Early years and Calculating Infinity (1997–1999)
The Dillinger Escape Plan evolved from the hardcore punk band Arcane. Arcane was an aggressive, political-oriented act formed in 1996 by vocalists Dimitri Minakakis and Brad McMann, guitarist Ben Weinman, bassist Bruce Fulton and drummer Chris Pennie. Arcane played for a few months but eventually disbanded because they "were kinda sick of trying to become part of a clique and to write music that would fit into a theme", according to Weinman. Encouraged by him, they turned around their sound and aesthetic, with bassist Adam Doll, a Pennie's bandmate in the bands Samsara and Malfactor, becoming interested in their new direction and hence joining the band. Guitarist Derek Brantley also joined the band following the departure of McMann and Fulton. Their first live performance, which they also considered the last of Arcane, was as a support act for Overcast and organized by long time friend Matt Backerman. Backerman had just decided to form Now or Never records and asked the band to record what would be their self titled six-track EP. Their second show was supporting Earth Crisis in Moosic, Pennsylvania. They were nameless for many months until, without much thought, friend Matt Makowski suggested the name “The Dillinger Escape Plan” while watching a documentary on John Dillinger, a 1930s bank robber notorious for his multiple escapes from jail. Weinman telephoned Steve Evetts to produce their album because he was a big fan of his work on the Deadguy records. After their first two shows, Brantley lost contact with the band and did not show up when they were recording the six song self-titled effort, causing them to record as a quartet.
The six-track EP was released in April 1997, and set them off on a small club tour around northeast America. Shortly before their first tour as The Dillinger Escape Plan, the group was joined by guitarist John Fulton, who previously played in the bands Samsara and Malfactor with Pennie and Doll. In 1998 the band wrote and recorded their second EP titled Under the Running Board. During this time period, The Dillinger Escape Plan gained notoriety in the hardcore punk scene for the intensity of their performances which were increasingly wild, and often violent. These features, as well as the creative, technical approach of their music led a record executive of Relapse Records to offer the band a multi-record contract. Shortly before signing, the Under the Running Board demo was shown to some friends, one of whom was Jesuit bassist Nate Newton who was impressed with their musical proficiency and invited The Dillinger Escape Plan to an American and Canadian tour with them and Botch.
Shortly after their second EP, John Fulton left the band to focus on his computer programming studies. Before the recording of Calculating Infinity, bassist Adam Doll was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. The accident was a minor fender bender, but because Doll had leaned over to pick up a CD beneath the stereo, the accident caused a small fracture in his spine, inducing paralysis. Guitarist Weinman played both guitar and bass on the album, though liner notes credited Doll as providing a great deal of help. Calculating Infinity was released on September 28, 1999, through Relapse and was met with critical acclaim. Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton, one of the first people to hear the album, asked the Dillinger Escape Plan to tour for two months with his band Mr. Bungle. Shortly before touring began for the new album, former Jesuit guitarist Brian Benoit auditioned for the band, taking the place of the departed Fulton in November 1998 and Jeff Wood, former M.O.D. bassist and a childhood friend of Weinman, took the place of the injured bassist Doll.
Search for a new vocalist and Irony Is a Dead Scene (2000–2002)
After several months of touring, including appearances on the Warped Tour and March Metal Meltdown, the band and Wood parted ways, with Wood moving on to his own project, Shat, and Liam Wilson took his place. Later that same year, the band parted ways with Minakakis. Minakakis credited his departure from the band to the rigorous touring schedule. The band remains in contact with him. Without a vocalist, The Dillinger Escape Plan began a nationwide search for a replacement via their website, releasing an instrumental version of "43 % Burnt" from Calculating Infinity and inviting prospective vocalists to record and send their own vocal tracks. They received many submissions, including one with rapping and one with death growls. While the search was underway, the band had already composed some songs and decided to record an instrumental EP, therefore asking Mike Patton to release it on Ipecac Records. The singer offered to help them and they asked him to sing on it. In the meantime, they played some shows as an instrumental act and invited Sean Ingram of Coalesce to join them at the Krazyfest in July 2001.
