Anyone following the emo/post-hardcore scene’s major controversies in the past decade will recognise American vocalist Jonny Craig as a Charlie Sheen-like menace. Aside from fronting Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa and Isles & Glaciers, Craig has notoriously struggled with a narcotics habit that’s caused public animosity with former bandmates, tour cancellations and saw him embroiled in an internet fraud controversy.
However, Craig’s been clean for the past couple of years and he’s certainly keeping busy. He’ll soon hit our shores in support of last year’s solo EP Find What You Love And Let It Kill You, and the debut LP from his latest project, Slaves, is also ready to go.
“We had a pretty big order to fill on this album because we were all coming from different bands that weren’t really working out,” Craig says of the new band, which features members of Hearts & Hands and Four Letter Die. “I’ve been in a few bands that I’ve been bouncing back and forth between for a while. But the moment we finished recording it we were pretty confident that this album was everything that we wanted it to be.”
Listeners turned on by the promising relaunch of Craig’s solo career last year can rest assured that although Slaves is the chief priority for now, the solo work won’t get entirely neglected.
“Obviously I’ve got a little bit of hype right now with my newest solo CD, Find What You Love And Let It Kill You. I was talking about it with Alex [Lyman], who is the other writer [in Slaves]. My solo stuff is like my own little personal outlet and he understands that.”
The fan-funded solo EP finds Craig wholeheartedly embracing the R&B style hinted at on his 2009 record A Dream Is A Question You Don’t Know How To Answer. It also marks the first time he’s deviated from a rock band setup.
“I want to separate it from me just being in another band, so I try to make sure that it actually is a solo album where the main focus is my vocals,” he says. “I wanted it to be more sensual, more soulful. Not straight R&B, but definitely have that dark R&B vibe.”
When Craig comes back to Australia this month he’ll be assisted in bringing the EP to life by a small-scale ensemble, including regular collaborator, rapper Kyle Lucas. Now, it’s easy to speculate about the touring lifestyle pushing Craig back towards his wayward habits, but after a stint in rehab he’s revised his priorities.
“My main thing on the road [is] I try to make sure that I eat properly. Your body gets kind of rundown if you’re not really eating well. Me and my crew, we like to go out and have dinners together at more than just fast food restaurants. Back in the day it was all party, party, party. Right now I still like to do a little bit of drinking here and there, but it’s mainly just making sure I’m taking care of myself. I’m getting up there: 28. I’m not 18 anymore, I can’t rage all night.”
The good news is that taking heed of his personal limits puts Craig in a position to better exercise his vocal talents.
“Taking care of myself is going to help me have the best stage show possible. Being more in shape and not being as drunk or as messed up as I used to be, I think it’s definitely made a huge difference.”