Dillinger Escape Plan

By Andy

BEN – If you could just introduce yourself for us?
DEP – I’m Ben, I’m a guitar player in the Dillinger Escape Plan.

BEN – You’re playing a few shows over here in the UK – what’s the reaction like after the media interest after the System of a Down support shows and the ‘Reading Incident’ [For those that don’t know, DEP vocalist Greg defecated on the Main Stage at Reading 2002 during one of the best sets I have ever seen by any band ever]?
DEP – After the SOAD tour we did some headlining gigs and Reading and the media from that definitely helped. The turn-outs at the gigs were a lot larger and the excitement for the band was a lot greater. Immediately after Reading we did some dates and it was interesting to see how easy it is to get press over here! Everything seemed to snowball, which is cool, and we’ve definitely seen an increase of people at our shows.

BEN – Do you think the heightened media interest is due to a resurgence in alternative or extreme music, or from what most people now associate you guys with for better or for worse – what happened onstage at Reading?
DEP – I think a large part of the press and interest is to do with the fact that the media are supposed to be on the ball all the time. The position that they’re in means they’re supposed to be more knowledgeable than the average listener as far as music goes. Everyone’s trying to figure out what’s coming next so the fact that we’re different and extreme and other things put together means that we get attention.

BEN – How pleased with the level of interest that you get are you?
DEP – We’re very pleased – we haven’t released a whole lot of music and we don’t have a lot out there. The situations that we’ve been releasing our music haven’t been very widespread. Even now I guess it’s pretty hard to get it?
BEN – Yeah, only usually in bigger HMVs and stuff…
DEP – In other parts of Europe it’s much more difficult. We’re very happy with where we are.

BEN – Have you found that kids are coming in contact with you because of the press interest or the Mike Patton collaboration [He worked with the band on the ‘Irony Is A Dead Scene’ EP], or through general word of mouth?
DEP – It’s different all the time. We came here a few years ago with a band called Botch and played small venues. We played with different local hardcore bands too.

BEN – You seem to get lumped in as a hardcore band…do you consider yourselves to have that kind of edge?
DEP – I think the definition of that is ever-changing. Everybody has a different conception of what that is so it’s hard to say. It’s where we come from, definitely. Seems like the underground and the mainstream is now blurred which is kinda weird and fucked up – I don’t know where we stand on this. Sometimes I feel on our own, just doing our thing. We definitely come from the ethic of playing, playing hard and working on our music…not catering to a specific audience and trying to express ourselves artistically. Whatever comes out of it comes out of it, y’know?

BEN – Are you trying to push away from the mainstream or is it naturally like this?
DEP – That’s an interesting question and I’m glad you asked that. What a lot of people don’t know is that we’re not trying to push away from commercialism, there’s no mission statement to play in front of as many people as possible or to annoy as many people as possible. It’s only to write music that excites and stimulates us. Listening to so many different types of music and being in so many bands while we were growing up, it takes the music we play now to stimulate us.

BEN – What would you say to the people who are aggravated by you? The ones who have written you off?
DEP – We’ve heard everything, from “You guys are the best thing ever,” which is awesome, to “You’re the worst, just noise.”
BEN – Like when you played with SOAD you totally split the audience…
DEP – Most of them thought that we were the worst thing they’d every heard! That was exciting for us because we’re in a situation where not many bands in our genre have lasted as long as us, so when we play a tour at home everyone’s there to see us – people who don’t want to see us aren’t there. When we first started this band it was built on an aggression, it was very cathartic. We were playing in bands, we didn’t care what people thought. We got to a point where people started liking us, and when we played with SOAD where nobody liked us we’re put back almost to our first shows. Except there are like 10,000 people instead of…12. It’s similar, because we weren’t in a favourable position in terms of the audience.

BEN – Do you thrive on the challenge?
DEP – Definitely. That continues to make us go.
BEN – What else kicks you off and drives you on?
DEP – I guess we get frustrated with the state of music sometimes. It’s funny because there is a weird situation where the mainstream is trying to get into the underground and it’s frustrating to see just how many people don’t get it and don’t have any real love for music or any understanding of what it’s about. You were talking about the press – all of a sudden people taking a liking to us and it was funny to see how many people following the herd. A lot of press is someone reading something good about us and saying “I’m cool, I’d better say something about them too.” I’d say 60% of the people who write good things about us are doing it because it’s the cool thing to do. They’ll listen to our record and think it’s the worst thing ever until someone told them it was good. To me the biggest compliment is when people think we’re horrible at first listen but they’re compelled to listen again and again until it makes sense to them. That, to me, means we’re not taking the easy way out, we’re not making crap that’s easy to decipher and take in. We’re doing something that not many people are doing right now.

BEN – Are there any other bands who you think are doing the same thing as you?
DEP – The band we played with before, Botch. Unfortunately I couldn’t say a lot right now, Botch recently broke up. A lot of the bands doing something worthwhile don’t really carry on for long because as you get older you have more responsibilities, there’s not much financial return. I’m interested to see what The Bronx does, they’re friends of ours. I think they’re one of those bands who will be very hyped because they’re doing tours with The Distillers and they’re doing something interesting.

BEN – Questions that have been sent in…how long does it take to construct a song from inception to the stage where you’re happy with it?
DEP – That’s a hard one to answer because it’s different all the time. The reason we don’t release much is because…not that songs take long, but because months will go by when there’s nothing. We just don’t feel inspired to write this kind of music on a daily basis, you can’t just take normal currencies for it. It’s something that has to be stimulated and we don’t force it. We just wrote a song and it took about three weeks to finish. But we probably didn’t write anything for three months before it.

BEN – This one’s specifically for you…how much do you charge for guitar lessons?
DEP – I charge $40 an hour, which is…
BEN – …a bargain…
DEP – …about £25. I give two kids lessons at home right now. It’s fun.

BEN – Last one…a guy emailed in saying his mates wouldn’t give you a chance after the Reading Incident – what would you say to them?
DEP – I’d say that they’re fucking pussies, because the thing that excites me about underground music is the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next, the unpredictability. When I used to go to shows in New York City there was a difference between going to see Bon Jovi and The Suicidals, because of the unpredictable nature. I don’t condone violence or fighting or any shit like that, but the fact is I never knew if someone was going to break out into a fight in front of me, or if the band was going to do something wacky…I come from the places where GG Allin would be throwing shit in people’s faces, or Iggy Pop would be cutting himself onstage…there’s a certain excitement about not knowing what’s going to happen. At least we’re not running around in masks and outfits like fucking monkeys trying to fucking sell something other than our art.

[Cheers to Lisa and Nita at Goldstar for the interview]

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]