Interview: Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan

After having a slightly delayed interview time I managed to condense my questions and get my cool when it hits me that this is the last UK show (before their “extended hiatus”) of this massively influential, revolutionary band… and I’m about to talk to the only original member. There goes my poise. Eventually I sit down with a very tired but candid guitarist and hit “record”. Upon realising I have the wrong notes I rummage through my bag to find the right ones, whilst the ever cool-as-a-cucumber Ben beatboxes to fill the gap. Soon the discussion begins to flow.

How’s the tour going so far?

Good man, it’s only been about a week, so I’ve got six more weeks of this run. It’s a long one but this is the last UK show. We started here in the UK so that was nice, and also good to start in a place where we feel comfortable

Have there been any favourite shows on this tour so far?

For me, Nottingham just because I felt really good, you know? It was one of those shows where I just felt on point and it was a great show too, a lot of people there for that one. London was great last night.

I’ve seen some videos from that, it looked great.

It’s always a little bit stressful being in a city like that because there’s lots of people coming up to you and wanting to talk to you and hang out and stuff like that, so it’s hard to get relaxed.

Has this tour been any wilder than previous ones in the knowledge that it’s the last time people can see you? This is for you or the audience.

I don’t know, there’s definitely a lot more love in the air, more of a celebration I guess. It’s hard because we have so many shows moving forward that it’s hard to think of it that way. We’re not like “oh we’re going home and we’re not going to play anymore”, there’s so much ahead of us that it’s hard to put it in perspective. Sometimes after the show I think to myself “wow, I’m probably not going to play on this stage ever again”. I’ve been here so many times throughout the years, like I’ve been here and played so many times (Concorde 2, Brighton).

It’s a great little place here

And we’ve played it so many times so it’s kinda weird.

Have you got any techniques when playing the way you do, to be able to do it day after day? I drum in a couple of bands and I’ll go for it but my neck will hurt for days after, how do you cope?

(laughs) Well my neck is pretty fucked but I think it’s hard when you’ve been off for a long time and you go and do it, but after a lot of shows you just get used to it. Stretching helps and all that stuff.

What is the craziest thing that you’ve seen live?

Like other bands?

Yeah, any other bands that get Dillinger’s “Seal Of Approval”

Oh (laughs) well this band Ho99o9 that’s on tour with us is pretty crazy, amazing energy and very unique. They’ll be playing before us. So I think that’s definitely up there, yeah.

How has the reaction to Dissociation been?

It’s been amazing.

I’ve seen it go to a lot of top 5 lists.

It was much better than I thought. It was an interesting theme because it was a little different for us, we mixed it with somebody else and it sounds a little different but it was a very personal record. We had no expectations, I know people say that a lot but we put this out with the knowledge that we don’t need to get bigger as a band and we don’t need to sell a lot of records. We’re putting it out and we’re doing our tours then we’re done. There’s a lot of freedom in that. It was nice and maybe that came off on the album or it came off on the people, they feel like maybe it’s honest and they feel that honesty in it so I think that’s gone over well.

It’s great, I like it.

Thank you.

There’s a lot of bands on tour who are doing, or have done, “out there” merch – Sabaton doing their beer, Motörhead have done some vibrators I think and Slayer have done a comic. Do you think Dillinger could do that and what would you do?

You know, one thing we did once a long time ago, many many years ago was we made disposable cameras. Dillinger disposable cameras and we would take one picture on each one of ourselves doing shit so everyone that bought one got a unique picture, a one of a kind you know? (laughs) that was kinda fun.

Your show has been a spectacle – it’s always been wild and there’s been a lot of documented times when it’s been out of control but is there anything that you or the band wouldn’t do on stage?

Erm, yeah, we would never choreograph anything, we would never plan ahead something like that.

You wouldn’t mime to anything.

No, we would never do that. I mean I’m sure there’s a lot of things we wouldn’t do on stage.

Have you ever been asked to mime to something?

I mean, for a music video and that’s really difficult and the one or two times we’ve done it and tried to take it seriously we cranked the music so loud and pretended we were really doing it you know.

I always thought that would be really difficult, you play the music at the same time you’re pretending to play?

Yeah, when we’ve done we’ve actually just tried to play like we’re playing you know. It’s hard to fake that you know? (laughs)

I always figured it would be really difficult to not go out of time or something

Yeah, I guess you can just edit it out (laughs)

So it’s your last UK tour and this is the last UK show isn’t it?

Yep this is it.

