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The Dillinger Escape Plan

Between the performances of Omission and November Coming Fire on the Arnhem Hardcore Meeting, I had half an hour with guitarist and band manager Ben Weinman to talk about quite a few topics, but mostly about music of course. It is not difficult to let this little big man talk, when asked just short questions, he was still able to make his answers more like little stories. Stories about his childhood, and a new Dillinger record, that by the way will not be recorded for at least a year. Because of the thing The Dillinger Escape Plan that gives the band the most pleasure; touring the world.

Fotocredits: kevin@velserherrie.com

By: Jasper | Archive under different metal

The long hard road…

We are not really exhausted, it is more that we have a couple of minor injuries you always end up getting on such a strict touring schedule. We don't have enough time to heal. Our guitarist had a serious arm injury, he had surgery and now he is back again, but he did not have enough time to heal properly. But we are ok I guess, we are used to this; we tour a lot you know. We have been on tour for like ten months. The atmosphere in the band is good; we get along pretty well, although there are definitely issues. You know when you are on tour every decision you make effects four other people and a crew. So your life is not really yours. We are definitely friends, also because you kind of loose all your other friends when you tour this much. When we have some time off at home we do not hang out much of course, because we spend so much time together already. But nobody knows more about you than the people in your band, the things you go through or whatever.

Metal scientists

We are very competitive people; I think it is an interesting way of putting it when you say that we make intelligent music. It is not that we are very educated people in a scientific way, most people define our music as mathcore or mathmetal but I'm like the worst in mathematics ever! We are more laborers than scientists, although we do study music, instead of just listening to it. We are extremely into music, we take it very seriously, we do not so much study the actual notes and theory but more the songs and their structure. Like a director when watching a movie, he is not just watching it, he is seeing every angle. If there is a mistake, like a microphone in a shot, he sees it. We dissect everything just by default. We love making music, and when we listen to it it is more an intense experience than when somebody else does it.

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Depeche Mode vs. Carcass

When asked what kinds of bands are interesting today I would say there are obviously bands that take music to a new level densely wise, as far as the amount that goes into it, production, and things like that. There are also bands that just write great songs, and there are bands that do both. I cannot name anything now, but bands from the past that always impressed me with the amount of technical ability, as well as songwriting skills, were bands like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. When we first started playing in a band, we listened to a lot of bands in the metal world like Cynic and Death, and bands with a great devotion and energy, like Entombed and Carcass, even Black Flag and Dead kennedys, who had something to say and added some honest energy.

No preachers

We have never been a political band; we were always more a selfish band. We use Dillinger to express our own feelings. The political atmosphere however, definitely influenced us, and what we have to say. Although we are not trying to change anyone's opinion or preach, or talk about specific issues. We do not have a political agenda. I am involved in the lyric writing process a little bit, but not as much as in the past. Greg is the main lyric writer. What I find interesting is that he is still pretty fresh in the game, because he has only done one record with us. Before Dillinger he had only done some demos with local bands. Right now he is letting the music inspire him to write lyrics instead of the other way around. He is starting to let things out he never knew were in him! He writes down a line that just sounds good, puts in the music and just starts to shoot all kinds of crazy shit at random. When he looked at it afterwards he was like, wow; this opens my mind to what I am thinking!

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Slave driver Ben

We took a decent amount of time before we thought Greg was ready for us. That is also why it took so long for the new record to come out. He was just not ready and he needed to catch up with what we had been doing. We would send demos back and forth for ever. I would just send him music through Instant Messenger and he would put his vocals on it, and send it back. I was making him improve it time after time and he hated me for it. The writing process for 'Miss Machine' was brutal. But at the end of the day we were sure he pushed himself as far as we had done musically, and that is all we were ever been looking for.

No hardcore band

I appreciate what the hardcore scene has brought us, we would never take that for granted. In the metal scene you do not get the kind of opportunities there are in the hardcore and punk scene. We started playing in basements and very little places, and although the music that influenced us was not typically hardcore, the attitude behind it sure was. The fact that the people who were putting on those shows and released our records really loved our records, as opposed to some bussiness man, that's just great. When I grew up I used to play in metalbands, I remember those big, fat club owners who knew nothing about the music. They would just say: “If you sell fifty tickets you can play, and the more tickets you sell, the better spot you can have”. So we were running around town, trying to get our parents to buy our tickets haha. That is very different from hardcore shows, when people just show up to be a part of something. I know that is not necessarily the case anymore today, and people are taking advantage of the underground scene, but I will not get into that now. We really appreciated the opportunities we got through the hardcore scene, but we never considered ourselves a hardcore band.

On stage violence

I can imagine that people think we are pretty aggressive persons, when seeing us perform live. But it is more that we are just really competitive. With ourselves, and with everybody. When we get on stage we just want to make sure that there is no band in the world at that same time, that is as good as us. It is a healthy competition though, we get inspired by other bands. It might come across a bit arrogant some times, but I think every band should have that attitude, if we do not think we are the best, who should think it? It is not that we think other bands suck, or that we do not like them, we are friends with half of the bands that play today and we are very excited to see them. On stage however everybody should have the attitude to destroy, the crowd deserves it.

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Dillinger is Jazz?

It is not so much that we are directly influenced by jazz, but I think the attitude especially of the fusion artists, who came from the jazz scene, effected us. Also the idea of not having any boundaries or guidelines to what we do, no rules. It is more apparent on our new record than ever, we dive into new genres and try different things. Just like in fusion and jazz, the same attitude, no rules. Dillinger does (not) eat animals. I do not know if the other people in the band would consider themselves straightedge, I can pretty much say I am. But I just always have been that way. Everyone has a different rule of what straightedge is so it is difficult to say. But I was already like this when I had long hair to my back, wearing a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt. It has nothing to do with a scene or a fashion; it's just personal choice. Greg eats tuna though haha, he eats as much as a sperm whale!

Can Dillinger live from Dillinger?

I am also the band manager, we have always ran our own business. We have other people involved, but we always kind of front the main situation. It takes up most of time. For example when we tour. It takes a month of preparation for every month of touring, so figure it out, we are touring for lots of months now. We are well able of doing this, as long as it is under our terms. I live with my parents when I am at home, Chris our drummer gives drum lessons and our bass player Liam also works when he is at home. I used to do web design. I went to school and got a degree in psychology. I had a job after school in computers, making tons of money. I could have been very secure, but I was not happy and the band opportunities kept on coming. We made a conscience effort to make this work, and a choice do everything we could to make it. Even if that means not living in the best conditions.

A new chapter.

We already started working on some new Dillinger stuff, most of it sounds very aggressive, although I think we are also pretty violent on Miss Machine. It will be out a lot sooner, now we have a good stable line up. Unfortunately touring is mostly what we do, so its difficult to focus on the writing. We have one month off in May. And then we will continue touring until December. It is very difficult to say when we will stop supporting Miss Machine and start with a new album. For a lot of bands it is a lot easier I think. We take writing a lot more seriously, for example it would probably take a lot shorter to write a Nirvana record than a Dillinger record, if only because there are probably the same amount of riffs on the whole 'Nevermind'album as in one Dillinger song! It is not that I think our songs are better or worse, I just want people to understand that we work differently and that it might take us a little longer than other bands because of that.

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