Plus One Magazine
G: Greg Puciato
Was it frustrating for you to have to cancel the dates first with Meshuggah, and then postpone the later rescheduled dates?
G: Honestly man it was a pain in the ass. Meshuggah is great and I wish that tour had happened, but it wasn't meant to be. Obviously they had to finish recording their record which was the reason. It ended up being a good thing though because Ben broke his foot right before were due on that tour. Then we would've had to have pulled out. We would of looked like the assholes!
Put your band's sound into words.
G: Total garbage. [laughs] It's really hard for me to say. Especially because some songs sound completely different. You've got songs like 'Black Bubblegum' that sound nothing like '43% Burnt'. I just like to use garbage for the whole thing. That way it keeps everyone away. [laughs]
Your latest album Ire Works was released towards the end of last year. An album highly anticipated by the fans and well received by the press. What was the writing process like for this record, any notable differences?
G: Well the thing that was different about it was that Ben and Chris were really not getting along as people, whatsoever. It was very weird for me. The way this band used to write was that Ben and Chris would get together and write the music. When it was about 75 percent done I would get a copy of it and then I would start writing lyrics and my phrasing would help finish the final 25 percent of the song.
Most of the time, because I lived three and a half hours away from them I wouldn't even bother going until the song was somewhat structured. So they would have to practice together in a room by themselves. When it got to the point where they couldn't stand one another anymore it made it really difficult for them to get together and practice. It made it really tense all the time. They still forced themselves to write and I think that they wrote really great stuff but it sucks as a person and as a friend.
I was friends with both of them and what would happen for me would be that I'd spend a few hours a day on the phone to both of them, talking about the other one. It was like little girl kindergarten stuff. Then when we were about 60 to 70 percent done on the record we lost Chris completely. We ended up having to finish writing in the studio with a guy called Gil who we'd never even met before. We recorded in California and literally went there having no idea how we were going to end up. What if we meet Gil and he can't play as well as Chris? Luckily everything fell into place. We're a band notorious for bad luck but that was definitely one thing that went nicely for us. As far as playing is concerned us and Gil fit together great.
As people we don't have an old enough relationship for there to be bad blood. If we have an argument with Gil, it's about what happened today. Whereas if we had an argument with Chris there's shit there from 8 years ago.
How does the album's title relate to the concepts and ideas behind it?
G: Obviously 'Ire' is wrath or hatred, anger. 'Works' I think we used as like a collection of materials. It's like materials pushed through some sort of strife or struggle. I think it sounds remotely cool.
Did you go into the album with huge ideas of what you wanted to do or did things flow more naturally?
G: When we first started writing we wrote four songs in a row that were all crazy songs. That was leading me to believe we were going to write another 'Calculating Infinity' type record. Of course the next song we wrote was 'Black Bubblegum'. Stuff like 'Mouth Of Ghosts' and 'Horse Hunter', I feel like we finally feel comfortable with doing whatever we want. Like if we want to put a seven minute long jazz fusion song on the record then we're going to do it. The amount of people that have said: 'fuck you guys, I can't handle this kind of variety'. They've already said that, you know? They've already 'left' so now we're free. We won't feel pressure from the people. With 'Miss Machine' and 'Calculating Infinity' there was this shadow looming over us constantly.
What would you say is different about this album compared to previous efforts?
Obviously we're all more comfortable with ourselves and one another. This is a band that has never had a line-up make it through one album to the next. This is the only time we've had pretty much the same people. The 'core' of the band has been together since 2001. So we've had time to figure out what each of us can do and bounce ideas off one another. I think we trust each other more than in the past. Ben hovered over me a little I think..
The album artwork is pretty sweet. Who was behind it and how does it fit in?
G: I think Pink Floyd was behind it! [laughs] Basically I'm a big believer that artwork in terms of colour and shade will colour how you actually perceive the record. If an album has a dark cover you tend to think of the album as dark or you get a dark impression of it. Like if this album cover was pink you would totally think differently about it. We wanted it to be dark, ominous and bleak. Like 'Miss Machine' was colorful and busy. With the triangle, we honestly weren't even thinking of Pink Floyd. We were thinking more that at that point in time there were only three people in the band, so a triangle would be a good representation of that. Then I realised it looked like Dark Side Of The Moon, but I already liked it enough. Even if we were doing a homage to Pink Floyd, it's a good band to do it to!
What would you say is the most important element to a Dillinger Escape Plan live show?
G: For me personally I feel like it has to be memorable. I don't care what that means. I don't care whether it means that was the show where I got my face split open. All I care about is for people to go home and say: 'I've never seen anything like that before'. You hear what you want to hear anyway. We play way sloppier than people think we play. But they go home and say 'They played everything perfectly!'
