Dillinger Escape Plan get set to rock UK audiences.
For a significant number of heavy music fans there are only two bands that really mattered over the last ten years; Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan. Both bands inspire incredible amounts of loyalty from idealistic sonic devotees who believe that music has to progress, has to be forward looking and must, at all cost, be visceral.
These bold statements, forcefully played out on albums and through fiery live shows have vindicated both bands allowing them to remain relevant against the prevailing trends in the music. Dillinger might well be the dangerous geek face of a genre set to kill your with a pocket protector but to an outsider they can come across as musical granola only palatable for the mathcore purist. Too high minded for novel appreciation, too far removed from the guilty pleasures of singing ‘More than a feeling’ while juggling billiard chalk, they might never achieve festival screen boob flashes but give it time and another facet is revealed. Silliness.
Amongst their intense canon of furrowed brow intent Dillinger Escape Plan have also released a cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol and have a strongly mischievous streak running through all their work. While serious about the music, live the band is a whirlwind of humour, energy and goofy power. Sometimes is okay to celebrate the good times, and on the eve of the latest Dillinger Escape Plan UK tour Trebuchet caught up with Guitarist Benjamin Weinman and Vocalist Greg Puciato to feed the excitement.
There are rumours circulating about a new album…
Benjamin Weinman: Our last record Option Paralysis came out in 2010 but is still going strong. We are still touring on it and are getting ready to do our final shows for the record cycle. No new music in the works at the moment. We are all working on other projects at the moment.
DEP have always worked with complex structures, do you see complexity as an end in itself or are you trying to express something definite that the music matches?
BW: Complexity is only good if it contributes to some kind of emotion or feeling. We use it to create uneasiness and tension but not to show off. I hate music that is only about virtuosity.
Greg Puciato: I don't care about complexity for complexity's sake. Sometimes a tricky clever way to give a message is the best way, sometimes a punch in the face does the trick. It's about knowing how and when to balance the two. Complexity is a tool for expression and overuse can lead to soulless bullshit wank music which I want no part of.
It seems like progressive or experimental bands all eventually go slow and/or commercial? Any danger of a pop DEP?
BW: Dillinger has already covered so many grounds. We have written anything from Piano Ballads to electronic songs that don't even sound human and everything in between. I really don't think I there is anything that we are afraid to touch but hopefully that attitude in itself is representative or our sound as a body of work.
GP: I don't see any problem with slowing down. Again, speed is a tool. Sometimes beating someone with a slow riff for three minutes is just as effective. It's the attitude and intent that matters. Pop? A danger? I don't think we could ever write a true "pop" song if we tried. Even our take on "pop" would be so skewed that it would never actually become "popular".
Suicide Silence have said they aim to keep their music brutal and not try to over complicate or over analyse their music because their aim as a band is ‘to move audiences’. How much would say that this is the same for DEP?
GP: I don't know about moving audiences in the physical sense… I want to move them on the inside so that any physical motion is a by product of them feeling like they "have" to move or else they'll explode. I don't care about getting people to jump up and down or do those dumb walls of death or anything like that. I just want people to be engaged. If that means staring and soaking it in, or that means running onstage and flipping off of it… either one is appreciated.
BW: We definitely over analyse a lot of our music. Everything we write has a purpose. Even the mistakes are kept in the songs because they contribute to the idea that we are trying to convey.
Are you inspired to write music by a particular sound or by an expression of something you want to say?
BW: Not initially. We don't often go into the writing process with a specific idea or feeling in mind. But once we start writing I think it is very telling of where our heads are at during that period of time and once we start the process songs start to tell stories that we just need to see out to the end.
GP: Life gives you all the inspiration you need if you're receptive enough to it. We have no particular agenda besides non-conformity and self gratification with disregard to rules or outside forces. Purity. That's what I am trying to reach. Pure expression and creation of a feeling or idea without thought fucking it up.
Do you approach your music as an exercise in sound or an exercise in feeling?
