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The Dillinger Escape Plan

By Pawl Schwartz

The Dillinger Escape Plan is a band that I have loved and admired for far too long. As an idealistic high schooler, I remember detesting them for the bro-ish reputation I thought they had. I remember avoiding them as the headliner at more than one Locust show after being battered and bullied by DEP's perfectly still and guffawed fans, tolerating the odd onslaught of the opener for a chance at bashing another's head into the floor during Dillinger. This was all before I heard "Miss Machine" and was convinced beyond all preconceptions that Dillinger was a thoroughly original, new, and creative musical force — one whose sound and concept is so strong that it has persisted easily through more lineup changes than King Crimson, while only having existed since 1997.

The group now features one original member, lead guitarist Ben Weinman, a fucking musical genius on the level of history's top minds, in my humble opinion. The second most senior member is bassist Liam Wilson, the friendliest and fuzziest in the group; you can tell him apart from his band mates easily on stage by his long brown hair and shaggy beard. UR Chicago met Liam and a rotating cast of his band mates backstage at the Riviera Theater three quarters of an hour before their show with headliner Mastodon and opener Red Fang.

UR: Did you play last night?

Liam Wilson: We didn't play last night. The last show before tonight was in Denver; we have some good friends in Denver. Our former sound guy was there. So, Greg, Ben and I stuck around town, hung out with our friends, and saw Puscifer last night.

UR: Hell yeah! I love Puscifer! How was the show live?

LW: It was cool. I am definitely a Tool fan, a little less of A Perfect Circle fan, so basically I went to the show pretty cold in terms of expectations. I thought their stage set and vibe was probably my favorite part. I thought that the music was a little bit... like, it lacked some dynamics, missed the mark somehow.

(Photo by Pawl Schwartz taken at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago 11/11/11)

UR: Tell me about your work with Nine Inch Nails?

LW: I don't know if you would say we 'worked' with him so much as...

UR: Played with him?

LW: Yeah (laughs), we bro'd down with him pretty hard for about ten days. Got the opportunity to play their last show. I guess that's working with him. It wasn't like, some kind of collaboration though, it was just his music.

UR: What's the current drummer situation?

LW: We have had the same drummer now since 2009. He is the same guy that played on Option Paralysis. He's going to be sticking around for whatever is next.

UR: And what would that be?

LW: We are going to Australia next year, end of February; we also have some more shows booked around that area. Nothing that we can actually confirm yet, but we may do some Southeast Asia stuff, go some places we've never been or never had the opportunity to play before. Around the spring, hopefully, we'll write some new music, and depending on how that goes, try to release it sooner rather than later.

(Photo by Pawl Schwartz taken at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago 11/11/11)

UR: Do you have any new songs in the works?

LW: At the moment we don't. I mean, there are a lot of creative juices flowing right now; some of us have different side-project things happening, and I feel l like there's gonna be a lot of work, riffs, and ideas that will come together, you know, kind of naturally fall into the Dillinger bucket. Who knows, man. I don't want to get into the details. There has definitely been a lot of discussion verbally about what we do and don't want to do. Things we want to try, things we don't want to do anymore. We've been making...

Greg Puciato (singer, lounging in a chair across the room): what riffs may come.

What riffs may cum. Haha (others chant it around the room).

UR: So, there is talk of a group project between Dillinger and Mastadon. Any truth to this?

LW: Well, between Ben and Brent at least. I can see them working on it on this tour, so yes, it seems legit. Whether or not anybody hears it soon, that is to be decided by a lot of different factors. When and where it will surface, nobody knows.

UR: What do you think Dillinger brings to the table that a lot of other heavy bands are lacking?

LW: I'd like to think that we bring some sense of authenticity, of being genuine, both on recording and live. We all love to play. I don't think that you can play and write the stuff that we write without absolutely loving it. Some love or luster that you don't find otherwise. I always say that I am trying to make the record that I can't find.

We just try to give people an alternative. It may not have guitar solos, or choruses, or whatever you are used to hearing in your ears, but I would like to think that for all those people who are tired of what they've been force-fed, we're at least an outlet, or an option.

(Photo by Pawl Schwartz taken at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago 11/11/11)

UR: So, do you prefer recording, or playing live?

LW:I feel like playing live and recording is like drinking a big pot of coffee, whereas touring and doing shows is like pounding a double espresso. It's really concentrated; it's really focused. It's funny because when you're playing live you only have one take every night. But I do love finally going in the studio and getting the finished product, so that I can really listen to the songs without actually having to do the work of playing them. You know, just sit back and really hear what we have done. Finally, you can just enjoy it. Learning how to move to the song live is interesting too, because it isn't just in your hands;you always memorize certain movements. The memory is really in the body. It's like a possession.

UR: John Dillinger was shot dead about two miles from here...

LW: I thought he got shot in Tucson or something? (argument ensues between band mates) Uhh, well, this goes to show how much that guy actually has to do with our band. Very little. I know he escaped some prison with a wooden gun; I've got the escape down.

UR: How was working with Mike Patton?

LW: Actually, this is the question that we get asked the most. He's a rad dude, he's a workhorse, he's the genuine article, he gives it to you straight, from my point of view. He just played with us in San Francisco, and he was the most nervous dude up there. He just genuinely really gives a shit. From my point of view, he is what I would call, for lack of a better word, Hero to be.

UR: What song(s) are you dying to cover?

"Thriller" would be good, maybe "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Beat It." There are two other songs that Ben and I have agreed on that I hope we get to do. One is Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious," and the other is "Pressure" by Billy Joel. Also Whitesnake's "Still of the Night."

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