Originating in 1997, American metalcore band Dillinger Escape Plan has enjoyed lasting success as they approach 20 years together. Deriving their name from famed bank robber John Dillinger, the band began as a trio, but have evolved through the years expanding to their present five-piece lineup. Their sixth and final studio album dropped today, as lead singer Ben Weinman announced the band will break up after their final run of shows.
— — —
Chris Remmers: So, let’s start out with where you’re from. How did you get started with Dillinger Escape Plan?
Liam Wilson: I’m from Philadelphia — still am from Philadelphia. I got connected to the Dillinger guys through a friend of mine here. Dillinger was looking for a bass player to replace their original guy, because he was in a car accident, which paralyzed him from the armpits down. Still alive, amazing sense of humor, definitely still in the mix in whatever capacity he can be. So, that was in 1999 and I just got connected to them through, like I said, a mutual friend who had asked him if he wanted to play. He was mostly a guitar player, had played some bass and thought maybe he could do it in studio, but couldn’t imagine himself doing it live. So, he just sort of gave me the hand off knowing I was a fan. Almost a year later, after months of tryouts, last minute [show fill-in requests] and some sort of crash-and-burn interviews. I got the gig.
CR: Where were some of your first gigs with the band?
LW: The first couple were like CB’s. My first one was CB’s in New York City. After that it was like a small punk space in Philadelphia that’s kind of like a legendary inn at the same time. Nobody knows about it. It’s called the Kill Time. Then after that it was like a week of shows on the east coast with the Misfits. In that incarnation back in late 2000, Europe was really what I would call my first tour. That was like five or six weeks in Europe.
CR: What were some of your favorite places from your first Euro tour? What did you see? Where did you go?
LW: The irony involved, as an art school dropout, I figured I’d have all this free time to go and, at the very least, see some museums that would let me get some culture in. Not realizing that tour is not a vacation. Occasionally we’d have a day or a night off [that] we’d usually spend within a mile of where we were. It was a lot more intimidating. Back then I remember being a really impressed to even be in a London or a Brooklyn. I remember those days specifically.
CR: What do you remember being the biggest culture shock for you. First time on a Euro trip? What kind of hit home to you on that trip?
LW: It was a combination of things. One would be the first time I went to Ireland. It wasn’t a bad trip. I saw everyone and I was like, “My God, I feel really connected to my lineage.” Everyone there looked like they could be a relative of mine. So, when I got there I remember thinking it was really weird. I could see it. I remember thinking that was interesting, almost like a lucid dream. I think the first impressions were all the most stereotypical. It wasn’t until I started getting into more like Southeast Asian places that I felt, “Oh wow, I’m really out [here].” Europe also felt like going to your grandfather’s house or something. It just kind of felt like it was older but similar? I also kind of remember something significant. Americans tend to think they are the center of the universe. It was really interesting to go over there and realize the rest of the world goes on. I feel there’s a lot to be said about not just where I was, but the feeling of where I wasn’t.
CR: In your opinion, what do you think the best and worst parts about traveling are. Whether it be for tour or on personal travels?
LW: I’m probably giving the most stereotypical answer for the best, but just the way it kind of gives you perspective on who and what you are in this great, big microcosm. Also, just seeing what’s going on in the human race.
I was [once] in North Vietnam on the edge of the China border, and I remember doing this hike through this really, really remote area, and I saw this guy squatting. [He was] watching all this construction to build a new road. The only thing you could see was them just clearing off all the stuff they need to make a road, mostly for tourists. I was just standing there looking at him and it was just this swan-song moment. So, I feel there’s a lot to be said about my conflict with being like, “Yeah man, I want to see the world, but peacefully.” I just never want to be ignorant to that.
CR: Is there anywhere that you guys haven’t played yet that you still want to perform in?
LW: I really want to get to India. I think that also says something about India as an economy, rather than a place.
LW: For me, it’s their rich, spiritual traditions. Not to say I subscribe to it, but I do find their history and their food naturally drawing me to it. I think just seeing a place with that kind of population would be great. I feel that same way about China, but I don’t think that I would see the side of China that I would want to see. Whereas in India, I feel that it would be the kind of place that once I’m there, once the tour is over, assuming we’d just be flying home, that I’d stay for two or three weeks after. I did that in Southeast Asia. We played Malaysia and Thailand, and I stayed in Thailand then went to Vietnam. So, that’s another advantage if you can pull it off.
CR: Is there any place where you guys played a show that the crows atmosphere was just so unbelievable?
LW: Malaysia! We played Kuala Lumpur. I don’t necessarily, as a tourist, think that Kuala Lumpur is a place that I’d need to stay more than one or two days in. It’s kind of neutral. It breaks even for me as a place. But, when we played there, it was really, really intense. Nearly 400+ rabid kids, and the opening bands all took their craft seriously. You kind of expect a place like that to be awkward in that they’re going to show that they’ve never seen before. But, then you get there, see the opening bands and you’re just, “Whoa, these people are not living in some weird bubble.” They get it and they seem strong. It was just super memorable. They gave back as much as we gave them. Then we played Thailand the next day, and it was kind of like the complete opposite. We didn’t know what was happening.
CR: I’ve had bands who’ve played in England tell me that the way they respect music over there is a little different from here. They’re a little more open to get crazy, and around here people are a little more conservative.
LW: I feel like England still lets their musicians be heroes. It’s a tough thing to explain, but England is definitely a solid fan base.
CR: Finally, to wrap this up for you, I know you already said you really wanted to go to India, but what are two other places that would be on your bucket list? Where else do you want to go?
LW: I think as a band, we would love to do South Africa or Indonesia. We were supposed to do Indonesia, but that got cancelled, and same with India. South Africa is just another place that I see a lot of my other peer bands going to. I would like to be able to pull that off. As a person, I really want to explore some of Africa, but the safer areas preferably. Even just Morocco, which is another place that really draws me. Peru as well, like the Sacred Valley. Those areas are just so fascinating to me.