Dillinger Escape Plan interview
So how are things going thus far with DEP? Is it what you expected?
Things are going very well. It is definitely what I expected. I knew there was going to be alot of work involved and there has been. It helps that we all get along very well personally and musically.
Have you had singing/band experience before this?
I have always been very vocal throughout my entire life and loved to sing when I was a child, but I didn't really start seriously learning about it and thinking it was what I wanted to do until I was about 15. I actually started off playing guitar when I was nine, but found that singing came more naturally to me. I have been recording alot of my own stuff at home on an 8-track for a long time, and I jammed with some people in Baltimore for a while a couple of years ago.
How about any formal musical training?
No real formal training, just alot of self study and trying to imitate singers whose voices I respected, and trying to incorporate their styles into my own.
Was it difficult getting familiar with the lyrics and singing at live shows?Not really. Honestly the timings and rhythms don't really bother me. Once you get used to hearing them over and over they seem normal. Just being around Chris and Ben alot makes it almost impossible to think about anything being in 4/4!
Most everyone knows how the DEP vocalist search went about. Could you explain how the process of auditioning for DEP occurred following the demo submission, and up until the point of being selected?
I found out about the vocalist search in June and sent Ben an email just making sure they hadn't found someone yet, and when he told me they hadn't, I went in to a friend of mine's studio in Maryland (Oblivion Studios) and recorded two versions of "43% burnt." One had the vocals done the way they were on "Calculating...", and the other was just me improvising and coming up with new patterns and ideas for it. I sent it in, and about a month later Ben called and asked if I could come up for an audition the next day. So I went up and we ran through like five songs and then talked for a while. A few weeks later they asked me to come up again and we ran through around ten songs, Afterwards, they told me that they wanted me in the band and just explained where they wanted to go musically and so forth, and where they thought I would fit in.
What were your thoughts and feelings before and after your debut at the CMJ show in NYC (at Downtime)? Excitement? Anxiety? Pressure?
We played that show three weeks after I joined, so we still didn't even know each other that well, but I guess they wanted to initiate me as quickly as possible. I got really nervous about an hour before we hit the stage, but once we started, I was fine. Afterwards I was just relieved that the first show went well.
You've mentioned before that DEP played the music that you heard in your mind, but were unable to produce. Were you a big DEP fan before joining?
Absolutely. I have been a big fan since the Running Board EP. It's funny, but I always thought that if there was one band that I would want to work with, it was them. It's honestly very bizarre how things worked out.
What are some of the bands you listen to consistently? Who are your influences?
I am influenced by alot of different things, not just music. Everything I see and hear and experience I just try to allow to find a way out through me vocally. In terms of vocalists, I like so many it's hard to narrow down. Mike Patton, H.R., Sting, Seal, alot of R&B, pop, and jazz singers... there's just so many singers I respect. I think I am influenced more by rhythm and music than I am by actual vocals. It's funny, but none of us really listen to much heavy music. I think we are drawn to other types of music because it gives us a wider variety of influences to learn from. We play so aggressively that I think we would become over-saturated with metal/hardcore if we listened to alot of it. That's not to say we don't like alot of harder bands that are out there. I really like All Else Failed, who also happen to be on tour with us right now. I think their next album will turn alot of heads.
Will the style of lyrics for DEP change at all? Will you be handling all the lyrical duties?
I will be writing most of the lyrics, but Ben and I collaborate on alot. Many times he has ideas in mind for both lyrical ideas and vocal patterns when he writes a riff or song, so we take them and expound on them. We think similarly in terms of vocal structure, so it helps.
What goes through your mind when you're performing on stage? What sort of emotions do you feel? A lot of things seem to get broken or thrown. Is that showmanship or just a byproduct of the performance?
Once we are onstage, we try to allow ourselves to just be influenced purely by the music and nothing else, and on an ideal night, you feel like there is nothing between the music and your expression of it, you know? Sometimes things happen, but we don't hurt anyone on purpose. People have been hit with guitars, mics, mic stands, but it isn't our intention to hurt anyone. Sometimes it is just a byproduct of our performance. The truth is that we get hurt more than anyone. We are all pretty bruised and gashed up right now. I get wrecked by Ben's guitar on an almost nightly basis.
Do you feel any remorse when you throw a mic stand and it hits someone!?
