the AU interview: Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan (New Jersey, USA)


With their Australian tour just days away, I had a chat to the founder and guitarist of Dillinger Escape Plan – Ben Weinman. He’s also the only original member still in the band! A quick look at their Wikipedia page will reveal just how many members they’ve gone through… while he sat in a mall in New Jersey, buying underwear, we chatted about these changes, their on stage antics and of course the upcoming Australian tour!

So you’re on a well earned break at the moment, in between your US tour and your Australian tour next week?

Yeah a little bit of a break. It’s hard to call it’s a break because it’s still being really busy, but it is a break from being on the road for sure.

Is it nice to take a deep breath before the summer?

It is. You know, being the guy that does most of the business and the logistics for the touring, and whatever else, it’s definitely not exactly a deep breath. But it is a little of a breath.

Enough time to go to the mall at least!

Yeah time to go to the mall and buy some new underwear!

How has the tour gone so far this year gone?

It’s been amazing, people have never been more excited about the band than they are now. It’s great that after all these years we’re still relevant, and people are excited. It seems like every show is extremely fresh. It’s a good time for us. I feel like finally, after putting out our fourth full length record, and a couple of EPs, people are starting to really accept us for who we are. They can say “you know what, these guys have been sticking to it for many many years, and they’re not going anywhere, we respect that”. So that’s a cool place to be.

I had the opportunity to catch you on the tour, at SXSW playing at Emo’s just before Nas and Damien Marley. What’s the SXSW experience like for an established, highly energetic band like you guys? I imagine it wasn’t your first time there?

It’s not. We’ve played a couple of South by Southwests. It’s really an industry thing – a lot of bands are looking to get label interest, and it seems like every year there’s some new band that’s the band that labels fight over. Back in the day, one year it was The White Stripes, then it was Wolfmother another year. Some kind of rock band signing to some major label… whatever.

But it’s different for a band like us, because we’ve never been in a position where we’re shopping for labels or anything. We just are what we are, and we happen to love Austin, it’s one of our best markets in general, so when we stop by for SXSW it’s a little bit of a different situation. I guess the cool part about it for us is that there may be a lot of people there who aren’t there for a Dillinger show, watching us. And that’s pretty exciting for us, we like being put in that situation every now and again.

You have a reputation for highly energetic live shows – which you certainly lived up to when I saw you in Austin. How do you do that every night? It must be exhausting!

It is exhausting, but I really don’t know how to do it any other way. And honestly, it’s hard for me to believe there are bands out there that don’t. And then expect anyone to care. We’re kind of a band where it’s hard to hear people complain. Because there really isn’t that much that another band will go through that we haven’t gone through. There aren’t many bands out there that work as hard as we do and have been doing it as long as we have, so we’re one of those bands that do it because we love it, the only way we know how.

So when we hear these other bands complain about this that or whatever, we just want to smack ‘em! We really consider this a privilege to be able to express ourselves. The fact that we’re writing music that we really enjoy and love, and someone else actually cares… that’s definitely a privilege that we don’t take for granted.

You’re touring off the back of the new album Option Paralysis, your fourth LP as you mentioned, can you talk a bit about making the album? I understand it’s the first on your own label which is pretty fantastic!

It was really a liberating scenario, because we were kind of in a business situation which was and is really exciting – the possibilities are really open for where we can go and how we can do things from here on out. And that’s amazing. We’re working with a new drummer who’s really excited, driven to take things to the next level. Not only fill the shoes of the guys before him, but really make bigger shows even *laughs*. So that was really exciting, to have that young blood and enthusiasm in the mix. And the guys who are seasoned and have been playing in the band for a long time are at their best, and really know what they’re doing at this point, so it was a really good scenario.

You talk about the band member changes over the years – as someone who’s been there from the beginning, has it been hard making so many changes, or has it helped keep things fresh and exciting?

In some ways it has helped, in other ways it’s been hard to be prolific and get a lot of music done, because we’re constantly moving backwards in order to move forwards… by teaching someone the back catalogue, getting people used to being in the band, dealing with transitional things. That’s all been extremely frustrating. Having to teach people a song I wrote 11 years ago, over and over again – *laughs* it can be frustrating! But, the fact is that at any given moment, knowing that the people in the band are people who really want to be in there, is awesome.

And of course your latest lineup is returning to Oz in just over a week… are you looking forward to coming back down under?

Absolutely, I mean we’d tour a lot more often down there if we could. It’s a little far away for us… but it really is one of the greatest places we’ve ever played in general. Australia is a place that’s not only culturally similar to what we’re used to in many ways, but it also seems to be a place where people are pretty open to our brand of wacky music. I remember back in the day, one of our first tours was with Mr Bungle and I remember Mike Patton and the guys from Bungle just raving about Australia and how open the Australian audiences have been to their kind of music. So when we finally got there, it was great to see that they were absolutely right.

When was the first time you made it down here?

Oh man, it was a couple of years ago. This’d probably be our fifth time? Fourth or fifth time in Australia… we’ve been coming for a couple of years now.

I remember hearing about some bottle throwing game you were playing with the crowd at Soundwave last year? In Brisbane I think? What happened there?

*laughs* Yeah, well there were a couple of friends of ours from other bands watching side of stage, so we were trying to encourage the crowd to throw stuff (bottles) at THEM (rather than at us). We would of course be in the line of fire, but we figured the harder they threw the stuff, not only was it more dangerous for us, but it would be well worth it to see Poison the Well get smacked in the head with a bottle or something. *laughs*

Was the crowd successful in that?


No one got full points then!

Nobody got full points… Probably a good thing.

And you were performing with Nine Inch Nails a bit on the tour too, I read?

Yeah for one of the performances myself and our singer Greg came out and did some stuff with Nine Inch Nails. And then after that the whole band came out and did some stuff. We were actually performing with Nails on a number of their final shows, before he called it quits. The first being the Soundwave shows, and then we did a festival in the States called Bonnaroo and performed with NIN, and we ended up playing the last performance ever with them in LA as well. We did a couple of songs.

I understand that you’re playing the Warped tour around the States this Summer – how does a festival like that compare to Soundwave?

I don’t think they compare at all. The variety of bands on Soundwave, and the quality of band was just amazing. I mean a lot of those bands were good friends of ours. It was great to see bands like Minus the Bear, Alice in Chains and even our friends in The Bloodhound Gang, who are obviously not the most serious of bands, but are pretty fun and entertaining. Just the variety was pretty cool. I haven’t seen that sort of variety on a Warped tour yet. But the Warped tour is also one that goes for two and a half months straight, with very few days off.

It does look relentless.

Yeah it’s a different kind of animal. 

Have you played it before?

We’ve done short stints on it, but we’ve never done the entire thing. It’ll be an interesting experience. But I don’t think they have the calibre of bands that are headlining at Soundwave, but it’s also because it’s a collection of working bands that tour relentlessly, all put together in one festival – and basically we’ll all be touring together for over two months.

Well best of luck on the tour, and we can’t wait to see you down here!

Thanks a lot man.

Don’t miss Dillinger Escape Plan on their national tour which kicks off Sunday!
Tickets are on sale now, if they’re not already sold out!







Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.