Interview: Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman Talks Party Smasher Inc., Side Projects, and More with Jose Mangin
SiriusXM’s Jose Mangin recently chatted with The Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman on Liquid Metal’s 666-LIVE call-in show. Read what the guitarist has to say about Party Smasher Inc., new Dillinger Escape Plan tunes, Juliette Lewis, and more below (which was transcribed by Josh “Shitkill” Musto), and let us know what you think in the comments!
JOSE MANGIN: We got our special guest on the line, a friend of all of ours here. We should get right to him! On the line right now, I don’t even know where he’s calling from, I know he’s so damn busy. From the Dillinger Escape Plan and Party Smasher Inc., Ben Weinman, what’s going on brother Ben?
BEN WEINMAN: What’s up, homie?
MANGIN: Yeah dude, where are you right now?
WEINMAN: I’m in New Jersey, believe it or not. Jersey represent!
MANGIN: I know you’re hanging out with your boy Eddie Trunk, because you guys live next to each other.
WEINMAN: Yeah man, you know, we hang out and he tells me stories about crazy hair metal bands and stuff. It’s like what the hell’s going on?
MANGIN: I get a little jealous, like Ben we should hang out dude, I’m a little more math metal than he is like come on dude…
WEINMAN: Yeah, I think we could get a little more–you know last time we hung out we jammed, remember when we hung out and you were just playing guitar and growling, we were at your house. That was good times, man.
MANGIN: I don’t remember me playing music, I remember–were you playing the drums?
WEINMAN: I think I was playing drums are you were singing and playing guitar.
MANGIN: Alright, that sounds like something we would do, man. But I know we had rice-cheese tacos and I’ll never let you forget that dude. He was like, “Hey man can you get rice-cheese?” I was like rice-cheese, they make such a thing? But it’s all good man. I’m happy to have you on the line here Ben. I know you've been super busy being an entrepreneur, being a freakin’ braniac in this music, and launching your own company Party Smasher Inc., lets start off by talking about that, tell everyone what this is about brother.
WEINMAN: You know, we had been putting out records under the label name Party Smasher Inc., our last two Dillinger records. We just wanted to brand the band with something that we felt represented everything we’re about, and that could cover everything we did moving forward, so in that time period I started racking my brain about like, why don’t scenes exist the way they used to back when I was young in the same way online. There are plenty of scenes, there’s plenty of music going on, but it seems almost like a shame that the regional kind of scenes don’t exist in the same way because everyone is using the internet to experience music in the same way at the same exact time. So I thought, how can we bring some sub-culture back to music, so I decided-let me try and do this web thing, let me start to put some things together. I have all these amazing friends that are really inspiration, they've really been mentors to me. People like Mike Patton, and I’ve had the opportunity to kind of pick the brains of some of the greatest minds in the music industry, so I figured let me see if I can bring some of that to people. So I started Party Smasher Inc., and now it’s evolving into a media gang, we’re gonna be bringing in people who are just doing awesome things that have to do with youth culture and making them part of the gang. It’s a label now, we’re gonna be releasing all kinds of music, we’re gonna be doing events. It’s really just my way of bringing back and saying this is the scene I came from and I love it–I want to bring some of that stuff to young people now.
MANGIN: Wow, that’s cool! I’m seeing a bunch of cool interviews that you’re doing now, look at you getting in front of the camera! Starting to do all the interviews, all the years of getting interviewed, you’re like fuck it I can do it!
WEINMAN: Well to me it’s about just talking to some of my friends, and I’ve been able to talk to them in a way that maybe someone else doesn’t because we do have history together, so one of the first interviews we did was me and Mike Patton, and we've known each other for so long–he’s been like a mentor to me. I think it was interesting to be able to sit with him and just talk and not have the pressure of a formal interview. I think it’s not about me really caring to be in front of a camera, but more about being able to expose more natural, comfortable, real kind of situations to people that I’m able to experience just by being friends with some of my heroes and being able to sit and talk with them.
