With a monstrous career that lasted for almost two decades, The Dillinger Escape Plan was a group that boldly persevered without any rules to abide by. Raising the bar with their pure intensity, the band received countless notoriety throughout their career, mostly for their energetic feats and unpredictable live performances.
While Dillinger gained momentum early on with roots based in New Jersey’s underground music scene, it wasn’t long before they reached mainstream success—all while still cherishing their underdog spirit. From performing with idols like Deftones and Nine Inch Nails, to collaborating with Faith No More’s Mike Patton, the band even received gracious recognition from Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett recently on social media. Whether you find yourself watching old Hellfest videos of the band setting their equipment on fire or experienced one of their concerts firsthand, The Dillinger Escape Plan was a chaotic entity that relentlessly gave their all on stage. Not only is The Dillinger Escape Plan’s influence well recognized within hardcore, metal and progressive rock—this is a band that people will be talking about for generations to come.
After sharing further details of their sixth studio album, Dissociation, The Dillinger Escape Plan recently announced that they would be breaking up, following a five-month-long farewell tour in support of its release. This news came as complete shock for fans and critics alike, considering the longevity of the group, and the fact that they still remain passionate about their music than ever before.
A few weeks before Dissociation’s official release, I had the pleasure to speak with Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato to discuss their final studio effort and the band’s farewell tour. In this conversation, Puciato also shares with me some of his fondest memories with the band, and puts into perspective the impact that The Dillinger Escape Plan made on their fanbase, as well as the underground scene.
Dissociation will be The Dillinger Escape Plan’s sixth and final studio effort. What are you looking forward to the most about releasing this album? How would you say that this record represents how far Dillinger has progressed since putting out One Of Us Is The Killer in 2013?
I just need the record to come out because we’ve been working on it for so long. The thing about a record is that by the time that you finish it, you’ve heard it like a gazillion times. Then, months go by, and you forget that everyone hasn’t already heard it too. So, at this point, I can’t even understand that it’s not already out because it’s been in my fucking iTunes finished for a few months now. It’s really tough to wrap my brain around something that we finished a few months ago, and started working on a year ago not even being out yet.
I really just want it to come out so people know that we’re all on the same page. You can play a new song, and someone has already heard that new song. That’s the hard part—you’re kind of not aligned right now until the record comes out. And when you’re not on the same page as your audience, it’s because you have something that they haven’t heard. So, that’s the main thing that I am looking forward to—just to kind of create user equilibrium.
As far as how that record stacks up again our others, this one kind of is more of an album than songs. I think when people hear it, they’ll understand what I mean. There isn’t one song on this record where I feel like, this is “the song” on the record, or there isn’t two or three where I’m like, “Oh, these are ‘the songs’ of this record.” Every other one of our record has like two or three songs that I can easily pluck out. Like, “These are the three that are clearly the MVPs of this record,” and this record to me doesn’t feel that way. Not because the songs aren’t as good, but because I think we kind of operated on more of an album-based mentality than a song-based mentality. It almost seems like one 45-minute-long song to me in a way instead of 10 smaller songs.
From the moment that you started working on this record, did you anticipate for Dissociation to be your final release as a band? Or did that change after the writing process?
We were about two-thirds of the way through the music writing, and then we kind of made that decision, and that was before I written any lyrics or any vocals. I guess I want that say that was November of 2015, and then we started recording in March of 2016. So, we knew for about four or fives months before we started actually recording that it was going to be the last.
But there were a lot of things that tie it up really nicely that I didn’t anticipate. I’ve had that album title a couple of years ago, and I knew that was going to be the title of the next Dillinger record a couple of years ago. Once we announced the album, everyone is instantly like, “Oh, that must be about the breakup,” but in reality, we’ve already had that title already. So, it just happened to be a nice, creative synchronicity, you know?
Considering that your musical career has spanned almost two decades, how do you think the longevity of The Dillinger Escape Plan has made an influence on the metal and hardcore community?
