The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato talks about the joy he had writing and recording with Killer Be Killed.
“We did the whole thing in three weeks,” tells Greg Puciato of the recording of Killer Be Killed, the monumental, self-titled debut album from the groove metal supergroup featuring – alongside the Dillinger Escape Plan frontman – ex-Sepultura / Soulfly head-honcho Max Cavalera; Mastodon bassist, Troy Sanders; and ex-Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch.
“It was non-stop every single day,” he elaborates, painting a picture of what seems like a rather hectic arrangement.
“We were all in the room for all the writing. We were all in the room for every moment of recording. The only time that we weren’t was when I had to come back and do a few days of extra vocals in December but, for all of everything else, we were all in the room at the same time,” he continues.
“We didn’t take a single day off, so it was noon-to-midnight every day. I genuinely don’t even remember tracking the record. It could’ve been written and recorded by someone else,” he says, as if to heighten the sense of chaos already depicted, pausing only to chuckle when adding, “There was no file-sharing; Max Cavalera doesn’t have an email address.”
“At this point in time, when I go back and listen to the record, I don’t even remember recording it,” Puciato reiterates, adding, “I have a hard time even remembering who played what. It was such a blur.”
Yet, while his memory of the experience seems rather hazy, it becomes quickly clear from listening to Puciato that he found the recording of Killer Be Killed to be nothing but the most positive of experiences, and perhaps even a much-needed reprieve from the pressures of his main project.
“The process or writing a Dillinger record is mentally exhausting,” tells Puciato , “There’s three-times as much work for every song and the rhythms are a lot more difficult; The parts are a lot more headache-inducing in general,” he says.
“Dillinger is not a fun processes,” he blurts out, rather alarmingly – if not all that surprisingly given the violent and, twisted territory Puciato treads under that guise.
“I write very autobiographically. I don’t really know how else to write, so as soon as I start writing I subconsciously write what’s going on in my life and what I’m feeling psychologically, or about what I’m feeling about what’s going on around me,” he elaborates.
“Dillinger is a very extreme, violent, aggressive band,” he continues, “It’s a very specific emotion within yourself that you need to get to, to get that out of you.”
“(Killer Be Killed) wasn’t as far out in left field as Dillinger is, so it was a little easier, and it was just fun to write and feed off of two other singers,” Puciato says of recording the supergroup’s outstanding debut album.
“Obviously the difference is I’m not responsible for a whole song’s worth of lyrics, so I don’t feel under a lot of pressure,“ Puciato continues, making a final comparison, “With the Dillinger Escape Plan songs, I’m criticizing myself the entire time. With Killer Be Killed I can be a fan two-thirds of the time, so it’s much different.”
By comparison, it sounds as if the experience of Killer Be Killed couldn’t be further away from his involvement with The Dillinger Escape Plan.
“It ended up just being fun. It wasn’t a pain in the ass at all,” exclaims puciato.
“When it came time to sit down and actually listen to the actual song, we’d all be sitting around trying to map the song out – we’d have a paper and a pen – getting ready to try and figure out: who and where and when; and with pretty much every song at least one person was really committed to one part,” he says of the writing process.
“Someone, usually, would have an idea that was much more suited to the aspect of the actual song than everybody else.
“When we were listening to the songs, Troy would be like, ‘hey, just to let you know, from fifteen-seconds to forty-five-seconds – that part right there – I’ve already got a melody for it, I’ve already got lyrics starting to form in my head. I would really, really, really, really (sic.) appreciate if I could have that part because I’m really fucking stoked on what I have,’ and then, obviously, you want to go where the enthusiasm is. So if one person was really jazzed on something then we would go that route,” he explains.
“It was like a round-table of input. It was just very, very fun,” concludes Puciato of Killer Be Killed’s organic writing process, “It was really fun to hear someone else’s voice-over-part and instantly be able to get an idea,” he says.
Of course, Killer Be Killed marks a further departure for Puciato from the Dillinger Escape Plan, in that it is the first time that – on top of vocal duties –we’re hearing him take up the guitar; Although both less and more than you might think.
