Exclusive: The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Ben Weinman – “Drugs Are Not Part Of Our Creative Process”

Posted by on January 24, 2012

Last week, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s singer Greg Puciato made quite a stir on the web with a particular posting on his blog. In it, Puciato recalled his experience the prior weekend after consuming too much of an undisclosed drug. Many found the story humorous and reported on it immediately. We at Metal Insider, took a wait-and-see approach, and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s guitarist/founder Ben Weinman chose to share his thoughts on the post with us.

While making it clear that all is well within the band, Weinman made it crystal clear in an exclusive chat with us that drugs are not used during The Dillinger Escape Plan’s creative process, Weinman also gave insight into the status of DEP’s new album, their imprint Party Smasher Inc., and his supergroup project with Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery (aka, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra).

So I have to start out by talking about Greg’s blog post from last week. Do you have anything to say about it? 

It’s this weird day and age where everybody is tweeting and promoting their daily lives and trying to put a spin on it where it will be exciting and interesting. A band like us, we don’t really know the line sometimes, we’ve always been in-house. We’ve always done everything ourselves. We don’t have anyone posting our Facebook messages or tweeting for us or updating our website. I love talking to kids and hanging out. We don’t feel like a rock band, just other kids in the room who happen to be on stage. So it’s one of those things where it’s something I’m not used to, because I’m home working all the time. Tweeting and things like that don’t come as second nature to me as it does for Greg – he’s almost addicted to it. When we were kids, you didn’t know about a band until you read the Rolling Stone article.

Exactly.

You just loved the music. It’s a weird line because there is in some way this responsibility that goes with it. You have to realize that it’s not all about promotion all the time and promoting yourself and creating [an] image. Although we love being involved and we feel like the less barriers between us and the kids the better, its definitely concerning to me. It’s been hard for me as the founding member of the band. I’m the only constant who’s been here from day one. Most of the core ethics and methods of this band and what’s made us who we are started in the first 5 years of the band. And that’s something that’s been really important for me to stick to in order to maintain our identity. One of the responsibilities for me as a founding member is to not be like the boss, but to make sure we stay true to that ethic and philosophy in order to maintain a certain level of where we came from, who we are and why we got here.

Certain guys in the band do certain things and certain guys don’t but I can say the one thing that concerns me about [Greg's post] is I’ve got kids coming up to me assuming that there are certain things involved in the  creative process which absolutely aren’t true. I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve always been extremely proud of the fact that Dillinger is what it is and it’s never been with the use of any drugs. I feel like that’s been extremely important for the development of this band. We’ve all been straight edge, and I still am to this day. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I never do, and I’m 36 years old and I’ve written basically every riff ever in this band. The creative process, for the most part is, 90% me and whatever drummer we have sitting in a room with coffee and pizza for months just fucking hashing away and paying attention to every detail and putting all our energy and excitement into what we’re doing. To me, drugs do just the opposite. It can make you think what you are doing is cool. And that’s why most of the drug bands out there, I hate. The only ones who like them are people who do drugs because you have to be on drugs to think its fucking  good! And that’s one of the things that’s the reality of this band. And that’s why I can say that no creation of any sort of this music and where we are has anything to do with drugs and never has. If at some point it does, then there is going to be a problem.

That being said, what’d you have to say to Greg about the post?

I actually talked to him last night. He was like, “wow there was a lot of press about that…that’s crazy.” I said ‘look, you gotta realize, I might be in Jersey in my basement writing the record and you’re out in Hollywood hanging out and experimenting and figuring out what you want to do with your life and how you want to do it and exploring your creativity and that’s great. But you’ve got to realize you’re the front man and you’re the image of what this band is, not me in the basement working my ass off on riffs with a pot of coffee with a lot of fucking excitement and passion without any care for what’s around me. You gotta realize if you put a fucking Mercedes in a shitty fucking Pinto shell, everyone is just going to see a shitty Pinto shell. They are not going to see the core of what went into that fucking machine.’

The Dillinger Escape Plan is my band, that’s the bottom line. And drugs have been the farthest thing from a part of what this band is. I’ve actually researched drugs and how it effects creativity, I have a degree in psychology, and I’ve done a lot of research on it and I think its very interesting. The Beatles are one of my favorite bands and George Harrison has been very vocal about how at one point, certain things being part of the creative process. But I will say that you can find answers on every side if you look hard enough and the more intelligent you are, the worse it is because you have the ability to intellectualize it and find ways where you think it might be a good idea. I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’m older then everybody in the band. I’ve had friends die from drug abuse and seen a million bands come and go and I know this. All I can say is this, no drug in the world could have helped create Calculating Infinity. When that record came out, nobody had heard anything like it. To this day when I listen to that record it still sounds crazy as shit. It doesn’t sound like anything and that’s the reality. So while no drug in the world could have made that happen, drugs could have very well made that not happen, and that’s a fact.

