Latest release: Dissociation (Cooking Vinyl)Website: www.dillingerescapeplan.org
The Dillinger Escape Plan has been one of the most exciting and influential bands of the last twenty years. Their music has been considered the epitome of mathcore and their live shows have regularly turned into spectacular circuses akin to riots where even the band members disappear into venue-encompassing mosh pits and stages are invaded to the point of complete inundation. Now with the release of their aptly-titled new album Dissociation, the band has decided that enough is enough. As they head out on their longest and probably last tour, Loud caught up to vocalist Greg Puciato to discuss the past and future of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
So first things first, Greg – is this the end of The Dillinger Escape Plan?
That’s a very tough question to answer because we live in such a weird time, that various things end, various things don’t… It’s not like the 90s where you just break up and that’s the end! It’s a fucking tough question, man, because are we going to stop making records and going on tour? Yes. Are we still a band, legally and technically? Yes. So it’s fucking all just really weird. Are we still going to sell merch and have a website? All these things that have nothing to do with actually being in a band. It’s like a weird ghost of yourself, I guess in a way. But yeah – we’re done! We’re gonna put this record out and we’re gonna go play everywhere under the sun one more time and then we’ve got some leftover songs from the record that we ran out of space for. We’re contemplating maybe releasing them, but it’s only a couple, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them. But then, yeah, we’re gonna go our separate ways indefinitely and see what happens with our lives in the absence of this giant thing. For the last 20 or 15 or 10 years, however we’ve been involved in it, the biggest thing that we fucking think of everyday, more than girlfriends or friends or anything else in our lives, is the Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s driven us from morning to sleep every day, all of this time. At some point in time you have to say, What would happen in my life in the absence of this? And you don’t want to wait til you’re 60 to find that out. You want to wait for a time when it feels like it makes sense, and right now just feels like a good time for everybody to wrap it up.
I’ve spoken to other bands that have spent time apart and they all admit that it gives them plenty of time to get their heads back together.
You’re from Baltimore originally, so what was it like going from a place like that into this big, worldwide band, and how did you deal with that?
Everything was so crazy at that time. Things were just growing exponentially. When I joined it was a year and a half after Calculating Infinity came out and there was this like wave of underground momentum happening; not just with us but in the scene in general. Just a huge momentum. So jumping on this thing that wasn’t just moving on its own but part of this thing that was moving very quickly – that time period from 2001 to 2004 was just insane. Everything was just growing exponentially. We’d go to a place and there was 150 people there, and we would come back to that place and there would be 300 people there. That’s twice the amount of people! And then we would come back again and there would again be twice the amount of people. That doesn’t happen now, but back then coming back each time to twice as many people, and having it happen without any top-down push from giant record labels or without any money behind us. We were just trying to make as much ruckus and noise as possible and we were all just pissing a Fuck You! attitude at all times back then, and it was just a fireball, a all of fire. Even though we’re bigger now than we were then, everything just felt crazier and all fucked up.
Was The Black Queen something that gave you a release from the Dillinger headspace?
Yeah of course man. When you get older, not just my vocal ability but my emotional dynamic range has changed a lot. Where I used to consider my heroes as singers who could be as ferocious as can be, what I consider my heroes now would be like a 7. When I was in my twenties I was just a big ball of aggression and when I got older I needed an outlet for the increased emotional range for me to access. Dillinger for me is a catharsis for a lot of negative energy and the more we did Dillinger the more space grew for less negative impulses to come out and I needed a new creative outlet, and The Black Queen was a forum, not so much musically but emotionally. That allowed Dillinger to not be frustrating for me. There was fear of becoming a cartoon character, so that Black Queen album was a huge relief for me.
Once this tour ends and you’ve thrown off the Dillinger shackles, what are your immediate plans?
Well obviously The Black Queen is already a thing that’s running parallel to Dillinger and it’s a separate thing that’s not just a side project so I wouldn’t be considering another band so when Dillinger’s not around I will have more time for that. But the real question for me is, ‘Do I still have a need for making music this aggressive and this cathartic? Will that still be here in two to three years, around the time when I’d normally be making another Dillinger record. Will that need be there?’ So that’s the big question for me. To me, nothing is strategic. Everything it just needs based. If I have a need to yell and scream into a microphone like I’m on fire, I’m gonna have to do that. I just don’t know if I will or not.
So if you get to the stage where you don’t need to do that, and Ben was to ring you and say, ‘Let’s do another Dillinger record’, would you be able to say yes?
It would require us both being in the same headspace at the same time. It’s fucking tough enough as it is and we’re already in a band together. That’s tough to predict whether that will happen or not, but hopefully we would come back to this with a renewed energy. We would definitely need to bring something new to the table. That’s where the musical side of it comes in, not the emotional side. Am I going to have a new tool to express this with. If you don’t have anything new to express it with, what’s the point? We’ve already done it. He and I would have to say, “Hey, not only do we feel the need to write this kind of music, but we also have something to make it more interesting, have something that will challenge our last record”.
Being in a band that was as successful as Dillinger was, did that allow you to become even more of a creative person?
Oh yeah, for sure. Being around people who are willing to give all of themselves to being creative artistically and as performers, you have to try to outdo each other at all times. You’re a team together, but at the same time you’re trying to raise the bar for the other people so we’ve really all pushed one another to such a great degree. To an exhausting degree, honestly. I think we’ve all reached a point at various times where we’ve all become so frustrated with one another and I think that’s because we’ve all been kicking each others’ asses. But Ben and I have been together for fifteen years and we’ve created an amazing bunch of stuff together.
Even though there were other bands doing what you were doing, I think a lot of people would say that you, if not created it then defined an entire genre of music. What do you think about that?
Well it’s crazy because I know we were never really trying to do that and we resisted it for a very long time. We resisted the idea that there were bands coming out that were influenced by us and that we were responsible for any kind of style of sound or visual or the way people were performing on stage. It’s like, “Hey, this person looks a lot like you!” “No they don’t!” I think we were like little kids going, “No one sounds like us! No one looks like us!” Now I’m full of the idea, and it’s crazy! It’s like a big fucking honour. All we were ever trying to do was play music that was exciting for us. We had our heads down the entire time, we really weren’t looking around, we weren’t really paying attention to what was happening in the scene around us. We were trying to maintain our own individuality and just accidentally we managed to influence a whole other bunch of people, it’s really ironic.