The PV Q&A: Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan Talks ‘One of Us is the Killer,’ Tension, and More

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BY Rick Florino

The one thing Dillinger Escape Plan will never be is predictable. The four-headed hydra can just as easily bitchslap you with jazz-y polyrhythmic metal as it can soothe with an unshakable chorus. That unpredictability is the cornerstone of the group's latest album, One of Us is the Killer. You never know what's around the corner in a Dillinger song, and that's what makes them so goddamn maniacally fun…

In this exclusive interview with PureVolume, the Dillinger Escape Plan singer Greg Puciato discusses One of Us is the Killer, how tension fuels creation, being smart without being pretentious, and so much more.

PureVolume: Is it fun announcing "Prancer" in front of a crowd of metal heads?
Greg Puciato: I haven't said anything yet on stage, man [laughs]. I'm not a big fan of announcing song titles. That one is worth it though. If we were playing in front of a Slayer crowd, I think I might have to make up new names for every song. I'd call every one a Reindeer's name. If we were playing in front of a bunch of hessians, I'd want every song to be called "Prancer." Are you motherfuckers ready for "Prancer?" [laughs]
You could have a big backdrop with Santa Claus on it.
Then, a giant light-up reindeer could come out like Iron Maiden's Eddie. Ben and I were over in the UK recently. We didn't even think of it, but everybody's accent makes it sound like a regal reindeer. It's fucking funny.
When you look at One of Us is the Killer now, do the songs take on different meanings?
They're still so new to me. I was actually thinking about this yesterday after we played. When we play "Prancer" and "When I Lost My Bet," I still feel exactly what I felt when I recorded them. It's a lot fresher to me. I understand the energy of the songs. Every now and then, a lyric will come out that gives me emotional déjà vu. I'll remember what it was about at the time. For the most part, the old songs don't carry the same immediacy as they did when I wrote them, but these are still very fresh. I feel really close to the source of inspiration when I'm singing, which is a good thing. I'm in touch with them.

You have a way of being cerebral without being pretentious or talking down to the audience. That craft feels perfected further here ...
Thanks! You're supposed to get better as you keeping going. I feel like I'm different getting out of my own way more as a lyricist and finding a good bridge between being direct and being abstract. You know when to hit people with a hammer and when to give them a puzzle. There's a way to effectively do both.
The band has always been indefinable, but the identity is at its most solid.
To me, this record feels like we've come into adulthood. It's interesting you said that. It feels like that on the inside. I feel like we were a baby band on Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine. I feel like Ire Works and Option Paralysis were our teen or adolescent years. This is the first record of our adulthood as a band. We're becoming more confident with different skills and approaches. We've hit our stride as far as the confidence level goes.
How important is the tension you face in the creative process to the writing?
It's really important. I couldn't write another record right now. There's nothing for me to exhale or work through. As far as this band is concerned, it's not just about putting people in a room having a good time and recording what comes out. For me, it's definitely like a flood that happens every few years. I'm working through all of the entanglements, issues, and shit I've managed to get myself into in the process of the previous record. If I didn't have that tension, I'd have nothing to write about. Right now, if you were like, "Hey, you've got to write a whole new record of Dillinger lyrics right now," I don't have anything there. It's like trying to bleed a stone. People think about the creative process as if it's only the outputting. The inputting is equally important. You're going to exhale what you inhale.

When did you come up with the phrase One of Us is the Killer?
I remember it very vividly. I actually wrote the lyrics to that song and the phrasing in about 45 minutes. It came out really quickly. An hour later, I named every song and the record. All of those titles came out in a one-minute epiphany. I grabbed my phone, opened the notepad, and wrote all of the titles down. It's obviously a track about destructive co-dependency and realizing any relationship in your life is equally your fault. It's 50/50, regardless of whether the person on the outside is doing something fucked up or you fucked up. You're both responsible. You both enter and continue the relationship willingly. I had some relationships in my life at the time that were going through some tumultuous periods. Most of the titles on the record and the lyrics of this song all reference that epiphany of saying, "Oh, this is my fault, too."
The record contains many moments of recognition or realization especially on the last song "The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons."
Yeah, there's a lot of that. I went into the writing process of this album looking outward at a lot of situations and people. Instead of saying, "I wish you would be more like this," at some point you realize, "I'm pointing the finger at them, and they're pointing the finger at me." You both realize that you're the same person in the situation. We need to both look inward to resolve these relationships in whatever way they're going to resolve. We're both looking outward, which is really not the way to do things. This is more of an "I" record for me, whereas before it was "You." It goes back to the track name itself, "The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons." No one is going to win that. That's mutually assured destruction. One you start building up those kinds of walls towards other people in your life, you're destroying a relationship from the inside. Instead of protecting it by attempting to protect yourself, you're killing it over time. The last couple lines on the record are "Let's burn this." We created the fucking situation. Now, let's get rid of it. It's funny because a lot of the album is in thematic order. I didn't mean to do that on person. It's not a concept thing. When I compiled the tracklisting, it almost neared the order in which I wrote the songs. It's cool for me because, when I read it from front-to-back, there's a lot of chronology as far as where my headspace was.

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