In late 2001, Dillinger Escape Plan met Greg Puciato, one of the people who submitted a recording to the band. Puciato included two versions of "43 % Burnt", one in the style of Calculating Infinity and one with his own personal spin. The band offered him the job after two practice sessions. He accepted, first appearing at the CMJ Music Festival in New York City in October. Soon after, Puciato and the band covered "Damaged I" and "Damaged II" by Black Flag for the tribute compilation Black on Black. The plan to record with Patton was in place before a replacement vocalist had been found, but by the time Patton had recorded vocals and the EP was released, the band had been touring with Puciato for nearly a year. Epitaph Records offered to release the album and, although the band was doubtful at first, they finally accepted due to the label's enthusiasm. The EP titled Irony Is a Dead Scene was released on August 27, 2002. The EP features Weinman, Pennie, Benoit, Wilson, Patton on vocals, and ex-bassist Adam Doll assisting with keyboards and sample effects.
Miss Machine (2003–2005)
The Dillinger Escape Plan performing in Eindhoven
In 2003, the band appeared on the soundtrack for Underworld with the song "Baby's First Coffin", their first original song with Puciato on vocals. The band's second studio album (their first album with Puciato), Miss Machine was released on July 20, 2004, through Relapse. The album polarized The Dillinger Escape Plan audience; some fans were critical of the band's increasing artistic and musical departures from their earlier efforts, while others preferred them.
Following the release, The Dillinger Escape Plan began a two-year touring cycle, headlining tours of their own or occasionally providing support for acts such as Slipknot, System of a Down, and Megadeth. These tours were replete with injuries; in late 2004, guitarist Benoit suffered nerve damage (brachial plexus neuritis) in his left hand, and other than a short return to the stage in 2005, he has not played with the band since. Former Fenix*TX guitarist James Love ended up playing most shows in the late 2004–2006 period. In 2005, the band was forced to drop out of Dave Mustaine's "Gigantour" slightly early due to a rotator cuff injury and fractured vertebrae Weinman had sustained performing in Anaheim, California at all-ages venue Chain Reaction.
Ire Works (2006–2008)
[...] These things had developed with him [Ben Weinman] over the years. And to be honest, some people in the band were fed up. And I was the one who left to improve the situation. The others stayed... That's just the way it is... I don't harbor any ill will towards the other members. The band is still a great band. I still love their music and I love to play such music. I just had enough of a lot of things.
—Chris Pennie, 2008
In 2006, Weinman finally underwent surgery for his shoulder but chose not to treat his neck because of the risks involved. In June 2006, the band released both the digital EP Plagiarism, a cover album, and Miss Machine: The DVD, which featured live footage of its world tour. Simultaneously, The Dillinger Escape Plan opened for AFI on tour after being invited by vocalist Davey Havok. Shortly thereafter, the band toured with label mates Dysrhythmia and later with progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria. Four shows before the end of the Coheed tour, Weinman flew home for "undisclosed personal reasons", which were later revealed to be compounding medical and financial problems, as well as frictions with his bandmates. The group played four dates as a four-piece. In a 2008 interview, Greg Puciato said that the relationship between Weinman and Pennie had been acrimonious for several years, involving heated arguments, and the other members had already foreseen a dissolution.
While resting his arm, the guitarist stated he began to compose and experiment with sound design and electronics for the upcoming album. During the time he was apart, Chris Pennie received a call from Coheed and Cambria guitarist Travis Stever who offered him to join the band when their former drummer, Josh Eppard, left them. Coheed had been impressed with Pennie after seeing him live, and Pennie accepted the offer. Pennie left The Dillinger Escape Plan amidst writing Ire Works in 2007. In a 2017 interview, the drummer pointed out two defining incidents for his departure: before releasing Miss Machine, a member of the band turned down a tour slot with a "really big" band without clearing it with the other members, straining his relationship with Weinman, and legal issues of the guitarist in 2006 which put the band on hold. Other reason was his priority in composing and studying music over touring and contractual commitments. According to The Dillinger Escape Plan members and Relapse Records's Matt Jacobson, Pennie did not informed them until late contractual schedules for the new Dillinger album.
