Bassist LIAM WILSON tells the stories behind each song on THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’s Option Paralysis.
PHOTO: Katie Thompson
Farewell, Mona Lisa
This song, coincidentally (?) abbreviated as “FML,” is the fourth song we completed for the album while the end section was one of the earliest pieces we started playing around with. We decided to make it our first single and lead off the album with it because for us, and hopefully our listeners, it sort of served as a Cliffs Notes-type song. It distills a little piece of every DEP release up to this point while simultaneously intertwining an introductory appetizer of some of the darker and more sinister themes we extrapolate upon throughout the rest of the record. Along with “Good Neighbor,” this is one of the first songs on the album that we started playing live.
This has to be one of the most relentless songs we’ve ever written. It’s a tour-de-force of down-picking fury–the way our forearms tingle after we play this one tells us it’s working! If I’m remembering correctly, this was the third song we wrote and we wrote it quickly. It’s seemingly one of the simplest in structure, yet arguably the most difficult and demanding to play. It’s full of token Dillinger tricks and treats, twists and turns, with lyrics loosely stabbing at the musician/fan relationship in an age of uncontrolled transparency, unregulated thievery, and debatable integrity [surrounding the music industry].
Gold Teeth On A Bum
This is another experiment in stepping outside our perceived comfort zone. It’s a more rock–or dare I invoke “grunge”–than what we’re typically known or revered. It’s sculpted using arguably more authentic and mature Dillinger-esque stylings than previous efforts while opting for a tried and true song structure of verse/pre-chorus/chorus/bridge. It’s the sort of song that’s surprisingly most challenging and simultaneously rewarding for us to write; dodging clichés like bullets in the Matrix as fast as we’re indulging in them. This is a song about keeping your priorities in order during an age when taking care of the luxuries and letting the necessities take care of themselves is often the default mode of thinking ourselves into a proverbial corner.
This song is one of the most thematically focused songs we’ve ever written. Lyrically, it’s a reaction to and a reflection on Crystal Night or Night Of Broken Glass [an anti-Jewish riot in Nazi Germany and Austria in 1938], which was the Casus belli of sorts for German Jews at the very beginning of World War II. Musically, I think it supports itself with dark anarchist themes and a chaotic, almost self-destructive vibe to it. This is the second song we started working on for the album, and it’s arguably the favorite song of Billy [Rymer, drums] to play. All killer, no filler; we dare anyone to find any fat on this choice cut of musical meat.
This is the one that started it all–the first song we wrote for the album and consequently, the first song we wrote with Billy on drums. After witnessing his auditions, we had no doubts that he understood the sonic tongues we were speaking in and the vocabulary of drumming we’ve been writing with up to that point. Once this song was completed–and in record time–we had a standard to reference and the confidence to keep raising the bar with each consecutive composition.
This song is another good example of us trying to bring the glass ceiling down to floor-level. Calling it “epic” is an understatement. Anything the band had dared to do on previous releases set us up in every way to go big or go home on this track.
Room Full Of Eyes
This song kinda came out of nowhere during rehearsals; like we were momentarily possessed by the spirit of it and once it was unleashed to the studio, the real demons showcased themselves. Full of contrasting and collapsing patterns that grab you and just as quickly kick you to the curb; vocals that interrogate you with good cop/bad cop crooning; and some twisted, Latin-inspired stringed lashings helped make this one the underdog favorites for many of us.
For me, this is the most self-contained song on the record, drawing inspiration seemingly only from itself. At times schizophrenic, this one seems comfortable in its ever-crawling skin. It’s dark and mysterious, atmospheric and thick. Is it the blackest pop song ever crafted or the lightest metal ever forged? It’s gear-shifting and key-changing. To plow or not to plow? To stop or to start? I think this song lands every trick it attempts with style and grace. It casts its sharp and seductive hooks like an irresistible lure into bleak waters and nets something previously unheard of.
I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t
This song ties you up, hate-fucks you and then wants to cuddle. What’s not to love? The title recalls the stale debate every relationship is perversely built upon: the drama trap of justifying one’s actions against another’s. A cameo from pianist Michael Garson keeps this one moody in all the right places. It’s easily one of the fastest Dillinger tracks ever unleashed, segueing into total chaos only to be reborn and tested in its own seductive embers. If the closing line, “Suffering is love” doesn’t send chills down even the most warm-blooded spine, I’d check for a pulse again. Guitar geeks are going to have fun transcribing this one.
Arguably the biggest departure from our perceived center of gravity, this song counter-balances everything the record has been slashing and burning up to this point. It’s a true parasitic twin living off the rest of the album, giving the vocal abilities of Jeff [Tuttle, guitar] their day in court on the verses, hauntingly-harmonizing with Greg [Puciato, lead vocals] on the pre-chorus and fully passing the baton off to him for the “claw-fingered” jazz-hands choruses. alt