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Greg Puciato The Black Queen Dillinger Escape Plan Killer Be Killed - Interview
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GREG PUCIATO

THE BLACK QUEEN


The Black Queen

The Black Queen is the latest project from Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato which also features sometime Nine Inch Nails and Puscifer member Joshua Eustis and former Dillinger Escape Plan, Nine Inch Nails and Kesha tech Steve Alexander. The music is a little left of center for those that are familiar with the aforementioned work as we discovered in our review here so we talked to Greg about how the band and the songs came together and much more.

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Steve: So now that The Black Queen has been out for a little while now, what's the overall reception of the album been like so far?

Greg: It's been pretty overwhelming for a lot of reasons. One is that we worked on it forever so it's such a fucking colossal labor to get this thing over the finish line so there's this huge thing just to get it out. But really it's just a stylistically fucking curveball from such a left turn from what people would expect from me, I think I was really kind of terrified that people were just going to be unable to follow. I feel like in Dillinger, we've obviously taken people on a pretty wild ride but this is so far out that I knew that there's a risk that people would be unable to follow. It's crazy man, the response has been so overwhelming and so beyond what I thought it was going to be that it's been one of the more gratifying experiences in my life. Similar to playing with Killer Be Killed in Australia and seeing what the reactions were to that, that has been a really similar feeling for me to get this out and to realize that people are into it. It's just fucking mind blowing.

Steve: Yeah absolutely. I must say when I first heard it, it threw me for a curve.

Greg: It's pretty different. I know that the last image you have of me is screaming and bleeding from the face and diving off of balconies but this is probably going to seem like another person. But hey man I wanted to be a cartoon character my whole life so...! The thing about Dillinger and KBK is that those are a small percentage of me as a person, it just happens to be a percentage of me that's amplified for a certain purpose. It was all of me as a person for a long time, up until one of us was similar off stage to how I was on stage or on record. I was very reckless and very aggressive and I think over the last few years I had to adjust because it's unsustainable to be like that in your real life so I had to work through a bunch of shit to broaden my range as a human being and once I started doing that, I found I had another musical thing to come out of me that artistically aren't going to fit in under a primarily aggressive umbrella. But I was super aware of the fact that people would heard and be like 'what the fuck'.

Steve: So given that you have such a loyal and rabid fanbase, have you had any kind of negative feedback? I know that's not something an artist wants to hear but have you ever had someone come up and say, 'Look this is completely from left field and I hate it'?

Greg: No and the reason is because I don't think that people that hate things really voice their opinion as much as people that love it, or probably because I just don't see it. I think usually when people don't like something, they just don't comment. I've never commented on anything in my life so I don't really know, I've never left a youtube comment on something or anything so I don't really know what the mindset is for people to leave positive or negative comments. But I just assume that the people who have the most negative things to say, they probably just stop listening to it after 15 seconds like, 'I'm not into this'. But I'm sure that people who aren't into it are definitely out there but love is a strong emotion man, if people love something they are more likely to tell you but if they hate something, they are more likely to ignore you.

Steve: For sure, fair assessment. From what I've read in other interviews that you have done, you are fairly, shall we say, emotionally invested into this project. Would that be a fair assessment of the overall process?

Greg: Yeah absolutely man, this was something that was going on for so long behind the scenes and held it so close to us. We even talk about it publicly, I mean the name of the band, the name of the album, the symbol of the band, that shit has been around for 5 years. The song "Maybe We Should" was finished before the last Dillinger record was recorded, I mean finished, I don't mean demo'ed. I mean what you hear on the record was finished in December of 2012. This has been going on for a really long time and we kept it so close to us and been working on it for so long that it ended up becoming so deeply personal to us that it was almost terrifying to release it at all because it didn't even seem right to put it out. It felt like 'Fuck we've been doing this for fun and for ourselves. This is for us, this is not for other people'. Then it was like we were being pussy's for not putting this thing out! We went through so much shit in the last 3 or 4 years, all of us went through so much, in that time, massive life transitions that this record ended up being like a lighthouse for us. For whatever reason it was not like when we get to it, there would be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or something but you have to have something in your life that is a constant [thing], to have some sort of hope and positivity...like you are reaching for something and this record was that thing for us for the last 3 or 4 years. We lived together so we were super aware of every setback that each of us had in our personal life and this was always the thing that we would always be like, 'Look man, we're working on this record together, at least that's good. At least we're cycling this no matter what just happened, if you just went through some brutal time in your life, at least you still have this thing that we're all still really stoked on'. And so the time period in the record and everything in our lives kinda became indistinguishable for me, I don't hear the record so much like a sonic record but as a giant time capsule.


