Post-hardcore Dance band Gavin Dance have released their tenth studio album, Jackpot Juice Extractor, July 29. And their tour, currently underway, ended in minutes. But their plans for the future with their lead singer, Tilian Pearson, remain unclear and controversy looms over the operation.
Earlier this summer, Pearson faced sexual misconduct allegations that prompted him to walk away from the band. However, the length of his hiatus has never been confirmed, and it has now been weeks since Pearson has made any comment. Here’s everything we know.
What are the charges against Tilian Pearson?
On June 1, an anonymous woman posted a long post detailing his alleged experiences with the singer on Reddit. She claimed to have slipped into Pearson’s DMs on Instagram when she was “definitely under the influence of something” in April this year. According to her, the two exchanged numbers, started talking and made plans to meet. Pearson and the wife have hung out several times, she wrote, with each encounter taking place around SwanFest, the group’s progressive rock festival that takes place every April.
“Things moved pretty quickly which was good,” she wrote, “I was in that mindset of ‘well this will probably be the only time I’ll be with him so I am up for anything! There were definitely some awkward spots and lots of red flags, but I kept brushing them off, saying, ‘Well, we’re pretty drunk, so…'” As she later wrote in the same post, “Things got uncomfortable relatively quickly, and I was put in this position of not really knowing what to do.”
The post continues, weaving claims of intoxication, emotional coercion and physical pain. “I knew he was quite drunk and going through an extremely stressful time, so I helped him through it and I was really happy to do that. I was comfortable enough now to finish this that I started,” she wrote, referring to the aftermath of her bandmate. The death of Tim Feerick from a fentanyl overdose, also in April. And later, his allegations become more explicit: “But at some point, this man decided to slap me directly. Obviously, it was to try to be ~sexy~ but it ended up REALLY hurting. I I said it like, ‘Hey, uh. That’s cool and all but you could ask next time, and maybe not do it that loud?’ He heard me, hesitated for a second, then started again. I mean. Loud enough that my hearing went haywire and I passed out for a few seconds – that wasn’t cool.”
Pearson originally made his own statement, also on Reddit on June 1, which has since been deleted, but was shared on strong wire“I take the subject of sexual assault seriously, and want to strongly reiterate that there was no time when anything happened that was not consensual,” he wrote. “I understand that in a new sexual relationship there is a period to determine each other’s preferences, but there is no doubt that our physical contact has ever crossed the line into anything resembling assault.”
Pearson then issued a second apology, on June 3, saying he would not deny this poster his experience and would enter therapy. “I understand my responsibility regarding consent as a man and I’m sorry you felt anything but respected and your boundaries honored,” he wrote. “I appreciate the strength it probably took for you to present this narrative. I hold myself fully responsible for causing you this emotional pain. I will be entering an intensive therapy program to address this issue head-on in order to become the healthiest, most responsible version of me, doing the work necessary to make sure this never happens again.”
(More claims too appeared on Twitter following round trips.)
How did Dance Gavin Dance respond to the allegations?
Two days after the allegations were published, June 3, Dance Gavin Dance released a statement that Pearson was stepping away to “seek professional help” and that he would not be performing on their current tour.
The group tapped two fill-ins. Band member Andrew Wells, who previously covered Pearson, is now the sweet lead vocalist on their An Evening With Friends tour. And Kurt Travis, a name that will sound familiar to longtime fans, will also help.
For the uninitiated, however: the band have released their first official album, Downtown Battle Mountain in 2007 with Jonny Craig as frontman. Craig was kicked out due to drug addiction and Travis took over as lead sweet vocalist for follow-up albums Dance Gavin Dance and Happiness. But Travis left and Craig came back for their 2011 album, Downtown Battle Mountain II. (Although Craig was soon asked to leave after the infamous MacBook scandal and his ongoing struggles with drug addiction.)
In 2013, fans received and embraced Pearson. He was the lead vocalist on the albums Acceptance speech, instant gratification, mothership, artificial selection, afterburner and, more recently, Jackpot juice extractor.
What’s next for Dance Gavin Dance?
During the Gavin Dance is currently on tour for his new album without his lead singer, fans are wondering: will Pearson ever return to DGD? Is “walking away” something happening for now or for good?
There’s no denying that the band enjoyed the greatest commercial success with Pearson as their main frontman. But the group has not spoken about Pearson or the allegations since the beginning of June, despite actively promoting new songs and music videos that feature him. They say their commitment to supporting the album is because, yes, they worked hard on set, but also because these are Feerick’s final recordings.
Wells’ first foray into this fandom didn’t go exactly well either. He was critical for not being able to hit the same notes as Pearson. Ouch. We’ll keep this space updated as more permanent decisions take place.
Lexi Carson is a writer from Orlando, Florida with interests in film, music, and culture.
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