What’s your favourite memory of being in the UK and playing here?

Playing at Reading and Leeds for the first time was a big memory. We were on a stage, a main stage at a very early point in our career playing in a situation where everybody else on that stage was selling millions of records except us you know (laughs). That was an interesting time.

That’s a good sign isn’t it.

Yeah, it was cool to be in that position. I remember the last time we played in London was, I don’t know. Something about it to me was really special, I really, really enjoyed the show. That’s a great memory I have. There’s so many man. The first time we came here when I was the only original member in the band we were playing little places. That was with very small people who’d done the work to find out who we were and came, that was cool.

Have you got any future plans sorted out for after this tour is over?

I’m working with Party Smasher and the label and the site and I’m going to be doing managing for a little bit and I plan to dive into some new music for myself just for fun. Not sure what it’ll be.

We’ll have to wait and see then?

Yeah maybe I’ll just go and disappear into the woods somewhere (laughs).

What do you make of the state of metal at the moment? Sorry it’s a pretty far out question!

It is a far out question because what’s considered metal is such a drastically wide definition for people now. It used to be much smaller, the definition of metal, because it was very obscure and now it’s like things that are on the radio and Disturbed is considered metal.

What do you think of Disturbed?

I think they’re horrible.

It’s fun for what it is!

(laughs) Yeah man it is what it is, I don’t get it though. I like people that are making music that I feel like is actually honest and is expressing something. It seems like they’re one of those bands that just want to be a band.

Is Dillinger like those bands?

Yeah right! (laughs) No, I think there’s a distinction between art and craft. You know, they craft songs that are a certain type of song that appeal to certain crowd, a type of person and that’s fine and then there’s people who have a different intent. Anything that has intention that means something is art, and anything that is just creative for no reason, that’s craft. I’d consider that a craft, you know what I mean? And that’s fine, it is what it is.

It works for some people

Right, they’re good at what they do

Could you sum up your career by pointing at one album?

Man, some people would say this last one is a good representation of where we’ve come from and where we’ve gone and maybe that’s true, you know?

Another difficult question – could you sum up your career in a sentence? It must be very difficult.

It’s a good question, I guess I would say we’ve tried to become the embodiment of organised chaos.

I’ve always thought of it as a kind of triumph of mind over matter, I don’t know if I’m thinking too far into it.

No, for us it’s very much that sort of situation.

We go on to talk about Galactic Empire after I finish recording and we say our thank you’s and goodbye’s and with it, off goes the only original member of the single best example of organised chaos in any music. Their passing will surely leave a massive void in our world. Although they have finished their last UK run, they can be caught on their last European shows and then that’s it!

Final European shows

  • January 30th: Hamburg Markthalle, Germany
  • January 31st: Odense Muiskhuset Posten, Denmark
  • February 1st: Arhus Voxhall, Denmark
  • February 2nd: Oslo Rockefeller, Norway
  • February 4th: Helsinki Tavastia, Finland
  • February 5th: Tampere Klubi, Finland
  • February 7th: Stockholm Debaser Strand, Sweden
  • February 8th: Gothenburg Pustervik, Sweden
  • February 9th: Copenhagen Pumpehuset, Denmark
  • February 10th: Berlin Columbia Theatre, Germany
  • February 11th: Warsaw Stodola, Poland
  • February 12th: Krakrow Kwadrat, Poland
  • February 14th: Leipzig Conne Island, Germany
  • February 15th: Prague Rock Cafe, Czech Republic
  • February 16th: Vienna Szene, Austria
  • February 17th: Budapest A38, Hungary
  • February 18th: Zagreb Culture Factory, Croatia
  • February 20th: Munich Backstage Halle, Germany
  • February 21st: Lausanne Les Docks, Switzerland
  • February 22nd: Turin Hiroshima Mon Amour, Italy
  • February 23rd: Bologna Zona Roveri, Italy
  • February 24th: Lyon L’Epicerie Moderne, France
  • February 25th: Barcelona Apolo, Spain
  • February 26th: Madrid Barcelo, Spain
  • February 28th: Toulouse Le Bikini, France
  • March 1st: Paris Le Trabendo, France
  • March 2nd: Strasbourg La Laiterie, France
  • March 3rd: Wiesbaden Schlachthof, France
  • March 4th: Cologne Gloria, Germany
  • March 5th: Brussels AB Ballroom, Belgium 

Their latest release Dissociation is out now.

The Dillinger Escape Plan: official | facebook

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