Did you bring anybody else on this recording?
Well, we did have a piano player do some stuff named Mike Garson, although we had written all the piano stuff before he was a part of the picture. He came in on two songs; one was a song called ‘Widower,’ which I wrote completely on the piano, and the other was called ‘I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t.’ He’s been a professional piano player for over 40 years, and he’s best known for his work with David Bowie. He played on Bowie’s early stuff, Ziggy Stardust stuff, and he’s played with a lot of people. He even played on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile. He’s done a lot of really diverse work from classical to jazz to avant-garde.
We were really interested to see what he would do with one of our crazier songs and that was ‘I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t.’ He’d start shredding over it. He had no idea about what the music sounded like or heard any of the songs, he just came in and started going off. It was really inspiring to see him be so enthusiastic after all those years, playing with a band like us and have so much fun with it. Then we had him play on a song which was already a piano song, and we wanted to see what his interpretation of it would be. On the beginning of ‘Widower,’ we had him play over my piano. Then we took mine out, and it totally took it to another place, which was really interesting. In the end of the song, it‘s both of us playing at the same time, and he’s soloing over my piano. It’s pretty awesome.
That was probably one of the most different things about this record. It’s probably the first record that has some element of almost classical stuff going on, especially with the piano in small parts. It’s something we never touched upon because I was always really conscious about putting in classical with metal because it’s so overdone. (laughs) I didn’t want to ever sound like Yngwie Malmsteen or whatever, you know? With him, it was just so natural and so awesome the way it came together.
There’s also some very straightforward stuff. The last track ‘Parasitic Twins’ you have that bluesy lead line that’s completely weird for you guys. It’s like, ‘Wow, okay.’ It works extremely well, but I was never expecting it. I’m sure that’s what you were going for.
That’s that stuff that’s fun because a lot of our stuff is so planned out. Everything has a purpose, every single thing. That’s why it’s interesting to me when people saying, ‘Oh, it’s just random, it’s noise.’ That’s cool because it means we’re doing something right because I guarantee you, we’re playing the same every time. It means we did our job in a way, but we intentionally improvise to give a different flavor and energy.
That type of stuff like that solo and a couple of other bluesy things, I just straight up did it in one take. Just pressed record, go, and went with it. That’s some of my favorite moments because it was really just feeling it. Just go for it. There was no thought, just a natural, see what happens type of thing.
That randomness aspect of Dillinger, maybe I’m just used to it, but [this album] does feel like a punkier and more straightforward side of the band.
That’s what I was trying to say. It’s certainly not less crazy or less technical. It’s probably more technical than anything we’ve even done. Even the songs that are more melodic are still technically kind of difficult and structurally kind of interesting. Songs like ‘Gold Teeth On A Bum,’ that’s one of the hardest riffs, and I still fuck it up every time I play it. But there’s singing over it, so people automatically can kind of relate to it. They don’t think of it as crazy as other Dillinger stuff, but in reality, it really is. It’s still technical, and it’s still clever. Our goal is just getting better at songwriting, better at incorporating all these things and making it work within a context of a record. And that’s always been the challenge for us. Constantly evolving, trying new things, and making it work somehow. The sound that we’ve developed isn’t easy, and I think that’s where this record really succeeded the most. It just has a flow and overall consistency and vibe to it. I think we got better at doing those kinds of things.
Have you adopted any type of regimen to keep yourself injury free recently? I remember you got cut short on Gigantour because you re-injured your arm and that of course affected the recording of Ire Works. You guys have a bad history of people getting sidelined. Have you change anything to keep you less likely to injure yourself? I know Liam does yoga.
Not as much as I should, but yeah, definitely to some degree. I’m a vegetarian now, which I think has helped this arthritis that’s covering my entire body. I feel a lot better. I’ve also been doing some yoga as well with Liam, we go do Bikram on tour sometimes, which is heated yoga. We all stay in shape and exercise. We’re all definitely probably more health conscious, aside from the way we conduct ourselves onstage, than a lot of people our age. Having someone like Greg in the band influences you a little bit to stay in shape. I’m a lot less stressed and believe it or not that seems to be the best thing for me.
The idea of Option Paralysis, that provided with too many options, you’ll wind up not choosing any—was it just an idea that you stumbled upon?
The name itself is more symbolic of bigger picture. It’s not necessarily about choices. The title itself is like you said, having so many options that you freeze and you don’t pick any. It’s symbolic of the bigger picture which is what we feel to be somewhat of a cultural depression that we’re going through based on the idea that we have so much over stimulus going on right now.
There’s so much information being shoved down our throats at all times that nobody really knows what’s important anymore, and we’re all kind of starting to experience things through similar filters as opposed to having a wider range of cultural influence, which we feel is negatively affecting art in general and obviously the world around us in every way, shape, or form.
I think we first started to see this kind of effect with journalism and information in general. The validity of information based on the fact that everybody could go online and change information, put up news and things like that. People start to not know where to look for info, like what was valid or what was right. That was when we first started to see the effects of this and now I feel like it’s definitely having an effect on the world in a much bigger cultural way.
I remember when we first when to Europe, the first time, there wasn’t social networks going on. YouTube wasn’t popular, if it even existed yet, and even a country that was only a two-hour drive away had a such a drastically different culture. The kids and the people coming to shows were so different. The way they processed our music and what they thought of us was so different. They way they acted at shows, the way they dressed, the way they reacted was completely different.
Now, every concert is like touring the United States basically. A guy in Germany looks exactly like in England who looks exactly like a guy from Kentucky. (laughs) They’re all doing the same thing at the same parts of the song. They’re all jumping around at this part and singing along at this part, it’s amazing, and in some ways, it’s great. The world’s gotten much smaller and joined together and people are exposed to a lot of interesting things through that, but in another way, it’s diluting the inspiration that people have to draw from.