The Dillinger Escape Plan

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The Dillinger Escape Plan was an American band formed in Morris Plains, New Jersey, in 1997. The Dillinger Escape Plan went through a succession of members throughout its career. The band's final line-up consisted of founding guitarist Ben Weinman, bassist Liam Wilson, vocalist Greg Puciato, drummer Billy Rymer, and rhythm guitarist Kevin Antreassian. After twenty years, the band disbanded at the end of 2017. The band's final shows took place at Terminal 5 in New York City trough December 27–29, 2017, during these final shows the band was joined by guest vocalist Mike Patton and former members; Dimitri Minakakis (original frontman), Brian Benoit (former guitarist) and Adam Doll (original bassist).

The band achieved success with the release of six studio albums, their debut album Calculating Infinity released in 1999 to critical acclaim, several publications have highlighted it as a landmark release in hardcore punk and heavy metal. They first reached substantial commercial success with their second album, Miss Machine released in 2004, reaching 106 on the US Billboard 200 and 120 on the UK Album Charts. The Dillinger Escape Plan has won an AIM Award, for an "Outstanding Contribution to Music" in 2017.

The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan With Full Force 2014 16
The Dillinger Escape Plan at With Full Force 2014. From left to right: Greg Puciato, Billy Rymer behind Liam Wilson, and James Love.
Background information
Origin Morris Plains, New Jersey, US
Genres
Years active 1997–2017
Labels
Associated acts
Website www.dillingerescapeplan.org
Past members Ben Weinman
Liam Wilson
Greg Puciato
Billy Rymer
Kevin Antreassian
See members for others

History

Early years and Calculating Infinity (1997–1999)

The Dillinger Escape Plan evolved from the hardcore punk band Arcane. Arcane was an aggressive, political-oriented act formed in 1996 by vocalists Dimitri Minakakis and Brad McMann, guitarist Ben Weinman, bassist Bruce Fulton and drummer Chris Pennie.[1] Arcane played for a few months but eventually disbanded because they "were kinda sick of trying to become part of a clique and to write music that would fit into a theme", said Weinman.[2] Encouraged by him, they turned around their sound and aesthetic, with Pennie's friend Adam Doll, who became interested in their new direction, joining the band. Guitarist Derek Brantley also joined the band following the departure of McMann and Fulton.[1] Their first live performance, which they also considered the last of Arcane, was as a support act for Overcast and organized by long time friend Matt Backerman.[3] Backerman had just decided to form Now or Never records and asked the band to record what would be their self titled six-track EP.[4] Their second show was supporting Earth Crisis in Moosic, Pennsylvania.[3] They were nameless for many months until, without much thought, friend Matt Makowski suggested the name “The Dillinger Escape Plan” while watching a documentary on John Dillinger, a 1930s bank robber notorious for his multiple escapes from jail.[3] Weinman telephoned Steve Evetts to produce their album because he was a big fan of his work on the Deadguy records.[5] After their first two shows, Brantley lost contact with the band and did not show up when they were recording the six song self-titled effort, causing them to record as a quartet.[4]

The six-track EP was released in April 1997, and set them off on a small club tour around northeast America. Shortly before their first tour as The Dillinger Escape Plan, the group was joined by guitarist John Fulton, who previously played in other bands with Pennie and Doll.[3] In 1998 the band wrote and recorded their second EP titled Under the Running Board. During this time period, The Dillinger Escape Plan gained notoriety in the hardcore punk scene for the intensity of their performances which were increasingly wild, and often violent. These features, as well as the creative, technical approach of their music led a record executive of Relapse Records to offer the band a multi-record contract.[3] Shortly before signing, the Under the Running Board demo was shown to some friends, one of whom was Jesuit bassist Nate Newton who was impressed with their musical proficiency and invited The Dillinger Escape Plan to an American and Canadian tour with them and Botch.[6]

Shortly after their second EP, John Fulton left the band to focus on his computer programming studies.[7] Before the recording of Calculating Infinity, bassist Adam Doll was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.[8] The accident was a minor fender bender, but because Doll had leaned over to pick up a CD beneath the stereo, the accident caused a small fracture in his spine, inducing paralysis. Guitarist Weinman played both guitar and bass on the album,[9] though liner notes credited Doll as providing a great deal of help. Calculating Infinity was released on September 28, 1999, through Relapse and was met with critical acclaim.[10][11] Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton, one of the first people to hear the album,[9] asked the Dillinger Escape Plan to tour for two months with his band Mr. Bungle. Shortly before touring began for the new album, former Jesuit guitarist Brian Benoit auditioned for the band, taking the place of the departed Fulton in November 1998 and Jeff Wood, former M.O.D. bassist and a childhood friend of Weinman, took the place of the injured bassist Doll.[8][9]