I definitely feel bad if someone gets hurt, but I think most people understand that we are getting beat up on a nightly basis and are understanding that we don't single anyone out and say "hey, let me hit him with a mic stand" or "i think he should be scalped by a guitar". Our band isn't about violence or any kind of tough guy nonsense, just creating as pure of an expression of the music as possible.
Do you feel the burden of expectation when filling Dimitri's role as a singer?
I know that everyone comes to the shows curious and perhaps a bit skeptical, but we are two different people and I am in no way trying to fill his shoes. It's a different pair of shoes, you know? This is a new chapter for this band and we are all excited for people to experience it both live and when the full length comes out.
From what I've heard from live shows, and also read on the Internet, a few people have been talking or complaining about you, from your singing ability to your appearance (the words "jock" and "frat boy" seem to surface frequently). What would you say to these people?
In terms of singing ability, I haven't heard anything negative at all. You can't please everybody though, so I'm sure it's out there somewhere. The few appearance comments are just plain funny. I guess some people always have to find something to bitch about, and if they can't take anything away from me musically, they will try to find something else. I am certainly not a "jock" or a "frat boy". I workout occasionally, and I never thought it would be a crime to try to be healthy. I don't drink or do drugs either, and it just goes hand in hand with me trying to be healthy. It has taught me alot of discipline. Everyone in Dillinger loves those comments. It provides for a good laugh. We aren't very concerned with image. It's pretty sad that some people out there are that shallow to try to latch on to something like that.
Why do you think these issues have arisen since you've joined the band?
Change is hard for some people to accept, and I think some people view it as cool to not like something new, and find it easier to hide behind saying that an old way was better. It's ok. We really don't lend any serious thought to it.
How is everyone getting along in the band? There is a relatively new bassist and samples guy now?
Everybody gets along great. Our personalities compliment each other's pretty well. We all have strong personalities, but they fit together. Yeah, Liam the bass player has been in the band for a little under two years, so he really isn't that new. The samples are actually done by Chris Pennie, and he certainly isn't new!
You guys will be hitting Europe with System Of A Down soon. How did that come about?
From what I understand, we are a favorite band of theirs, so it just came from that. They are one of the few mainstream bands out there that we see as having some worth and individuality, so we are excited about touring with them.
In the span of about six months, you've joined one of the biggest underground bands in U.S., and now you're going on tour with SOAD. How overwhelming is that?!
There is so much work to do, constantly, that I really haven't had too much time to think about it all, but I feel very fortunate that I and the rest of the band are in the positions that we are in.
You've been playing some new material from the forthcoming DEP full-length, and the CDEP with Mike Patton. Is the material going to be much different from the past? Are there new elements incorporated into the music?
It's been almost three years since "Calculating Infinity," so I think that the correlating amount of growth will be evident. The Patton material is defintely going to be crazy, but what else can you expect from him?
Have you, or are you going to be involved in the Patton EP, or is that essentially vacation time for you?
We don't know yet, it's up to Mike really.
So when can we expect the new full-length?
The full length will not be out until around December of this year, but it will be worth it. Hopefully everybody will be patient!
The band performs a number of cover songs during its live shows (Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," Guns 'N Roses' "My Michelle," The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me"). Who chooses what songs to cover? Why these specific songs? Will any of them ever appear on a release?
I doubt we will ever record them, but we just pick songs that we like and that we think would be fun ("Rebel Yell") or interesting (the Police).
What does DEP do when they're just lounging around with no tours, practice, or shows? Do you guys have part-time jobs and stuff?
We try to work part-time, but it's hard to hold down any kind of job with our schedule being so retarded.
What do your friends and family think of your career move? Have you have any second thoughts after joining the band?
They have all been very supportive. I certainly haven't had any second thoughts. I am thankful every day for this opportunity.
What has been the most memorable experience you've had with DEP so far?
Jeff Wood. He alone makes every day more hilarious than the previous one.
Is there anything else you'd like to comment on, or communicate to our readers?
I just want to thank everyone for being so supportive and patient. We haven't toured before this in almost a year, and we haven't put anything out in a while, but the ball is rolling. And I want to thank everyone for being so patient about the new singer situation, about waiting for tour, about waiting for the Patton EP and the full length, etc. Personally, thanks to everyone for being accepting and supportive of me. The new stuff is coming soon, just hang in there for a little longer. Thanks Lambgoat for this interview!