Well, it’s crazy because you lose the ability to really see things objectively just because you’re always working on something, or you’re on tour, and you’re traveling and you’re kind of moving around in your bubble, do you know what I mean? Your band, and everyone in it, and everyone that is affiliated with it, is kind of like this bubble, and it moves around and the outside world actually moves on while you’re in this bubble. So, you really lose the ability to tell whether anyone outside of the bubble gives a shit about you or if you’ve had any influence on anyone. You just know that people come out to your shows, and I guess you must be doing okay.
Every now and then, you’ll meet some younger band, and they’re just going on about how big of a deal you are to them, and you realize that they’re like, 21 (laughs), and they’re talking about a record that must have come out when they were like, nine, and you’re just like, “Wait! What?” And that’s been happening for a really long time.
Whether it would be a proggy band like Animals As Leaders or Between The Buried And Me or some kind of spazzy, grindy band, there are so many bands who will say, “Hey, Dillinger is a big influence on us,” and it just keeps happening. I don’t have the ability to understand too much of it, but I am really grateful that we’ve had any impact on people whatsoever because I just think of us as this underdog.
It’s funny because a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine, who is a singer-songwriter that is significantly smaller than we are, said to me, “Man, it’s so cool that you still care so much about underground music.” I was like, “Well, Dillinger is an underground band,” and he started laughing and goes, “Dillinger is not an underground band,” and I was like, “Okay.” (laughs)
To me, I guess, I’ll always think of us being this small, little underdog band that’s always kind of crawling around to get people’s attention.
When I was in middle school, my first memory of discovering The Dillinger Escape Plan came from watching a live video of the song “Sugar Coated Sour” from your set at the Virgin Megastore, dated back to 2005. Having such a huge reputation for putting on some of the most intensified and destructive live performances throughout your entire career, what would you say is one distinct quality that you would want fans to remember The Dillinger Escape Plan for?
Yeah, I mean, it just kind of happened, you know? We’ve always preformed the way that feels natural to us for this kind of music. Most of the music that we write is extremely aggressive and kind of disjointed and violent sounding, so when we play, just become so physically chaotic, and some of this stuff is stuff that I don’t even remember.
Like, that video, which is just some dude filming it on a camera phone, that video has done more for us than any music video that we actually spent money on, and I don’t remember it at all. I remember playing that show, but I don’t remember that moment, and there is not a week in my life where someone doesn’t say, “Hey man, have you seen where you run and…” and I am like, “Dude, of course I’ve seen that video.” (laughs)
But yeah, it’s crazy, and it’s really strange because in the moment, you don’t think about things at the time, and then you see a video from back in the day and you’re like, “Oh shit! That does actually look kind of crazy.” But it feels really natural to me. We’re older now—like, I’m 36, and I was 20, 25 when that video was out, and still feel exactly the same. I feel the same amount of energy from these songs, and I feel the same amount of intensity when we’re playing.
There was never something that we intended on people to focus on. We never sat down and said, “Hey, let’s be as crazy as possible so people can go talk about how crazy we are.” I really don’t know what everyone else on stage is doing while we’re playing. I just know what I’m doing, and then I’ll just see a video from way back and see everyone on stage going nuts.
Are there any specific memories that come to mind throughout your time with The Dillinger Escape Plan that you’ve reflected back on since announcing the band’s breakup?
Man, there are things like every day that happen still where I think, “Fuck, that was crazy.” Like, the day I checked our Instagram, I just happened to look and it said, “Kirk Hammett liked your photo,” and I was like, “Okay. That’s pretty cool.” (Laughs) I screenshot it and sent it to the other guys and I was like, “I don’t think this kind of shit ever gets old,” you know?
Like, when someone that you were a really big fan of acknowledges you in some way, those kinds of things have been great for us throughout the years. Like, if we played a show with Deftones, or Nine Inch Nails, it’s something where we’re like, “Fuck, how did we end up being on these people’s radar even? We’re some band that plays little hardcore shows, where we tear the ceiling down, and light shit on fire. How are we on the radar of these people at all?”
You know, that goes back to what I’m saying about kids coming up to us and saying that we’re really influential. I still cannot understand that we’re not just this little band that plays hardcore shows. All of the memories throughout the years that are the best, they keep happening. We had Riot Fest over the weekend, and then we played an after show in Chicago in a 250-capacity room, and that was fucking incredible. That was easily one of my favorite Dillinger shows if I had to pick 100 ever. The fact that this far in, we can still have shows where I’m like, “I’m definitely going to remember that one forever,” it’s really cool. There’s a handful of those.