Search for a new vocalist and Irony Is a Dead Scene (2000–2002)

After several months of touring, including appearances on the Warped Tour and March Metal Meltdown, the band and Wood parted ways, with Wood moving on to his own project, Shat, Liam Wilson took his place. Later that same year, the band parted ways with Minakakis. Minakakis credited his departure from the band to the rigorous touring schedule. The band remains in contact with him.[12] Without a vocalist, The Dillinger Escape Plan began a nationwide search for a replacement via their website, releasing an instrumental version of "43 % Burnt" from Calculating Infinity and inviting prospective vocalists to record and send their own vocal tracks. They received many submissions, including one with rapping and one with death growls.[9] While the search was underway, vocal duties were handled by a number of the band's friends, including Sean Ingram of Coalesce and Mike Patton. In late 2001, Dillinger Escape Plan met Greg Puciato, one of the people who submitted a recording to the band. Puciato included two versions of "43 % Burnt", one in the style of Calculating Infinity and one with his own personal spin. The band offered him the job after two practice sessions.[9] He accepted, first appearing at the 2001 CMJ Music Festival in New York City. Soon after, Puciato and the band covered "Damaged I" and "Damaged II" by Black Flag for the tribute compilation Black on Black.[13]

Patton agreed to help the band produce an EP. The plan to record with Patton was in place before a replacement vocalist had been found however by the time Patton had recorded vocals and the EP was released, the band had been touring with Minakakis's replacement, Greg Puciato, for nearly a year. The EP titled Irony Is a Dead Scene was released on August 27, 2002, through Epitaph Records.[14] The EP features Weinman, Pennie, Benoit, Wilson, Patton on vocals, and ex-bassist Adam Doll assisting with keyboards and sample effects.[1]

Miss Machine (2003–2005)

Dillinger Escape Plan Eindhoven
The Dillinger Escape Plan performing in Eindhoven in 2005

In 2003, the band appeared on the soundtrack for Underworld with the song "Baby's First Coffin", their first original song with Puciato on vocals. The band's second studio album (their first album with Puciato), Miss Machine was released on July 20, 2004, through Relapse. The album polarized The Dillinger Escape Plan audience; some fans were critical of the band's increasing artistic and musical departures from their earlier efforts, while others preferred them.[1]

Following the release, The Dillinger Escape Plan began a two-year touring cycle, headlining tours of their own or occasionally providing support for acts such as Slipknot, System of a Down, and Megadeth.[1][15] These tours were replete with injuries; in late 2004, guitarist Benoit suffered nerve damage (brachial plexus neuritis) in his left hand, and other than a short return to the stage in 2005, he has not played with the band since.[16] Former Fenix*TX guitarist James Love ended up playing most shows in the late 2004–2006 period. In 2005, the band was forced to drop out of Dave Mustaine's "Gigantour" slightly early due to a rotator cuff injury and fractured vertebrae Weinman had sustained performing in Anaheim, California at all-ages venue Chain Reaction; Weinman took time off performing with the band to undergo surgery.[9]

Ire Works (2006–2008)

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The Dillinger Escape Plan performing in Budapest in 2008

Four shows before the end of the Coheed tour, Weinman flew home for undisclosed personal reasons. In an interview, Greg Puciato stated the actual reasons for Weinman's early departure was because of the growing tension between him and Pennie. The night of August 4, the group played their first show as a four-piece in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Murat Theatre Egyptian Room. It was previously announced during an interview on the Jekyll and Hyde show in November 2007, during the Coheed tour, that Weinman had briefly quit the band to recover from compounding medical and financial problems.[17] During the time Weinman was apart from the band, Chris Pennie received an offer from Coheed and Cambria to be the band's permanent drummer when their former drummer left the band. Coheed had been impressed with Pennie after seeing him live, and Pennie accepted the offer. Pennie left the band right before the recording of Ire Works.[18]