MANGIN: Ben, I saw some little kid too doing interviews for the website PartySmasherInc.com
WEINMAN: Yeah, that’s Elliot, he’s one of my friends. He’s 10 years old and his favorite bands are the Melvins and Queen. He’s just really into cool music and it’s cool because he’s kind of able to get interviews with people who probably wouldn’t do it because they think he’s so cute and cool. Like we did an interview with J Mascis, and he’s a real difficult guy to interview, but I think it’s one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen with him because Elliot just went for it, you know, he didn't care.
MANGIN: Wow, how old is Elliot?
WEINMAN: He’s like 10.
MANGIN: That’s not the neighbor that plays with you sometimes right?
WEINMAN: No, that’s Kyle, we played a song on your thing–Elliot is one of my best friend’s kids and me and him hang out and run around and climb trees and listen to music. Are we fart together, I’ve been teaching him how to fart, he’s really kind of my protégé in farting. You know, he gets in there, I put him to work.
MANGIN: Hey, you got any gas in you right now? Can you let one out in your phone?
WEINMAN: Hold on… [Ben makes a high-pitched fart]
MANGIN: No that was not… was it really?
WEINMAN: Hey man… I am one of the best. I might not be the best, but I’m definitely one of the best.
MANGIN: That’s cool, I think that’s the first fart we ever had on 666-LIVE man!
WEINMAN: Somebody’s got to do it, man!
MANGIN: Nice job Ben! And the crowd goes wild! So Party Smasher Inc is the website, right?
WEINMAN: Yeah PartySmasherInc.com.
MANGIN: So what kind of events are we talking about and what do you mean by that?
WEINMAN: Well tonight actually at Saint Vitus, we’re curating with Saint Vitus, Mutoid Man, Meek Is Murder, and Primitive Weapons. Those are amazing bands – Primitive Weapons actually is one of the first bands we’re gonna be releasing on Party Smasher, along with Dillinger and things like that. They’re a great band , they’re opening tonight. Mutoid Man, if people don’t know, that’s Steve Brodsky from Cave In and Ben [Koller] from Converge on drums and it’s one of the best new heavy bands I’ve heard.
MANGIN: Yeah we love Mutoid Man, we’re playing a track pretty heavily off the first album 'Helium Head.'
SHAWN THE BUTCHER: “Gnarcissist.”
MANGIN: “Gnarcissist” was the name of the song. Good stuff, so you’re putting on shows, look at this man! You’re really keeping busy. Are you really accepting submissions from bands now or are you just kinda working with close friends?
WEINMAN: Well to me it’s like, the industry as it existed before doesn't really matter anymore so the way I see it I just want to create an environment and nurture a scene that will allow things to happen naturally. As we’re releasing music like Dillinger and out side projects like G.T.O. [Giraffe Tongue Orchestra] and some of our friends’ stuff, I think we’re gonna start to see things bubbling on the underground that are exciting and I feel like everything has become so individualized. Bands don’t cross-promote with each other, they don’t support each other, it’s so competitive, and to me it’s like you see the hip-hop doing it right. Why don’t rock and metal do that anymore? We saw it with grunge back in the day, but we don’t see it really in the same way anymore, so you see companies like Cash Money, where you have Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj and Drake collaborating and working with each other and touring together and stuff like that. So why don’t we see that with rock? To me it’s about me and all my friends working together, supporting each other, jamming with each other, collaborating doing project together, and then when we find some new bands that are really doing some exciting stuff, maybe we’ll throw them on one of our records as a guest, and then put out their record, and build a scene, a vibe, and a brand, and support each other. It’s all about power in numbers, you know?
MANGIN: You mentioned G.T.O., which is Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, and it’s a side-project that you’re in along with Brent [Hinds] from Mastodon, Eric [Avery] from Jane’s Addiction, and Jon [Theodore] from the Mars Volta.
