Dear Guitar Hero: Ben Weinman
Originally published in Guitar World, February 2010
He was named one of GW’s 50 fastest guitarists and one of our 25 cult guitar heroes, too. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…
I heard that Dillinger Escape Plan just finished recording a new album called Option Paralysis. What can you tell us about it? Are you continuing to move in the more electronic direction of [2007’s] Ire Works?—Gary Shultz
I think Option Paralysis is the most metal record we’ve written thus far. We’ve always been placed in the metal category, but I’ve never really seen us as a full-on metal band. But funny enough, just as people have finally started to accept how eclectic we are and give us our own place in the scene, we’re coming out with our most metal record yet. Electronic music is definitely something I’m still into, and it’s actually a big inspiration to my guitar playing. But that said, this record is a little less electronic than Ire Works.
It seems that a lot of metal guitarists tune down, but you play in standard E tuning. What’s the reasoning behind this? Are you worried that a lower tuning would give you a more muddy tone?—Ryan H.
That’s a good question. A lot of bands tune down these days, but I think some of the greatest heavy bands have played in standard tuning. Metallica and Slayer have written riffs that don’t rely on different tunings. Actually, many times they didn’t even have the greatest guitar tones. Early Metallica records aren’t known for having the best production value, and Slayer didn’t have the most distorted guitar tones, either, which is ironic because they’re one of the heaviest bands of all time. But those records sounded so energetic because every instrument had its own place in the mix. These days it seems like people rely on their tone to make something sound good. I’ve always tried to rely on creativity and songwriting rather than what gear I have or how I tune my guitar. Also, I learned how to play on a guitar that was tuned to E, and many of the first songs I learned were in standard E, whether they were by Cream or Stevie Ray Vaughan. So I guess I just continued to write in that way.
I love how beautifully intricate all your guitar riffs are. What is your process for composing songs? Do you write things down or just have an amazing memory?—Alec Lee
I don’t have an amazing memory for anything else in my life, but music is definitely in my soul. I’ve never written down one Dillinger riff or idea. Everything I do is kind of from muscle memory: once we write it and play it, that’s it. People always say we’re a “mathmetal” band, but I’m actually really right-brained when it comes to that stuff. I don’t think mathematically. We do write songs in which a lot of notes are played, but it’s all very musical and emotional to me. When something touches me emotionally, it just stays with me.