with O'Brother, Cult Leader & Bent Knee
Thursday, October 13th
Tickets: ADV $18 • DOS $20
The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s creative energy and unwavering artistic commitment has reverberated through underground subculture and in tastemaker circles alike for over a decade. One of Us is the Killer is the band’s defining work, conjuring the mindboggling chemical combinations found within their earliest missives of mathematical bombast while pushing forward into dense, atmospheric radicalism.
The press reaction was swift and unanimous. Big Cheese called it “a masterpiece in the art of heavy rock music” and Terrorizer emphasized the “greatness” of The Dillinger Escape Plan (both 5/5 reviews). Critics declared the band “leaders in a genre of precisely one” (Metal Hammer, 9/10); “enduringly peerless” (Rock Sound); “firing on cylinders, just as urgent as ever” (AP); “operating at the peak of their powers” (Kerrang!); “[every album] a carefully calculated masterpiece” (Metal Injection). Pitchfork offered an exclusive stream of OOUITK during release week.
The shock and awe of the band’s performance at Revolver’s Golden Gods Awards solidified the reputation TDEP maintains as perhaps the most formidable heavy music band on the planet. Kerrang! awarded the band’s most recent sold-out show in London a KKKKK review. Metallica invited The Dillinger Escape Plan to play at their Orion Music festival. They are veterans of Coachella, Bonnaroo, Soundwave, Reading et al.
One of Us is the Killer was the second album issued through the band’s own imprint, Party Smasher Inc., this time in partnership with Sumerian Records (Animals As Leaders, †††) and BMGworldwide, including licensing deals with Grind House (Helmet, Funeral For A Friend) in Japan and Remote Control (Radiohead, Vampire Weekend) in Australia.
The latest Dillinger Escape Plan album was recorded in Southern California with longtime producer Steve Evetts (Glassjaw, The Cure).
Dillinger’s mind-bending meld of metal, rock, experimental ambience and melody first reared its head with a 6-track EP on hardcore indie Now Or Never Records, quickly followed by Under the Running Board EP on Relapse. The band earned a reputation as a fearless act on the live stage, committing their minds, bodies and spirits to the exhibition and visceral release of performance and often brutalizing stages, gear and themselves along the way. Calculating Infinity became the gold standard for the emerging “math-core”/”math-metal” movement, earning a place in author Martin Popoff’s “Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time.” Kerrang! included it in the “100 Best Rock Albums of All Time” and later presented the band with their Spirit of Independence Award.
Mike Patton invited The Dillinger Escape Plan on tour with Mr. Bungle, which eventually resulted in the collaborative EP on Epitaph, Irony is a Dead Scene. The band’s second full-length album, Miss Machine, blew the doors open, cementing TDEP’s legacy around the world. The album’s songs began the creative partnership between co-founder/songwriter Ben Weinman and singer Greg Puciato, both of them joined on the road for many months preceding the record by longtime bassist Liam Wilson.
Intense physical performer Weinman was named one of Spin’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, AP’s Top 10 Guitar Slingers and Guitar World’s Top 25 Cult Guitarists. Puciato, whose similarly uncompromising presence and versatile vocal ability knows few boundaries, was #1 on Metal Sucks’ Top 25 Modern Metal Frontmen and included in Revolver’s Greatest Metal Frontmen of All Time.
Ire Works precipitated The Dillinger Escape Plan’s national TV debut on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, as well as multiple international tours. At Soundwave, Nine Inch Nails invited them on-stage to perform “Wish.”
The band’s collaborative nature persists, with members of Dillinger forming “super-group” projects like Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and Killer Be Killed, with musicians from bands like Jane’s Addiction, Deftones, Mastodon, Sepultura, The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age and many more, both on-stage and off. Weinman is a film composer, sought after remixer and co-writer/performer for artists as diverse as Kimbra and Wyclef. He’s spoken to students at Loyola University and was featured on the cover of Guitar World. Puciato’s band The Black Queen features producer Josh Eustis, touring guitarist of Nine Inch Nails. He’s guested with Deftones, Brazilian EDM act Mixhell and metal merchants Soulfly.
Option Paralysis arrived through Party Smasher Inc. not long before Revolver gave them an award for “Best Underground Band” and VH1’s Metal Evolution declared them “The World’s Most Dangerous Band.” In Spin’s review, they noted the band “have been the metal standard-bearers of dizzying, time signature torture” combined with their ventures into “NIN-damaged, alt-rock superhero fantasies” and “Lollapalooza-era treat[s],” highlighting Puciato’s ability to maneuver from “sensitive-to-seething-to-soaring… to the harrowing edge.”
One of Us is the Killer showcases Weinman, Puciato, Wilson (whose skills saw him featured on the cover of Bass Player) and drummer Billy Rymer (a highly-regarded player and teacher who once faced off against Mike Portnoy in a friendly “Drum Fight”) in top form, emphasizing the band’s fierce independence, staunch individualism and loyalty to a artistic unique vision that has long followed them on-stage and off.
