Tilian Pearson performs with Dance Gavin Dance during the Vans Warped Tour in 2021

Tilian Pearson Officially Parts From Dance Gavin Dance After Years of Controversy

Tilian Pearson has officially departed from the post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance, raising renewed interest in his and the band’s controversial history.

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Dance Gavin Dance hails from Sacramento, California, and was founded in 2005 by members Jon Mess, Will Swan, Sean O’Sullivan, Eric Lodge, Matt Mingus, and Jonny Craig. The band got their start releasing the EP Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean before signing with Rise Records.

From the onset, the band had a high turnover rate, constantly shifting its lineup of vocalists, guitarists, and bassists. It’s not unheard of for band members to leave a group, but several Dance Gavin Dance members have left or been kicked out for concerning reasons.

After the debut of their first studio album, lead vocalist Jonny Craig left the band. No official reason was given at the time, but it was generally believed that his substance abuse issues were affecting his performance and reliability. Craig’s replacement, Kurt Travis, also struggled with substance abuse, leading to Craig’s reinstatement in the band until he began scamming fans on the internet.

At this point, Pearson was called in to replace Craig as vocalist. Then, after leaving Dance Gavin Dance, Craig was accused by multiple women of sexual assault. Even though he had already left the band at this point, his name was still strongly associated with it and neither his abuse nor scamming allegations were a good look for the band. Unfortunately, Craig’s final departure was far from the end of Dance Gavin Dance’s controversial band members.

The accusations against Tilian Pearson explained

Craig isn’t the only member to be removed and reinstated during Dance Gavin Dance’s history. Pearson also took a temporary hiatus in 2022. The year 2022 was difficult for the band, as bass guitarist Tim Feerick passed away unexpectedly. While the band was still grieving the loss of their friend and bandmate, they also had to deal with troubling allegations that surfaced against Pearson. Pearson had already garnered some negative attention for his social media behavior.

Despite identifying as a libertarian, many social media users noticed that he was following and liking posts from alt-right accounts, including figures like Blaire White, Michael Malice, and Jordan Peterson. He was also accused of Islamaphobia and of making ignorant and insensitive posts about voting and COVID-19 before abruptly deleting all his Tweets.

While some could ignore his problematic behavior on social media, Dance Gavin Dance and its fans could not ignore the sexual assault allegations that arose in June of 2022. Both accusations were posted to Reddit. The first was posted by a user named throwawaywhumanhair, who accused Pearson of abuse and rape during her short relationship with him. Pearson responded with his own post, in which he acknowledged the relationship and claimed he was in a “very vulnerable” state during that time. However, he denied that any of their interactions were nonconsensual and included screenshots of texts he claimed proved the allegations were false.

The second allegation came from user spookypooky8, who accused Pearson of coercing her to have sex with him. Again, Pearson issued a response to the allegation. Instead of denying the claims, he essentially admitted to it, using the excuse that “it was a consensual experience” for him. He also stated that he would be entering an “intensive therapy program” to address his issues. Dance Gavin Dance said it was taking the allegations seriously and that Pearson would be stepping away from the band. However, his departure didn’t last.

A few months later, Pearson was reinstated into the band, with Dance Gavin Dance releasing a statement attributing Pearson’s actions to grief over the loss of his bandmate. The narrative also suddenly changed, with both Pearson and Dance Gavin Dance claiming his hiatus was actually over substance abuse issues and had nothing to do with the sexual assault allegations. Dance Gavin Dance did not mention the accusations while expressing how “proud” the band was of Pearson’s progress and its belief in “redemption.” In his statement, Pearson denied the allegations again and outright stated that the work he did on himself in therapy was not to address sexual misconduct, even though he previously claimed he was going to address the issue.

Now, once again, Pearson has departed from Dance Gavin Dance, but this time, it feels permanent. The band didn’t name the reason for the departure but issued a statement saying it had decided to “say farewell” to Pearson, seemingly after reconciliation attempts proved ineffective. The statement thanked him for his contribution and wished him luck in his future endeavors.

The departure will likely feel long overdue for most fans, given the disturbing allegations against Pearson. Even with Pearson gone, Dance Gavin Dance will still continue to be associated with both him and Craig. It will not be able to dismiss lingering questions about the band’s initial inaction in response to Pearson’s controversies.

(featured image: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.