While they say that all good things must come to an end, fans of the Dillinger Escape Plan certainly wish that the band’s 20-year career would continue on. Liam Wilson, who has been a part of the math-metal outfit for 17 of those years, might feel that sentiment just as strongly if it weren’t for the chaotic events that have occurred since rumors of the split began to circulate. Heading in to write the band’s sixth and ultimately final album, the 37-year-old yogi and low ender had just become a father when he heard rumblings of the band’s demise from outside sources. He immediately put any confusion or hard feelings aside and busted out some of his best work on 2016’s Dissociation.
After the album’s release, the band headed out for a long goodbye tour. At a stop in Europe, their van was struck on the side of the road, injuring 13 people, ruining their gear, and sending them back home to regroup. Resilient and determined, the band members headed back out to finish what they started—not only on this tour, but over two decades ago when they created a band that would ignore convention and write brutal, schizophrenic music with enough time-signature changes to fry a calculator. And while this escape plan is bittersweet for Wilson, he knows he’s far from the end of his playing days.
You just put out a new album and have a huge, loyal fan base. Why stop now?
That’s a hard question to answer. I definitely wasn’t the one to initiate “abort mission.” I never talked to Ben [Weinman, founding guitarist] about it, but the other members and I would discuss it with varying degrees of confusion and support. I wanted to wait to see it to believe it. You should also know that everything I’m saying is just the tip of the iceberg, and I have to politely bite my tongue answering all these questions.
How did it feel going into this process knowing it would be the end?
When I heard that this was the last record, I knew I had to throw down hard on it. At the time I had been woodshedding these songs, and when I’m in the creative mode, almost nothing else matters to me. Working on the record and going on this tour has been like a big countdown. It’s a bittersweet dichotomy, but an interesting place to write music from.
How did being in that mental place dictate your playing?
I actually found myself writing some angrier choices for this album. On top of the uncertainty of the band’s future, I was severely sleep-deprived because of my newborn. Emotionally, I was super blissed out, but everything was different. As a bass player, though, I ultimately made some angry and simple choices that ended up being pretty clever and less flashy. When they went high I went low; when they went fast, I went slow. I played with contrast and gave the sound an alternate point of view.
How did playing in Dillinger sculpt you as a bassist?
I’m a little more realistic now about what I’m good at and what I should be working on. I try not to waste my time on things that don’t serve me. I’m way more interested in songwriting and where my parts fit into a song than working out licks. I’m trying to take the ego out of my playing as much as possible and get myself out of the way of myself as much as I can. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I’ll be ready.
Bass Zon Sonus Special 4-strings
Rig 1972 Blueline Ampeg SVT, Ampeg SVT-VR, Ampeg SVT 810E, Sennheiser wireless system, SansAmp RBI rackmount DI
Pedals Darkglass Microtubes B3K, MXR M85 Bass Distortion, SansAmp Bass Driver DI, DigiTech Polyphonic tuner
Strings Ernie Ball Slinky (.045–.105)
Picks Dunlop Tortex .83mm
(Photographs By Rob Wallace)