Do you think that’s just maybe a function of more people being accustomed to what you do, via the Internet, but the fact that they know what you’re playing and how to react to it. That may just be the greater distribution.
Certainly exposure in general has to do with a lot of things. Whether it’s the computer or your distribution or just the amount of year you’ve been doing things. All of those things have to do with it. It’s not even a matter of the band becoming bigger; it’s more a matter of the culture of the people themselves. When we first started coming up in the underground, the underground was a combination of bands that were affected by their own cultural environments and then the music that they were listening to that came from this small subculture. It was a combination of those things that affected the different scenes and areas. The punk scenes in California, San Francisco, New York, and D.C., all these different cultural influences, whether they were geographic or economic, mixed with this need to find something more and not accept what’s put on the radio.
That work that went into that was a combination of all those things created paradigm shifts in music. Unfortunately, I think a lot of that is kind of fucked up now. It’s not like we don’t embrace technology and we don’t think it’s great, we do. I think it’s going to take a lot more work for people to really do something special now and make an impact because there’s just so much going on all the time. So much information. There’s literally a blueprint on how to be a band with the click of the button on your computer for everyone to see. It’s a little bit different, and one of the things that we’re proud of is that we’re still here, we’re still relevant, and we’re still working and playing music even though we come from a time before MySpace and YouTube. We started this band when there was no idea that we could do this for a living. We never thought of being on a Warped Tour or being on MTV or being in some big magazine. It wasn’t even a possibility or thought that it could ever happen. We wouldn’t even know how to do it. We were creating music under those circumstances, which was really hard to have that kind of exist right now.
Well, I guess it can’t. I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a rewind button on that.
(laughs) Well, I think I’m optimistic about that. It’s almost like Noah’s Ark, you know? There’s a flood of crap out there now, and it’s going to take real work to differentiate what’s important and to become something important. Hopefully, there will be some small explosions to fireworks that’ll make some type of impact. But it really is a sea of fireworks out there, and nobody would care about Fourth of July if there were sparklers shooting up your ass every day of the month.
You know what’s funny is that a lot of the ones I see getting a lot of traction online are the same things that already existed, which are mildly cute young boys with funky looking hair singing love songs. It’s the same shit.
It’s not even their fault. I can’t say that if I was that age, if I went online and looked at a blueprint on how to start a band. I don’t know how that would’ve affected me. Maybe I would’ve done the same thing, I don’t know. I do know that it was an element of unpredictability that shaped what Dillinger is that I was exposed to and nothing’s unpredictable anymore.
Being, like I said earlier, taken out of your comfort zone is important for creating important art. I remember going on trains to places I probably shouldn’t have been in and going to grungy places, seeing a band, and not knowing what the hell was going to happen. Not having any idea what I was about to see and then going back into the suburbs and being greatly affected by those experiences of being around different classes of people. People coming from different places that all have some kind of common interest in this music and this search for something else. That had a huge affect on who Dillinger is today. I guess people are going to work a little harder to look for inspiration outside of what’s so easily available to them.
That idea of culture for Option Paralysis. You lay it out, but did the idea influence the writing of the album? How much did that idea permeate the record itself? Less so as a manifesto for what’s going on with culture.
We certainly didn’t think about that idea of ‘Oh, too many options makes people not pick any’ when we were writing songs. We’re like, ‘Okay, make a lot of riffs.’ (laughs) But it is definitely that closest thing to a concept album that we’ve ever done. We had the title and thoughts, and these are things that what we’ve been thinking about and living and dealing with for many years. Just existing over ten years seeing how things have shaped and changed, it’s affected us and we’ve been thinking about a lot. Having these thoughts and this title before the music and lyrics were written definitely had an effect on things. The first single from the record, ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa,’ the title says it all. Goodbye to culture and to things like that. Some of the lyrics refer to things like looking back is more interesting than looking forward right now.
In general, thoughts around the idea that it’s hard to figure out what’s important based on the fact that there’s so much going on, so much information, being swayed in so many different directions. It really represents a lot of what it’s like to be in a band and to have these dichotomies in your life where things are so drastically different and you live your life so differently than the people around you. At the age that we’re at, we’re always flirting with the idea with being a normal person, but we’re not. I come home and I plant a garden and I make a rope swing in my backyard, and then I go and stomp faces on stage. It’s a pretty crazy lifestyle.
Our singer is going through lots of changes right now in his life. He’s gotten engaged and his fiancé is someone who knows nothing about Dillinger and doesn’t care about music at all. She pretty much thinks that Britney Spears wrote a Beatles song. Doesn’t know the difference. She doesn’t get this world at all, but Dillinger is what’s been a part of his life for nine years. It’s the most important thing in his life that’s shaped everything and who he is at this point. Everybody he knows in his life aside from her is through Dillinger. These type of things definitely had an impact on the emotional content of the record.
So I guess that’s why you have the TV-B-Gone on the box set, you can turn everything off.
It’s too bad you couldn’t get a wireless Internet jammer or something.
I couldn’t even deal with that. Fuck.
Season Of Mist, tell me about having your own imprint. Are you planning on signing bands or is this something for yourself?
A lot of people are kind of confused about that whole thing. People are coming up to us with demos like, ‘Can you sign our band?’ The reality is that we have no interest in being a record label right now. It’s not something that we want to do. We’re a band and we want to be a creative outlet but not necessarily a business for bands. The Party Smasher Inc. thing is really just a way for us to have some kind of umbrella that ties to Dillinger so whatever business decisions we make from here on out, there’s something that ties it all together.
After being on Relapse Records for most of our career—it was a really great experience, creatively, they’re an amazing label, the bands they sign, they really love. The bands represent the label, the label represents the band, there’s a culture about it. That’s kind of what I’ve been talking about that’s been lost in this day and age a little bit. It was a great experience. But it was still a traditional record deal and it was still binding in many ways. We couldn’t really be as creative on a business front as we could be musically. When we finally were in a position to be contractually free of our obligations and make some decisions moving forward how to continue, we wanted to make sure that number one we wouldn’t be tied into some long-lasting contract as things changed and wouldn’t allow us to try new things. The Party Smasher thing is just a way for us to collaborate with different labels and different people, whether we do things on our own or with other people, the point is it it’ll all be tied together by that.
The truth is we also have other outlets, different things, side projects, stuff like that. It’s kind of a way for us to tie it all together.
Decisions like that—I assume that the amount of time that you spent on the road with Trent Reznor, for instance, did that change your perspective on the business end of things, did you pick up anything from touring and interacting with guys like that?
Absolutely. In general, a lot of the musicians that we’ve looked up that we’ve also been extremely lucky to get to know, like Mike Patton and Trent Reznor, have been a huge influence on how to do things in that respect. It’s not like these bands have figured it out, how to break away from that traditional model and how to make it work for them, are doing things the same way. Mike Patton does it different from Trent Reznor. Trent Reznor does it differently from Radiohead. The point is they drew a line in the sand and said ‘We’re not that. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way, but there’s my way.’
That’s what we’ve learned from those guys really. You have to draw the line in the sand and separate yourself from the other bands that just don’t get it.
The Dillinger Escape Plan perform at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza in NYC on March 11 and will be on this year’s Warped Tour, including July 16 in Camden, July 17 in Uniondale, NY, and July 18 in Oceanport, NJ. Option Paralysis is out on March 23.