The day after The Dillinger Escape Plan released their sixth and final album, the band played what may well have been the wildest New York show of its 20-year career. Guitarist Ben Weinman was swinging his instrument as if swatting giant insects, haphazardly navigating the stage and walking atop members of the audience. And vocalist Greg Puciato was red-faced and railing, flinging his fists and perching atop the monitors to lean over the roiling crowd, which by the end of the show had spilled messily across the stage. The most harrowing moment, however, came during the song "Prancer," when Puciato suddenly appeared on the second-floor balcony. He looked down, paused briefly then said, "If I'm gonna die, let it be tonight," before plummeting into the arms of the fans below.
"That was probably the highest thing I've jumped off of, but I really don't remember how I got up there or even making the jump," the singer says a few days later from Sauget, Illinois. "I'm really glad fans hold up their phones at shows and tape them because if it wasn't for the videos I see online I would never know what I did at our shows."
As The Dillinger Escape Plan gradually inch towards the final concert of their career—which Puciato thinks will happen in late 2017—the singer is holding nothing back. The same can be said for The Dillinger Escape Plan's swansong Dissociation, a frenzied, chaotic, rule-breaker of an album.
Often discordant, sometimes artsy, atmospheric, sweeping, and electronic, Dissociation is wildly eclectic—schizophrenic, but not fragmented, and cohesive, yet difficult to immediately grasp. If art imitates life, Puciato, who alternately screams, groans, talks, whispers and croons throughout, has been dealing with some pretty intense shit over the past year.
"When I was working on it, the record stood for something deeply personal and I was addressing and expelling all these heavy things," the singer admits. "But now that it's out, the album feels more like a representation of us making it through a lot of inner turmoil to create one of our best records."
REVOLVER With Dissociation, the band is definitely going out on top.
GREG PUCIATO Intent is what makes output valuable, not just blind creation. Once we decided that this would be the last record, it suddenly gave us a deeper purpose. We're already basically perfectionistic, but something happens in your brain when you know there's a clock ticking.
When did you decide this would be band's last album?
I had the album title chosen since mid-2013. Then, three quarters of the way through making the album, we had the conversation about ending the band, and it created a really cool thematic tie-in. I was already addressing a lot of personal loss and separation and the death of the band fit into that concept.
Did something happen to trigger the decision to end Dillinger?
No, to be honest we could much more easily have said, "fuck you" to one another and walked away around the recording of [2013's] One of Us Is the Killer. But the fact that we worked through our bullshit as individuals on that album made us go, "OK, we're in a better place than we've been in a while. We're at the top of our game musically. We're getting along great. I think now might be the best time to pour everything into the final act." There's not one percent of me that believes we would have come out with a record as good as this if we had not have said that because it would have just been another record, another season of a TV show that doesn't know when it's gonna end and runs far past its expiration date. Giving this a definite ending empowered us.
You've always expressed rage and desperation. On this album it seems like you're emphasizing vulnerability as much as anger.
The older I get, the more I see Billie Holiday as being heavier than Meshuggah. So I approached a lot of the songs on the Dillinger record from a position of vulnerability, which, when I was younger I would have perceived as weakness. Taking that approach was a huge artistic triumph because now I feel like I've got a lot more range to go into emotionally than I wouldn't have had when I was 23 or 24. And I can apply that to whatever I do in the future.
Is it harder to emote from that perspective?
Not in the performance, but definitely in the writing process. It's like jamming your finger down your throat and throwing up and seeing what's there. Then you take these chunks and form them into whatever you're working with. That wasn't enjoyable, but I'm really happy with the results.
What was the greatest challenge you faced with Dissociation?
Everything I could experience emotionally was all happening at the same time. And the reality of having to get it done while you're going through all that, and having the people around you not really understanding why you've turned into a crazy person and why you don't have time to for them was maddening
Do you feel more grounded now that you're touring for the album?
Absolutely. Now it's fun because the shows are all about instinct. You're running from millisecond to millisecond and you feel free. The really cool thing that's happening right now is instead of going out on tour and being like, "OK, we're still endlessly kicking ass, but there's no real meaning to any of this," now every show has this bizarre relevance. And in this weird way it's suddenly given our lives new context.