For more than 10 years the pionieers of mathcore are already around. Last year they released the critically acclaimed „Ire Works“ and right now the guys are on tour in Europe and the US. After a sweat-inducing gig, which surely left some lasting impressions with fans and band, singer Greg Puciato still has some time to chat with STALKER about life on tour, „Ire Works“ and hardcore in general.
You just played an awesome show here, how was it for you?
We´ve only been on tour for like a week, we played in England and Russia so far, and this was my favourite show thus far. I didn´t realize until halfway through the show that we´ve never played at a club here [in Finland] before. When you´re in Europe you go for a couple of hours to different countries and then you forget what countries you actually played after a while and I thought for sure that we´ve played at a club here before cause I remember coming off a boat. Last time we played Finland [at Provinssirock 2004] we had to take a boat from mainland Europe overnight to here and I thought it was a club show. The energy tonight was way beyond I could imagine. I felt like I had to go out after we were done and talk to the people “Ok, we´re not going to play anymore”. I felt obligated to go out there and say something cause I felt bad for these people out there. It was pretty awesome, it was cool.
After watching you play I was wondering if it would even be possible for you to play on a very small stage, with no space to move?
Honestly, I used to really like it, in the beginning. Now I feel way more comfortable on big stages than I do on small stages because I´ve been hit so much. I have fake teeth, I have scars all over my head, my hand is broken, both my hands are broken right now. This finger is broken [shows his finger and moves it in a weird way] and my wrist is broken. I don´t like it, I´m over it, you know. When we play…Ben, the kid on my right, he´s out of his mind, he doesn´t care that he has a sharp piece of wood in his hand. He swings it around and I have a microphone, it doesn´t have much reach, you know. So when we used to play small stages it felt like every single night “oh cool, I´m bleeding again”. I remember one tour, he hit me in the face and knocked a tooth right out and when I went home my mom was like “what are you doing? You dropped out of college to do this? I paid for you to have braces when you were a kid and now you get your teeth knocked out?” So I enjoy to have a little bit of room right now.
You just mentioned that you played in Russia, is it somehow different compared to other countries?
It was the first time we´ve ever been in Russia, to be honest, you hear all those crazy things like Russia is run by the mafia and when you go there it´s gonna be crazy and people are going to try to rob you, you know what I mean. My girlfriend was born in Moscow and she immigrated to the United States and she went back a couple of years ago and she saw how corrupted it is and told everybody “Don´t go to Russia”. Whatever we did go and it was fine! The kids were so excited for us to be there. There was some weird stuff there a little bit but… Well, you can definitely tell that the place had a hard time, you know. I don´t know if Russia is ever going to be right because the mafia in that country is so bought in like to all politics and the police; especially after communism fell it was in such a state of disrepair …but all the kids there are smart, it´s not them. So it was fun!
You still have a couple of shows in Europe…
We have three weeks left, we go to Germany tomorrow, then we have Italy and then we come back up around here to do Roskilde which I´m really excited about cause my favourite band ever is playing [there] and I´ve never made it to see them, My Bloody Valentine. I can´t wait…Then we go back to the US to do a week and a half of Warped Tour and then we do a tour with the reunited Cavalera brothers – Cavalera Conspiracy. That will be fun! We´ve been touring forever, we started touring in November last year and up until now we had like a week off since November last year. It feels like you put your life in a time machine and you come back a year later you have no idea what you did except like a bunch of shows. It´s really weird! It´s starting to feel like on autopilot, you have no idea what day of the week it is, you don´t care anymore. It´s like “Ok, we play another show, we just keep going”.
What´s the most stressful thing on tour?