The Dillinger Escape Plan performing in Budapest
Weinman started to program drums daily for two months out of desperation. On June 15, the band announced the title of the album as well as confirming the departure of Pennie. Among the drummers considered to handle drum duties were Morgan Ågren and Sean Reinert, but the band decided to choose the relatively unknown Gil Sharone of Stolen Babies by the suggestion of Chris Hornbrook. Eventually, The Dillinger Escape Plan completed their follow-up album to Miss Machine in 2007, titled Ire Works. Ire Works was released on November 13, 2007, through Relapse. Despite the inner turmoil, when the record was finished the band was more satisfied with it than with any of the previous ones, calling it a "turning point". The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 142 with 7,000 copies scanned, but was later corrected when it was revealed that Relapse did not account for album pre-release sales, increasing the number of total copies sold to 11,000. Ire Works had been a critical and commercial success, with the album being on many critics' top ten lists, making it the band's most critically successful album. Jason Lymangrover of AllMusic stated that "[if] DEP aren't careful and continue down this innovative path, they could easily be labeled the Radiohead of metalcore." On February 6, 2008, the band had two songs from Ire Works broadcast on two television programs in the United States. The song "Milk Lizard" was featured on the CSI: NY episode "Playing With Matches", and the band performed live the song "Black Bubblegum" on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Missing from the new line up was Benoit, who had left the band because of injury. Although assured his place in the band is secure should he ever be able to perform again, Jeff Tuttle formerly of Heads Will Roll and Capture the Flag took his place on stage. Tuttle, however, does not make an appearance on the record.
Party Smasher Inc. and Option Paralysis (2009–2011)
In January 2009, Sharone left the band and was replaced by Billy Rymer. The Dillinger Escape Plan played in Australia, where they joined Nine Inch Nails onstage during the Soundwave 2009 festival, helping them perform the songs "Wish" and "Mr. Self Destruct" as part of the last encore song of Nine Inch Nails' live show at the event.
The Dillinger Escape Plan announced their departure from Relapse Records on May 27, 2009. The band had become dissatisfied with the music industry and music media, and Weinman decided to create the independent record label Party Smasher Inc. to release their fourth studio album.
Since June 2009, they began to release several demo snippets on their YouTube channel of songs from their upcoming album. Furthermore, a website for the record was set up, linking to all of the studio update videos and demo snippets. During their North American East Coast tour with Thursday in December 2009, the band sold download cards at their shows that entitled the customer to a download of the 10 song album upon its release with 3 additional exclusive bonus tracks. The song "Farewell, Mona Lisa", debuted on Liquid Metal SXM on Christmas Day, 2009; it became available for download on January 19, 2010. "Chinese Whispers" was debuted on Full Metal Jackie’s syndicated radio show broadcast on 29 stations throughout the USA on the March 5, 2010, and was subsequently played on the next two days. On March 9, the blog MetalSucks featured the online debut of the song. The band released their fourth studio album, Option Paralysis on March 22, 2010, through Party Smasher in partnership with Season of Mist Option Paralysis was confirmed as the title of the new album in a press release by Season of Mist. Puciato has noted that Option Paralysis was the toughest album the group and himself have ever written. In an interview in The Aquarian Weekly, Weinman stated that it was the most organic and less forced than previous works.
The Dillinger Escape Plan started the Option Paralysis touring cycle with a short North American tour with Thursday in December 2009, followed by a headlining run in Feb/March 2010 with Darkest Hour, Animals as Leaders, and Iwrestledabearonce. While on the tour, the band received a Golden God Award from Revolver magazine, for "Best Underground Band", which Weinman and Puciato accepted. After a short trip to Europe, they participated in Warped Tour 2010, playing June 24 through August 15. During a January 12, 2011 interview on the Metal Injection Livecast, Puciato announced that the band was currently in the process of writing new music which would either surface as an EP later in the year or else a full-length album the following year. However, in 2011 The Dillinger Escape Plan continued to tour, accompanying Deftones for a nine-week-long North American trek from April to June. Touring continued with former labelmates Mastodon, both in the US in late 2011 and the UK in early 2012, followed by their second appearance at Soundwave Festival in Australia, as well as dates with System of a Down in New Zealand and Australia. The group also played its first shows in Malaysia and Bangkok, as well as their first South American performance, headlining the second stage on the first night of the prestigious Rock al Parque festival in Bogota, Colombia.
