Interview conducted by Alex. Published on 8/14/2004.
Do you think Dimitri regrets leaving the band?
Nah, I talk to him a lot, like me and him have actually become pretty good friends which is actually pretty bizarre given the circumstances…you'd think we have some kind of animosity between us, but it actually it created this neat bond between us. We both can see the band as being the singer and not being the singer. He comes to a lot of our shows and he came to our shooting of the video and I went to his wedding, you know what I mean? He's really happy with where he's at right now, he got married and he's concentrating on family. He's got a really good graphic design job and he actually worked on the layout for the cover for our new CD. It's cool, man, everybody that has been involved in this band in the past is still involved in some way, shape, or form and everyone kind of realizes that it's more than who is currently involved.
You know Adam, our ex bass player, he's just as important as Liam our current bass player, and Dimitri, and Mike Patton. Everybody fits into the equation somehow. I think everybody realizes that the entity of Dillinger Escape Plan is reliant upon every person that's ever been in the band…not just who is currently in it.
That's very cool. So when unfamiliar people ask you what style of music Dillinger plays, how do you respond?
I really don't…I hate that question. I always get asked that by like family members or like older people. A random kid will come into a store and be like "Are you in a band?" and I tell them and they're like "What are you guys called?" and of course they don't know who we are, you know? And they're like "What do you play?" It's just depending on the person I think depends on the answer. If it's like an older person I'll say "Oh, it's crazy like…The Who was back in the day!" (laughing) You know…and if it's like a young kid I don't know what to tell them. I'll say "It's crazy…punk rock…rock and roll…" whatever the kids are into.
Speaking of parents, how do your parents feel about what your band and what you guys are doing?
They're pretty supportive, man. My mom and dad usually come to every show in the Baltimore/DC area. At first they didn't quite know what to make of it. They've known that since I was young it's all I ever really wanted to do. When I went on my first tour with these guys and came back and had like two fake teeth at the end of that tour…right before that Botch show you saw us at actually, I got two of my front teeth replaced. They were just like "What the hell is going on?" and "I know this is like cool and you get to see all these places, but the music we don't understand at all and we don't understand you dropping out of college to go on tour and get your teeth knocked out" and all this stuff but I think now they're seeing all these positive reviews of the album and I think they realize that we're doing something that is…well I don't want to say like setting the bar, but something against the grain and actually having an affect on what bands are doing and what people are listening to.
Now that the new album is out, are you still under contract with Relapse?
Yeah, we were negotiated for two albums and two DVDs. So we owe them an album and two DVDs at this point.
Is it going to be another five years before we see another full length?
Definitely not. That really doesn't have anything to do with our creative output. It just had more to do with changing members and to be honest it had really more to do with the Mike Patton EP. Even though it was an EP it generated as much press and promotion as a full length.
So that took a lot out of you guys then.
Yeah, man, we really just wanted to do one US tour and one European tour and come home and get back to writing. We did a US tour and a European tour and Europe got really big for us and we didn't expect that to happen. We just kept having to go back and then we ended up going to Japan and Australia and we couldn't turn any of these tours down so it was really good for us as a band but really bad for the listeners in terms of getting new material. The best thing for them would be to have tanked, you know? Not selling tickets then we could keep putting out albums and working normal jobs and we wouldn't have to tour.
What are some underground bands that you respect right now?
I like Pelican a lot. I don't know if you consider them underground.
Yeah, along those lines.
Ok, yeah, definitely a pretty big Pelican fan. We just got the Necrophagist album which we're all pretty amazed by. That's really it, I don't know too much of what's going on in this type of music.
What have you been listening to besides Necrophagist?
Oh, man, we've been on an old thrash kick lately where we're just listening to like Slayer and Metallica. We go through that now and then and are just like "Yeah! These albums are awesome!" cause they were all albums we loves as a kid so you kind of keep going back to them but there's nothing really new that we're really excited upon. Some of us really like the new Muse album and other people like a lot of other things. No one's really on the same page.
Ok, so there's a pretty significant difference between Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine. To what do you attribute that change?
Well Ben and Chris are still the main song writers. It's easy to say that me Brian and Liam weren't a part of the writing process for Calculating Infinity and that's why it sounds different, but honestly Brian and Chris so all musical changes are still attributed to them. It's just been 5 years, their attitudes are different than when they were 19 years old…20 years old. They've just accumulated so many more influences and so many more styles of playing. I mean Chris goes through a drum book a week. He has a drum pad... like a practice pad and he'll go through the most insane books you'll ever see like "Advanced African Drumming III" (laughing) and I'm like "How the hell are you working through all this crazy stuff?" So they keep accumulating these new things and they just keep wanting to challenge themselves as players and I think some of the things they hadn't conquered in Calculating Infinity was the use of melody and more special arrangements and actual song writing. Not like here's a riff, here's a crazy time signature, here's like a rhythm exercise now let's string them all together and make a song where no one can figure out what's going on. It's because there was no cohesive thing going on. Now I think they're really concentrating on song writing and incorporating all these new elements and I think the Mike Patton EP was a definite signal to people that this is what they were interested in doing.
