A whirlwind brought Jonny Craig to Slaves.
Landing in between a vortex of torrential emotions, broken relationships, eviscerated plans, and faint glimmers of redemption, the singer couldn’t go on the way he had been—artistically, personally, and spiritually. He certainly found success in the past fronting both Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance and ultimately selling over 200,000 records worldwide. However, in 2011, he entered rehab for drug addiction, searching for a clean slate. When he got out, he began crafting what would eventually become Slaves’ Artery Recordings debut, Through Art We Are All Equals.
“I didn’t want to make an entire album about getting off drugs and finding redemption,” he admits. “At the same time, a lot of those lyrics made sense with the music. The message became clearer. The album is really driving. It feels like someone’s comeback.”
Recorded in Portland, Through Art We Are All Equals began to take shape, resulting in an album that is indefinable as it is irresistible.
“It’s a little bit of a hybrid from what I’ve done in the past and what I want to do moving forward,” he explains. “This will definitely appeal to the people who have supported me over the years, but Slaves has its own identity as well.”
Sonically, the music thrives on a terse push-and-pull from Jonny’s haunting and hypnotic croon to airy and atmospheric guitar buzzing. That flame burns brightly on the first single “The Fire Down Below.” The track teeters between explosive distortion and a soaring refrain, conveying tangible emotions at every turn.
“Lyrically, it’s straightforward,” affirms Jonny. “It’s about me and a woman. I’m feeling that she deserves more than what I can or want to offer at that moment in my life.”
Elsewhere on the record, Jonny and his sister Natalie Craig confront shared pain over their parents’ divorce on “The Hearts Of Our Young”, while Jonny invites longtime friend Tyler Carter of Issues to duet on the one-two punch of “The Young and Beyond Reckless”. Together, their voices entwine over a spacey resonating six-string gasp.
He smiles, “We’ve been friends for years. Every time I get on Twitter, kids tell us we need to do another track. When I told Tyler I was doing this record, he was like, ‘You’ve got to get me on a track’. This was the one I heard him on. It’s a self-reflective song about ourselves.”
Speaking of self-reflection, the album’s final word “Starving for FRIENDS” sees Jonny not only make good with estranged old friend Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil, but himself as well.
“That song is extremely personal,” Jonny sighs. “Back when I had my drug problem, myself and all of Pierce The Veil had a bit of a falling out. It was them saying, ‘Hey we’re going to take a step back from you for a while.’ I completely understood. They were tired of the things I was doing and the way I was acting. When I told Vic the meaning of the song, he was in. For the last couple of years, I’ve burned a lot of bridges. I’ve hurt a lot of people and my friends. That track is saying sorry to all of the musicians in the scene I took advantage of and hurt. I want them to know I’m out here making an honest effort and I apologize to them.”
He’s come out on the proverbial “other side” with wisdom, and even the title of the record reflects that newfound mentality. “Instead of trying to fight one another, we need to realize that we’re all equals within art,” he goes on. “There’s no difference between us. We’re all Slaves to something, and we’re all trying to better ourselves.”
Jonny certainly is, and Through Art We Are All Equals is a shining and inspiring testament to that. “This is special,” he concludes. “I want people to know I’m back. I’ve been gone for a bit. It wasn’t because I couldn’t sing or I wasn’t ready. It was because I needed to let the wounds heal. I needed to let time do what it does. When listening to the album, I want everybody to know I’m a changed man, and I’m glad about that change.”