It appears that no matter what Jonny Craig does, people will question him. Despite an endlessly checkered past involving conning fans for drug money (resulting in large segments of the internet affixing crosshairs to his back), Craig continues to push to put out new music and meet his supporters on the road. The most recent incident was this summer’s Warped Tour, where his new band, Slaves, was kicked off after three days on Warped, allegedly because people were questioning his sobriety. We caught up with Craig as his current solo tour rolled through Lakewood, Ohio, and asked him how life has been since getting kicked off of Warped and what we can expect from him next.
How has your solo tour with Kyle Lucas and Travis Garland been received thus far?
JONNY CRAIG: Tour has been really good. I would say we’re about 12-13 shows in [and we] still have 20 shows left. We’re all getting started, we’re all getting into the groove. I think it’s been going extremely well so far for every single person on the tour.
Are there any shows that have stood out to you?
A lot of them. Texas was great, Boston was great, New York was amazing. But all of the shows have been really [great] so far. It’s sold extremely well. The response has been amazing for Travis, me and Kyle. I think that we’re all blessed to be here together.
You recently visited a fan in the hospital. How did that come about and how was it?
A while back I did guest vocals for a band called Silhouette Rising. I guess the singer [Cameron Liberatore] has been a lifelong fan and when the guitar player, [Robert Dinanno], hit me up [and] was like, “Hey, can we work something out?” [We] worked it out my management [and] their management [and] it all went down. I guess [Liberatore] recently got in an accident. I don’t know the specifics of it, but he got some brain trauma and he’s in a rehab facility for that type of stuff. And they emailed me, like, “Hey, we’ll give you some money to come sing.” Nah, we’ll come there for free, we’ll go out of our way. We drove, like, 40 minutes outside of Boston, just to be there with him. It was kind of emotional. Alex [Lyman] went through kind of the same situation, it was really emotional for both of us and it hit really close to home, so we really wanted to do it.
Today was amazing. Jonny Craig and Alex Lyman drove all night to privately perform for Cam in his recovery location. This was the most meaningful thing that anyone could ever do for Cam and us. We will all cherish it forever. Jonny and Alex are both extremely caring people. We talked about our pursuit towards happiness and Jonny described Cam as an inspiration. Alex gave Cam a big hug. Thank you! Tonight they are going to play the “Criminal” single over the speakers as a dedication to Cam during their Brighton Music Hall show.
Posted by Silhouette Rising on Thursday, September 24, 2015
Can fans expect any solo material in the near future?
Yeah. Me and Kyle [Lucas] are working on something right now. There’s nothing set in stone, but I’m trying to do sort of, I wouldn’t say a mixtape per se, it’s going to be a full CD of songs. I haven’t really decided whether I’m going to charge for it or not. It’ll definitely be more R&B oriented but I’m also trying to do a mix CD as well.
How did you and Kyle Lucas meet?
Actually, I don’t remember, but Kyle says we met on Warped Tour. I wasn’t really coherent, like way back on Warped Tour. He said we spoke briefly a couple times. He says he was also messed up, so it’s kinda funny we were friends before we were actually really friends. Then he hit me up like, “Hey, do you want to do a song?” He was going to quit playing music, he just wanted to do a song. And we did the song and I was like, “Dude, let’s get things going.” I kinda brought him back from the dead—his words. And we’ve just been best friends ever since. I never saw him. I never met him. The first time I ever met him was the “Worth It” video. We never really talked in person, just on the phone. We met, we did the video [and] we were instantly friends.
Are you looking forward to Slaves’ upcoming tour with Dance Gavin Dance?
Yeah, of course. Those are some of my best friends. [Dance Gavin Dance and I] obviously had a falling out. We reconnected. We’ve always been really close, even through all that bullshit. They always wanted the best for me so it’s cool that we get to tour now. I’m really glad that they’re moving forward with what they need. I feel like they needed time and it’s really cool to hear them progressing in a different way without me. That’s cool for me because I never wanted them to get left behind. I always wanted to make sure that they were moving forward because I didn’t want to be responsible for that. It’s really cool that we get to tour together and even cooler that they will be touring over me. They deserve it.
How is Slaves different from other music you’ve done?