Well I heard the fire breathing aspect of the live show has come to an end.
Yeah, gone... gone. It's kind of sad because we wanted to stop, but after the Great White thing happened it was like "Cool! Now we can stop." We didn't want it to start becoming a gimmick where people were like "Let's go see Dillinger, they breathe fire, it's crazy!" And that's kind of what did happen. Kids started coming to shows and they'd be like "My friend told me there's this band and they were going to breather fire... and it was going to be crazy and people's heads were going to get split open by guitars and none of that happened tonight!"
What a let down.
Yeah, well that's great! Maybe next time I'll juggle flaming barbed wire next time we play. (laughing) But I honestly felt relieved when we couldn't do it anymore. Recently I felt like we haven't done it like a year and a half, two years, let's do it. But people don't realize that when that Great White thing happened, fire codes changed all over the country as where in the past we'd just blow fire and not even tell the club, we wouldn't even ask. Then after the show they'd be like "What the fuck!" (laughing)
Yeah! Like "what are you guys doing?!" But now it's like "If you breathe fire there will be a $3,000 fine and you won't get paid." Like we just played Hellfest and we wanted to do it and they said "If there's just one spark or one sign of uncontrolled flame you guys aren't getting paid." So we were just like, "Woah, dude. That's kind of a big deal since that's how we make our money. We couldn't be like "Fuck you! We're breathing fire anyway!" (laughing)
Does that mean Dillinger is your guys' main income right now?
Yeah, Dillinger and Ebay. Ebay might even be more profitable.
What's going on Ebay?
Well I'm out of things to sell which kind of sucks. (laughing)
What have you been selling?
I started selling toys from when I was a kid, like GI Joes and Star Wars and He Man, and trying to convince people to buy them by saying like "I've got Skeletor's battle armor! Give me eight bucks!" (laughing) You know what I mean?
I sold everything but like the key dudes... like Optimus Prime, Skeletor, Battle Cat... I sold all the little auxiliary things. (laughing) So now I'm kind of out of everything. But yeah the Ebay thing is over which kind of sucks, so now we're really trying to make this band thing work because I'm out of stuff to sell. I don't own anything at this point... I have a dog which I won't sell. I tried to sell Brian our guitar player on Ebay. I actually put a picture of him up and said "Used still in pretty good shape guitar player for sale" and the bidding got up to like five million dollars cause everyone knew it was a joke. He called me one day and was like "You know I'm on Ebay?" and I was like "Dude... are you serious?!" Plus it was like the most unflattering picture ever, he's all haggard looking. He's the oldest one in the band so it was all "Ancient guitar player from ancient times" it was amazing!
That's unreal... anyway, so due to downloading music a lot of people had Miss Machine before it ever came out. How do you feel about that…or downloading music in general?
I'm a really big fan of downloading, I haven't really bought an album in like two years that isn't like an underground album. I'll buy albums from bands like us, like I downloaded the new converge but I'm going to buy it when it comes out. If I want songs from like giant bands, say I want "Eye of the Tiger" from Survivor, I'm not going to go buy the Survivor album to get that one song, you know?
I'm kind of glad that it happened because it helped generate a lot of excitement because it was only like two weeks ahead of time. Irony is a Dead Scene leaked two months ahead of time. It was really kind of annoying. I'm a big fan of downloading but I'm not a big fan of it coming out before it's supposed to because usually it's not the final product and that's kind of what happened to us. The version that leaked wasn't fully mastered, it was just a rough mix that we had and somehow it got out.
Any idea how?
No, we have no idea. It's annoying because I downloaded it myself to see if it was a joke... my friend had told me our album was all over the Internet so I had to find out what was going on. So I downloaded it and I was like "Woah... this sounds like shit! We gotta get this remixed!" We were all freaking out because [we thought] Steve, our producer, had done a horrible job at mixing and that we were just like "We can't really sounds like this... this is garbage." So we got the final CD and it sounded completely different. I read some things on the Internet about how kids were saying the production really wasn't that good and that's because they were listening to such a poor quality mix. It's annoying to me that some kids have only heard that and not the final CD and there really is a world of difference.
Is anyone doing any side projects?