The Dillinger Escape Plan completed their follow-up album to Miss Machine in 2007, titled Ire Works.[19] On June 15, the band announced the title of the album as well as confirming the departure of Pennie.[20] Among the drummers considered to handle drum duties were Morgan Ågren and Sean Reinert, but the band decided to choose the relatively unknown Gil Sharone of Stolen Babies by the suggestion of Chris Hornbrook.[21] Ire Works was released on November 13, 2007, through Relapse. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 142 with 7,000 copies scanned, but was later corrected when it was revealed that Relapse did not account for album pre-release sales, increasing the number of total copies sold to 11,000.[1] Ire Works had been a critical and commercial success, with the album being on many critics' top ten lists, making it the band's most critically successful album. Jason Lymangrover of AllMusic stated that "[if] DEP aren't careful and continue down this innovative path, they could easily be labeled the Radiohead of metalcore."[22] On February 6, 2008, the band had two songs from Ire Works broadcast on two television programs in the United States. The song "Milk Lizard" was featured on the CSI: NY episode "Playing With Matches",[23] and the band performed live the song "Black Bubblegum" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[24]

Missing from the new line up was Benoit, who had left the band because of injury. Although assured his place in the band is secure should he ever be able to perform again,[25] Jeff Tuttle formerly of Heads Will Roll and Capture the Flag took his place on stage. Tuttle, however, does not make an appearance on the record.[26]

Party Smasher Inc. and Option Paralysis (2009–2011)

In January 2009, Sharone left the band and was replaced by Billy Rymer.[1] The Dillinger Escape Plan played in Australia, where they joined Nine Inch Nails onstage during the Soundwave 2009 festival, helping them perform the songs "Wish" and "Mr. Self Destruct" as part of the last encore song of Nine Inch Nails' live show at the event.[1]

The Dillinger Escape Plan announced their departure from Relapse Records on May 27, 2009. The band had become dissatisfied with the music industry and music media, and Weinman decided to create the independent record label Party Smasher Inc. to release their fourth studio album.[1]

Since June 2009, they began to release several demo snippets on their YouTube channel of songs from their upcoming album.[27] Furthermore, a website for the record was set up, linking to all of the studio update videos and demo snippets.[28] During their North American East Coast tour with Thursday in December 2009, the band sold download cards at their shows that entitled the customer to a download of the 10 song album upon its release with 3 additional exclusive bonus tracks.[29] The song "Farewell, Mona Lisa", debuted on Liquid Metal SXM on Christmas Day, 2009;[30] it became available for download on January 19, 2010.[31] "Chinese Whispers" was debuted on Full Metal Jackie’s syndicated radio show broadcast on 29 stations throughout the USA on the March 5, 2010, and was subsequently played on the next two days. On March 9, the blog MetalSucks featured the online debut of the song.[32] The band released their fourth studio album, Option Paralysis on March 22, 2010, through Party Smasher in partnership with Season of Mist[33][34] Option Paralysis was confirmed as the title of the new album in a press release by Season of Mist. Puciato has noted that Option Paralysis was the toughest album the group and himself have ever written. In an interview in The Aquarian Weekly, Weinman stated that it was the most organic and less forced than previous works.[35]

The Dillinger Escape Plan started the Option Paralysis touring cycle with a short North American tour with Thursday in December 2009, followed by a headlining run in Feb/March 2010 with Darkest Hour, Animals as Leaders, and Iwrestledabearonce. While on the tour, the band received a Golden God Award from Revolver Magazine, for "Best Underground Band", which Weinman and Puciato accepted.[36] After a short trip to Europe, they participated in Warped Tour 2010, playing June 24 through August 15.[37] During a January 12, 2011 interview on the Metal Injection Livecast, Puciato announced that the band was currently in the process of writing new music which would either surface as an EP later in the year or else a full-length album the following year.[38] However, in 2011 The Dillinger Escape Plan continued to tour, accompanying Deftones for a nine-week-long North American trek from April to June. Touring continued with former labelmates Mastodon, both in the US in late 2011 and the UK in early 2012, followed by their second appearance at Soundwave Festival in Australia, as well as dates with System of a Down in New Zealand and Australia. The group also played its first shows in Malaysia and Bangkok, as well as their first South American performance, headlining the second stage on the first night of the prestigious Rock al Parque festival in Bogota, Colombia.[39]

One of Us Is the Killer (2012–2014)

The Dillinger Escape Plan With Full Force 2014 15
Ben Weinman and Greg Puciato performing at With Full Force festival 2014 in Roitzschjora, Germany.

