Ben Weinman is in a bit of pain. The founder and only remaining original member of hardcore outfit Dillinger Escape Plan is walking back to his tour bus when he takes my call, sounding equal parts exhausted and confused.
“We just finished a show in Columbus, Ohio and someone came onstage, grabbed my balls and twisted them,” says the 37-year-old guitarist. “Sometimes, your fans want to hurt you. I really don’t understand it.”
Pain and anger are nothing new to Weinman who, as a member of Dillinger Escape Plan for 15 years, has often turned to the band as an outlet for grievances as well as creativity.
“We’re a heavy band, and it’s an outlet for our frustration,” says Weinman of the intensity of the band’s sound, most notably on their latest full-length One of Us is the Killer, their first in over three years. “It can come off like anger management, but it’s cathartic. It’s something we don’t take for granted.”
If Dillinger Escape Plan have always thought of themselves as a heavy band pre-destined to deal with the collective frustrations of the band members, then on One of Us is the Killer they’ve gone a step further by adding an often terrifying visual aspect to the eleven tracks. ‘When I Lost My Bet’, the first track released from One of Us is the Killer, is brought to life with a demonic, bloody video that many would imagine to be their version of hell.
Weinman appreciates the graphic nature of the video and how well it brings the band’s vision to life. “This day and age, anything that feels tangible is good,” he says. “We’re in a time when people need constant sensory overload. Nobody knows what to pay attention to. For us, it’s never been just music. There’s the music, the shows, the community we’re a part of, that’s a huge part of what we do.”
Though Weinman now considers Dillinger Escape Plan to be a contributing part of a community of musicians, this wasn’t always the case. A six-song EP released in 1997 got the band’s foot in the door, but they weren’t getting much help.
“When we started it wasn’t easy, because we didn’t have any friends in bands or anything so it was difficult to get involved,” he says of the band’s early days. Regardless, they forged ahead with intense and often violent live shows. Eventually, the band signed to Relapse Records and released their debut, Calculating Infinity. It was a bold debut for a band that was largely unheard of outside their New Jersey stronghold, with many taking note of their complex song writing, as well as the way their recorded material reflected the intensity of the live shows.
They haven’t lost their progressive touch on One of Us is the Killer, an album wrought with deft nuances that manage to pop their head up at the most opportune times throughout the thrashing madness.
Still, Weinman acknowledges that it hasn’t been easy for the band to get where they are today. Enduring frequent line-up changes has become old hat. Risking testicular injury onstage might be a new one, but they’ve become adept at dealing with setbacks.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back,” he admits. “You can’t go over the past too much; we’ve had the same line-up for the last two records and we’re in a good place right now.”
BY JOSHUA KLOKE
One of Us is the Killer out now on Party Smasher Inc./Remote Control.