Dillinger Escape Plan: Multiple Choice
“We were passing riffs back and forth online, because Ben lives in New Jersey and I’m in Detroit,” says the somewhat laconic Tuttle, who replaced longtime guitarist Brian Benoit in 2007 after Benoit suffered severe nerve damage to his left hand. “Ben would come up with an idea, and I would usually expand upon it. The basic songs took us six or seven months to complete.”
Weinman came up with core riffs for the songs by running an ESP guitar through Line 6 simulators and into a Mesa/Boogie Mark Five amplifier. “Eighty to 90 percent of my tone is my technique,” he says. “You see a lot of metal bands that do a lot of flat picking and hammering on. Most of what we do is straightforward alternate picking, digging in hard, creating tone with the way your pick hits the strings.”
Tuttle, who provides the band’s most textural passages, played PRS guitars through a pedal board and into a Mesa/Boogie Road King amplifier. “For my signature tone, I like to use a combination of the Boss programmable wah, the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail and the Boss digital delay,” he says.
Dillinger Escape Plan demoed Option Paralysis in the summer of 2009, recording the basic tracks digitally with ProTools and using outboard gear, including tube preamps and Chandler electronics, to thicken the sound. Afterward, Weinman plugged the basic recordings into his computer and tweaked them like a mad scientist.
“A lot of times I’ll track guitars using all kinds of analog gear, then I’ll work with various plug-ins to mess with things,” he says. “The only problem with that is you’ve then got to recreate it on the road.”
Dillinger Escape Plan enjoy modern recording technology, just not in a conventional sense. While other bands rely on ProTools to fix imperfect timing and to layer passages, Dillinger use the program to make their unconventional music sound even more bizarre. “ProTools may allow you to digitally perfect your music, but that’s not anything we’ve ever aspired to,” Tuttle says.
“We don’t use technology as a crutch at all,” Weinman says. “We played everything that you hear on this record. We didn’t cut and paste. If there are 14 guitars doing the same thing, that guitar part’s played 14 times perfectly, even if it takes a week.” Adds Tuttle, “I think if you’re willing to go that extra mile and physically create every aspect of your music personally, that type of ethic and attitude shows through.”
DEP entered the studio with longtime producer Steve Evetts in September 2009. The tracking went smoothly, for the most part, but singer Greg Puciato’s decision not to add his vocals to the demos aggravated Weinman.
“Greg is stubborn, and he was just being weird,” Weinman says, a hint of frustration entering his voice. “In retrospect, I think he didn’t want to get his mind clouded by recording his vocals for the demos and then having to do them again when it came time to make the album. For the album sessions, he wanted to have pure unaffected expression of what he felt the music did for him, without any subliminal cues. He also tends to do his best work the first time. As he works on things, he second-guesses himself and goes on this weird path.”
As it turned out, Puciato’s approach greatly contributed to the spontaneous sound of Option Paralysis and the sonic dichotomy of some of its songs. In the beginning, however, there was friction and stress. “The first song we started doing vocals on was ‘Chinese Whispers,’ ” Weinman explains. “Greg came in and recorded his parts and then played them for us, and we went, ‘This kind of sounds undercooked. It’s not you,’ ” Weinman recalls. “He was really offended by that, and we all had a meeting. Steve [Evetts] sat us down and we hashed a bunch of stuff out, figuring out what was cool and what was weird, and Greg was defending himself. Then, while we were deciding what to keep and what to redo, Greg just walked over to the computer and, after two days of practically losing his voice doing all these harmonies and layered vocals, he deleted everything he’d done.”
It could have been the beginning of a nasty pissing contest. Fortunately, Puciato knew how to fix his mistakes and was talented enough to do so on the spot. “He pressed record and did the most awesome shit,” Weinman marvels. “He sang it again, and he was on fire. From then on out, it was an amazing experience.”
While Dillinger Escape Plan were dealing with their lead singer’s quirks, they were also breaking in new drummer Billy Rymer, formerly of the Rivalry. Rymer replaced Stolen Babies drummer Gil Sharone, who had stepped in to help the band record Ire Works in 2007, when longtime drummer Chris Pennie abruptly quit. Though Sharone was supposed to be a temporary replacement, “it worked out so well that he ended up touring with us for a year on the album,” Weinman says.