The only stress, honestly, comes from me physically. I feel like I´m always worried about my voice cause it´s really hard on me to do all the screaming all the time. But there´s no way you can do it all the time and not hurt yourself but I´m trying not to push that hard with drinking alcohol. I don´t really drink anything, I have to take care of myself. It´s not that stressful, honestly, leaving behind like all your home life… When I was 21 I wanted to be on tour all the time, I wanted to go on tour, travel around, play music, kick ass, you know and now I´m closer to 30 it´s like “Shit, I will miss this person, I have a dog”. That I miss stuff it starts to stress me out. I´m not crazy going anywhere and miss it, you know. But we [the band] used to fight all the time and fight a lot. We had some line up changes going on and now we don´t fight. We actually have fun together and it feels like we´re friends. It doesn´t feel like people are forced to be together like it used to feel like.
How do you keep in shape when you´re on tour?
I don´t eat a lot, you know, I don´t eat a lot of garbage. I drink a lot of water, I don´t really drink that much alcohol, maybe once a week I drink. I don´t work out that much, I used to, I worked out all the time and now I eat clean and now I´m loosing, you wouldn´t be able to tell that I´m slowly losing [weight]. I´m now 15 pounds lighter than this time last year. So it´s slowly going away but I don´t care anymore. I feel better, I like being lighter.
Let´s talk about your latest album “Ire Works”, which was released half a year ago. From your point of view now, is there something that you would want to change?
Nothing, nothing at all. It´s the only record that we ever made that we´re totally happy with and it´s so hard to do because when we finished the record before that one [Miss Machine] the day after we finished it we were upset with it. We wanted to change things, I hated my voice on some songs. The day after we recorded this one [Ire Works] we were happy with it and we´re still happy with it. I feel totally happy with this record from front to back. Which is really alarming because we didn´t even think this record is going to get made. Like our drummer quit one month before we were supposed to record. We had to find a new drummer and a new guitar player because Brian hurt his hand. Me and Ben and Liam, we were the only three people left and we were pretty much, you know… a month away from recording we didn´t have a drummer and we were like “this is not going to happen”, you know. We´re not going to be a band anymore or we are going to have to wait to do this and push everything back. We were off to California to record and we never even met our [new] drummer before, we had talked to him over the phone and we were off to California and met him like four days before we started recording. It could have been bad, we could´ve not clicked personally but he´s like what made everything easy to get along with. In the past, like I said earlier, we fought all the time and it was getting to the point where I started to believe that it´s a good thing. I started to believe that fighting is necessary for that organic, stupid like romantic bullshit how we thrive on our negative energy, you know what I mean. Like it adds to our music and that´s totally not true. Because now we get along great and we are playing way better than ever and being on tour is fun now.
As your quite happy with your last record, how do you want to top it with a new one?
Well, we already started writing and Ben writes almost 99% of the songs. I just heard last night for the first time four new, pretty awesome ideas. I didn´t even know he had anything like I did an interview a couple of days ago and told people we haven´t started writing yet and then he pulled out his computer “check this out”. In his hotel room without anyone knowing and they are all ridiculous and I´m really excited. I was actually intimidated because they were so good “what am I going to do with this?”. It´s ridiculous I can´t do anything with this, you know. We have a new line up now that we want to write with, we´re excited to write with Gil, our new drummer and Jeff, our new guitar player. We didn´t write with them [before], they just came in at the very end and played kind of what was already written. They have such talent, we get along so well. We´ll see what we can do creatively.
On “Horse Hunter”, a track from “Ire Works”, Brent Hinds from Mastodon was contributing some vocals. How did that come about?
