So, Thursday morning, I had the pleasure of having a chat over the phone with the great Greg Puciato. He was basically what I expected: a pretty happy laid back dude and great to talk to. We spoke about his side project Killer Or Be Killed, which brings together an all star cast consisting of the metal juggernaut Max Cavalera (ex. Sepultura, Soulfly and The Cavalera Project), Troy Sanders (Masterdon), and Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta). We spoke about how this all came together, how hard is to manage time between such superstars, and how incredible the project was. This is how it went:
Michael: First of all, mate, I just wanted to ask how this band came together. Have you worked with any of these guys before?
Greg: Well, Max and I had it as an idea to do a one off; we have known each other for a little while. We worked together on a song on one of his records call “Rise Of The Fallen.” We had such a good time doing it that we started talking about collaborations and why no one in metal does more records. We started talking about “Nailbomb” and how cool it was, and how rad it would be to do a one off without expectation of definitely making another record or without going on a year and a half touring cycle. Once you’re in a full time band you basically have an obligation every time you put a record out; everyone knows you’re going go on tour, and you have gotta make sure you don’t leave anybody out. We really liked the idea of putting an album out because we wanted to. If we ever played shows, we were doing it because we wanted to. When Troy joined that’s when it went from being a project to a band. We are now at a point where we definitely do want to play shows, and we do want to put another record out. It went from just doing an album and not doing any shows to something we got really excited about.
Michael: When looking at The Dillinger Escape Plan and any other past acts, what would you compare to Killer Be Killed?
Greg: Well, The Dillinger Escape Plan is extremely aggressive, violent, and pretty un-listenable for even some metal people. I’m aware of that. I’m very aware that The Dillinger Escape Plan is a very difficult band to like everything of. We don’t have any illusions that it isn’t like that. Writing stuff for The Dillinger Escape Plan is a very erratic experience, and I don’t walk around feeling the intensity of emotions that is necessary to play a Dillinger show or write a song all the time. I still feel creative, though, so it was kinda born out of necessity. Some of these riffs on the record I wrote in 2006. Some of these guitar parts have been around forever, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I just had so many of them, and when Max and I started talking about this record he was like, “Hey, man, I got hours and hours of riffs that I haven’t used that don’t really fit in Soulfly,” and I was like “Yea, and I have hours and hours and hours and hours of riffs”. Then, when Troy came in, we had so much shit we didn’t know what to do with.
Michael: So, do you and Max live pretty close together? Did band members have to relocate? How did this writing process happen?
Greg: Dave lives like really close to me; it’s probably about a 10 minute drive. Max is like an hour flight or a 6 hour drive, but Troy lives on the other coast. Troy is the difficult one; he is like a 6 hour flight away. Max and I started doing this in about 2009. Now, it’s 2014, and we are just getting it out. It was just the logistics of getting us all together that it took so long. It’s not so much about distant as it is about how busy we all are.
Michael: Obviously, there are a few different styles in there. Would you say the whole writing process was smooth? You say that you and Max did a lot of stuff, but what kind of part did the other guys play in the writing process?
Greg: You can play a riff and every drummer is going to play a straight drum beat differently and have an effect on the sound, but Troy had a massive impact. When Troy came in, he brought such a melodic kinda sensibility to the band that we weren’t really expecting. We didn’t really know how melodic we were going to make it. When he came in, he took Mastodon to such a different place from where they started. They were like a bikie sludge band, and now they are like a heavy Queens Of The Stone Age. They really evolved and he brought all the evolution with him. So, as soon as he came in and started writing bass lines, (you know he’s a singer) he would write them with the idea of opening up a vocal melody in mind. So, when he starts making riffs, he makes it sound a whole lot more melodic, even if they were like heavy Neanderthal riffs, he just had a really interesting way of introducing a melodic sensibility, so, yeah, his contribution was massive.
Michael: Was the whole having three vocalists idea hard to work with, or did you just write your own parts? Were some people writing parts for other vocalist?
