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The Dillinger Escape Plan - Nearly retarded
On their recent tour I got the chance to talk to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s guitarist and last remaining original member Ben Weinman, who is out promoting the new record Ire Works the best he can. We had a short chat in their tour bus, here’s the result.
I’ve read in a lot of the interviews with you that the doctor said that if you fall on your head one more time you might end up retarded.
‘Pretty much, yeah.’
How do you cope with that when you run around on stage like a maniac?
‘I don’t know, people ask me when I’m on stage if I worry about my injuries, if I think about it. Unfortunately the shows we play are only about an hour long because that is the only time I don’t think about it. It’s the whole day that I feel pain and I’m walking around stiff and things hurt and the weather affects things and I’ll be worrying about this or that. And on stage, that’s the one time I don’t think about it. When the music plays, it’s my time you know.’
It’s obvious that The Dillinger Escape Plan is utilizing more pop and electronic orientated music into its sound, is this a path on which you like to continue?
‘Yeah I mean it’s almost like every release there’s, if you look back at the release before you see an element of what we are doing, we just didn’t focus on it as much as with Ire Works. Like a little tiny piano thing or some electronics. And on our next record we might focus on that for an entire song or something like that. But yeah we intend to continue to evolve and change.
It is interesting because a lot of people had real high expectations of us after the first record Calculating Infinity and we toured on that for so many years. We didn’t put out another record for five years or so. Unlike a lot of bands people had already decided what we should sound like based of just one record. We thought it was important with our second release to really diversify and be more creative. Try to make this band something we can enjoy doing and express ourselves, and continue to change and be influenced and grow and mature. We had to make people realize that if they’re gonna like our band they’re gonna have to deal with diversity and changes. That’s what we did with the record Miss Machine and now we continue to do what we like. Dynamics have always been important to us, so now we try to be much more dynamic. Our catalogue is much more dynamic and interesting. Because I don’t feel a lot of that anymore in music. I think it’s pretty predictable and stale.’
It is, it is. But if you look hard enough you’ll find interesting music though. But would you agree that extreme metal music is looking for something new at the moment, and that electronics are probably the answer?
‘I don’t know, I don’t think that extreme metal artists are looking into that for inspiration but I know the younger guys who are influenced by extreme music are looking into other music for inspiration like we do. Listening to electronics and things like that. And maybe bands like us talking about that stuff, might make some people wanna inquire a little bit further and maybe get into Aphex Twin or whatever. So I don’t know if it’s the future, I don’t think it is the future for the old bands but for the younger kids, it’s more acceptable for them so perhaps they’ll incorporate it into their sound instead of deciding what to make of your band. Like we gotta play that genre or we gotta play this style. That is kind of annoying.’
Okay. So who came up with the bizarre concept for the Milk Lizard video? The first time I saw it I was almost in tears!
‘Because it was so bad?!’
No! Because it was so funny!
Hahaha! Actually I came up with the rough idea. And then the director kind of took it on its own, initially it was supposed to be focussed more on a bar fight. And then the director kind of got into this idea of a chair going on a journey, and it focussed it more on the chair… And I was like I don’t know just go with it, do whatever you want, you know.’
But the next video hasn’t been released yet has it? When is it due?
‘I don’t know honestly.’
You weren’t in it?
‘I was in it and I broke my foot. I saw a cowboy riding on a man, I saw people in leather outfits… I don’t know what the hell was going on. We haven’t seen anything yet, the editing still needs to be done, but it’s got kind of like a 1950ies Twilight Zone old black and white feel to it. It will probably be out there in a couple of months.’
Have you guys heard the new Avenged Sevenfold record?
‘No. I only heard one song, actually saw the video. It’s got fire and demons, I don’t know what the hell is going on.’
It seems that more Relapse bands have a profound hate towards that band, like Cephalic Carnage for instance.
‘Well you know they represent… just like in the late eighties you had your Poisons and your Mötley Crües, and you had your Slayers and your Metallicas and I think today there are still the bands that consider themselves the Slayers and Metallicas and the bands that consider themselves the Poisons and Mötley Crües. You know, pre-fabricated marketing machines, they’re in it for one reason and there are bands that are in it for another reason. That’s how it is.’
