The Dillinger Escape Plan's Unpredictable Metal

Founded 17 years ago in Morris Fields, New Jersey, genre-twisting metal act The Dillinger Escape Plan was simply made to disrupt. Unimpressed with a bland metal scene and without a vehicle to exercise his intentionally dissonant and defiant songwriting style, guitarist Ben Weinman formed the band that would go on to help define mathcore and influence a generation of guitarists and like-minded musicians. However, creating something as aggressive as The Dillinger Escape Plan's music came with a specific attitude attached to it.

"When we first started I didn't think anyone would like us, and our music was very, very confrontational," Weinman says. "I was always kind of like 'Fuck the fans, I don't give a fuck, I don't care,' and maybe that was a defense mechanism because I didn't think anyone would like it anyway. As the years have gone by and we've gotten these really diehard fans that are understanding and care about it, I've grown to really love our fans and really, really care about them."

Those fans have cared about the Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP) right back. After close to two decades years as a band, of which Weinman has remained the only founding member, he feels that the fan base has grown with the band's ever-evolving sound. With DEP's latest offering, last April's One Of Us Is The Killer, that Dillinger signature is presented in neon-red lettering -- a collection of brutish, angular mathcore songs that shift through tempo, feel, time and key signatures in a wonderfully unpredictable manner. Though the record was released almost a year ago to the day, the newest batch of songs have stayed remained fresh to the band, just as they did to start with.

"The first time we played the songs we felt like we had been playing them for years," he explains. "It wasn't something we had to adapt to -- we felt like the energy was real, they felt honest, it wasn't fabricated when we were performing them. A lot of times when you first play a song, you're not comfortable, you're trying to get into a groove, but this record really translated live, which means it has real energy and real emotion to it, real feeling."

Such tenure as a cohesive metal act can influence songwriting in that way, lending to material that transcends the typical growing pains of earlier releases. That same amount of time imparts some personal wisdom as well. For The Dillinger Escape Plan, a band that operates within a genre that must relentlessly tour to survive, wisdom from the road also keeps things in perspective.

"You have to remember why you did it from the beginning and you always got to have that in the back of your head, why you're making music and you're performing, because that's the only people will trust you and that's the only way you'll last the test of time," Weinman says. "I also learned that it's not important to be the biggest band -- it's important to be continuously relevant and to continue to just keep swimming regardless of the trends."

Defying conventions has become less of a goal for the band and more of an ethos now. When Weinman founded The Dillinger Escape Plan, he found himself looking past the sound of his influences to their operative beliefs. While his list is short and varied -- Black Flag and Bad Brains for their stage presence, Pearl Jam and Radiohead for their business sense -- they all follow the same modus operandi: they were successful on their own terms. This is the way that Dillinger started out, and Weinman would like to see that same mindset spread to the next generation of bands, regardless of genre.

"What I'd like to see change is more bands like we do when we started, being more inspired by the spirit of their favorite bands than trying to sound like them," he explains. "You never create paradigm shifts or change things unless you take what inspires you and take it somewhere new."

The Dillinger Escape Plan is scheduled to play Pub Rock on Sunday, April 27.

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K.C. Libman
Contact: K.C. Libman