The High-Intensity Art of Dillinger Escape Plan - OZY | A Modern Media Company


Because hard-core math rock band Dillinger Escape Plan can outfight, outthink and outplay you — and they’ll do it 40 nights in a row, starting right about now.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Bands have burn rates directly proportional to what kind of fuel they use.

Those fueled by drugs burn quickly, brightly and then oftimes out. Those fueled by record-label cash and dreams of more cash? Well, cynicism is also a fast-burning fuel. But those driven by dreams of artistic significance can burn hot, and for a long time — just one look at New Jersey’s Dillinger Escape Plan and their well-publicized hospitalizations (their shows are like watching BASE jumpers without parachutes), and it’s easy to peg them for the latter.

But this is godly, what we do. We create something from nothing, and that’s probably the very essence of the appeal of art.

“Originally we just wanted to make a CD of music that didn’t exist,” says guitarist Ben Weinman as they ready themselves for a 40-date tour starting Feb. 22. ”But this is godly, what we do. We create something from nothing, and that’s probably the very essence of the appeal of art.” Which sure as shit they are. On first blush it’s all hard-core bluster and speedy time signatures (known to some as mathcore or math rock), but then you take note of those time signatures and the precision with which they’re played, coupled with their intensity and the high-wire act of playing while leaping from PA stacks or bouncing off thronged fans, and, yeah, artis the word that comes to mind.

When asked if there was a distinct point in time when they began consciously making art, Weinman is very precise: It was on their second record, Under the Running Board . ”We have a song on there called ‘The Mullet Burden,’ and there was point when we played that song, and it was caught on video, where you could feel it move through the crowd — an awareness and an electricity, and people’s heads just whipped around and I knew, we all knew: This was the proverbial ‘it.’”

Or as singer Greg Puciato says about another of their songs, “Farewell, Mona Lisa”: ”It’s got enough love to pull people in and enough abuse to push them away at the same time. It’s a bit of tenderness and a bit of choking.”

And listening to the song, again and again and again, you encounter a condensed burst at about 1:53, and you can see exactly what he means. Emotional content without being angry, structured without being cloistered and undeniably badassed.

Don’t believe us?

Viddy well, brothers and sisters.


Sign up for the weekly newsletter!

Related Stories