I started Slaves. Obviously all the stuff I’ve ever been in I never really started, I just kinda joined. As a band, me and Alex do all the writing. We do everything. We get to decide what happens [and] we get to decide the creative direction that it goes in. That’s not saying that we don’t ask every single person, “Hey should we do this or this?” It’s more of doing what we feel best and everyone, pretty much 90 percent of the time, agrees with what we decided. I think everyone is on the same page with this band and that’s what’s helping us. We all have communication. In past bands, there wasn’t a lot of communication. In Slaves, it’s just pure communication. We’re always making sure that everything always scoped out and make sure [it’s not], “Hey, I’m going to do this. If you’re going to like it, I don’t know. Whatever.” That’s not how we want to do things anymore, we’re growing up. We’re reaching a level where we need to just act like adults and be respectful. I think that’s what Slaves brings to the table is the fact that we can all act like adults and put music out as well.
Is there a story behind the title of your latest album Routine Breathing?
I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily a story. I would say it’s kind of self-explanatory. Routine breathing: It’s the same thing over and over, we do the same thing [and] we go with the motions. You’re just going and going to the point where it’s just routine. I wanted to convey on this record that I wanted to break that cycle. I don’t want to be in the cycle anymore. That’s kinda what it’s about. That’s a broad spectrum too. Saying that all the things on the album, like drug use and all the relationship stuff, it’s a huge spectrum., and it was really cool to just able to incorporate that into two words and have it mean so much. It’s probably crazy to some people and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but to us it makes a lot of sense because there’s so much stuff that it incorporates. When you say “routine breathing,” I’m just going through stuff.
Routine Breathing was originally supposed to come out in October, but it ended up coming out on August 21, following the news of the band being kicked off Warped Tour and then the sudden influx of online merch orders from fans trying to help get the band out of debt. Whose idea was it to push the release date earlier?
Originally it was Alex’s. I think he came to everyone and we all decided it was a good idea. We didn’t really know the direction of the band or what was going to happen. All we knew is that we loved what we were doing. We felt that we got shafted, we felt we were disrespected completely and we felt that it was a little unfair. At the same time we didn’t really understand what we should do, we were all pretty bummed out at the time. Everyone’s kinda in that moment where you’re like, “What am I going to do? Am I going to go home? Am I going to go to work? What’s going to happen?” I think we all just decided, “Hey, let’s just do what’s best, not only for us, but let’s just do something. If this is going to go out, let’s go out with a bang.” We leaked one of our own songs and it just kinda went from there.
On your website, it said that you guys were questioning whether to continue or not. Did releasing the album earlier help keep you guys together?
Yeah, like I said we really didn’t know the direction the band was going to end up. We thought we were over, it was over, because we had so many people against us. And the more we thought about it, the more we discussed it, the more people walked away from us, the more we wanted to fight [and] the more we wanted to prove every single person wrong that I’m not fucked up, that I’m not on drugs. And as a band, we’re here to do what we love and that’s play music. It wasn’t really fair to my band because my band has been around for the last year-and-a-half doing nothing but keep me straight. They keep my head on my shoulders. Overall I felt bad because they didn’t deserve it. And we were like, “What are we going to do? Is the band going to be over? Should we just call it quits?” And I think in our heads it crossed it for a moment and then we realized what we do, how we do it and who we do it for. And that’s what it came down to.
Do you think releasing the album earlier helped with the response versus waiting and promoting it?
I think it got a lot of people excited. I don’t know if it actually helped but all I know is we did $6,000 our first week without any physical copies.. We sold 100 packs of actual CDs and that’s it, just some preorder stuff. Then all the rest were all digital sales so there was nothing in stores, nothing sold at shows and selling $6,000 our first week. As a band that was amazing [and] that is a huge accomplishment to us.
What did it mean to you to have your fans pull you out of that debt?
That was amazing. It would have gotten paid off eventually, it would have taken a long time [and] it would have taken a couple tours. But just the fact that it was so cool that all that happened at once, it was, like, 48 hours and [we were] almost completely out of it. All I can say is thank you to every single person who did that for us.
How will the incident at Warped Tour affect the next music you make?
I don’t think any of us are going to let the Warped Tour shit rock us. We don’t really care. Not to knock anything about Warped Tour [or] any of the bands on Warped Tour, but our goal as musicians and as a band is to not make Warped Tour our endgame. We’ve never thought about it like that. We’d love to play it. We’d love to get that big and do all that kind of stuff but our goal is to do what we think is best for us as band: to keep doing what we love. I don’t think that shit is ever going to affect us, at least not on a personal level. I think it might take a minute professionally. A lot of people don’t really believe in us right now. They think things are off whack but all it takes is one show. Come to the show, talk to us, speak to us [and] see us. You’ll understand that things were definitely one-sided in that situation.