THE BLACK QUEEN: FEVER DAYDREAM REVIEW



Steve: Well that leads me to my next question then, do you consider The Black Queen to be a cathartic emotional release given that Dillinger Escape Plan and Killer Be Killed are really super heavy bands?

Greg: Well Killer Be Killed to me isn't an emotional thing, Killer Be Killed is like fucking fun like the Avengers. I tell people that if you're an actor and you're super known for giving these super heavily invested roles where you're in character the whole time and ripped your guts out and maybe you envoke the movie too and it's this a big fucking piece of you, that's what Dillinger has been. It's like the indie movie that I talk about, it's 100 percent me. Me and Dillinger is like me as a person 100 percent and Killer Be Killed is more like taking a break from that doing a fucking Avengers movie where it's like, 'Fuck, there's Troy from Mastodon and that's Max Cavalera!'. It doesn't have to be so heavy emotionally, you can just write a riff and be like, 'Fuck that riff is awesome!' And Troy will be like, 'Let's write a song about Medusa or something', and everyone will be like 'Yes!' It's a lot more fucking fun and carefree and I think that comes across in the music too because the music to me is a fun record to listen whereas a Dillinger record is really fucking difficult. And this (The Black Queen) to me is more of an extension of Dillinger in a way that "One Of Us Is The Killer" was this really cathartic, aggressive record and I was in a period in my life where I was really aggressive and reckless, off stage and off record too. And then everything reached a point of non-sustainability and when that happened, this record kind of grew out of that so this to me for a long time felt like a companion piece to "One of Us Is The Killer". Which I know sounds fucking crazy stylistically but emotionally to me, this record, if there's a light side and a dark side of a coin and that coin was a time period in my life, the Dillinger record is the dark side and this is the light side.

Steve: Nicely put! So is there a meaning to the title of "Fever Daydream"?

Greg: Yeah the title of the record, The Black Queen was supposed to be kind of like a metaphor for a seductress and I don't mean that in like a literal girl or female. Just something in your life that could be tempting you into the void and you know that if you go into the void, you don't know what's going to happen. Either you'll have a beautiful time or it's going to be a fucking horrifying time or it might be a little mixture of both and that was kind of the vibe we wanted to get with the record. Having this beautiful record but also this undertone of uneasiness to it, almost like a horror movie that's also a love story. Fever Daydream was kind of like a night time thing, you go into the fucking dark and you come out of the other side of it and you have this recollection of everything that happened and it's kind of like a smear. You could go out and have a crazy night and you end up going on these different journeys and tangents that you didn't know you were going to go on and then the sun comes up the next day and you're like, 'What, that just happened?' It's always when you never expect it, you always end up on some crazy night with your friends or with a girl or something and you come out on the other side of it and you're like just, 'Fuck!' So "Fever Daydream" was kind of a metaphor for that kind of feeling.

Steve: So I know the collaboration was with some of the guys from Puscifier and Nine Inch Nails so given that everyone has their own schedules, I don't suppose there would be any chance of seeing this as a touring band?

Greg: Well we're going to try and do more spot shows because I keep getting involved in these things that are a fucking logistical pain in the ass, it's fustrating. Even Killer Be Killed, we text every single day trying to find a window of time to play a few shows or to record a new album or something like that. We've been doing that since Soundwave! People are going, 'When are you going to play again?' And we've been trying to figure this out for over a year now and we still, if we get 3 of us on the same page and one of us can't do it or 2 of us on the same page and 2 of us can't do it. So now I've got another thing fucking just as difficult which is a real pain in the ass because obviously when Dillinger puts something out, you want to go play everywhere and then you can't and it's really fustrating. But we're probably going to do really select cities and make it more rarer and maybe a little easier for this than KBK just because Josh (Eustis) and Steve (Alexander)...I mean Max Cavalera never stops touring and Troy never stops touring...they're all like that so I'm really the only one that's maybe a little bit easier. So I think that Sydney and Melbourne are probably definitely 2 of the places that are on a short list of, 'OK we got a window of time where we can play 4 or 5 places, where are the 4 or 5 places that we want to play? And I would say those places are in the top 5 so I would say there's a very strong chance that we would get down there this year.




