Six Ways the Dillinger Escape Plan Surprised Everyone with Final Album 'Dissociation'
Published Oct 18, 2016This summer, the Dillinger Escape Plan announced their plans to break up following the release of one final album, Dissociation, and the touring cycle that accompanies it. There was no in-fighting or creative differences dividing the band; there was no lack of fan or critical support. In true Dillinger fashion, they are going their separate ways because they want to, capping their career with what they've called their weirdest album yet: a distinctly Dillinger masterpiece birthed from distinctly Dillinger circumstances.
"I know how to make a fucking Dillinger album," guitarist Ben Weinman tells Exclaim! "Whether people like it or not, I know how to do it; nobody will make a Dillinger album better than us."
Bassist Liam Wilson suggests, "I think, to some degree, Dillinger are like a muse, and the more you do it, the less you're kind of responsible for it, and you're kind of just moving the planchet on the Ouija Board, and it's telling you to do this."
Exclaim! discovered six ways the haunting spirit of the band ensured Dillinger did as Dillinger have always done, which is to say they did whatever they wanted to do, on Dissociation.
6. Despite breaking up, there might be more new music coming from the Dillinger Escape Plan — sort of.
As a recent interview revealed, the Dissociation sessions were the first time there was extra material that didn't make the album, and despite putting an end to their band, the music might still come out.
"We're definitely really happy and into the stuff we were doing, but it just didn't really find its place," Weinman says. "Me and Billy [Rymer, drums] were knocking out — just producing a lot. I think the ones that ended up on the album were the ones that spoke to Greg [Puciato, singer] and the other guys during the time that we were doing the album, but we'll see.
"I mean, technically, it could come out as something else because it's really, at this point, just Billy and I, but most of the songs start that way anyway, so it really was intended for Dillinger. So I have a feeling they'll come out. I mean, a lot of it is pretty close to finished, so you never know that stuff could be leaking out as Dillinger on Party Smasher, whatever, you know?"
5. They brought old influences (and even old material) to the forefront, drawing their influences to their logical conclusion.
Dissociation's fourth track, "Fugue," is almost fully electronic, featuring some guitar and manipulated live drums beyond the realm of IDM. Although the expansion of that influence's impact into a full song might come as a surprise, more in-tune fans could have seen the move coming and with good reason — the majority of the song was written close to 10 years ago.
Weinman explains, "That kind of like IDM, complex electronic music has always been a huge influence on Dillinger's sound, and when we first started the band, I had already stopped listening to really extreme death metal. I was kind of over it, and had exclusively gotten into punk and hardcore for the feeling and the message, but then electronic music and fusion for the technicality and musicianship. So I really feel that when you know that, it kind of makes sense, listening to the early stuff and the stuff now. That song like that is just us wearing it on our sleeves a little more.
"That's actually something that I started working on years ago and just messing around with just to pass time while I'd be on tour; I'd have some keyboards and electronics in the back of the bus and I'd be working on that stuff because it would calm me down. There's a few moments on this album where there's things taken from the past that I just feel like didn't have a place yet in our catalogue or didn't make sense and that we brought out and were on this album, and that was one of them."
4. That wasn't the only song to be unearthed from days of Dillinger past.
"The entire final track, 'Dissociation,' the vocals were done new and we recorded a little bit of Billy's drums, but that whole track was recorded probably about 10 years ago," Weinman says. "It actually has a drum loop on it that I worked with from Zach Hill who plays in Death Grips and was in Hella, and that was a big kind of starting point, his drum loop that I worked on that he had given to me. So that's something that, again, is just kind of a piece of Dillinger history."
3. Strings beyond those of guitars (bass or otherwise) permeated their sonic borders via SEVEN)SUNS — the string quartet whose disturbing cover of "43% Burnt" earned them the eyes and ears of Dillinger fans and Dillinger themselves.
Weinman and Rymer had gone to see them perform and found what the guitarist called "really a great counterpart to what we do." The quartet's bows found their way into 36 percent of the album's tracks.
"They're on the first song, 'Limerent Death'; it's a little less prominent, but you hear it," Weinman says. "And then there's also — we put out a seven-inch of 'Limerent Death' and the B-side is an instrumental with a whole bunch of strings on top that you can hear pretty prominently — and then there's the 'Low Feels [Blvd]' part and then, yeah, the last two songs."
The partnership resulted in a back-and-forth between the two camps. Dillinger would send demos to SEVEN)SUNS leader Earl Maneein, who would then arrange some ideas and await feedback from Weinman and the band, at which point sheet music was written out for the rest of the quartet to learn. Once the strings were tracked, they were cut and inserted into the songs, though the "Low Feels Blvd" section worked a little differently. The jazz fusion break in the song features a feeling-driven solo, which Meneein then mimicked "Mahavishnu style."
"That was pretty much an improv solo, that whole thing," Weinman says. "I had no idea what I was doing; I didn't write it down or anything. So he ended up doing one little lick within the first solo with me, and then when it gets heavier, he literally sat down and wrote down every note I played and just shredded over me, like mimicked my guitar playing with violin. It's pretty nuts because I'm not a theory guy; I'm an all-feel guy, so seeing someone like that sit down with a violin and notate and understand everything that I had just improv-ed and know what it was all about was just super interesting."
2. The band use their guitars as drums, in a way.
Though not exclusive to this album, perhaps the percussive pummelling of Dillinger comes from the fact that, in Weinman's eyes, there are more drummers than just Rymer — and that's not talking about former players Chris Pennie or Gil Sharone.
"I've always thought of guitar like a drum, you know? I've always thought of it like kick and snare, so the high stuff is the snare and the low stuff is the kick, and that's kind of how I've broken up things by rhythm," Weinman explains. "When I'm doing high guitar parts, to me that's kind of like pummelling snare drum in your face, as opposed to, like you said, other bands would be chugga-chugging a lot to bring the heaviness, we tend to use guitar as more of a mid-range than like a bass instrument."
1. They ended the album in stark contrast to what is expected from them.
Since coming out of the gates sprinting in whatever zigzag pattern they saw fit, the Dillinger Escape Plan seemed like they'd never do what's expected — run in a straight line. And though they've proven time and time again they can operate at less than full throttle, doing so as what might be the last released Dillinger moment is one of their biggest curveballs.
"I think it's interesting that this last album really shows where we've gone into the future and also touches on where we were in the past," Weinman says. "And that song particularly being the last song is interesting, because we typically would end a Dillinger album pretty hard and aggressively, and the end of that song is the least dense Dillinger moment probably ever in history. The last note that someone may ever hear from Dillinger is just really simple and un-dense and un-pummelling, and it's just a final kind of like 'fuck you' to people who think we should sound a certain way or be cornered into a certain sound or whatever. We started doing it our way and without any regard for what people expected from us or thought was appropriate at the time, and we're going to end it that way as well."