back. We tried to do it again and we realized it was more than just the shitty way I was acting. We want different things and there are so many different people in the band, it’s hard to get what you want without someone bowing down. I’m not the kind of person who is going to just sit down and take things. We had a good run. It was a lot of fun.

I think your solo album A Dream is a Question You Don’t Know How to Answer is fantastic. At that point, why didn’t you just pursue a solo career?
I was just touring full-time and right after that I was in Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa at the same time.  There was no time for me to have a full solo career. I wouldn’t go back and change it because now I’m full-blown solo and shit and I’m starting to make the music that I feel is more me and has more of an identity to it.

Tour Dates






















Mission, TX @ Never Say Never Festival

Austin, TX @ SXSW

Austin, TX @ SXSW

Dallas, TX @ South By So What Festival

San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit

Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box

Atlanta, GA @ Purgatory

Wilmington, NC @ Soapbox

Richmond, VA @ Kingdom

Springfield, VA @ Empire

New York, NY @ Studio

Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose

Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s

Detroit, MI @ Pike Room

Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge

St. Louis, MO @ Firebrand

Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre

Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue

Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades

Lancaster, CA @ Industry Theatre

San Francisco, CA @ The Parkside


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.