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Publié le 19/01/2011 à 15:19
Édité le 19/01/2011 à 18:48

Dillinger Escape Plan - Q&R

In October of 2010, The Dillinger Escape Plan were one of the few American bands to do more than one gig in France. In Paris, kick off of the tour, Ben, Liam and Jeff gathered to talk about Option Paralysis, DIY career management, Team American and naked pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Greg just posted a Facebook update saying that the show tonight* would be like the bomb attack threat Paris is going through right now. So we can expect mayhem tonight right ?
Liam : I thought it was a reference to the first scene of Team America instead of a real threat. They must be excited we're here. Or mad !
Ben : One time we've been to Japan and one of the people from our station has been arrested, just in front of our eyes. And he did a statement making fun of that which was not was not exactly appropriate. But I think this one is actually of pretty good taste,
Liam : It's in taste with us.
Ben : Y'know, Paris and France in general has always been one of our best crowds so there's gonna be chaos.
Jeff : Maybe they saw the picture of me where I'm naked in front of the Eiffel Tower. I'm probably on CCTV somewhere.
Ben : But we're super excited about France and playing in Paris. That would the first show of our European tour.

what were your impressions during Warped tour ?
Ben : It was interesting, it was not really our crowd but that's the point of it for us.
Liam : Here we're playing for the fans. Over there we played for the potential fans. And it's good if you want to expend your boundaries.
Ben : Sometimes you need to play in front of different people. We've been a band so long that a lot of our fans have grown up, and we try to keep bringing new people in.
Liam : Most of our fans can't come to shows at two in the afternoon anyway.
Ben : Every now and then we have to try to put ourselves in a little bit of uncomfortable circumstances to keep ourselves stimulated. So these shows put us in the situation where we have to fight for a new kind of crowd. But even playing during the day is weird for us. Sometimes at 12 in the afternoon.
Liam : No production, no lights, none of the things we typically use on our shows. But it gives us a vibe.
Ben : It's all real, it is what it is.

Getting uncomfortable seems to be the point of this band, isn't it ?
Ben : Absolutely. And even from the point of view of the fans. To get them a little uncomfortable.

How Mike Garson (Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie) ended up playing piano on the very surprising Widower
Ben : We got to know him through the Nine Inch Nails, he was playing with Trent Reznor. He expressed an interest in actually playing with us so we were very thrilled about that. Originally I wrote the piece on piano, it was basically constructed using it. And then he had come in to kinda play on some other things that didn't have piano. He didn't listen to any of the music, he just came in and said "let's record a few takes and see what's going on". It was great to show him the chords and have him kinda improvise and jam on it.

But do you actually play the piano onstage when you play Widower ?
Ben : Yeah, and tonight's the first night we play it live.

Talking about softer songs, would your stage presence be less intense if your song were not that extreme ?
Ben : I can't say I don't play in any other bands. But we do have a lot more dynamics in our songs. Songs like Widower are not necessarily as aggressive and chaotic as the earlier stuff that we did or some other stuff on this record. But to us it's the soundtrack to our lives. We can't imagine living without it, really. It's like the air we breathe. So it's got lots of ups and downs, different types of dynamics and emotions. For us we feel as passionate about the songs that are less aggressive as we do about the songs that are aggressive.
Liam : It's a different kind of intensity, it's a different kind of presentation.Some of the other songs slice you in the eye and this one sort of punches you in the gut.

I'm really interesting to know how you write such intricated songs. Do you sit around and go like "I'm gonna play this riff for three and a half beats, then big riff during a bar and then back...
Jeff : ... You just wrote our next song (laughs) !
Ben : (pause) We write mainly like any other band write...
Liam : ...Except we but we do it better !
Ben : Obviously the music is not like any other band. Usually one person starts with ideas, but the difference with us is that we try to write in different ways. Widower started on piano. Some songs like Room full of eyes started out on a computer, because I often write on a computer with programmed drums. We definitely try different creative avenues to be inspired, and spark the beginnings of what would become our songs. But probably similarly to what other bands do. We eventually get in a room and jam.
Liam : Hardly ever does it start with us jamming, as a band. It's not like "hey guys let's jam and see what happens". There usually is a direction, some sort of goal. Some transitions happen when you sort of jam it out, but the main ideas of songs seem to be something that we come into practice but not developed at practice.
Ben : I think the thing that differentiates us from other technical bands is that we don't rule out any possibility for writing, whether it's on computer, starting with drums, piano or guitar. But we also know that there has to be energy and emotion in it. And the part of us playing and jamming to see if it works in the real live context is really important for us.

So who among the Dillinger usually has the best ideas ?
Ben : None of us otherwise we would be in a much bigger club (laughs) !
Liam : The gold idea was like "hey we have this great music let's make it fast and noxious (laughs).
Jeff : Yeah, "let's make music that hardly anyone can understand". Who's idea was that ?

Stage-wise you've worked with a French company for the light show. How did it come together ?
Ben : We've always been, since day one, tried to incorporate things to our light shows to increase the dynamics and the intensity of the show. Buying lights at the store, turning them on and off ourselves. Even blowing up things on stage. We were never lazy about our shows and we always tried to stand out.
With time we moved up to the next level and one of our friend, his name is Thomas, he's an engineer and a musician, called us to work with us. He came with different ideas about the visual elements of the show. We definitely don't have just lights. A lot of it is interactive and we change it up from tour to tour. We try things and see if it works or not.

You're always walking around on stage, moving a lot. Even though you play quite expensive instruments like PRS guitars
Jeff : The better part of an instrument, the more beating it's going to take. It's way better than the guitar I used to play in this band, and it's the guitar I played before joining the band. So to me it makes no difference. I'm lucky enough to get some free ones, so it would be a lot different story if I had to pay for each and every one of my broken guitars. But you can't let those things hold you back, money's just money.
Liam : You're not looking at it like it's a handful of money. It's just a piece of wood with strings on it. And it deserves the beating.

Ben you're also managing the band, which is very demanding time wise.
Ben : Everybody is putting a lot of effort in this band but I'm definitely working on the band all the time and I like it ! I like having my hands in it. We like being involved in every aspect of the band, I'm not sure if it's the best decision, there might be better options but for now it worked well. It's just a matter of finding people to work with you that have your best interests in mind, which is difficult. It's like any family. You can't really trust anybody, except your family.

Do you feel some kind of frustration when you spend a whole day managing your band instead of actually being creative ?
Ben : All the time I feel that way. That's the biggest negative point, not being as creative as I would like to be.
Liam : I can't speak for you but maybe you get onstage thinking "thank God at least I got to enjoy this part now".
Ben : But I naturally gravitated around that environment when I was growing up. I never cared about being the best guitar player in the world. I don't sit around playing guitar all day, I live a life and I do other things that inspire me to play. I don't sit around working on licks or learning other people's song all day. If I did that there would no be any Dillinger Escape Plan the way we know it.
Liam : It's better to be the most heared guitar player than the best guitar player.
Ben : I always wanted to have the best band, not being the best individual. So I always think holistically. And part of this band is being professional on your instrument. But it's not the only part.

In a recent interview Billy said that The Dillinger Escape Plan sounded better with him behind the kit. That's a young and confident drummer you have here.
Ben : Yeah he brought like a young excitement, a fresh excitement to this band. Not only he filled the shoes of a drummer he admired, but he took the band to a next level. So for us it's really exciting.


*Interview made in October of 2010

The Dillinger Escape Plan on Myspace
Crédit photo : Piet Goethals

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