Earlier in the year, Dillinger Escape Plan announced they’d be releasing a brand new album, Dissociation. But it wasn’t all good news, the band backed it up with the announcement they would be hitting an extended hiatus, effectively making Dissociation a parting gift from the band who had been challenging the limits of heavy music since 1997.
A matter of days away from the release, we caught up with founding member Ben Weinmann to chat about the situation surrounding the album, as well as the band’s impending break. Weinmann is also caught in the throes of his other project Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, who released their debut album Broken Line not too long ago.
As you can imagine, Ben doesn’t get a whole lot of downtime…
Ben Weinmann: I never have downtime. I have the most downtime when I’m on tour because I can run away form people and hide in a bus but I’m involved in so many things.
Making these albums – the Giraffe Tongue and Dillinger album – having them come out on my own label…we were all very involved with every aspect of the albums. I did the album cover for Dillinger – everything we do ourselves. Greg posts every single Instagram picture himself. We’re very hands on so it’s really busy at all times.
Music Feeds: Dissociation is out on Friday, 14th October, that totally crept up. Firstly congratulations. You guys must be pretty stoked to get this one out.
BW: It’s so funny. You get done with these albums so far in advance that you’ve already decompressed and listened to it, and read the reviews. So it creeps up on you when it actually comes out, you almost feel like it’s been out. I’m excited man, we’re starting a US tour tomorrow too, so it’s exciting.
MF: I got to hear the album early, it sounds like you guys really let the wild horses run with this one, so too speak. Did you really just throw everything you had into it?
BW: I think we always just take off the reins and go for it. You always want to think that you don’t have any influence from outside sources, that you’re not influenced by what you think people expect from you, or what’s popular, or whatever. Most of the time we’re not, but I’m sure sometimes we get in our own way. Knowing that this is our living, our only source of income, whether or not people like it determines if they come to the shows, and that determines whether not we can continue to do this.
So those things have to affect you in some way. But this time, I think the beauty of doing it and knowing it’s the last album regardless of what it does, regardless of what people think of it – it was very liberating. We don’t have to take a big tour, we don’t have to try and support a big band or get in front of new people or play some festival just because it’s exposure. We don’t have to do anything we don’t want. There’s an ending to this and we’re just going to try and enjoy this with a little bit more meaning than maybe we’ve had over the last few albums.
MF: From the outside, it seems like it’s all been a very smooth process. You announced Dissociation with the hiatus and now you’re doing the farewell shows. Was this always how you planned on closing down Dillinger?
BW: I never knew how it would [end]. I assumed that maybe it would go out because it had to go out. Because my back went out! The truth is it’s a very physically demanding band. I’ve been doing it personally for 20 years and touring full time pretty much for most of that. So for most of my adult live I’ve been doing this. Every time we put out an album, I know there’s like three or four years of touring and writing. Then another album comes out and you do it again.
You grow a lot within the time of an album. You get older, life changes, things at home change, people die and people are born, people get married. A lot changes and you kind of stand still. You’re just doing the same thing year after year. While it’s exciting and you’re playing shows in lots of cities, life goes on and you’re still doing the same cycle.
It’s kind of weird. I said to myself at some point when we were starting this album, “Where do I see myself in 5 years?'” I’m going to be 46 years old. I couldn’t really answer. I thought well, “just sitting and writing more Dillinger songs and doing it again”. Then I’d be 50 after that. What then?
I realised that I had to take control of this now and give it meaning and make sure it’s an honourable statement and not just something that fizzled out because it has to. Everything in this band always had intention. It just hit me, I was like “we have to end this. Right now. While everything’s great, we need to take control and end this.”
It’s a scary thing. It’s not like we’re ending it and moving onto ‘what’s next’. I don’t have any other source of income after this. This is just as much of an unknown adventure as it was when I quit my corporate job, broke up with my girlfriend and just left to tour for the next 15 to 17 years. We just have no idea what will happen.
MF: It must also be a little bit exciting.
BW: It’s scary, it’s exciting – it’s different at least. It gives the tour meaning because we know there’s an end to it. When I first brought it up with the other guys, particularly Greg [Puciato, lead vocals], they didn’t really understand why we would do this. Like, why don’t we just slow down and do other things? I was like nah, I get that but it just seems like we need to do this. We need to take control of this. You can’t have one foot, Dillinger is all about a thousand percent full force, you know?
I think the more he thought about it and the fear of what was next started to dull down he started to think this was a cool idea and it does make a statement. We eventually started to come together and realise this is really the way to do it, even if it wasn’t initially that way.
MF: You’ve also been busy with your other project Giraffe Tongue Orchestra. You guys released your debut album Black Ice not too long ago! How was it working through that also?
BW: It’s been so long trying to get this done. Most people don’t see what’s behind the curtain. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to achieve in my life was just getting this album done. Over the past year it’s really come together. The chemistry of the people, the circumstances; it all just started coming together.
So finally having this album out and having such amazing players on it and making such good friends out of the people I wasn’t already good friends with, and having it come out on my own label – it’s been an amazing feeling, for sure.
MF: It’s such an eclectic album, there’s always something going on. Songs are funky, some songs are just straight heavy. With so many different fan groups vested in it, do you think most of them understood the album?
BW: The things I’ve seen have been super positive. Even some people are like surprisingly into it, that’s the biggest compliment ever – someone who’s a bit resistant to change actually starting to open up to some of it.
The reviews have been insane, that’s really surprising to me. Dillinger has always been my main project and such a polarising band. People either love it or hate it – it’s not for everybody. So, to have a band like Giraffe Tongue where I still feel really stimulated and inspired, and have it appeal to different people I’ve never reached before, it’s really interesting.
MF: Do you have any future plans for the band? Maybe another album or more touring? Or are you just taking this one as it comes?
BW: It’s a good question. We’ve really been taking it step by step, just getting the right people together then actually finishing a body of work that all makes sense in some way. Then actually getting singing done and having it all feel cohesive. Then having the album done. Playing Reading and Leads was the first performance for the band so, it’s almost like we’re taking it step by step
We are playing some shows in December in the States, so I think that’ll really solidify us as a live band that can perform together. After that, we’ll see. The sky’s the limit but we don’t have any grand scheme.
MF: With all the free time you’ll have, do you think you’ll start up any more super groups?
BW: Oh wow, Billy [Rymer, Drums], in Dillinger and I love jamming on all kinds of stuff. With done gigs with like Kimbra and pop people and hip-hop people. I think we’ll probably do a lot more of that, I don’t know, man. Closing a door, open more. Closing that Dillinger door is so hard but the doors that will open are only just beginning. So, who knows?
MF: By the sounds of things, I think a sleep in should be next, man.
BW: Well, I still got like, two years of touring with Dillinger ahead of me. If I make it out of that alive. I think I have about 5 surgeries after all of this. I’ll probably be bed-ridden regardless of whether I want to be or not.
MF: Will you be bringing Dillinger back Down Under for one last hoo-rah?
BW: Yeah, Dillinger plans on trying to tie up things everywhere we can. We’ve always had such a real close connection with Australians. The first time we went there, we were so surprised by how many people were into the band. Working with Mike Patton and seeing how open Australian fans are to Patten and all his projects really opened the door for us with a lot of people over there and we just kept going back. So Australia is a real priority for us.
MF: Probably asking too much but hey, maybe Giraffe Tongue can support?
BW: I’m down for that! I’m ok with double duty. These shows in December will really give us a solid base for playing live, so I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities.