This interview previously aired on idobi Radio and is for everyone who was too lazy to tune in. Enjoy!
There’s no need for skepticism when it comes to the talents of Tilian Pearson. Whether he’s co-fronting post-hardcore experimentalists Dance Gavin Dance or stripping things down for his sensational solo project Tilian, the man is a bonafide star.
To see what Pearson had to say, be sure to check out our exclusive Q&A below. Afterward, make sure to pre-order The Skeptic before it hits stores September 28th via Rise Records.
We’re just a handful of dates into your solo tour with Royal Coda, Andrés and Sleep Signals. How has it been treating you so far?
Tilian Pearson: It’s great. I am definitely pleasantly surprised at the support and how many people know the solo music. I expected Dance Gavin Dance fans but there’s a good amount of actual fans of the solo music too.
Wow, that’s great. You’ve noticed there’s been fans that might not know the Dance Gavin Dance stuff?
Um, maybe. Probably not. I mean there’s people who prefer the solo project, maybe. But for the most part, they’re familiar with both. But they know the songs because I can hear them singing so it’s pretty cool.
When some people create solo careers, sometimes they try to separate themselves from whatever that other “main” project is. You obviously aren’t, touring with people like Kurt Travis, but was that ever a thought of yours to try and separate this from Dance Gavin Dance?
At the beginning, yes. Then I kind of just embraced the fact that there is a community of bands and fans that have like-minds so I might as well just embrace it and kind of feed off of it.
The last time we talked to you, it was when you were just putting out Perfect Enemy and you were just about to do the first solo tour.
Yeah [that was] the first and this is only the second [solo] tour [laughs].
How do you feel this second time around compared to the first?
I mean, it’s definite growth and also the live show is a lot better because I have a really good bassist and a really good guitarist and drummer. So I don’t have to focus on the musical aspect of it, that’s already going to be solid. They’re better than what I even thought they were going to be, so it’s nice.
You’re playing with some Dance Gavin Dance members, right?
Yeah. Andrew [Wells] who plays guitar for Dance Gavin Dance, usually. And then Matt Mingus who plays drums.
Is it nice to be doing your solo tour with familiar faces?
Yeah! Oh yeah, definitely.
When you started this solo project, was it hard to decide to label it as Tilian? Were there other names that you potentially wanted to call this?
Yeah, Tilian Pearson was another option [laughs]. I started this before I joined Dance Gavin Dance. I never – even then, I considered that I would be in a rock band and [the solo stuff] would be another project no matter what. Obviously, I’m not answering the question… Thinking back, maybe I did flirt with the idea of a band name but none of them ever stuck.
So let’s talk about The Skeptic. Last time we talked to you, you put a lot of thought into naming Perfect Enemy and you tied it in with the album cover and the flawed diamond. Was that the same case this time around?
Yeah. It was definitely an image first. Perfect Enemy kind of came [the same way] – the image first and then the title after the image. The idea of having a pyramid and a lone explorer kind of – I have a connection to single engine planes because I got my pilot’s license when I was like seventeen and that was kind of a possible path I was going to take. But yeah, it didn’t happen. But that spoke to me and then The Skeptic is just kind of this… [laughs] I’ve always been more skeptical than most of my friends that I grew up with and I just like that title.
So wait, are you into conspiracy theories and things like that?
No! Opposite [laughs]. Not at all. I think it’s exciting. Okay, so I like to learn about the conspiracy theories, for sure. I think conspiracy theories are fun, but I don’t think I have the “whatever” gene that makes you believe in something without having the empirical evidence right there and without overwhelming evidence. Conspiracy theories are so easily debunked as [much as] they are fun. But it is fun, for sure.
Have you flown at all in the past few years or anything?
No. It’s a really expensive [hobby] if you’re not working to actually build something off of it.
Okay, so back to the record. I know Perfect Enemy took you a while because you had songs written over the span of a few years. How long did this one take to put together?
That’s a good question. There’s one song on it that is really old but other than that, it was pretty much in the span of a couple months. Well, that’s not true. I guess it was like six months because I started the demos and actually recorded versions of some of the songs and then I didn’t like the way the production was stylized. So I got each track isolated and I started taking things away from it and then I decided to kind of have it more guitar-focused and riff-focused and then added that and then went to the studio and re-tracked everything.
What made you go the guitar route versus a more pop route? Not that the new stuff isn’t poppy.
It’s poppy but the instruments are guitar-based rather than, I guess, synth or something else. I don’t know, maybe it was just what I was listening to or maybe I can play guitar [laughs]. I can play guitar like an instrument and not like programming. [Programming] is cool, but it’s not the same vibe.
And you played the majority of the instruments on this record, right?
All of them but the drums, yeah.
So you just put out a video for “Hold On” which is super, super sad. Did you know it was going to be so heartbreaking?
I had an idea that it was going to be [sad] just because the director who did the video, I’ve known for a long, long time. The idea wasn’t completely formed when we talked about it the first time but the more we talked, the more I realized it was going to be pretty heavy.
And “heavy” were the intentions?
Definitely. As opposed to “Cocky” which is extremely light.
Okay, so now for a couple Dance Gavin Dance questions. You guys are going out on tour with Underoath for the second time this year. What is it like getting to tour with such a big influential band like that?
It’s cool, yeah. They definitely have an aura to them that is special. They take [touring] really seriously and they kind of just hold themselves a certain way the whole time that you’re touring with them which is cool [and] immediately demands respect. Which is admirable [because] we typically act, not quite the same [laughs].
Would you say you’ve picked up a few tips from them at all?
Um, probably not [laughs]. But we respect it!
With DGD’s new album Artificial Selection, did you expect “Evaporate” to make people think Dance Gavin Dance was going to break up?
No, we didn’t predict that at all.
Where did that even come from? Do you even know? Obviously, the way the song ends…
I guess, just the internet. I don’t know. It was a groundswell of that theory and then it just caught on. I mean, I guess it kind of makes sense because of the song title, but not really [laughs].
So you’re saying it’s a stretch like the conspiracy theories we were just talking about earlier?
Right! Exactly! [laughs].