Dealing With Each Other: An Interview with Dillinger Escape Plan
Greg Puciato, vocalist of punk group the Dillinger Escape Plan, has been very open to press lately, detailing the news that the band is currently on their last tour, with an end for the band in the future. Through many years of intense shows, six studio albums, and much controversy, the Dillinger Escape Plan have proved that they have created a legacy that many bands will never be able to fullfil. Before their night-closing set at Sound On Sound Fest, Puciato spoke to Free Press Houston to reflect on the band’s highest and lowest moments, what’s next for the group, and what’s really important in the music industry.
Free Press Houston: How’s the tour been so far? Here at Sound On Sound, you are closing out the keep stage, how does that feel?
Greg Puciato: Yeah, it’s crazy, bro. Lots of weird things to say. Of all the bands on playing on the same stage, playing last is pretty cool. [The tour has] been incredible so far, man. Since the first couple years of the bands touring, I would say in the last 15 years, I don’t think we’ve been as good, gotten along as well, and having as much fun on and off stage as we are now, especially in the last 13 years. It’s really ironic, because we’re breaking up. [laughs]
FPH: Though you’ve gotten this question a lot, why did you feel like now was the best time for the final tour?
Puciato: I think that intention illuminates your art, you know what I mean? So when you start, you have a deliberate start, your band doesn’t just accidentally start. I think a lot of people just go on and on, like in those TV shows, because it’s comfortable for them, or because it’s fun, or because it’s how they make money. They just don’t know what else to do. I don’t think we’ve gotten to that point. I mean, I like movies that have a deliberate ending. I don’t want to watch a television show that goes on and on forever. It would be like “why the fuck am I watching the 19th season of the Walking Dead,” you know? I wouldn’t enjoy that. It just felt right. We were in a place where we could see, thematically, an ending that would make sense right now and still see what else we could do with our lives. If we waited longer, we would’ve been too old. We don’t know what is going to happen without the Dillinger Escape Plan, and that’s exciting. It’s more exciting than waking up and being like “okay, this is what we do.”
FPH: In a way, you are pulling a “Seinfeld”?
Puciato: That’s what everyone keeps saying.
FPH: Has the band put any thought about any solo projects down the road?
Puciato: No clue, man. It’s tough to say, and everyone asks that too. This is probably going to go until the end of 2017, after we hit everywhere there is to hit everywhere there is to hit. Australia and New Zealand, for instance. We’re going to go everywhere we need to go. At that point, when you start writing something and put it out, you’d be talking mid-2018. So saying “what do you want to make at that time” is like asking me what I want to I want to make two years from now. After I scream your lungs out for 200 shows, I have no idea how I am going to feel, you know? I might not want to do anything, or I might want to hike the Appalachian trail. You have no idea what your mindset is going to be after a year and a half of touring. It’s so physical and extreme, playing music this aggressive. It’s tough to tell, man.
FPH: From the band’s formation almost 20 years ago to your final your in 2016, what’s the biggest change the band had went through, bedsides the crowd and venue and what are you going to miss most?
Puciato: The biggest change lately has been dealing with each other. We’ve been able to reach a level and awareness and maturity that we didn’t have ten years ago — five years, even. That stuff caused a lot of fighting and personal tension that, at the time, we thought it was due to each other, but it was ourselves. All of us. It was just being too immature to handle being in such an intense relationship together. Sometimes, I wish we could’ve enjoyed being in a band more, as much as we do now, but years ago. We had too much ego and bullshit between us to fully enjoy it. That’s it.
FPH: The audience in Houston might be familiar with your tour manager, Stephen Odom, aka Steve O Shoots, a photographer. How did working with him start?
Puciato: Man, we did a tour opening for Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden in 2014 and he was a photographer that came out to the show. We ended up taking pictures with him and somehow we kept in touch. We had a short run of shows before this tour, at really small venues across the West Coast, and we needed someone to help do merchandise and do photographs. Somehow his name came up as being, like, Steve O from Houston is moving to Los Angeles, so he’s going to be in the area anyway, he would probably help with this run. It was only four or five shows. He came along and did a great job, he was awesome. He just wanted to do more of it. It’s very hard to find people to get along like that with. It’s intimidating, too, bringing someone new into a group of people that are already established, dynamic, and functioning. He came in very easily, and that’s all we ask for, someone to come around and make it seem like we’ve known the forever. That’s what he did.
FPH: What do you think about sub genres in general? Are they unnecessary factors in music? On Wikipedia, the Dillinger Escape Plan is labeled as “mathcore.”
Puciato: I don’t think about them, it’s for other people to catalog. I understand people’s need to catalog, just for purposes of finding what you’re into. People are like “I need a horror movie, this kind, that kind, I want a 1970’s French horror movie, etc.” I think of us as a punk band, just because I think about attitude more than genre. We have songs songs that are really fucking straightforward, we have some that are written on a piano. Some songs are singing and some are screaming. The “mathcore” thing is sometimes frustrating, because it’s one element of what we do, having crazy time signatures and things being super technical. Overall, I think we’re more punk because we do whatever the fuck we want. When people think of punk, they think of the way punk traditionally sounds, you know? I don’t know, man. [laughs]
FPH: Though you consider yourself a punk band, some fans, I imagine, hold you to being a mathcore group. With that being the case, did you ever feel restrained and not able to branch out as much as you would’ve liked?
Puciato: If they are, the restraints were on them, not us. We don’t write with our audience in mind. We don’t really think what people expect from us. That would only lead to their own self-disappointment, so it doesn’t really matter to me.
FPH: To conclude, from your Wikipedia pages, personal and band, if you’ve checked it out, what’s the largest untruth?
Puciato: I have no idea, I never look at it. I’m freaked out by it. I know I have a page, too, but I don’t look at it because I’m so weirded out by it. It’s already so weird that it exists. Coming to terms with it, that people know you that you don’t know, it’s very easy to forget that you are a person outside of the Dillinger Escape Plan. You lose control of your own name. I’ve seen my name printed so many times that I don’t think it’s me, as a person. You have to really try to regain control of your name, you know? For me, one of the ways of doing it is to never read that stuff. [laughs] I don’t have social media, as an individual. I don’t read that kind of news. I try go as far out of my way as I can to not have a mirror in front of me at all times that says Dillinger Escape Plan.