Supergroups are a cool idea. Even though they sometimes don’t realise their full potential, there have been some pretty big ones; Audioslave, Down, and Axewound, just to name a few. One recent act to come into existence, who is already reaching their full potential, is Killer Be Killed. The four-piece features guitarist/vocalist Max Cavalera (Soulfly), bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders (Mastodon), vocalist/guitarist Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), and drummer David Elitch (formerly of The Mars Volta). Now, that’s a supergroup! The band makes their live debut at next year’s Soundwave Festival, and in build up to this special occasion, we spoke with the energetic Greg Puciato about being on festival and being a part of this star-studded cast.
Hey there Greg, how are you today?
Good, good man. You’re my second one today so I’m still fresh. I haven’t been beaten down yet (laughs).
(laughs) Well, let’s get to it man. The Dillinger Escape Plan were out here for Soundwave this year, so how are you feeling about coming back out for 2015 with Killer Be Killed?
It feels great man. It’s funny, on the last day of Soundwave, Troy [Sanders, bass] and I were standing on a hotel roof in Perth, and we were joking and pipe-dreaming that maybe we’ll come back next year. It was more or less joking as all three of us were so busy with touring. But as soon as we found an opening in all of our schedules we had to find time to do this, and now that we’re actually getting ready for it, it’s pretty exciting.
Is it nerve-wracking at all to know that Soundwave will be the first time Killer Be Killed has played live together?
Yeah, it’s a nervous excitement. If you gave me a microphone I could play a Dillinger Escape Plan show right now. We’ve done it thousands of times; I know what it is, I know how to go into that mindset. But we don’t know how a Killer Be Killed show feels, we don’t know what we’re gonna be like on stage, what vibe the band will have, if the band will have a different identity than the individuals who are in it. It’s exciting man. And exciting as it was to start writing the songs and not know what they’ll sound like, it was equally exciting to be like, fuck man, I’ve known Troy for 12 years now, but we’ve never actually been on stage together yet. It’s just gonna be crazy.
Do you think it will be a different experience for you to now be singing and playing guitar?
I don’t know if I’m gonna do it the whole time. I think I’m gonna try and find a way to do a trade off beause I have too much energy to hold a guitar the whole time, so we’ll figure out what songs I’ll have to play on and what ones I won’t. That’s all part of the excitement though, not knowing how it’ll turn out.
How did you find the reaction to the self-titled album?
Dude, it’s crazy. I don’t have social media, and I don’t read the magazine or YouTube comments. I just don’t like doing it. The thought of something influencing me, whether it be a negative or positive comment or review, is just detrimental. I don’t want to be steered in anyway by the audience. I’m still that way with Dillinger. Whenever Dillinger plays a show I think that like 10 people will show up, like here’s the time will be playing and no one will show up. Then when all these people show up, I’m just like, ‘Who the fuck are all these people?’ When we first talking about playing shows and putting this album, I thought that maybe only die-hard fans of each band would be the only ones to pick up on it.
I didn’t really expect much, and it wasn’t really until we announced Soundwave that I realised people actually cared, it’s all kind of a big shock.
So it’s definitely blown up way more than you thought it would?
Yeah man, but like I said, I still don’t know what to expect. I have the feeling that we’ll come down there and play and there’ll be like 10 people. Maybe i’ll be pleasantly surprised and there’ll be like 15 or 20 people there (laughs).
With writing the album, and with the four of you coming from different bands, did you guys ever have any artistic and creative differences?
You know what, we didn’t man. I really thought that would happen. Max and I had been working on songs for a couple years and we already had a flow going then Troy came along. So, what happens if we disagree on something? There’s no bandleader or person to default to. Yet, we never ever had so much as an argument, everyone was already validated by just being in the room. There was no need to do the whole, ‘My dick is bigger than yours’ kind of thing. We had all achieved something and we all believed in everyone’s achievements. It was a very democratic process, so if Max and I are really into something and Troy wasn’t, than we defaulted to whoever had the most enthusiasm or dislike for the idea. It ended up making the end result much more interesting.