I read today on Wikipedia that your drummer Gil Sharone once guest-starred in a Full House episode…
‘Yeah, did you ever see that show?’
No, well yeah the show I did see, not that particular episode.
‘Ah okay, I didn’t know if it was here. The Olsen twins.’
Haha, did he play with them?
‘Yeah. He should have married them. That would be smart.’
And funny, haha. So did you see the episode?
‘Yeah, it’s on YouTube, we put it up. And we didn’t tell him. He didn’t know we found it. It was on TV one day and he was over at my house. He was like ow that’s my jam I was on that show! I was like what? And he was like yeah! So I was like you gotta show me, and he was like you’ll never see, I’ll never show you. I have it on tape but I’ll never show you. So we went on-line and fucking researched and found it. We found a torrent with all the episodes and we found out which episode he was in. So we downloaded the torrent, found the episode, took the clip he was in and put it on YouTube and put it up on our website without telling him.’
He knows by now?
‘He knows now yeah’
Does he hate you for it?
It was funny haha! I’m still waiting for his revenge though.’
Haha great! All right, bullshit question then. In a fistfight between your vocalist Greg and the show wrestler The Rock, who would you put your money on?
‘Ah damn. I don’t know man. The Rock is a lot taller then Greg but… Greg just won’t lose you know. He refuses to lose. I think Greg. He’s just be getting in there and biting his nuts and shit you know. He’d win.’
Cool! Next question. Will your iTunes release Cover Up eventually see an actual album release?
‘I don’t know really. Probably eventually. I think Relapse wanted to include it with something, I don’t know, can’t remember.’
Okay, and now for something completely different. What’s your opinion about beards?
‘Beards! You have a nice beard. I don’t know man, I had a pretty decent one a couple months ago and I shaved it. I was getting there. But now I’m back on tour, no shaving for a while. Beards are good. Shaving sucks.’
Indeed it does. The last time I shaved I went outside and it was damn cold in my face!
‘Yeah exactly. Leave it alone man, it’s natural.’
Okay. Here comes my famous question that I ask all the bands that I interview. In movies, who do you prefer; Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone?
‘Ow man. Well just recently I saw the new Rambo. Stallone is fresh in my head you know. God man, it was an amazing movie, very violent and no plot. Just ripping peoples throat out with his bare hands, shooting people at close range making them look like chopped meat, it was a pretty good time. Pretty America. We actually went to the movie, we were on tour in America with Every Time I Die, and we all went to the movie together and we wore no shirts but we had headbands. So we all went in there, and we had an Asian guitar technician, and we all decided we’d try to kill him, just to stay in with the movie, with the feel of the movie with the Asian refugees. We chased him around in the theatre, he got away. We tried to get him. Tried to Rambo his ass.’
Hahaha, okay but who do you choose?
‘I think I prefer Stallone.’
Yeah? Are you a Rocky/Rambo kind of guy?
‘Yeah… he’s.. yeah he just…the amount of quality movies, there’s just much more I think, haha’
‘Well I don’t know, Predator…’
‘Those are classics.’
And Terminator. One and two.
‘Yes. That’s true, he does have..’
Conan The Barbarian…
‘And Conan, damn, that’s true. And then you’ve got Rocky, all the Rambo’s. Cobra, with the big knife, big sunglasses, uhm. God damn question! I mean I actually enjoyed the new Rocky, and the new Rambo, so it’s fresh in my mind. I mean Terminator III was horrible, I really didn’t like that kid in it. I don’t know, I got a kind of bad taste in my mouth because I saw that Terminator series, there’s a TV-series and it’s the worst thing I’ve seen in my life. I guess I’m going to change to Schwarzenegger because I’m thinking about Commander, I’m thinking about Predator, Total Recall. I think you sold me.’
Yeah? Great! So do you have anything to add to this short but fun interview?
‘Uhhhhm, no but I’m glad you asked me some good questions. I’m glad we could sit here and talk a little bit about the importance of Stallone and Schwarzenegger on youth culture today. And how important it is to your readers and listeners.’
Let your children grow up with Arnold!
‘Yeah exactly!’