WEINMAN: Well actually, there have been some personnel changes throughout the years, it’s something we’ve been working on for a long time and interestingly enough we finished all the music and we’re finalizing all the vocals now, Juliette Lewis is singing on the project right now along with some other guest people.
MANGIN: I knew, I was talking to my boy Shawn here and I was like yeah he’s doing something with Juliette Lewis, and I was like yeah, I think it’s that G.T.O. stuff.
WEINMAN: Yeah, exactly.
MANGIN: Juliette Lewis, the actress, dude!
WEINMAN: That’s right, me and her have become pretty close friends and she’s amazing, obviously I’m a huge fan of her work as an actress and many years ago I saw her band Juliette and the Licks play and like most people I was pretty skeptical. I’m like, “Oh another actress or actor that has a band, like vanity project blah, blah, blah.” So I went into the show and I basically saw somebody that gave 110%. By the end of the show she was drenched in sweat, she was throwing herself into the crowd, and when I thought about it I saw this person putting all her energy and spirit into this music, I thought this was almost more real that most bands because she doesn’t need this. She doesn’t need to be playing in front of 500 people on this shitty ugly club, you know? She’s a successful actress–she did a 9-minute-long acting scene with Robert DeNiro for god sakes. And here she is by choice in a grungy club with a dirty toilet just putting everything into it, so when we were thinking about singers and people to collaborate, all of a sudden I was like “You know what? I think that could be cool.” So I reached out to her and we started working together and it’s been really cool.
MANGIN: Did she know who the Dillinger Escape Plan was?
WEINMAN: Yeah, she knew Dillinger and she was a big Mastodon and Mars Volta fan, and we had a lot of mutual friends, and like I said I had met her in the past.
MANGIN: Wow dude. So tell us all more about this Giraffe Tongue Orchestra. When are we gonna hear music, what does it sound like, when is it coming out?
WEINMAN: Well that’s gonna be one of the first Party Smasher releases coming out soon. It’s evolved into something really interesting– now on drums we have Thomas Pridgen, who is also from the Mars Volta. We had written some stuff with Jon and actually Thomas was the original drummer and then timing ended up making it so that it made sense for him to play on it. On bass now we actually have this guy Pete Griffin. Not the guy from 'Family Guy,' but the same name. He played with Zappa Plays Zappa and he played in Dethklok, he’s a badass bass player, man.
MANGIN: So what does the music sound like, Ben?
WEINMAN: It’s hard to explain, but really when you hear it it’s like “that’s totally Brent and Ben in the same band.” Me and Brent have been like yin and yang for years, he’s been one of my best friends forever, I’ve known him for so long. I remember when mastodon first started-one of the first tours they did was with Dillinger.
MANGIN: Well you guys were label-mates back into the day too.
WEINMAN: We were label mates, we’ve been best friends forever–we’ve always wanted to work together and we slowly started trading riffs throughout the years, then finally recently we got in the studio and we have a bunch of songs that are existing, we wrote a bunch of songs in the studio, and like I said, when you hear it it doesn’t sound quite like Mastodon, Dillinger or Mars Volta, but you hear all of it in there. You definitely hear all of it in there.
MANGIN: And Juliette Lewis is the singer of this band?
WEINMAN: Juliette Lewis and we have some other people singing as well, I don’t want to get into it because
there are some interesting surprises, but we’ll see.
MANGIN: And when is this supposed to come out brother?
WEINMAN: Probably it should come out within this year.
MANGIN: Okay, nice dude. I can’t wait to check it out. Would it be something we play on Liquid Metal?
WEINMAN: Oh, absolutely.
MANGIN: Alright, damn! Another new band! Hey, what do you think of Killer Be Killed, your brother Greg [Puciato, vocals-Dillinger Escape Plan] with Troy [Sanders] from Mastodon, so it’s kinda like G.T.O., Killer Be Killed, there’s probably gonna be a third or fourth band with Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan members forming too, I’m sure.