“Writing wise (guitar) was split pretty evenly but Max played probably eighty per-cent of the guitar on the record. Even if I wrote the part, there were a lot of times where it just made sense to let him record it, because of his difference in his picking-hand,” says Puciato.
“Then there’s other songs where I recorded all of the guitar, because my picking-hand is a little bit looser,” he goes on, explaining, “my picking-hand a little bit… I wouldn’t say “doomier” than Max’s is – Max has a very aggressive, thrashy approach – but mine’s a little bit bendier.
“There’s something a little bit looser in my playing than Max’s. So on certain songs, like “Dust Into Darkness” and “Melting Of My Marrow,” there were just certain riffs that sounded better when I played them.”
As far as Puciato’s contribution to the writing process,” “I had riffs lying around from years ago,” he tells, cataloging; “the main verse-riff of “Snakes Of Jehova” I’ve had since 2006; the entire song of “Dust Into Darkness” I’ve had since 2009; the verse-riff and the chorus-riff of “Melting Of My Marrow” I’ve had since about 2006; there’s like a bunch of riffs in there that just came form strange places, and a bunch of the stuff we just wrote on the spot. “Wings Of Feather And Wax” and “Face Down” were pretty much Dave and Max and I sitting down and writing on the spot.”
Although, from Puciato’s report, there weren’t any egos being thrown around or tread on in the studio. “We didn’t care about who wrote what,” he says, “we didn’t play what we wrote, we just played what we heard – what sounded the best when we were playing it.”
Puciato’s contribution to Killer Be Killed hardly ends here however – as many astute fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan will have deduced – it is Puciato who is to thank for the band’s monikier.
“It was kind of a thematic extension for me of ‘One Of Us Is The Killer,’” explains Puciato, referring to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s, critically lauded, 2013 record.
“Max had a name that had the word “kill” in it and then I ended thinking “Killer Be Killed.” It was a natural extension of “One Of Us Is The Killer,” at least that’s how it made sense for me,” Puciato confirms, adding, “A lot of the topics that it deals with on my end, lyrically, are sort of resolutions of things I was dealing with around the time period that the Dillinger record was written.”1
Puciato promises Killer Be Killed will make an appearance on the live front at some point, but don’t expect it to be any time soon, or anywhere abroad.
“We’re definitely going to play, it’s just a matter of when and where and a matter of how often,” he says.
“I don’t want to do a full tour but we would love to play a couple of weeks here or a couple of weeks there. I don’t want to go to Europe for nine weeks like we do with Dillinger or anything like that. It’s just not even logistically possible, so we’re not even talking about it,” he continues, identifying the obvious problem with a band of Killer Be Killed’s nature.
With its members already solidly committed to their main projects, touring is not an option of the band, but just because it won’t come soon doesn’t mean a live appearance will never happen.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to bring it to people live at some point in the not so distant future,” Puciato says.
“We’re looking all the way up until next March to try and find gaps in our schedule where we’re relaxed so that we can be like, “ok, we all have three weeks off, do we want to take two of them and go play some shows,’” continues Puciato, further basking in the reprieve granted to him by Killer Be Killed.
“It’s really awesome to not have the expectation of going out and doing a year-and-a-half-long touring cycle. When we play we can do it because we genuinely want to, and because we’re excited about it, not because it’s an obligation to go to every country in the world,” he finishes.
…Although by then we might just have another Killer Be Killed record on our hands.
“I’m sure we’ll do another one,” Puciato adds, “We’re already talking about getting together in the fall to write for a follow-up. I would bet ninety-nine percent.”
Killer Be Killed comes May 9th on Nuclear Blast (May 12th in North America). You should totally get it because it’s probably the best thing you’ll hear all year, maybe even ever. If you missed the link above then you can read my review of it here, and be sure to check back in later in the week for the second part of our Killer Be Killed interview series, with Max Cavalera.
1I believe someone owes me some cash money…