Do you think the post has been blown out of proportion?

Yeah I think it has, because it’s just a funny story, well  he thinks it’s funny, and he’s joking around. The reality is I don’t think he knows the responsibility he has. It’s not funny, ya know. He’s like “let’s see how people speculate, let’s see what people make of it and see what kind of story people come up with in their heads to  connect the dots.” But I feel like we have a responsibility in one sense to make it clear. Everyone can do what they want to do in their lives and no one should tell you how to live your life but I feel it is very important to make it clear that its not a part of the creative process for us. If you like what we do and you think we do cool shit, that stuff is not part of what Dillinger is. If it ever does become part of what Dillinger is, I will end it. That will be the end of it.

So there’s no rift in the band. It was just a little hiccup in the band’s relationship.

No not even a hiccup. Like I said, we all have our own lives and we all do our own thing. Everyone has different philosophies everyone has different politics everyone has different methods, everyone has different ways of doing things. I think everyone should be that way and I think that’s great. But I will say there s a way that Dillinger does things and has done it from day one when I was starting this band writing the first riffs. And that has no part in it and it never will, and that’s a fact.

So you’re talking about writing  a lot of riffs. Has there been any start on a new Dillinger record?

Yeah, me and Billy [Rymer] our drummer have been working on it. I don’t even think the whole band has heard it yet, any of the stuff. I’m just excited because this is the most exciting time. Up until now, I always feel like I can never start Dillinger stuff. I’m just like “I can’t do another record, that’s it I’m done, I don’t have any more Dillinger in me.” Then there’s that first spark and then all of a sudden, “ohhh…that is some sauce!” Then all of a sudden, “wait, I’m getting a tingle from this one…oh yeah oh yeah” and I just get completely excited and me and Billy are down there just getting pumped and it’s a really exciting time because that creative spark is the best thing in my life. That’s my favorite time, more then playing a show, more then someone cheering on our record, this that or whatever. We just started really putting that stuff out there and its starting to snowball. Good times!

Is there any timeline for the next album? 

I don’t know man, every time we say we are taking some time off, some cool opportunity comes up. So I can’t say what’s gonna pop up and what’s gonna push things back. But we have some time off then we are about to do a week in the UK with Mastodon, then were doing some stuff in New Zealand with System of a Down, we’re doing Soundwave in Australia,  then some shows in Asia for the first time. Then we come home and we’ll really get back into it. So we’ll see how fast things go. So I always hesitate to give dates or things like that because, one, I don’t feel nailed down to anything, I make sure it’s completely free form artistic expression without any kind of guidelines or schedules. I don’t want to mislead people for the sake of press.

Is your label Party Smasher still through Season of Mist? 

Season of Mist was a one off. The reason we formed Party Smasher was we knew we would be doing things differently throughout the rest of our career with the state of the industry and how things go.We might partner with a fucking guy with money and it will be Party Smasher, we might go with another label, it might be ourselves, who knows? The Party Smasher thing is really just a way of putting our stamp on whichever direction we go. We have no idea how we will put it out or with who. We’re not really worried about that, that stuff always falls into place, we just want to make sure the music is good.

It’s got to be kind of exciting actually.

It is man, it’s a crazy wild wild west time in the industry. Were not tied to any contract to anybody, we’re just doing whatever we want to do. The excitement for the band has never been higher, and it’s great! Personally I’ve never been involved in more creative things. I feel like creatively I’m on top of my game right now.

How has touring with Mastodon been? They’re the kind of band where their fans come to see that might not  have given Dillinger a chance before.

Yeah. It’s interesting because their a band that when they started, we had known some of those guys before Mastodon was even a band. A couple of those guys were in a band called Today Is the Day.

