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Post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance released their tenth studio album, Jackpot Juicer, on July 29. And their tour, currently ongoing, sold out within minutes. But their plans for the future with their lead soft vocalist, Tilian Pearson, remain unclear—and controversy looms over the operation.
Earlier this summer, Pearson was hit with sexual misconduct allegations which caused him to step away from the band. However, it was never confirmed how long his hiatus will be, and it's now been weeks since Pearson has made any comment. Here's everything we know.
What are the accusations against Tilian Pearson?
On June 1, an anonymous woman published a lengthy post detailing her alleged experiences with the singer on Reddit. She claimed to have slid into Pearson's DMs on Instagram when she was "definitely under the influence of something" in April of this year. According to her, the two exchanged numbers, began talking, and planned to meet up. Pearson and the woman hung out several times, she wrote, with each encounter taking place around SwanFest, the band's progressive rock festival that occurs annually in April.
"Things moved pretty quickly, which was fine," she wrote, "I was in that mindset of 'well, this will probably be the only time I’ll get with him so I’m down for whatever!' There were definitely some awkward points and a whole lot of red flags, but I kept brushing them off as 'well, we’re pretty drunk so…'" As she wrote later in the same post, "Things got uncomfortable relatively fast, and I was put in that position of not really knowing what to do."
The post continues, weaving in claims of intoxication, emotional duress, and physical pain. "I knew he was pretty drunk and going through an extremely stressful time, so I helped him through it and I was genuinely happy to do so. I was comfortable enough now to finish what I started," she writes, referencing the aftermath to bandmate Tim Feerick's death from a fentanyl overdose, also in April. And later, her allegations turn more explicit: "But at one point this man had decided to straight up slap me across the face. Obviously, it was in an attempt to be ~sexy~ but it ended up REALLY hurting. I voiced this like, 'Hey, uh. That’s cool and all but could you ask next time, and maybe not do it as hard?' He heard me, hesitated for a second, and then did it again. I mean. Hard enough to throw my hearing out of whack and have me black out for a few seconds—it wasn’t cool."
Pearson initially made his own statement, also on Reddit on June 1, which has since been deleted, but it was shared on Loudwire: "I take the subject of sexual assault seriously, and I want to firmly reiterate that there was no moment of anything happening that was not consensual," he wrote. "I understand that in a new sexual relationship, there is a period of figuring each other’s preferences out, but there is not a doubt our physical contact ever crossed boundaries into anything resembling assault."
Pearson then made a second apology, on June 3, saying he wouldn't deny this poster her experience and that he would be entering therapy. "I understand my responsibility around consent as a man and am sorry that caused you to feel anything but respected and your boundaries honored," he wrote. "I appreciate the strength it probably took you to come forward with this account. I hold myself fully accountable for causing you this emotional pain. I will be entering an intensive therapy program to address this issue head on to become the healthiest, most responsible version of me, doing the work necessary to ensure this never happens again."
(More allegations also appeared on Twitter following the back and forth.)
How did Dance Gavin Dance respond to the allegations?
Two days after the allegations came out, on June 3, Dance Gavin Dance released a statement that Pearson was stepping away to "seek professional help" and he would not perform on their current tour.
The group has tapped two fill-ins. Bandmember Andrew Wells, who has covered for Pearson before, is now the main soft vocalist for their An Evening With Friends tour. And also helping out is Kurt Travis, a name that will sound familiar to longtime fans.
For the uninitiated, though: The band released their first official album, Downtown Battle Mountain in 2007 with Jonny Craig as their frontman. Craig was kicked out due to drug abuse and Travis took over as the lead soft 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 again after the infamous MacBook scandal and his ongoing struggles with drug abuse.)
In 2013, fans got and embraced Pearson. He has been the lead soft vocalist for albums Acceptance Speech, Instant Gratification, Mothership, Artificial Selection, Afterburner and, most recently, Jackpot Juicer.
What's next for Dance Gavin Dance?
While Dance Gavin Dance is currently touring their new album without their lead singer, fans are wondering: Will Pearson ever return to DGD? Is "stepping away" something that's happening for now—or for good?
There's no denying the band has been their most commercially successful with Pearson as their main front man. 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 the set, but also because it's the final recordings from Feerick.
Wells's first foray into this fandom haven't exactly gone well, either. He's been criticized for not being able to hit the same notes as Pearson. Ouch. We'll keep this space updated as more permanent decisions take place.
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