And then there’s just the memory of being on tour with your friends, you know? There are a lot of things that have nothing to do with playing shows. Like, just realize how young we all were, and being like, “Fuck, how cool is it and how rare is it to have been involved in something from like, 21 years old on, where you can be a part of this thing that kind of became bigger than the sum of its parts?” Because after a while, you’re not doing everything—there’s just momentum in your band, and you don’t understand how it’s reaching people, or where you’re going. Especially when you’re a band that does not have any radio play, and we don’t have any of that shit. There’s no way to tell whether or not people are finding out about us.
The fact that it does kind of go out into the world and cause any waves on its own, being able to do that with your friends who you were basically little fucking kids with, and to be able to do it now, and look back at it like, “Man it is kind of cool.” I guess it has been a really strange life in a lot of ways. That overall sense is my favorite thing about it.
As you begin to prepare for your Final World Tour in October, how do think these shows will be different throughout? What should fans expect to see when they’re given an opportunity to see The Dillinger Escape Plan for one final time?
Well, we all still feel really passionate about it, and we all still feel really on top of our game as far as playing and performing goes. It’s been a while since we did a big tour of any kind. We stopped the last record cycle in August of 2014, so it’s been two years since we really went out and did a fuck-ton of dates. Right now, we have 90 shows or something both between now and March.
That’s what I love—I love being on tour, like more than being home. I just love the camaraderie of your team being on the road together. The shows feel like family reunions to me at this point because so many of the crowd has seen us five, 10, 15, 20, 50 fucking times, so there’s a lot of people that aren’t new. There’s obviously some new people that come, but there’s more of a cult fanbase thing with us now. That, to me, is the best feeling—playing shows for people that when you look at them you can be like, “Oh shit, I remember you, and I remember you, and I’ve seen you before.” It becomes almost like a get together of these people that are all in a room that have no real business being connected to in any other way besides through this music. To me, that’s the best feeling of the world.
It’s also weird to be talking about breaking up when you still love something so much. So I’m sure that is going to add some sort of weird weight to everything. Like, every show that we play, we’re realizing that we’re not just kicking one off the tour, we’re like kicking one off the shows that we’re ever going to play. It’s kind of surreal, but it’s impossible for me to understand how that’s going to hit me emotionally because there is so much shit that is happening right now that it’s actually tough for me to even have any feelings about the tours. Once it’s done, I’m sure it’s going to feel pretty heavy.
I can imagine so. When your Final World Tour draws to a close next spring, are there any future plans that you have in mind moving forward?
That’s the other hard thing that everyone keeps asking, “What are you guys going to do individually? Like, “I don’t know, what are you going to fucking do in the fall of 2017?” (Laughs) We haven’t even started the touring cycle yet, and I have no idea how we’re all going to feel 200 shows from now as far as, “Are we going to keep making aggressive music?” or, “What are people going to do individually?” And that’s exciting to figure out like, I wonder what everyone’s going to do creatively and personally when they don’t have this thing in their life that takes up all of their time and energy and passion. So that will be exciting.
I couldn’t agree more. Greg, thank you again for your time, and for the wonderful conversation. Is there anything else you would like to add at this time?
Thanks a lot to that region, you know—New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. That’s the region that’s always been really near and dear to us. We obviously have pretty deep roots in New Jersey, and it’s an honor to mean anything to anyone over there. So, thanks to everyone giving a shit about us. Come see us one or two more times before we’re gone.
New Jersey-based underground pioneers, The Dillinger Escape Plan, are set to begin their Final World Tour this fall, where they will be headlining at The Chance in Poughkeepsie on Oct. 14, the Grand Ballroom at Webster Hall in Manhattan on Oct. 15, Union Transfer in Philadelphia on Nov. 15, and The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 18. The band’s sixth studio album, Dissociation, will be available on Oct. 14 through Party Smasher Inc. For more information, go to dillingerescapeplan.org.