Greg: That was the most fun part of the record. We would get to the point where we would be 90% of the song done musically, and we would sit down with a piece of paper and try delegate who was going to sing where. What happened almost every single song at least one person would have a really strong idea about one part, so, obviously you want to run with who ever had the most enthusiasm. If we were listening to the first song, you could be like, “Hey, man, I have a really, really good idea for this verse. I’ve got a melody and some of the lyrics written down. If you guys don’t mind, I’d really, really appreciate it if I could have the verses to this song or the first verse.” The recording process was very alive, and we were so excited; it was so much fun. As far as vocals went, we were kind of writing it as we were recording. We were tagging each other into the booth.
Michael: Would you say this album was written in the studio?
Greg: Well, musically this album was written outside of the studio. As soon as we had the music mostly written, we went into record them. We actually wrote all the vocals while we were in there (the studio), which was really cool. You could keep each others attention span from wandering. If you see one person there working, it’s kind of hard for you to just fuck off. You have a responsibility.
Michael: How challenging would you say this album was to create? Were there many difficulties along the way?
Greg: The main challenges were just to get everybody in same room at the same time. The writing process was great when we were all in the same room, and the recording process was great, too. It was just the time limitations that we were dealing with. Even with recording we had 3 weeks to get everything done before I had to leave to go to Europe, and then Troy had to get into the studio with Mastodon. So we were like, “Fuck, If we don’t get this done in 3 weeks, we are going to end up sitting a 75% done record for who knows how long.” The time thing was the most stressing.
Michael: This recording is incredibly distant to what you are used to. Would you say it was a challenge to adapt?
Greg: We do so much different stuff in Dillinger. We might do some melodic songs. Also, I listen to every type of music under the sun. It’s kind of hard to talk about yourself, It wasn’t in a bad way, but it was challenging in a stimulating way. Which is what you want, you don’t want to do everything that’s easy for you. It was creatively challenging, but it wasn’t difficult in a beat your head up against the wall way.
Michael: I suppose this is why you do something different like this project?
Greg: Yeah, that’s right. I wouldn’t make a record with my buddies just for the sake of doing a record with my buddies if it didn’t have a point for me artistically. If it was like a band I have already done, what’s the point? You know?
Michael: Would you say you are satisfied with the end product?
Greg: I enjoyed it. There are already some elements I want to explore further. There are things I want to try to magnify the second time around, especially considering how much of a logistical nightmare it was to get everyone together. We might get to play together four times over two or three years. The fact is we got it finished it and got it done. It’s just crazy to look back and realize it’s actually done and ready to be released. It’s something that we have been talking about for so long, and it was starting to feel like it was never going to happen.
Michael: Is this going to be a one album project? Or will there be others?
Greg: We are actually going to get together in the fall. In September, or something like that, and have a writing session for whatever the next record could be. We are all really excited about it. I went from something I thought would only be the one time, and now we are almost 100% sure that we want to do another one together.
Michael: That’s awesome news. Now, basically you guys are an avengers style cast of the music scene. I’m sure everyone is going to be overwhelmed with possibility of a tour. Are you guys going to take this show on the road?
Greg: Yeah, we would like to. Obviously, that is going to be another thing that will be tough. We aren’t going to be able to do a really long tour. So, we are actually looking ahead and trying to figure out what breaks we will have. It will be like if we have two or three weeks off here and there can we take off somewhere. What can we do? Can we go to Australia? Can we go to the U.K? Can we go to Germany? Can we go t Japan? Or can we go to New York and L.A? What are our options? We are talking about it. It definitely will happen. We just don’t know when and where.
Michael: Ok, Greg thanks again for taking the time to speak to me today, and good luck with the release.
So, guys that wraps my interview with the incredible Greg Puciato. As you could tell from the interview, he is really excited about the release from his project Killer Be Killed, as are the rest of the metal minions of the world. The album itself is sure to be one of the best of the year, so make sure you all fill your ears with it.
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