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The Transformation of Downtown Battle Mountain: Then and Now

I had a very unique childhood, or more accurately put, my mother put me on to artists I still listen to today, which probably makes me sound like a pompous idiot. But that previous statement would be inaccurate if I didn’t still listen to Dance Gavin Dance’s first LP entitled Downtown Battle Mountain. I’ve written on this band before for the blog, but after last year’s release of Afterburner, I figure it is best to dive back into how this album has changed as I listen to it now and what it represented for me back then.

I grew up on classic rock, as many metro Detroit kids in the suburbs do, probably because even at present, some people do not like to be imaginative and change with the times. As a result, I realized I was constantly looking for music that was in the hard-rock and metal realm. When my mother somehow found these Sacramento emo boys, my ears were delighted. What kind of parent lets their third grader listen to Dance Gavin Dance? I may be in the minority, but is that really all that surprising? These guys fulfilled my little musical urges I didn’t know I had at the time. From Jonny Craig’s crazy vocal runs to Jon Mess’ equally explosive screams to the guitar noodling from Will Swan and company, I loved them.

This is what was the catalyst to my encyclopedic knowledge of post-hardcore, swancore, and all the other stupid niche genres that blew up from Sacramento. Although it took me about seven years to rediscover the band in 2015, I was introduced to the Tilian era that still holds the present lineup of Jon Mess, Will Swan, Tim Feerick, and Matt Mingus. The past six years were spent catching up on all the craziness I missed. They have inspired so many different bands to give their shot too. In particular, Eidola, fronted by guitarist and vocalist, Andrew Wells, recently helped DGD on their Tree City Sessions 2 session, where they performed live versions of past tunes on a Sacramento bridge.

If nothing else, DGD has proved as a starting point for many artists. Kurt Travis began his solo career, joined A Lot Like Birds, formed Royal Coda, and created Pushover with Thomas Erak of The Fall of Troy. Sergio Medina of Stolas joined Royal Coda and Sianvar with DGD guitarist Will Swan. Donovan Melero of Hail the Sun is also the vocalist of Nova Charisma with Sergio. Do you see the picture? It is a vast network of incredible musicians, making for an ecosystem of passionate people looking to push the boundaries of what music can truly be.


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