The Dillinger Escape Plan: Nothing to Regret
American mathcore pioneers on hanging up their boots, and why working on
their upcoming final album ‘Dissociation’ has been
their bravest move artistically
For all the times The Dillinger Escape Plan’s hulk of a frontman Greg Puciato has literally ran out on top of the crowd instead of surfing or made them bear his bodybuilder frame by diving off a balcony into the crowd below, the New Jersey mathcore band had an unlikely performance at Reading Festival in August.
At the UK event, Puciato did the polar opposite of their infamous 2002 performance at the festival, where the vocalist shat into a paper bag, smeared a little on himself and threw it into the audience. Says guitarist and founding member Ben Weinman over the phone from New York, “[This time] Greg actually sat on a couch and drank a cup of tea while we performed.” Weinman adds with a laugh, “It’s like his restrain was kind of extreme in a way.”
Extreme is an accurate word to describe Dillinger. Their disturbing, noisy albums and their tendency to leap off stages makes them one of the best metal/hardcore performers in the world. Dillinger’s so extreme they’ve decided to shock fans by announcing their upcoming sixth album, Dissociation, would be their last. After an extensive world tour to promote the album, the band plan to call it quits in 2017. Weinman says, “I think the decision to close the Dillinger book had more to do with just how far we’ve come creatively over almost 20 years. We feel like this album is the perfect last chapter to what we’ve been trying to say over the years.”
Weinman understands exactly why fans question putting an unstoppable force like Dillinger to rest. “We’ve never been more prolific, our shows have never been better,” he says. But they’re doing this to bow out with their heads held high. He adds, “The idea that was there even when we started the band—there’s a certain point in a band’s trajectory when things start to become comfortable—I think we knew exactly what we had to do in that moment.” Weinman, the principle songwriter in the band, pretty much incepted the thought of calling it quits for the rest of the band, including Puciato, bassist Liam Wilson, drummer Billy Rymer and recent recruit, guitarist Kevin Antreassian. When met with Puciatio’s bewilderment, the guitarist explained to him the idea of how artistically brave it was. “Every important piece of work has to have a defined ending to it, you know? Nobody just… paints a picture and never finishes it. You wouldn’t read a novel without any kind of conclusion or resolve. People won’t watch a movie that never ended, with no thematic ending.”
More importantly, they don’t have to worry about how Dissociation will be received. Weinman adds, “Literally, if the album does horrible, we’ve already decided our fate. It could be the next Metallica [The Black Album], but we’d still break up.” Going by the first taste of the album—the hyper chaotic “Limerent Death” that gets rabid as it progresses—Dillinger have pushed themselves into even more darker, weirder spaces, if that’s possible. Says Weinman, “If it feels uncomfortable, it feels hard to digest and we’re doing something right, in my opinion.”
Even after two decades in the game, Weinman says he’s always amazed at the attention to detail everyone in the band gives while recording. “We’re still not lazy at all. We still don’t take shortcuts, which many people at this stage in the game, with access to the technology could do very easily,” he says. This is also the first Dillinger album to ever exclude songs that the band wrote, but Weinman says there’s a possibility they would release the outtakes as B-sides at a later stage.
Mathcore’s a fast, unsparing kind of music that strikes you in the gut and leaves, almost in a blur. So it’s no surprise to hear Weinman say he never remembers most of his time on stage. He adds, “The idea is to get to a point where you lose yourself and you’re not thinking. That’s the goal. You just let it take you.”
While this might be Dillinger’s last few months on the road, Weinman does feel bad that they were never able to bring their show to India before. “There were a couple of festivals that didn’t end up happening—they didn’t pan out and got canceled. We really want to go to India. So if we get the opportunity within the time frame that we’re still doing this band—and there’s still a good amount of time supporting this album—we’d love to come to India,” says Weinman.
As for releasing Dissociation as their last album, there’s certainly no nervousness. At least not right now. Weinman says, “We still have such a long road ahead of us. We still have the album to come out, we have the whole world tour ahead of us. I think we feel a lot of positive excitement for the tours to come, but I think we’re just not sure how we’re going to feel once it comes to an end.”