Really interesting, we were in California recording, “Horse Hunter” was the last song that I recorded vocals for and he didn´t know that we were there. He was in Atlanta where he lives and I talk to him maybe once every couple of months to catch up. And he called me and he was like “what are you doing, I heard you guys are going to record?” and I was like “We are recording right now”. I was like “I have one more song to do and then we´re done with the vocals” and he was like “Shit, I need to sing on this”. I said “Ok but we don´t have a part like open for you, we didn´t really write the song with you in mind.” And he was like “I´m coming to California”, hangs up, books his own flight and the next day winds up in California. He´s out of his mind! He shows up in California and comes to the studio, gets completely wasted, doesn´t record any vocals, insists that I go out with him to LA, we go to LA, he stays up all night long, wasted, doing drugs whatever. I´m like “Brent, I gotta go, we have to go back to the studio” I can´t hang with him, he hangs too long. I can´t roll with that guy. So he stays out, party all night, next day he came back, picked up a notepad. We went out and took the song to a car, put the CD in the car and then played the last part of the song and finished writing it and we just wrote the lyrics in like 10 minutes. And went back in and recorded it. I loved it, I loved it because his voice… I used to not think that we needed other people on our record because I felt like I could do everything. It´s not about that we can do it, it´s about that his voice has a different texture than mine, it makes us sound good together. And from a personal standpoint, it was very cool to be able to do like… not only am I going to look back and say that me and a good friend of mine are now on a song together but Mastodon, I feel, and the Dillinger Escape Plan are two of the most talented heavy bands to come out in the last 10 years or so. So it´s really cool to have something to honor that.
Another song on “Ire Works” is “Milk Lizard” but what exactly is a milk lizard?
Everyone thinks that titles have some deeper meaning but really it´s… I have like a huge list of things that I just think sound interesting or cool. Milk Lizard was a friend of mine´s… a girl I know knew a kid in kindergarten and they nicknamed him milk lizard. I have no idea why. She never explained it to me but we were out once, hanging out at a bar and she was like “Oh my God, I know that kid from kindergarten, everyone used to call him milk lizard”. That´s a very interesting combination of words and I thought it sounds like a Melvins title cause the Melvins have those weird titles and I love the Melvins so I thought I use it. Whatever, just words! Everything is ridiculous like that, “Horse Hunter” it was like me and Brent talking about hunting, rather wasted. How fucked up it would be if people hunted horses, it´s gotta be so fucked up and I was like “I guess so let´s call the song “Horse Hunter”. “OK!” [laughs]
I read that you also have some other projects going on?
Yeah, me and John, the guitar player who started Candiria, have been writing songs for about three years now. It takes forever because I´m always gone, we live in different states and everything, it´s pretty much done over the computer. And we finally get to the point where we felt comfortable going to a studio, not wasting time. We recorded about 15 songs so far and we are finished and it is physically done, we´re just waiting to release it to a time where we feel like we can promote it and it doesn´t just get ignored because Dillinger is such a monster, such a big thing I don´t have time right now to do anything related to anything else. We have two months off in fall from Dillinger and I think that´s when we´re going to try to release that EP and maybe we will play a little tour. John is an amazing kid, Candiria is an amazing band, amazing talent to work with and I´m pretty excited about it. It´s called Spylacopa, I´m really excited about that, honestly, am just as excited for that as for Dillinger but I know it´s never going to be the same size.
Maybe last about the hardcore genre in general. Where do you think it´s heading?
It´s not as big [in the States] as it was a couple of years ago. It´s dying out now, actually. In 2002, 2003 it was enormous. We´re smaller in the US now than we are here. We´re bigger everywhere Japan, Australia, here; in the US we´re getting smaller. It´s just because the hardcore scene isn´t in style anymore these days so the kids that we´re like 16, 17 five years ago, it was a trend for them now they are over it. We still have this hardcore fanbase, you know, but the trend of it is going away which is a real relief, actually. It was like a perversion to me what hardcore stood for. I know like young people who to them hardcore was black hair, eyeliner and girl´s pants but this has nothing to do with hardcore. If you want to dress that way that´s fine but this has nothing to do where hardcore came from, about DIY, about punk rock. In the US it became way more about fashion and how you look than about music which probably happens with everything when it becomes commercialized. In the US it was just like every kid… it infiltrated like everything, mainstream people and the mainstream started to look different, pop people looked different because of hardcore and the weird fashion thing that was happening. I feel like the bands that actually matter like Converge, us and a couple of others are going to stay and all the trendy stuff is going to go away which is fine.
Well, that´s it thanks a lot!
Photos: Dillinger Escape Plan, rock-pics.com