On August 17, 2012, the band announced via their Facebook page that Tuttle had left the band to pursue other projects in music and film.[40] On November 24, the band played at the California Metalfest alongside bands such as Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying. While playing this show, a mystery guitar player was noticed filling in for former rhythm guitarist Jeff Tuttle, who had left the band in August. A couple of weeks later, during a phone interview (on the Metal Injection Livecast) while in the studio recording their new album, Weinman announced that this mystery guitar player was James Love, who had played with the band briefly while they toured in support for their album Miss Machine.[41]

On February 18, 2013, the band announced the title of their new album, One of Us Is the Killer,[42] On March 12, they released the first single from the album. On April 23, The Dillinger Escape Plan released the music video for "When I Lost My Bet", the first from the upcoming album. It was directed by Mitch Massie and was posted on the band's Facebook page and Sumerian Records' YouTube account. Subsequent videos released from the album were "One of Us Is the Killer", "Hero of the Soviet Union", and "Paranoia Shields". The band released their fourth studio album, One of Us Is the Killer on May 14, 2013 through Party Smasher in partnership with various labels around the world, including BMG for Europe, Grind House for Japan, Remote Control for Australia and Sumerian Records for North America.[33]

While touring North American in April 2014, the band released the non-album single, "Happiness Is a Smile". The single was only released as a seven-inch vinyl and a cassette and was only available the buy on this tour.[43][44] On July 14, 2014, it was announced that the band would be playing for two weeks as the opening slot on the Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden North American tour. This decision was announced following the supposed disbandment of Death Grips, who was originally scheduled to appear as the opening act.[45]

Dissociation and disbandment (2015–2017)

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Greg Puciato performing at Wacken Open Air 2017

In July 2015, Ben Weinman announced during an Australian interview that the band would return to the studio in November to record the follow-up to One of Us Is the Killer.[46][47] In the following year, BBC Radio 1 premiered the band's new single "Limerent Death", which is to be featured on their upcoming sixth studio record Dissociation.[48] In an interview with Noisey, Weinman said the Dillinger Escape Plan would stop performing,[49] with Puciato later saying "we're breaking up."[50] Puciato was quoted saying that the band still enjoyed writing, recording and performing together but "we started to reach what felt like a thematic conclusion to our band", comparing the decision to a filmmaker who enjoys the current film he is creating but cannot continue the process indefinitely.[51] Weinman said, "we are going to do the cycle for this album and that's it."[49] Dissociation was released on October 14, 2016, through Party Smasher in partnership with Cooking Vinyl.[52]

On February 12, 2017, during their European farewell tour, The Dillinger Escape Plan was involved in a vehicle crash after a truck collided with their bus near Radomsko, Poland. 13 people were injured in the incident, but the band members were not seriously hurt.[53] Fans raised $21,010 to the band following the crash.[54]

On September 5, The Dillinger Escape Plan were honoured at the 2017 Association of Independent Music Awards. The band received the "Outstanding Contribution to Music" prize at the ceremony at The Brewery, Clerkenwell.[55]

The band's final show took place at Terminal 5 in New York City on December 29, 2017, with Code Orange and Daughters as support acts.[56] The band also played two additional shows on December 27 and 28, before the final show. For the first show the band announced that they would be joined by Mike Patton to perform their collaborative EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene, and were supported by God Mother.[57] On the December 28 show, the band was joined on stage by original frontman Dimitri Minakakis, and he performed several early Dillinger Escape Plan songs. Minakakis also sang with Puciato during the encore performance of 43% Burnt.[58] Minakakis appeared again on the last night, whereas former guitarist Brian Benoit joined them for parts of the December 27 and December 28 shows. Original bassist Adam Doll joined as well for the final night, playing keyboards on their last song "Dissociation".[59]

Post-Dillinger Escape Plan activities (2018–present)

After the Dillinger Escape Plan disbanded, the members remained active in music. Puciato plans to continue touring with the Black Queen throughout 2018[60] and has plans to record as Killer Be Killed for a second album planned for release in 2019.[61]

Musical style

—Ben Weinman, 2016[62]

The Dillinger Escape Plan's music is rooted in extreme metal, metallic hardcore and post-hardcore, and draws heavily from jazz fusion, progressive rock and electronic music.[62][63][64][65] They have been primarily categorized as mathcore, a genre characterized by its frequent use of complex rhythms, jarring riffs and technical proficiency. Many have claimed that the band "pioneered" or even "created" the genre with the release of their debut album.[66][67][68] Their style has also been called metalcore,[64][69][70][71] progressive metal,[72][73][74][75] experimental metal,[1][76][77] noise metal,[78] noisecore,[79] and jazzcore.[75] Several reviewers have described their early albums as grindcore performed from a technical approach.[80][81][82][83] John Adamian of the Hartford Courant classified Dillinger as "a kind of knotted, complex, abrasive math rock", as well as "prog metal that embraces an avant-garde level of coiled and meshed intricacies."[84]