Comfort zones are overrated—just ask the five members of the Atlanta-based rock outfit O’Brother. When they decamped from their home turf in early 2013 to take over a rented house on wintry Long Island, the idea wasn’t just to update the hard-edged sound they’d achieved on their debut full-length Garden Window with producer Mike Sapone (known for his work with Brand New, Crime in Stereo, Public Enemy and more). This time out, the band reconvened with Sapone to embark on a mind-expanding journey into strange new territory, lyrically and sonically. All it took was a little inspiration.
“I think with this record, we wanted to leave more room to allow the songs to change in the studio,” says lead singer and guitarist Tanner Merritt. “We basically had the structure, the skeletons, for all the songs, but we did a lot more experimentation while recording than we’d done in the past, which was a goal of ours going in. We just wanted an opportunity to work with soundscapes and layers and noises—and we were definitely listening to a lot more psychedelic music. We were on a huge Pink Floyd kick and watching live DVDs every day back at the house.”
Right from the opening ambient guitar strains of the leadoff track “Come into the Divide,” there’s a confident and resolute intention behind O’Brother’s new sound. It seems almost at odds with the album’s title, Disillusion, but then, grappling with uncertainty—and for that matter, casting it in the positive light of infinite possibility—has clearly become one of the band’s strengths. Another case in point: the new album marks the debut of Jordan McGhin, who joined the permanent lineup during last year’s summer tour, in the wake of longtime guitarist Aaron Wamack’s departure.
“Jordan has a real unique writing style when it comes to heavy music,” observes drummer Michael Martens, “but if you hand him an acoustic guitar, he’ll play some of the most amazing classical stuff you’ve ever heard. He’s invaluable because of his spot specifically in the band—he only plays baritone guitar with us, so that gives us a lot of our extra punch and low end, which I guess we’re becoming known for. His complementary parts really help make it all work.”
A tight camaraderie and chemistry keeps O’Brother together, infusing Disillusion with a focused energy that seems to flow directly from the hive mind of the band. It starts with the rhythm section; Martens and bassist Anton Dang have been playing together since they were teenagers, crafting an unspoken symbiosis that comes through in the heavy-leaded syncopation of “Perilous Love” or the well-timed hits that pepper the liquid atmospherics over the first half of the title track. Meanwhile, McGhin and founding guitarist Johnny Dang engage in a near-constant interplay, orchestrated with precision in the lushly textured “Path of Folly”—a persistent groove that surges with high-flying overdrive and tastefully twangy guitar passages.
At the center of it all is Merritt, who clearly set out to test himself. “Sometimes you get tired of doing the same thing,” he says. “I’d been listening to Tom Waits and other people who do crazy things with their voice, and I’ve always done the back-and-forth with pretty vocals and the abrasive coloring, so I wanted to step outside my boundaries a little bit. Trying to put that additional character in your vocals is almost like what I would presume acting to be like. You try to get in a mode and a mindset, and let each take and each part have its own existence and not be so stale.”
The approach stands out in an epic track like “Oblivion,” where Merritt pushes the upper reaches of his range in the verses (“I make my way like a wandering amputee”) and then lays back into a falsetto whisper during the hypnotic, Zeppelin-esque breakdown (“There’s an endless divide between me and where I need to be”). He drew on deeply personal experiences to craft his lyrics, particularly on the moody groove-rocker “Context,” which was inspired in part by a turbulent relationship and by his father’s struggle with memory loss. When Merritt sings “Trade my wounded pride for some peace of mind,” the dual perspectives of father and son—and of significant others in turmoil—shine through with stark clarity.
“We were pulling 12 to 14-hour days recording,” he recalls, “and then we would go back to the house and I would do another four or five hours each night trying to write lyrics to these songs. So there was very little sleeping, but it was amazing because it was the first time that we were able to be completely immersed in the creative process. We left home, rented a house and it was just the five of us with Mike [Sapone], all the time. We were always doing something creative.”
Sequenced like an episodic dream, with each song shape-shifting into the next, Disillusion captures O’Brother in a true state of creative transformation. The sprawling concept albums of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and more provided the grist, but these five intrepid seekers have crafted a complex slab of bejeweled art-rock that shimmers vividly all on its own. With multiple points of entry and a host of memorable stops along the way, the album defines a journey that almost anyone can grasp: in this crazy tech-fueled world where literally everything can feel like it’s on a downward spiral, sometimes we just need to slow down, sit still and listen.
“To me, the way I’ve seen this record take form, it’s about not being scared of disillusion,” Martens explains. “Everybody has a certain disillusion with the things that they believe and feel, and how they compare themselves to other people, and I think that comes through. But it’s a hopeful disillusionment. We don’t want to be all about doom and gloom, and we’re not trying to question things in a negative manner. We want people to know that lyrically and musically, we’ve got an optimistic, realistic view on things. We’ve always had a tendency to stray from the beaten path, but to us, it’s okay to think a little differently, as long as your motives are positive.”