Oh, good to hear man. Did you find that having the four of you together creates a good mix of styles and influences?
Oh, definitely. We’re already talking about writing another album. By the time we were done, we realised we had enough ground to want to magnify different aspects of the record. When I listen back to the album now, I hear parts that I want to take further next time, so there’s this already this excitement about what we can do on a follow up.
With you personally, did you do anything different on the record than you would if it was a Dillinger release?
To me, it was more about filling in the spaces dynamically. When you’re writing a record and you’re in charge of everything single fucking lyric and vocal, the level of control and your approach is different. When you’re trying to work around two other people, it becomes more about trying to complement the other guy. If Max just did a really brutal part and if I follow it up with my own brutal part, than it just doesn’t make any sense. So it became more about making the songs more interesting in the context of what those dues were doing, instead of just having a blank slate to fill in on my own.
Yeah, I can imagine. Your scream is a little more higher and raw than Max’s too.
Yeah, I purposely made my screams a bit higher for the Killer Be Killed record than on a Dillinger record just to try and accentuate that because Max has got one of the most brutal screams of all time. There’s no point trying to compete with that, as he just lays down the fucking hammer so hard. He’s like a blunt force object like when you want to shoot the fucking bazooka then he’s your guy. So I deliberately steered away from that territory cause there’s no way I can compete with that guy.
I know that some people are quite skeptical about supergroups, as there are usually rare live shows and one release, but do you think having consecutive albums form Killer be Killed will make it that much more special?
We definitely don’t want to over play. I want to keep the live aspect of it rare, but as far as creating music, when we finished the last one, we were all pretty excited about doing another. Maybe that separates it from being a project and turns it into a band. It already feels that way. I talk to Troy nearly every day and I talk to Max about once a week so it already feels much more than a one of thing at this point.
With your work in Killer Be Killed, will you still be trying to invest time into Dillinger in the meantime?
Yeah man, we’re workaholics. I have a tendency that if I’m not working on something or writing, I’ll find another outlet for that energy, and usually that outlet is not healthy (laughs). So for me, I never stop writing.
We’re already booking Dillinger shows for 2015, we’re already two songs into the next record. This is what I chose to do with my life, and if I’m not doing it, then I want to be doing it, you know? But it is a little bit exhausting; I didn’t realise how exhausting writing two records back to back would be. After we finished the last Dillinger touring cycle we pretty much started writing again, so now I’m getting ready for both the new Dillinger and Killer Be Killed shows at the same time.
Do you think that one day you may be able to tour Killer Be Killed and Dillinger on the same bill?
That’s a bit harsh for me man. A Dillinger show is exhausting for me, both vocally and physically. We’ve done two Dillinger shows in a day, like only a few times, and I think a whole tour of that would just clean me out. I’d comes out of it looking like a skeleton or something.
(Laughs) Good point man. Finally, do you think some fans will come to see the band play and expect you to be climbing up and down the stage, over the lighting rig, and jumping into the crowd?
(Laughs) Probably. I may end up doing that. I have no idea. As I said, I know what the energy of a Dillinger show feels like on stage, it’s never preconceived. When we’re on stage it’s just such a blast of energy. I don’t really have any other way of performing. I don’t really know what to expect from myself for Killer Be Killed.
Well, I do hope it’s as intense as a Dillinger show, either as your movement on-stage or sonically speaking.
Well, I come from more of a punk/hardcore background whereas the other guys have a more metal background. I didn’t come from playing metal shows, I came from playing hardcore basement shows and that’s where the Dillinger energy came from. But I’m sure that’ll show up when we play.
Well, thanks a lot for your time today Greg, and I wish you best for the rest of your year.
Dude, thank you, and I’ll see you in February.
Killer Be Killed perform at Soundwave Festival 2015.
The band’s self-titled debut album is available now through Nuclear Blast. Read our review here.