AllMusic writer Ryan Downey describes the group as "maniacally intense", "crushingly metallic", "displaying rigorous physical endurance," while at the same time notes their "precise musicianship" and "meticulously thought-out" compositions.[85] John Adamian commented: "Listening to [The Dillinger Escape Plan] sometimes feels like being ground between a system of elaborate gears. Chromatic turns and cycling patterns notch all the pieces together. The guitars are often dissonant, shifting into double and triple time, with vocals that deliver a blow-torch scorch."[84] After Calculating Infinity, they constantly incorporated new sounds and other styles, "even commercial ones", as Andrew Earles of Spin said, and their albums became "packed with the sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful music only they play" that "skids from grindcore to progressive jazz and beyond".[86]

Some reviewers have compared them with jazz-grindcore project Naked City[84][87] and progressive metal band Meshuggah.[87][88] When asked to define The Dillinger Escape Plan's music, bassist Liam Wilson said: "I usually tell my parents' generation that we sound like what might happen if you took the sophistication of King Crimson and cross-bred us with the snottiness of the Sex Pistols... or 'punk jazz' which is how Jaco Pastorius once described his sound."[89]

Development

PuciatoWeinman1
Ben Weinman and Greg Puciato performing in 2011

In the words of lead guitarist Ben Weinman, the prime mover of The Dillinger Escape Plan, the band's first albums intended to "stir things up", "really try things new", and "challenge people" within the 1990s hardcore punk scene.[2] He felt that many of its bands were trying to sound like their predecessors from the previous decade rather than "encompass the[ir] attitude", which influenced him deeply,[2] and others were more interested in "joining into cliques" such as straight edge, religious or political groups, instead of prioritizing their music.[90]

At the start of the group, Weinman considered The Dillinger Escape Plan an electronic-infused metallic hardcore band.[91] On their debut EP, the members were still knowing each other and "[figuring] out what it was that we wanted to do".[92] After that release, Weinman became highly interested in jazz fusion and, through their new guitarist John Fulton, technical extreme metal bands.[2][91] During that period, there were "really great" bands mixing jazz with extreme music, such as Candiria, yet "when they went into a jazz part they sounded like a jazz band, the death metal part, a death metal band". Thus, on the Under the Running Board EP the group's members tried to, among other things, "figure how to make" all the fusion artists and Afro-Cuban rhythms that they were listening to "sound grimey and punk";[93] for example, Weinman pushed drummer Chris Pennie to use more aggressive and unconventional drum patterns, such as playing the china cymbals excessively and getting rid of splashes, while Pennie encouraged him to finesse his guitar technique.[94] The guitarist attributes the "tug and pull of" both personalities as a key element in their development, but also as the reason for the drummer's eventual departure from the band.[2][95] With their style already established, The Dillinger Escape Plan refined it on their first studio album, Calculating Infinity.[96]

The groundbreaking 1999 debut created a huge hype, but the band decided to expand their musical directions on its follow-up to ensure artistic freedom and explore all their different influences.[2] This was facilitated by the addition of Greg Puciato, whose vocal delivery encompasses styles from screaming to crooning, and was encouraged to sing by the other members.[89][93][97] While maintaining their original style, on 2004's Miss Machine they incorporated more melodies and traditional song structures, as well as industrial influences and strings.[98] Their next release, Ire Works, featured more sounds ranging from "glitchy electropop" to Latin jazz, an increasing use of programming and instruments such as horns and piano.[2][86][99] 2010's Option Paralysis has more piano, vocal harmonies and on this album the band "learned how to merge [all these new] elements" within the songs rather than separating them from song to song, as Puciato stated.[35][99] He referred to its follow-up, One of Us Is the Killer, as a continuation of this and it was the first since Calculating Infinity were they composed all the music during its songwriting process.[99][100] Scott A. Gray of Exclaim! stated: "The tightness, the focus of [One of Us Is the Killer], was ludicrous, seemingly taken as far as it could go".[101] On the contrary, Dissociation drew from all their different inspirations but mostly from song to song, including, for example, long instrumental sections of IDM and jazz fusion, and some parts were composed many years before its recording.[101][102]

