Dear Guitar Hero: Ben Weinman
Dillinger are hugely influential in the extreme metal genre, and I think you guys should be much more commercially successful than you are. Is it just bad luck, or can you point to a reason why big-time success has evaded you?—Thom Bowjer
That’s a really good question. We’ve touched on so many spectrums of music in the few records we’ve put out, and the majority of our music sounds like the antithesis to commercial music. But I’ve also heard people say, “This should be a big hit!” about some of our songs. At the end of the day, the only reason we’ve created such a range of music and styles is because we want to have a long-lasting career and not be a one-hit wonder. We don’t want to get stuck in a box.
There was a time when a lot of major labels were coming to us and trying to buy us out of our contracts, and a lot of big bands were name-dropping us. But today we’re in a much better place because we never signed on. The industry has changed so drastically that the people who were in control of the “success” don’t really have a lot of say in anything anymore. Because we’ve never relied on guys in suits for the money we make or the songs we write, we’re in a great position. The music industry has been in a recession for the past 10 years, but it hasn’t affected us that much.
Dillinger have had many lineup changes throughout the years. How do you explain your crazy parts to all the new members? Do you write out tabs for them?—Adolfo Perez
I don’t write tab—but I invite anybody to do it for me if they want. [laughs] The new guys in the band have been Dillinger fans, and many times they’ve been friends of the band, so there hasn’t been much to explain to them about our ethic and attitude. But as far as teaching them the riffs, I’ve videotaped myself playing and given it to the new guys, or I’ve told them to figure it out on their own and I’ll make corrections. Or sometimes I’ll just let them do their own thing entirely. [laughs]
I heard a rumor that you guys roll a pair of dice to come up with your odd time signatures. Is that true? If not, how do you create the complex rhythms in your songs?—Dan Zuffelato
That’s not true, but it’s an interesting rumor that I’ve heard before. Recently, our new drummer, Billy [Rymer], asked if we could write a song using Morse code, and we just laughed at him. When I’m writing music, I give a lot of thought to percussion. A lot of our complex, fast rhythms are really just based on Latin rhythms. People don’t realize it because we’re playing it so loud and aggressively, but if you slowed the songs down, you’d be able to hear the similarities.
When did you guys decide that your live shows would include so much energy and chaos? Or did it just happen?—Brandon Newberger
A lot of that stuff started very early on. I’m the only original band member, and when Dillinger first started playing we weren’t focused on “making it” in the music business. I was going to school for psychology, and the only thing I looked forward to was driving out to South Jersey or Pennsylvania and playing these little hardcore shows. We would just vent onstage, and we weren’t held responsible for anything that happened. Now we’re recreating the energy and unpredictability that was so exciting when we first started. That’s kind of what Option Paralysis is all about—that people are bombarded with so much information, on the computer, and from everywhere else, too. One result of that is you can watch a band play a thousand shows all across the world [on YouTube] before you actually go to a show for yourself and see them play live. There’s not too much unpredictability or danger nowadays, but that just motivates us to keep pushing things in our performances.