One of Us Is the Killer (2012–2014)
On August 17, 2012, the band announced via their Facebook page that Tuttle had left the band to pursue other projects in music and film. On November 24, the band played at the California Metalfest alongside bands such as Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying. While playing this show, a mystery guitar player was noticed filling in for former rhythm guitarist Jeff Tuttle, who had left the band in August. A couple of weeks later, during a phone interview (on the Metal Injection Livecast) while in the studio recording their new album, Weinman announced that this mystery guitar player was James Love, who had played with the band briefly while they toured in support for their album Miss Machine.
On February 18, 2013, the band announced the title of their new album, One of Us Is the Killer, On March 12, they released the first single from the album. On April 23, The Dillinger Escape Plan released the music video for "When I Lost My Bet", the first from the upcoming album. It was directed by Mitch Massie and was posted on the band's Facebook page and Sumerian Records' YouTube account. Subsequent videos released from the album were "One of Us Is the Killer", "Hero of the Soviet Union", and "Paranoia Shields". The band released their fourth studio album, One of Us Is the Killer on May 14, 2013 through Party Smasher in partnership with various labels around the world, including BMG for Europe, Grind House for Japan, Remote Control for Australia and Sumerian Records for North America.
While touring North American in April 2014, the band released the non-album single, "Happiness Is a Smile". The single was only released as a seven-inch vinyl and a cassette and was only available the buy on this tour. On July 14, 2014, it was announced that the band would be playing for two weeks as the opening slot on the Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden North American tour. This decision was announced following the supposed disbandment of Death Grips, who was originally scheduled to appear as the opening act.
Dissociation and disbandment (2015–2017)
In May 2015, Kevin Antreassian, a former member of New Jersey progressive metal band Knife the Glitter and former guitar student of Ben Weinman, became the new rhythm guitarist of the band replacing James Love. In July, Weinman announced during an Australian interview that the band would return to the studio in November to record the follow-up to One of Us Is the Killer. In the following year, BBC Radio 1 premiered the band's new single "Limerent Death", which is to be featured on their upcoming sixth studio record Dissociation. In an interview with Noisey, Weinman said the Dillinger Escape Plan would stop performing, with Puciato later saying "we're breaking up." Puciato was quoted saying that the band still enjoyed writing, recording and performing together but "we started to reach what felt like a thematic conclusion to our band", comparing the decision to a filmmaker who enjoys the current film he is creating but cannot continue the process indefinitely. Weinman said, "we are going to do the cycle for this album and that's it." Dissociation was released on October 14, 2016, through Party Smasher in partnership with Cooking Vinyl.
On February 12, 2017, during their European farewell tour, The Dillinger Escape Plan was involved in a vehicle crash after a truck collided with their bus near Radomsko, Poland. Thirteen people were injured in the incident, but the band members were not seriously hurt. In April 2018, Antreassian revealed that he ended up with two fractured vertebrae and had to play with a back brace for a month. Fans raised over $20,000 in a week to the band following the crash.
On September 5, The Dillinger Escape Plan were honoured at the 2017 Association of Independent Music Awards. The band received the "Outstanding Contribution to Music" prize at the ceremony at The Brewery, Clerkenwell.
The band's final show took place at Terminal 5 in New York City on December 29, 2017, with Code Orange and Daughters as support acts. The band also played two additional shows on December 27 and 28, before the final show. For the first show the band announced that they would be joined by Mike Patton to perform their collaborative EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene, and were supported by God Mother. On the December 28 show, the band was joined on stage by original frontman Dimitri Minakakis, and he performed several early Dillinger Escape Plan songs. Minakakis also sang with Puciato during the encore performance of 43% Burnt. Minakakis appeared again on the last night, whereas former guitarist Brian Benoit joined them for parts of the December 27 and December 28 shows. Original bassist Adam Doll joined as well for the final night, playing keyboards on their last song "Dissociation".
Post-Dillinger Escape Plan activities (2018–present)
After the Dillinger Escape Plan disbanded, the members remained active in music. Puciato plans to continue touring with The Black Queen throughout 2018 and has plans to record as Killer Be Killed for a second album planned for release in 2019. Weinman is currently a touring guitarist for Suicidal Tendencies. Wilson formed the band Azusa with members of Extol and Sea + Air, with plans of releasing their debut album in November of 2018.