Influences

The background of the early Dillinger Escape Plan members was diverse. Some, including bassist Adam Doll, guitarist John Fulton and drummer Chris Pennie, were mostly influenced by technical, more melodic extreme metal bands such as Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass and Meshuggah,[65][103] whereas guitarist Ben Weinman and vocalist Dimitri Minakakis by metallic hardcore and post-hardcore bands of the 1990s, particularly Deadguy, Dazzling Killmen, Today Is the Day, Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu.[104][105] While Weinman still appreciated heavy metal, he became "desensitized" to most of it because "there weren't new bands or old bands creating new albums that were pushing anything [new]" and felt it had become "formulaic".[62][106] He and Pennie were also heavily inspired by IDM artists such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher[62][103] and Autechre.[107] What tied all the band members together was their admiration for progressive artists such as King Crimson and Cynic.[65][105] Other influences included Mahavishnu Orchestra and Neurosis.[65] They learned how to blend all their influences on the Under the Running Board EP, and, for this album, the joining of Fulton had a major impact on Weinman's guitar playing through the incorporation of more technical types of guitar work.[2] The group, however, did not fully display their electronic influences until the Irony Is a Dead Scene EP because of the lack of equipment and time restraints.[108][109]

Their choice of complex time signatures and unconventional beat accenting is typically credited to their jazz fusion and IDM influences.[110][111] Pennie went to jazz school and Weinman named John McLaughlin and his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra as particularly inspirational, whereas Liam Wilson cited Jaco Pastorius and James Jamerson as his biggest bass influences.[108][112][113] On the other hand, the guitarist cited IDM music for his use of chaotic riffs, stating that, in some ways, they did "the guitar version of [intelligent dance music], using certain rhythms and frequencies" that sound "so random, but the more you listened to it, the more it made sense, and actually had intention."[62][114]

Former drummer Chris Pennie was especially inspired by Meshuggah's Tomas Haake and later on by Nine Inch Nails and DJ Shadow.[103] For his part, vocalist Greg Puciato cited Mike Patton of Faith No More and H.R. of Bad Brains as his biggest influences when growing up, stating that he learned to sing by emulating them, and Death's Chuck Schuldiner for screaming.[115] He said of the former: "[they] opened my eyes a lot to what could be done with the voice overtop of heavy music".[116]

Songwriting

The songwriting process of The Dillinger Escape Plan usually started with Weinman's guitar ideas and, especially since Ire Works,[2] software' rhythms or sound design that he presented to the drummer. Until the recording sessions, the two could barely perform some of these pieces in an accurate way because of their complexity.[15] They wrote and focused on approximately ten seconds of music every day, developing them through jam sessions and afterwards joining several parts that "could go cohesively" together.[117] They send these demos to Greg Puciato and Liam Wilson: the first joined different pieces together and worked over them, making "a picture that means something to" him.[118] Puciato stated that he could spend days to just compose a fifteen seconds part the way he wanted.[15] Usually, Liam Wilson was the last member to compose due to the suggestion of producer Steve Evetts, who is also a bassist, in order that he could counterpoint with any instrument, including Puciato's vocals and the electronics.[110]

Weinman and Puciato consider themselves to be songwriters instead of a guitarist and a vocalist, and, over time, they added diverse instruments and samples on some songs, focusing on what would fit best into them rather than their live instrumentation.[99]

Recording

Since their inception, Steve Evetts was the producer, sound engineer and mixer of almost all The Dillinger Escape Plan's releases.[119] His close involvement in these roles led him to be considered as another member of the band.[120] The recording sessions were often described as exhausting because the members tracked sections in a way they thought were fine as the final take, but Evetts made them repeat some of these a large number of times until it sounded "like a Pro Tools copy-paste", yet without the use of audio effects.[121][122][123] The producer nitpicked details such as Wilson's type of plectrum and its angle of playing.[110] Puciato, Weinman and Evetts rarely worked all together in the studio; while two of them were recording, the other was absent to "[stay] fresh" so that, later on, "he can make comments and it’s easy enough to be objective" for making adjustments.[99] From Option Paralysis on, Puciato and Weinman became largely involved in the recording process, working on it to the point of "obsession", and postponed their recording deadlines for months in order to redo their album mixes numerous times.[99][124]

Stage performances

The Dillinger Escape Plan-1
Greg Puciato hanging upside down during a Dillinger show in 2008.

