New Jersey’s own progressive metal powerhouse, the Dillinger Escape Plan, have made their creed an unyielding, forceful drive to evolve. This, coupled with an unrivaled philosophy of extremism, has brought the band to new heights of musical exploration, having reached their most recent summit with their newest album, Ire Works.
But the weariness associated with such fury has taken its toll as well. The band’s veteran roster looks like a list of walking wounded, now bringing in new blood with drummer Gil Sharone and second guitarist Jeff Tuttle.
“We’ve crushed enough players,” remarks bassist and eight year veteran Liam Wilson. “The expectations are high. When I joined the band and when Greg joined the band, yeah, we had to be at the top of our A game, but now we’ve had four more years to hone our craft and someone else has got to come in and be on this level.”
Wilson’s walking out of a yoga studio in Philadelphia, a practice he started up in his off-time since their last tour 15 months ago. “115 degrees for 90 minutes,” he explains. “It’s brutal. But if I can handle that, I’m ready for touring.”
You see, they’re prepared for the worst, because they’re pretty much begging for punishment. Take their preparations to record Ire Works out in Los Angeles, for instance. The metal innovators decided on the most Dillinger-esque way to get themselves and their gear out from New Jersey to California. Singer Greg Puciato and Wilson got in a car and didn’t sleep.
“We drove, pretty straight, 120 mph the whole time. It was pretty blistering, and kind of silly. It was like legendary, as we were doing it, at least to us. This is something we’re going to look back on and even if nobody else knows about it, this is going to be funny.”
But like all things Dillinger, there was a method to the madness: “I think it was a good way for us to transition between home life and recording a record. Three or four days to decompress, listen to some demos, listen to some old things that inspired both of us. And just talk. You know, like ‘What do you want out of this,’ or ‘How do you hear this,’ or ‘What are you worried about,’ or ‘What’s been going on in your life,’ you know? Anyway, we started driving like Wednesday at 7 p.m. and arrived Saturday morning at like 3 a.m. and I think we stopped for about six hours to go to the Grand Canyon, and maybe another three or four to get out, stretch.”
As the band was on their way out, however, not all was set in stone. While a majority of the material was nearly complete, there were a few things here and there that never really got solidified, due to a darker side in the Ire Works writing session. Chris Pennie, one of the founding members of the band, left before the recording process to join Coheed And Cambria.
Here’s how it went down, according to Wilson: “We came off tour with AFI. We knew we were going to take some time off. Ben had some injuries he was going to heal and everybody was kind of like, ‘We’re going to take a hiatus of sorts, we’re going to write a record, we’re not going to play any shows. Maybe in 12 to 15 months or so, we’ll start talking about playing shows again. In the meantime, we’re going to write.’ I’ve got a day job that I go to when I’m not on tour, two of them actually. I’m like ‘Okay, cool with me, I’m going to go home, play bass a couple hours a day, do some yoga, go to the office, come home, and when we’re ready to record, we’ll go do it.’
“And I think Chris was like, ‘Well, I want to play more drums.’ And Coheed called. He started practicing with them to help them write a song or two, and it was kind of he gave them an inch and they took a foot. And he went with it. It was like ‘How about two songs? How about you play on the record? How about you play this show? How about you play this tour?’”