Steve: Excellent! So was The Black Queen your idea or was it something that came over time? How did that work?

Greg: The name was mine but the actual band coming together was pretty organic. I had a bunch of demos from around 2006-2007 that I knew wasn't going to fit in Dillinger Escape Plan and I would just throw them in a pile. There were 2 things like that and one of the things was riffs and heavy stuff and that stuff I ended up using for KBK and the other pile was this melodic, mellow, dreamier stuff that I knew was too far for Dillinger, it just didn't fit in our vibe. But for me I just wait until the project created itself, I don't decide I'm going to make a genre record. I just keep writing and if something matches, I put it in the same pile. So over a while I just had a bunch of stuff that was in the same pile and I ran into Steve, Steve used to be a tech for Dillinger and then he left and had done some work with Kesha and Nine Inch Nails. So I ran into him at a bar in L.A. and I hadn't talked to him for a minute and he was like, 'Oh what have you been up to?', and I said, 'I've been working on these melodic demos' and the stuff that he was describing sounded a lot like it might be in the same world in what I was doing. So 'Hey I got a bunch of stuff too, send me some of your stuff and I'll send you some of my stuff and let's see what happens'. I sent him something and with him, about 4 or 5 hours he sent it back to me and he had done so much shit to it that I would have never of thought to do. It was all kind of startling and I was like, 'Fuck man, now we have to work together'. So he moved into my living room at the time - this was around 2011 - and it was just he and I working on stuff and then I ran into Josh at a Dillinger show when we were on tour with Mastodon and he was with Puscifer at the time and they had a day off so they all came to the show. I was already a fan of Josh so we found out we lived down the street from one another and we started hanging out [and he asked] 'What else are you up to?' So I played him the stuff that Steve and I were doing and he was just like, 'Man let me fuck with this, do you mind if I fuck with this?' And I was like, 'No, please! That would be incredible'. He's an electronic wizard so I said please go for it and he took it somewhere that I never anticpated and then it became this really organic snowball from that point on.

Steve: Awesome! So I know we're not here to talk about Dillinger but I saw last night that Ben Weinman is back in the studio and you guys are recording another Dillinger [record]. Is there anything you can give away at this point or are you still in the early stages?

Greg: We're not talking about this recording coming out until 2017 so we're in the infancy of tracking. I think this time we're going to do something a little different than we're used to, like usually we go into the studio and we already know the songs that will be on the record and we go in and we fucking crank them out, then we wrap it up and put it out. But I think this time we are going to record a batch of songs and then go back in a few months and record another batch of songs and we've never done that before. It's a little interesting to me to see what happens if we give ourselves more time and if we don't just say, 'Ok the first 10 songs is going to be the record'. What happens if we write 10 songs and record them and then write 10 more songs, are we going to throw away 5 of each and pick the 10 best or are we going to put out a double album? I have no idea, I just want to see what happens when we have more material and more time to look at. Right now we are in the very, very beginning doing tracking of the first batch of songs but like I said, that doesn't mean we're going to put out the record in 3 months. We're going to keep them and keep recording more later and probably end up in 2017 putting out the distillation of the songs, or we're going to end up with 2 albums? I have no fucking clue, I just want to go somewhere different and try a different approach.

Steve: Well I'm sure the Dillinger fans will be chomping at the bit given that it's been a little while.

Greg: Yeah it's been a bit now man, time goes by fast.

Steve: Certainly does. Well Greg, thank you so much for your time today mate, I really appreciate it and it's been a pleasure to talk to you.

Greg: OK man thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate it.




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Interview by Steve Monaghan on February 20th 2016