The Dillinger Escape Plan was noted for their reckless, chaotic live shows.[125] While playing, most of the band members climbed up and leaped off of parts of the stage, bounced off walls, dived into moshpits and destroyed their own gear.[87][126][127] Greg Puciato used to run violently from the stage on top of the crowd in some of his early shows with the band.[125] Their physical performances were improvised and, despite the aggressive nature of their shows, they "just want[ed] to be as pure and in the moment as possible vocally and physically", rather than performing acts that can cause harm to others.[65][128] Over time they incorporated samples, a light show, fireworks, fire breathing, and other antics. Their concerts caused them both direct and cumulative injuries.[129][130]

According to Weinman, when Dillinger started they used their live shows as "a way for after school, or work, after a long week, to play a show and just vent" and they tried "to keep that passion and that energy" over the years.[65] He revealed that their ethic was also inspired by Fugazi, referring to Repeater as "a record that was meant to be performed." He added that "it was their live show that literally drove an underground punk band based on specific ethics" to an "almost mainstream success."[131]

Reading controversy

At the 2002 edition of the prestigious Reading Festival, the Dillinger Escape Plan's performance made national United Kingdom headlines because vocalist Greg Puciato defecated in full view onstage, put it into a bag, and threw it into the crowd before smearing the rest onto himself, proclaiming "This is a bag of shit, I just wanted to show you this so you'll recognize it later on throughout the day" referring to the quality of some bands he felt were appearing that day of the festival, particularly Puddle of Mudd.[132][133] The act nearly got the band banned from the UK for violation of public-decency laws,[125] despite this the band's set was one of the highest reviewed of the entire festival that year, and was later included in a list of the top one hundred Reading or Leeds performances of the decade.[132] Upon returning to Reading in 2016, Puciato played the opening song "Prancer" sitting on an onstage couch reading a newspaper and drinking tea.[134]

Puciato later commented on the act saying;

There was no way in hell that I thought that we were ever going make a living doing this or that in fourteen years I would still be having a conversation as Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan. I just thought this was a ball of fire that’s gonna implode or it’s got a shelf life, there’s no way this can continue. So when we would get asked to play something like that in my head I was like ‘well, this is never going to happen again, when am I ever going to play a festival with bands I don’t like. That was kind of the other thing, that was the first time we ever played with bands we don’t like [...] we had never been exposed to some like mass thing where you’re playing with a band like Puddle of Mudd or whoever it was at the time who made me feel like "Oh I got to make some kind of a statement." So it was kind of a combo of kind of wanting to cause the biggest ruckus imaginable, since we’re obviously never going to do this again anyway, I might as well make sure that we’re never allowed to do this again anyway.[127]

Business practices and ethics

Throughout most of their career, The Dillinger Escape Plan led a steadfast DIY ethic.[135] In the beginning, they were managed by long time friend of the band Tom Apostolopoulos, who acted as a tour manager, along with Ben Weinman, and, since the Miss Machine's touring cycle, only by the last.[135][136] During the first years, both were in charge of the financial affairs of the band, scheduled tours by calling all their phone contacts, rented and booked transport, and placed flyers printed by Weinman on the walls of New Jersey.[3][137][138] Until 2011, Greg Puciato was in charge of merchandising, clothing design and mailing.[139] Their road crew was not expanded substantially over the years and the band members kept contributing to the technical and traveling tasks until their last tour.[49]

Their work ethic was directly inspired by the 1990s American hardcore punk scene.[140] They also cited Mike Patton as both an artistic and business "mentor".[141] The singer's influence on The Dillinger Escape Plan began on their 1999 tour supporting Patton's Mr. Bungle, particularly by seeing how he decided to travel in a van, carry and set up his own gear, and not hire a technician, despite having "had recently been playing stadiums with Faith No More", but simultaneously he had a perfectionist standard on their live shows and did not open the venues at which they played until the sound was ideal.[142]

In 2009, Weinman founded the independent record label Party Smasher Inc. for all things related to The Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as hosting diverse independent artists and contributors.[33] Weinman stated that, rather than creating a record label as such, this was intended to give them total freedom to explore all the possibilities of the music industry in the Information Age instead of being restricted by a traditional record deal.[138] They released their last three albums on the label.[135]

Although never having had an agenda on their lyrics, the band members were outspoken and usually controversial in interviews.[143] In 2016, Puciato said: "We give a lot of fucks about not giving a fuck, if that makes sense. We have a really high level of quality control about not putting parameters and cages around ourselves creatively. That's kind of been the only motivation I've ever had".[144] On Miss Machine, they included the songs "Unretrofied" and "Phone Home" that were not initially composed for Dillinger nor in their usual style in order to not "be confined into a specific space".[145][146] 2006's cover album Plagiarism was intented "to tell the close-minded metal community that it's OK to listen to other music".[2] After their first albums, they toured with bands from diverse genres outside of the metalcore scene to prevent being "pigeonholed into" it.[15] They were vocal about their dislike for styles such as nu metal and mainstream metalcore of the early to mid-2000s,[12] as well as mocked musicians such as Jared Leto,[147] Nickelback,[148] Puddle of Mudd,[149] Disturbed,[150] and Avenged Sevenfold.[151]