BW: Well we are using sound to exercise a feeling, so both I suppose.
GP: The sound is the medium… part of the tools that you use to get the feeling across. The feeling is of utmost importance.
Do you ever consider symmetry when composing a song?
BW: Yes, believe it or not. Although it may not seem like it, the parts in a Dillinger song are very complimentary to each other in our heads. Sometimes the only thing that makes the middle of a song great is what comes before it and after it.
GP: Of course… sometimes you need total chaos and sometimes you need a feeling of symmetry… both are, again, effective at different times.
You guys have been around since 1997 what do you think you’re greatest success is?
GP: Feeling like we're somehow evolving into an even more effective version of where we started, instead of drifting away from the feeling, we seem to be honing in on it and clearing distractions.
BW: Sometimes it's hard to believe we are still around after all these years. But I still feel the same. Have the same passion. Really seems like just yesterday that we started this band.
Do you consider yourselves a punk band or a metal band? Or neither?
BW: Good question. Definitely don't consider ourselves a metal band, just a band that doesn't conform to the norm of what is expected. If that is Punk then so be it but unfortunately Metal seems to be pretty formulaic these days.
GP: Punk. Metal is more about sonics… punk is about attitude. I see us as a punk band with metal leanings sonically.
Do you ever worry about becoming wholly inaccessible musically to most listeners?
GP: (laughs) Isn't that already the case? It's not like we're Coldplay. Our headlining shows top out at 1500 people TOPS and that's the really big ones. We're not exactly a household name… but that's okay with me because most of the household names suck.
BW: We made it this far so there must be someone out there who likes what we do. We don't think too much about that kind of thing.
How does the band prepare for a gig?
BW: We all have different rituals. I just like to be alone for about 30 minutes. I need silence. I have been straight edge my whole life so drugs and alcohol don't play a role in my preparations or performance.
GP: I don't. I'm ready at all times. I could get up from this interview and play a show right now, I could play five hours from now. It doesn't matter. The only thing is not waking up right before. As long as I don't sleep right before it's all the same. The fire doesn't go out. I don't do any weird rituals. If I'm loosened up and haven't just woken up the result is gonna be the same regardless of what I do beforehand.
How improvised are your performances?
BW: They are not improvised as much as they are second nature. I have no Idea what is going to happen before a show but I also don't exactly think about anything that is happening when it is happening either.
GP: I can't speak for everyone… but due to the speed and intricacy of our songs, improv is really really on a small track… but of utmost importance… at least to me. I don't wanna "run a program" onstage.
Vocally I get a bit more room for expression than Billy (our drummer) does because he needs to keep the structure solid. I get to play with the words, the phrasings, the deliveries… obviously the physical performance is completely improvised. I just want to be as pure and in the moment as possible vocally and physically… to me it's about trying to transcend and reach the purest part of the moment and live in that completely for the whole performance.
Do you get offers to perform for charity? What sorts of charities would you consider?
BW: We have played a number of benefits, anything from shows to help raise money for people in car accidents to benefits for natural disasters. I would love to do more but considering everyone in the band lives pretty far away from each other it’s really hard to just get together and play a show if we are not on tour.
GP: Yeah, We've done benefit shows for things before… everything from Tsunamis to paralysis/nerve damage. We haven't done one lately but we're always open to it.
What can people expect from your show at the HEVY festival? A ‘classics’ set or a feast of new material?
BW: We plan on mixing it up pretty good. As a headliner we should have enough time to do that…
GP: I guess people will have to show up and see!
Thanks again for your time and can't wait to see you at the HEVY festival.
GP: We can't wait to play. It's the show I'm the most excited about of the next few weeks. Pretty sure me and the Architects kids are gonna play "Year In Year Out" together for the first and only time as well… which will be a special moment.
03-Aug IRE DUBLIN ACADEMY
04-Aug UK BELFAST SPRING & AIRBREAK
05-Aug UK GLASGOW GARAGE
06-Aug UK HYTHE HEVY FESTIVAL
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle