Greg Puciato and Ben Weinman reveal what you can expect from Dillinger’s final album.
Words: Sam Law
In the new issue of Kerrang!, Greg Puciato and Ben Weinman explain why The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s sixth album, Dissociation, is set to be their last. While it’s certainly (very, very) sad news, fans can at least console themselves with the prospect of one more release of dazzling musical genius and unfiltered aggression. We decided to catch up with the guys to find out what their swan song is actually going to sound like, and what else they have in store for us…
DISSOCIATION IS AN INTERESTING TITLE. WHAT’S THE THEME BEHIND THE ALBUM?
GREG: “There are two definitions of that word. One is being separated from a person – some sort of estrangement. The other meaning is a type of psychological condition. The record is a reference to both of those. I can’t say any more without getting into specific relationships or mental conditions in my life. When I was younger, that was shrouded in metaphor and abstract [imagery], but as I’ve gotten older I’m being more literal and to the point.”
WE’VE HAD TASTERS, BUT HOW DOES THE RECORD SOUND?
BEN: “It’s impossible for me to be objective, but sound-wise I’ve compared it to Calculating Infinity. Production-wise it sounds very different to any other record, which is like Calculating Infinity. [Also], the band have had their fingers on everything from teasers to artwork to putting it out on our own label. That’s similar to when we were starting out, though back then it was because we had no other choice!”
GREG: “It’s tough to explain; definitely more of an ‘album’ than a collection of songs. It’s more aggressive than One Of Us Is The Killer. Weirder. More vulnerable. I feel that you can’t compare it to the other albums, as it is some thing of a break – it doesn’t follow the order. I’m trying to avoid genre comparisons; I just hear the naked emotion, the humanity. Even the more delicate, nuanced, subdued parts are more raw. That [rawness] wouldn’t have been possible for the people we were two or three years ago.”
SO WHAT CHANGED?
GREG: “I don’t want to tell anyone my autobiography. I just had a bunch of huge life realisations happen in the past few years. They were prefaced by disaster and they became growth periods. We became more self-aware people. Personally, professionally, and in our relationship, we began peeling back the layers. Looking back, One Of Us Is The Killer is the sound of things breaking. Everything here is post-breaking-open. There’s a lot of stuff for me that goes back way beyond Dillinger Escape Plan that I don’t really want to go into. Just to say, once you get out of your own way, a lot of shit can come out of you. And we’re lucky to be able to make something artistic out of that.”
BEN: “People who’ve been in bands as long as we have are co-dependent. That’s a disorder. It’s unhealthy. But we’ve come to an acceptance that we are co-dependent. This is the first grown-up record we’ve done. Both of us have done an enormous amount of work on ourselves over the past couple of years. We’re getting to the point where if we didn’t like this stuff or it didn’t make sense, we wouldn’t do it.”
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE CURRENT STATE OF THE ROCK AND HARDCORE MUSIC SCENES? WHERE DO YOU SEE DILLINGER’S PLACE AMONG THAT?
GREG: “It’s tough to put yourself in context. The bands I fan-boy out over are normally bands that are smaller than we are. But I think it’s interesting nowadays, because there’s kind of a void – and a reverence – in terms of the exact thing that we do.”
BEN: “I don’t even know if younger bands know who we are. I do find it interesting that because we’ve been around so long I’m finding people who are fans all the time that I mightn’t expect. The guy delivering the package is like ‘Good luck with the record.’ Or the guy at the bank in a suit dealing with my finances is like, ‘Calculating Infinity is really important to me!’ I’m like, ‘What?!’ I’m still a kid, the same guy making my own layout, doing web stuff, practically putting out flyers like I did in high-school.”
YOU GUYS HAVE ALSO BEEN WORKING ON A LOT OF OTHER BANDS, TOO. GREG, ASIDE FROM SOUND, WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DILLINGER AND THE BLACK QUEEN?
GREG: “The main difference is that TBQ is a band that exists in one city. Dillinger talk to each other all the time, but we [live in different places] and don’t even have that much face-time while recording. The Dillinger process [involves] Ben or I completing a thought and bouncing it back and forward. It’s more call-and-response, whereas The Black Queen is a round-table discussion.”
YOU’VE SPOKEN ABOUT THE ANXIETY-INDUCING EXPOSURE OF THAT BAND, DID IT ENHANCE YOUR INPUT WITH DILLINGER?
GREG: “The night of our first show was my first [near] panic attack in a few years. If you’re doing a really quiet, intimate performance, as opposed to the high-volume musical density of Dillinger, and people can hear every nuance of your voice, it’s f*cking terrifying. I haven’t felt that kind of terror since I was in school. I was a nervous kid. I couldn’t stand in front of the class to even talk. My mouth would be so dry and I’d shake [so hard]. The experience definitely changed a lot about my voice. If ten is the most aggressive you can be vocally, and one is the most intimate, I realise that my one, previously, was about a four. I expanded my dynamic range a lot. My levels of honesty and vulnerability expanded too. It was OK to not always be on the attack!”
IS THE BLACK QUEEN HERE TO STAY?
GREG: “I’m trying my hardest to operate [and tour] the two bands as if they have nothing to do with each other. We’re doing shows in September, October and December [and] hoping to release a song called Porcelain Veins as part of a little EP before the end of the year. The Black Queen is an actual band, not just a [one-off] record.”
BEN, HOW DOES GIRAFFE TONGUE ORCHESTRA FIT IN?
BEN: “That project is birthed out of the friendship between myself and Brent Hinds of Mastodon. We came out around the same time, we were both signed to Relapse, and we originally took Mastodon out supporting us. Brent and I have been trying to make music for years. We’d run into each other and I’d bring my laptop out and we’d track ideas. One of the songs was written and recorded on the back of a tour bus six years ago. It’s on the record as it was recorded on that bus. The band is a really interesting document of our history [together].”
BEING SUCH A SLOW-MOVING PROJECT, WITH MEMBERS IN OTHER HIGH-PROFILE BANDS, DOES IT MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?
BEN: “Fortunately, all of us are in a unique position nowadays, where we can have a say in what we do [and how we allocate our time]. It’s been difficult because we live in different places, but the logistics of fitting it in haven’t been too bad!”
GTO WILL BE MAKING THEIR LIVE DEBUT AT READING & LEEDS, WITH DILLINGER ALSO ON THE BILL. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
BEN: “In Giraffe Tongue, I’ll probably be crapping my pants with fear. It’ll be our first show and a scenario that’s foreign to me. But it’ll be exciting [to be] out of our comfort zones. We just had a big GTO practice session in New Jersey. The next time we’ll see each other will actually be that show. It’ll be interesting. As for Dillinger, I think we’ll be a well-oiled machine. We’ll be coming off playing a couple of weeks of very intimate shows we’ve booked in the States to get the [feeling] going, the line blurred between band and crowd.”
FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR THIS DILLINGER RECORD?
BEN: “I feel like this is an album to be celebrated. We’ve never been more relevant. We’ve never been more community-fuelled. But the beauty of Dillinger is the unpredictability. I try not to think too far ahead when it comes to these kinds of things…”
GREG: “I found [the return to Dillinger-duty] daunting up until about a day ago when something in my brain just kicked on and I was like, ‘OK, I’m ready!’ [My relationship with the band] is the longest relationship I’ve ever had that’s not blood. I was twenty-one when we were first over there [in the UK] with System Of A Down. I was twenty-two at that infamous Reading & Leeds. Now we have something new to birth into the world. We’re excited. It’s time…”
Don’t forget to read what Ben and Greg have to say about Dillinger’s in the new issue – available now!
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