Well Liam is in a band called Starkweather which I'm sure you're probably familiar with. They're a big influence on bands like Coalesce and Converge. They don't tour at all and I guess they've been working on this album forever and it's done, and I'm not sure why it's not out or if it's coming out, but they have an album finished. Everything this band touches just becomes such a black hole for productivity, you know? I have that Error thing that I'm doing with that Atticus guy from Nine Inch Nails and Bret from Bad Religion and we did like a five-song EP and it's kind of like electronic/hardcore type of thing. It really didn't get too much push because Bret didn't really want to push a band that wasn't a real band... it was just a project. But it's out, you can buy it.
And that was released on Epitaph?
It was released on Epitaph. We're all real psyched on the way it came out. It's got like an Aphex Twin feel to it. We're all pretty much trying to focus on Dillinger especially since it was five years between releases. We don't want to waste any of our creative output twiddling around with other things.
Do you have any expectations as far as Miss Machine sales?
No, I've already been surprised by the first two weeks. It's really crazy, man. I can't believe that there's that many people combined that would listen to this album much less in the first two weeks. I don't know what to expect. Honestly though, even if this band didn't sell records anymore we'd still make albums just because we're excited by one another creatively.
That's really admirable... really.
That's the way I feel, man. Bands like Neurosis I think creatively have it the best because they don't tour anymore. They can focus all their energy on writing which is such an exciting aspect to being in a band. Pushing yourself creatively and getting new things from one another. We don't really get to a lot of that because we tour so much and we really don't write on tour because you really have to sit down and play garbage for three or four hours before you come up with something and nine times out of ten the first hour and a half is going to be not that great. We just don't have time on tour. The only time Ben writes is when he's at home and it really is a pain in the ass. In a lot of ways that would be great if this band started to not do well anymore because then we could just get regular jobs and we'd probably put out like an album a year! For fans of the bands that don't really care about seeing us every three or four months, that would be the best thing is if we didn't do well anymore.
Well I wish you the worst.
Well that's it, man, any last words?
Yeah, I just want to say thanks to everyone for being so patient with this album coming out and thanks for hanging in there and still listening and supporting after all this time.
Thanks a lot, Greg.
Thank you, man.
After this point Greg and I had begun talking for quite a few minutes, going off on random tangents and talking about particular bands. We both agreed that it may be interesting to make public Greg's views on particular subjects, bands, etc... so here's round two.
A lot of bands out right now... metalcore.... along those lines, what do you think about the current status of the genre?
Well the whole metal core scene is pretty much the same as the nu-metal scene was three or four years ago. It's pretty depressing. We went to Ozzfest recently and that was pretty depressing. I turned on Headbanger's Ball recently because I knew that our video was going to come on soon and just watching Headbanger's ball for two hours made me want to throw up. I think that it's exciting that we can even have a video... that we can even have a forum for a band like us to even have a video. I don't want people to associate a band like us with a formulaic metalcore bands. When you hear bands like Atreyu, it's the Linkin Park of that style of music. It's like a verse, a chorus, a verse, a chorus, a double bass breakdown, a chorus – end. It's not art, it's not any kind of forward thinking music. I don't really know if people are like "It's great that you guys can be on TV!," but I don't know that having our video next to a band like that is any more desirable than having a video next to a band like Disturbed. I don't know if it's any better for us. If I see another video with like a fucking red rose at the end of it, or a black and white video with like a red heart somewhere, you know what I mean? Come on, dude... seriously.
Now that band's a whole other story. Like I don't really know those guys that well, but apparently... uh... they're a terrible band.
We played with them on the Take Action Tour with Poison the Well and Eighteen Visions and those guys and... I don't know, man. I don't know where this goth metalcore sing-along stuff came from, but I guess it's Orange County.
Next time I come through town, James Hart is going to kick my ass. I don't know, man. To each their own, whatever you want to listen to, it's your own fault. I don't really see anything... I don't know why those bands are doing so well. Honestly that's the style of music that pisses me off the most out of every style of music is that goth metalcore thing. It's like Hot Topic to the next level.
Worst metalcore band...
(didn't even finish the question)
Atreyu, man! I'm sure they're nice people, I'm sure they're the nicest of people and I wish them well so they don't have to work at 7-11 for the rest of their lives but we heard their album a couple years ago, like their first album and were like "This is brutal! This is really one of the worst things ever!" Then we heard they sold like 30 thousand albums their first week and then we were like "Woah! There's a lot of dumb kids!"
Send a message to the kids who bought the new Atreyu album.
Well, they probably just sold their Linkin Park album because they're too cool for Linkin Park and now they're into Atreyu... so a couple years from now they can sell their Atreyu album and listen to The Dillinger Escape Plan.
I don't know what else to say, man.