Of course…

I was a huge fan of that band growing up. So I’ve known Bill and Brann for years. When Mastodon started up we took them on tour and nobody knew who they were -, they were just another metal band on Relapse. For like 3 years straight they did nothing but support the biggest bands in the world and then all of a sudden they come off that and its like ‘wow, they’re a pretty big band now.’ Their fan is definitely an interesting fan. They come from all these little nooks and crannies of all these different bigger bands. There’s is a little Metallica fan, there’s a Slayer fan, some Iron Maiden fans, some Clutch fans. There is this huge combination of different types of… beards that come to their shows. [laughs] There are a handful of original Mastodon fan that are also Dillinger fans. But the ones that are actually packing those large rooms are not people who are typically old Dillinger, Mastodon fans.

Speaking of Mastodon, how did Giraffe Tongue Orchestra form?

Well me and [Mastodon guitarist] Brent [Hinds]had been talking about playing together for years. We have different playing styles but we both respect each other’s playing so much and have this weird positive inspiration we get from each other. So we started talking about playing, and I had been friends with [bassist] Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction and we had been shooting the shit forever and we were really both into live programming electronics and we both really nerded out about that stuff throughout the years. I had met him through Nine Inch Nails and Trent [Reznor], and he reached out to me about software and synths and pedals. And I was like, ‘wow you’re Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction, and you wrote the bass line for “Mountain Song!”‘ So of course I was really down with collaborating and working with him. I know Eric was a fan of Mastodon and Brent was a fan of Janes so we all decided it’d make sense for us to do something since we all bring something new to the table.

How has it gone so far?

We have like five pretty solid demos, so it’s starting to get pretty heavy. It goes in and out of us being pretty productive and us being really busy. Brent is obviously in the middle of a touring cycle with Mastodon  and I’ve been back and forth doing Dillinger stuff and working on other projects, working on a movie, all kinds of stuff. I go out with Mastodon in a couple weeks so we’ll probably work more up there.  Me and Eric have been swapping files. I spent time with John Theodore who is the drummer. He also plays with Zack de la Rocha and One Day as a Lion. He also used to be in The Mars Volta.

And there no real anything concrete about when it’s going to come out?

No. We have a lot of people who are super interested, a lot of labels hitting us up. Everyone is really curious what the combination of talent would make. Our goal is really just to collaborate and to be around like-minded people who have the same kind of vision. So that’s really the main goal, not to kind of have any one kind of style or huge vision. I’ve always been steering the ship of Dillinger, so this has been a real exercise in me sitting back and collaborating and working with other people’s ideas that normally I might not do in Dillinger, and really just everyone just being equal and contributing. It’s been really great for me.

That’s awesome. What’s the movie you’re working on?

I can’t say much about it yet. But its actually a found footage horror movie and I’m actually doing creature sounds and stuff. Like alien noises and weird sound design and I’m basically doing interesting  creative sound design.

Is it an independent thing?

Well its big producers who did Paranormal Activity. It’s low budget, but low budget in Hollywood is like 1000 times bigger than anything in the music industry.

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Categorised in: Interviews

9 Comments

  • nic says:

    Great interview but I can’t help but feel the tension this may produce in the band & the idea of a non-BEN+GREG DEP scares me. 

  • Mstoner82 says:

    Nah, having met both of them and talking to them for an extended period of time, I can honestly say that if there was a problem one of them would say something. Both are cool dudes, and if ever they did decide to split (which won’t happen. No damn way,) it will be a sad day, but they’re pretty solid dudes. If there was a problem, i feel like they would say so.

  • Herpaderpian says:

    At least Greg is fucking Jenna Haze, that should count for something.

  • Fortheloveof21 says:

    Right on Ben

  • Gdamnu666 says:

    Greg rocked the fuckng house in Chicago after opening up for the deftones. Its interesting to yea his narrative on the experience because once you go to the dark side it’s hard to come back. He’s a cool guy bottom line everything a rock star should be he is so keep the food time rolling and hurry the fuck up with some new material

  • Gdamnu666 says:

    Greg rocked the fuckng house in Chicago after opening up for the deftones. Its interesting to yea his narrative on the experience because once you go to the dark side it’s hard to come back. He’s a cool guy bottom line everything a rock star should be he is so keep the food time rolling and hurry the fuck up with some new material

  • Welcomeanychange says:

    Son of a bitch… every time I’ve read anything about Giraffe Tongue Orchestra it said the Thomas Pridgen was going to be the drummer (also a former Mars Volta drummer). While John Theodore is also exceptional, I was so fucking pumped to hear Weinman and Pridgen would be working together, as they are two of my favorites. Kinda bummed now… damn.

  • Jim says:

    totally counts for something

  • Ringo Derp says:

    what a self absorbed prick…

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