At different line-ups, all of them were straight edge and, as of mid-2005, most had only vegetarian catering while touring.[152][153] Bassist Liam Wilson, who was a vegan, appeared in several pro-vegan advertisements for PETA since the mid-2000s and the whole band did it in 2008 against dog fighting.[154][155] The group did several charity concerts and sold merchandise with a portion of their profit's towards philanthropic organizations, including Music for Relief,[156] the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,[157] The Trevor Project,[158] among others.[159] On one occasion, The Dillinger Escape Plan rejected a tour slot with thrash metal group Slayer in spite of being fans of them,[12] because their lyrics and imagery regarding Nazism were "questionable" and "never ... sufficiently explained" to Weinman, who had relatives that died in the Holocaust.[160]

Legacy

The Dillinger Escape Plan-32
Audience members moshing at a Dillinger Escape Plan show.

The Dillinger Escape Plan is often considered one of the most influential bands in extreme music circles since the late 1990s.[55][62][67][128][161] The impact of their idiosyncratic style has been compared to the ones of My Bloody Valentine on shoegaze and Refused on post-hardcore.[62][88] Alex Lynham of MusicRadar states that "Dillinger Escape Plan are one of the few guitar bands of the past 25 years to make a total and radical break with the music of the past and forge a unique sound", spawning "countless imitators, iterations and acolytes."[62] Maximus Frank of MetalSucks has remarked "The Dillinger Escape Plan will be remembered as one of the greatest bands of all time – and possibly, the greatest punk band ever. Full stop."[161] Drowned in Sound's Ben Patashnik declared in 2007 that Dillinger is one of the few bands to have "emerged from small, insular, resolutely non-mainstream scenes" and at the same time "managed to reach well further than one might reasonably think possible."[88]

The Dillinger Escape Plan were honored at the 2017 Association of Independent Music Awards. The band received the "Outstanding Contribution to Music" prize at the ceremony at The Brewery, Clerkenwell. The AIM Awards judge and Metal Hammer editor Merlin Alderslade said:

“The Dillinger Escape Plan aren't only one of the most influential heavy bands of the last 20 years, but one of the single most important forces to ever grace our scene. From their genre-shredding albums that have gone on to inspire legions of bands to their now legendary live shows, they have trail-blazed their way through an incredible career that has united alternative music fans from all walks of life. The AIM awards are about recognising music crafted in the true spirit of independence and I couldn't think of a more fitting band to walk on stage to accept this award than Dillinger.”[55]

Comments from other musicians

Many artists have cited The Dillinger Escape Plan as an influence or have expressed their admiration for them, including Bring Me the Horizon,[162][163] Architects,[164] Metallica,[165][166][167] Dave Mustaine of Megadeth,[168] Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree,[169] Rody Walker of Protest the Hero,[170] Periphery,[171][172] Enter Shikari,[173][174] Mike Portnoy,[175] JT Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights,[176] Darkest Hour,[177] Alex Skolnick of Testament,[87] The Fall of Troy,[178][179] Chris McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder,[180] As I Lay Dying,[181][182] Jamie Lenman of Reuben,[183] Joe Talarico of Man Overboard,[176] Every Time I Die,[184][185] Rolo Tomassi,[186] Leprous,[187][188] Atheist,[189][190] Shining,[191] Tera Melos,[192][193] Daniel Mongrain of Voivod,[194] American Standards,[195] Despised Icon,[196] Arsonists Get All the Girls,[197] Gwen Stacy,[198] Ben Kotin of Such Gold,[176] Mutiny on the Bounty,[199] The Algorithm,[200] War from a Harlots Mouth,[201] Aric Improta of Night Verses,[176] Scribe,[202] Aaron Neigher of The Saddest Landscape,[176] Pyrrhon,[203] The Arusha Accord,[204] Johnny Truant,[205] Destrage[206] and Toothgrinder.[207]

Awards and nominations

AIM Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2017 The Dillinger Escape Plan Outstanding Contribution to Music Won

Members

Final Lineup
  • Ben Weinman – lead guitar, programming, backing vocals (1997–2017), rhythm guitar (1997, 2012–2013), bass (1999–2000)
  • Liam Wilson – bass (2000–2017)
  • Greg Puciato – lead vocals (2001–2017), rhythm guitar (2007–2008)
  • Billy Rymer – drums, percussion (2008–2017)
  • Kevin Antreassian – rhythm guitar (2015–2017)[208]

Timeline

Discography

Studio albums

References

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