When I go see a band play, if I'm a big fan of the band, a lot of times I'll leave and I think that the singer was perfect. Then I'll hear a live recording of it and then I'll start to realise all the fuck ups. It's not the same because you weren't there. Not every show is physically insane. Not every show is one where something totally crazy happens. But I still want people to leave and feel like it was one of the most intense things they've ever seen.
With that in mind, is it hard to remove any pressure of bettering yourself each time, doing something more extreme?
G: I try not to think about it. The one thing that bugs me out a little bit is when we play the same venue a few times in a row. Then you start to feel you've played the same show before. I don't get excited to play anymore really. I don't get nervous. Sometimes before we play I'll say: 'I don't really feel like playing, I feel tired, fucked up. I've got bruises all over me.' But on stage I have so much energy. I can't not do that. I can't not play that way.
The thing that I don't like is when a kid comes up to you and will be like: 'Man, last time you guys were here you lit this thing on fire and you were bleeding. This time that didn't happen!' It's like they're let down by the fact I have all of my teeth in. It's not Rammstein. Where we have pyrotechnics and little machines walking around on stage. If unpredictable means that nothing fucking happens that show then that's what it is.
Best moment on stage for you?
G: Oh man. Bad shows always stick out more than good shows because you think about them forever and wish you could re-do them. Good shows all start to become a big blur. Right now we've been playing at our best ever. I feel like with this line-up we're never going to play a bad show. If you think of a show on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say with our old line-up we'd play around a 7 with every now and then a 10. Right now we're definitely constant 9's. Every night when we play there'll be times when I'll smile or start laughing because it's coming together so well.
Is this a peak for The Dillinger Escape Plan?
G: Since I've been in the band almost seven years ago, we've never been on fire for this long.
What sort of people do you imagine Dillinger Escape Plan fans to be?
G: I think they're pretty intelligent. If they're true fans they're pretty open minded because we do a lot of stuff. I look out at the crowds. Last night I saw people who were moshing like idiots, I saw little kids who looked like they'd never been to a show in their life. I saw people with grey hair that probably listen to stuff like Dream Theater. I see all kinds of people appreciating us rather than one demographic. It makes it difficult to market ourselves. But for me I think it's awesome as I feel like as a person I would feel unhappy with myself if I felt we had to keep appealing to one particular 'group' of people.
What's the best and worst part of being on tour?
G: The best part is that we get to play every night and that's my favourite thing in the world. You get to see places and gain a lot of culture. You can't get that from schools or reading a book. There's not many people my age who have been able to see the things I have. The bad part about it is that you miss a lot of things that other people take for granted. You can't really have a dog or a pet. I miss almost everything that happens to my friends. I've missed all my best friend's weddings.
If you could go on tour with any bands, past or present, who would you choose?
G: This is so overwhelming. I would say 1989 Metallica and Guns N Roses. Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones, probably from around the same era. Early 70's or something like that. Probably Queen, maybe Prince. Obviously those fans would probably not like us at all!
Where do you take inspiration from?
G: I'm inspired by anyone who you see is raising the bar. Whether it's an athlete or a musician. I can be just as inspired by Michael Jordan as I am by Mike Patton. It's the same thing to me. Those are people who took something that anyone can 'kind of' do and transcended it to the point of 'holy shit, that's amazing'. I really hope that one day people will look at us in that light, which is probably unlikely. But at least you can shoot for it.
Future plans for the band?
G: I can see we're probably going to be on tour until Christmas of this year. We'll probably stop around then and start writing the new record. We always say this but we really want to get this record out faster than usual. We talked about trying to get it out by the end of 2009. Which probably really means 2011! But I really want to get it out there, we're not getting any younger. We've been around for 10 years and there's only so long you can do it for before people start to lose the fire and the core kids start saying 'Oh man these guys are old!' [laughs]
As long as we don't lose anybody. We had to teach Gil and Jeff every song simultaneously. It was so taxing on us because there's so much little detail to every song. It was draining. Now we've got a whole new record out, so if we got someone new it would be another album they'd have to learn. I would probably stop at that point and go. Become a janitor or something like that! [laughs
Open, opinionated and honest. Greg Puciato holds an intimidating stage presence that you wouldn't dare mess with, yet away from the intensity of the stage, he is calm, composed. More than willing to find words for past difficulties in the band and the challenges that come from delivering such unrelenting performances day in day out on tour. He believes the band are at their best, have no doubt about that. At their most confident with a finally settled line-up and freedom to go wherever their sound feels like going. Good times have been granted for a band faced with often comical bad luck. The desire to keep the fire burning is an obvious drive for a man who doesn't just thrive in a live environment, he needs it. It's safe to say that possible janitor's job is quite some way off as The Dillinger Escape Plan seek to hit you harder than ever before. Be ready.
Interview by Jim Hall