With an innovative sound that continually pushes the envelope and a formidable live reputation, New Jersey’s The Dillinger Escape Plan are a band who refuse to conform to the norm. They have forged their own path in today’s musical landscape and have garnered many fans in the process.
Armed with the face melting new album ‘Option Paralysis‘ and an impending Australian tour, guitarist Benjamin Weinman sits down with Killyourstereo to discuss touring, writing and recording and “shit aliens”.
So to begin with, what’s your name, role in The Dillinger Escape Plan and favourite album to listen to before going on stage?
I’m Benjamin Weinman. I play guitar in the band and I like listening to Ink and Dagger before going on stage because last time that happened I got really excited.
You are touring Australia in May in support of your new album ‘Option Paralysis’, which will mark your third time playing here in the space of three years. Being frequent visitors, what is it about Australia that keeps bringing you back?
So many things, but for starters the shows are great, the weather is amazing, and it’s one of the only places we don’t use a tour bus. Touring as much as we do sometimes it just feels good to not live in a bus for months at a time.
You are taking Maylene and the Sons of disaster along as your support. Why did you choose to tour with these guys?
Our Australian Promoter suggested them. I had heard good things about them but I had never heard them at the time so I checked them out and said, “Sounds cool. Go with it!” I’m looking forward to it. It seems like they have an amazing energy and are doing something a little different. I back it for sure.
Your fourth studio album ‘Option Paralysis’ has been attracting a lot of attention as of late. Greg stated via your myspace blog that “(you drove yourselves) to the brink of insanity and as close to the line of personal destruction as possible to get the most out of (yourselves) …as artists” while working on this album. Can you elaborate on what this involved?
Well, physically we pushed ourselves to the limit. Our new drummer (Billy Rymer) literally thought he may never be able to play drums again because his arms hurt so much after tracking just a few of the songs. We went days without seeing sunlight and our producer (Steve Evetts) honestly almost went clinically insane trying to record and produce some of these songs.
Did you try anything new or unconventional while writing and recording this album?
Yeah, we actually all got along as people for one. We also wrote pretty much all of the music completely before Greg even attempted to demo or come up with any vocal ideas. I think that was a real positive in terms of creativity. He let the music affect him and influence his ideas without any preconceived notion of what it was suppose to sound like, which I feel is a way more honest approach to writing.
I’ve read that this album borders on being a concept album. Can you explain the concept or theme behind ‘Option Paralysis’?
It means to have so many choices that you just pick nothing. It represents the fact that we live in a day and age where we are so over stimulated that nobody knows what is important. People don’t like bands, they like songs. People don’t work for their music or art anymore and it is creating a cultural depression. Everyone is experiencing everything at the same time in the same way all around the world. Shit aliens are probably out there in space watching Youtube and by the time we interact they are going to already have Facebook pages and wear their hair like assholes.
‘Option Paralysis’ was released under your own label entitled Party Smasher Inc, which will be distributed by French record label Seasons of Mist. What were the benefits of creating and releasing this album via your own label?
We started Party Smasher more as an umbrella entity, almost more than a label so that anything we do can be tied together under that name, whether it’s side-projects or if we collaborate with other labels, bands, or do things on our own. The main idea behind Party Smasher inc. is to be able to consistently try new things while maintaining an identity.
Do you intend on signing any currently independent bands to your newly created label?
Not at the moment. It is strictly for Dillinger related projects at this point.
You released an EP of cover songs a few years back entitled ‘Plagiarism’ and recently covered the Tears for Fears song ‘Head Over Heels’ while performing in Paris. What characteristics do you look for when you decide to cover a song and can Australian audiences expect any off-the-wall covers when you tour here?
It’s really for our own enjoyment. When we played that Tears for Fears song I don’t think 75 percent of the audience had any idea what we were doing. We had a great time though.
The Dillinger Escape Plan have become renowned for chaotic and spontaneous live performances. Is there ever a moment while performing that you think, “Geez, we have really pushed it a little too far this time”?
Definitely. But at the same time rock n’ roll is suppose to be unpredictable and dangerous. This isn’t a Hannah Montana concert. I guess mainly I start to question things when violence or stage antics become more of a focus than our show and music. That is not what it is all about and never has been. It’s about uninhibited free expression in an environment of like-minded people.
Many of your songs are riddled with incredibly complex sections, including finger-twisting riffs and frantic drumming, yet you seem to have no problems performing them in a live setting. Is complexity in your music something you strive for or something that just comes naturally to the band’s song writing?
I don’t think we play everything live 100 percent perfect. We most definitely do not. But that isn’t the point. Listening to a song on a car stereo and going to see a band perform live are two different things that tie together in a very magical way. One does not exist without the other for a band like us, but at the same time, they have two very different goals. For us, both are very selfish but we are happy that other people manage to get something out of it as well otherwise we couldn’t continue to do this at the same capacity. When writing music we don’t always think about exactly how the song will translate live, but at the same time, we don’t like to release music that doesn’t excite us to the point that we couldn’t deliver it live honestly and effectively. Sometimes complexity is part of that equation. Sometimes not only playing something really fast and loud is enough for us to get excited and stimulated. But complexity is not always the most important thing.
You included a “TV-B-Gone” device (which is a universal remote control that allows you to turn on or off any television set in your vicinity) in a limited edition package of your new album. Whose idea was this?
That was my idea. It is symbolic of the fact that people need to get out and interact. They need to experience life. Be inspired by mistakes and discomfort and things that weren’t neatly crafted into a TV show or a webpage.
The Dillinger Escape Plan have sometimes been referred to as “the Radiohead of metalcore”. What do you think of this title?
I’ll take it. Radiohead have somehow figured it out. They not only exist outside of the norm of both the music industry or any specific sound or formula, but they are a huge band. Those two don’t usually come together.
Do you have any parting words of advice for Killyourstereo users?
Thanks you very much for your interest and we are looking forward to playing your land very, very much.
Thanks for the interview Ben