WEINMAN: I’m sure, why not? I mean we’re kindred spirits. We’ve known each other forever and we’ve played shows together forever. The Killer Be Killed thing is really cool because you know Dillinger has always been kind of an experimental thing and it’s always been very hard to describe what Dillinger is, we’ve touched on many different avenues of music. But Killer Be Killed is just straight up good metal, man. And that kinda cool because it’s got some of my favorite people in the band, and I think you and I both have a love for Max [Cavalera]. Sepultura and Max is a huge thing for me. Beneath The Remains was such an important record for me and then obviously everything moving on after that. I remember watching that live in Barcelona I think it was, the Sepultura DVD–well it was a VHS tape at the time, and just wearing it out. I remember him talking about like, “yeah man, there’s more churches than houses man, it’s fucked up man, we didn’t have shoes, and blah, blah, blah.” And now he’s in a band with Greg, and that’s really cool, And Troy is obviously an amazing dude. I’m really proud to see them out there kicking ass, and they played Soundwave. It’s cool to see Greg in just traditional metal, bringing it.
MANGIN: So before I let you go dude–hold on, I got a text here from Shawn. Kirk Hammett recently shouted out Dillinger Escape Plan, did you know that?
WEINMAN: Yeah, well he tagged my Instagram, was just like “hey everybody this fucking breakdown in the song Farewell Mona Lisa is so badass, check it out.” I was kinda like man, this is very surreal. I know him, I’ve met him a few times, he’s given me particularly a shoutout in Guitar World before, but it never gets old. It’s Kirk Hammett man.
MANGIN: I know, I know, it’s crazy!
WEINMAN: It’s crazy man. Every now and again in a while something happens that reminds you like maybe you did okay. Maybe it’s okay.
MANGIN: Maybe the last 20 years haven’t really been a waste of time.
WEINMAN: Maybe yeah, every now and again something reminds me that I’m not just some dude playing in a noisy band.
MANGIN: Hey Ben, before I let you go, give us the update on the Dillinger Escape Plan, there are so many things happening, what’s happening with the D.E.P.?
WEINMAN: Well for one thing, another Party Smasher curated event at SXSW, we’re doing this Converse/Thrasher/Party Smasher showcase. It’s gonna be Dillinger, Sick Of It All, Ceremony, Code Orange, and so many good bands – that’s gonna be on Saturday March 21st at SXSW. That will be the first time we’re playing in a really long time, so we’re excited to get out there.
MANGIN: Don’t hurt yourself, don’t break any bones you crazy motherfucker, I know you like to break bones and hurt yourself!
WEINMAN: I love it!
MANGIN: I know you do but your parents and I, we don’t, we want you to be safe.
WEINMAN: You’re awesome.
MANGIN: And I know your mom and dad and they’re awesome.
WEINMAN: Dude, they love you too, man.
MANGIN: So Dillinger is playing their first show in Austin, March 21. What about new music, are you guys taking a little break?
WEINMAN: Oh man, we got new music slamming right now. I was just working on it now, it’s brutal. The songs
we’re working on right now are super heavy and just dirty, and of course there will be all the diversity people expect on a Dillinger record, but what I’m working on right now is just straight up in your face, rip your fucking head off shit, I’m really excited. I think I actually just knocked over my keyboard because I was so excited.
MANGIN: Nice, I can see you doing that and at the same time farting too.
WEINMAN: It happens.
MANGIN: Hey Ben, thank you very much for calling up 666-LIVE, giving us the update on your company Party Smasher Inc., your new project with Brent from Mastodon and Juliette Lewis, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, and also giving us the Dillinger Escape plan update dude. Appreciate the shit out of you brother and you need to cove over alright? You need to come over and hang out and we’ll just jam and start a new band, Chupacabra Elbow fuckin’ Ensemble or some shit like that. Something easy to abbreviate.
WEINMAN: Sure, why not? I love it, man. Thanks, dude!
MANGIN: Thanks for calling up, dude!