Last month, when the Dillinger Escape Plan revealed that founding drummer Chris Pennie had left the highly technical mathcore outfit to join progressive rockers Coheed and Cambria, no one wanted to believe it. The surprise move baffled the band's allegiant fans almost as much as it confused the Dillinger dudes, who started to wonder if Pennie had been fostering some strange, secret obsession with unicorns and minotaurs.
"We found out about him playing with Coheed on the Internet," explained guitarist Ben Weinman. "[Frontman] Greg [Puciato] forwarded me a link to an announcement, and I'm like, 'What?!?' At that point, though, he was just going to record with them — it wasn't like he wasn't going to play with us, but we were questioning keeping him in the band every day because it was embarrassing. But obviously, we felt that his talent was so needed for the band that we tried to make it work, and we let him go through this little midlife crisis or whatever it was, because we never thought he'd join that band over this band. It doesn't make sense. They're not Linkin Park. If you're going to sell out, sell out, you know?
"It's unbelievable, and the funny thing is, before all of this started going down, he used to make fun of that band, left and right," Weinman continued. "He'd imitate [Coheed frontman Claudio Sanchez's] voice and would say, 'They f---ing suck' and all this sh--. It's funny, because everybody just looks at us like, 'Huh?' And we had the same reaction. The other day, we were hanging out with [(+44) kitman] Travis Barker, [and] the guy we have playing drums with us now [Stolen Babies' Gil Sharone] is good friends with him, and he's a big Dillinger fan, and he's like, 'What happened to your drummer?' We told him, 'He quit and joined Coheed,' and he just looked so confused."
But Weinman said there wasn't one specific reason behind Pennie's departure. It had nothing to do with internal strife or a difference of opinion within the band. It wasn't a matter of not liking the direction Dillinger's new material was going in. It just was.
According to Weinman, Pennie also came under fire from the band's label, Relapse Records, for working with other bands on their records without first clearing it with them — for instance, Pennie lent his talents to the forthcoming Idiot Pilot LP Wolves.
"We're contractually obligated to a record label, and when you are in a contract you can't just go playing with other bands without getting permission," he explained. "That's just how it is. You can't just go playing on people's records and not deal with the business side of it. Chris would do that all the time and didn't want to deal with the legal side of it and didn't understand why he had to. We were breaching our contract because of it. Really, at the end of the day, he ended up doing a session gig with Claudio for something he was working on for a soundtrack, and I guess [Coheed] were looking for a new drummer and they asked him to play. I guess they offered him a bunch of money."
Ultimately, though, Pennie didn't record a single note for Coheed's upcoming album, No World for Tomorrow. Instead, the band recruited Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins for the task, leaving Pennie "a fill-in drummer for Taylor Hawkins. He's basically the f---ing live player for that dude."
Now that Dillinger have found a replacement for Pennie in Sharone, Weinman said the band can once again focus on finishing Ire Works, the much-anticipated follow-up to 2004's Miss Machine, which is being produced out in California by Steve Evetts (Sepultura, He Is Legend) and is being earmarked for an October release.
"When Chris hears our record, he's going to feel like a real a--hole," Weinman said, with confidence. "He blew it. This guy Gil we have playing on this, his drumming is unbelievable on this record. Some of the best drumming we've ever had on any of our records. And now, Gil is going to be known as the guy for this kind of thing. This would have been the record that set Chris up as a drumming dude — as a session guy, a clinic guy — and now, Gil's already got all these companies doing ads based on him playing on this record."
Dillinger Escape Plan will tour in support of Ire Works this fall. First, they'll head over to Europe for a run of gigs with Meshuggah, and the guitarist said the plan, for now, is to bring the same package over to the States this winter. As for how the record sounds? Weinman said fans can expect it to be "just as diverse as" Miss Machine.
"On this record, it's just sort of like a combination of almost everything we've done in the past, but on overdrive," he said of the album, which will include the tracks "Black Bubblegum," "Death's Head Moth" and "Saigon Whore." "Everything is just right. We figured it out. And everything is pretty emotional, too. Everything's really super angry, even when the music isn't all that aggressive. With these songs it's like, 'Oh, you're about to get complacent with where you're at with this song,' and then, all of a sudden, it hits you in the ass again and jerks you around. It's like being on a f---ed-up roller coaster."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Belgian grindcore quintet Leng Tch'e have hired drummer Tony Van den Eynde to replace founding member Sven de Caluwé, who quit in June because he was no longer enjoying the gig. "Many people heeded the call when the word was out that we needed a new skinsman and it was a tough decision to make in the end," the band said in a statement. "But we believe Tony has all the skills to take us to the next level. His power and technique will baffle you all." The new Leng Tch'e lineup will debut later this month with two performances in Holland. ... Cleveland thrash band Skeletonwitch have finished recording their debut album, Beyond the Permafrost, which is scheduled for release September 18. The disc was recorded in June with producer Corey Smoot (GWAR, Municipal Waste). Skeletonwitch will tour with Withered from July 13 in Nashville through July 28 in Savannah, Georgia. This fall, the band will hit the West Coast with Nachtmystium. ...
Hardcore metal musclemen Throwdown have posted two new songs, "Holy Roller" and "S.C.U.M.," on their MySpace page. Both tracks come from the band's upcoming album Venom & Tears, which is scheduled for release August 7. "We kinda went back to our roots as far as what got us into playing music, rather than sticking to what got us into hardcore," said vocalist Dave Peters in a statement. Throwdown are currently headlining the Ernie Ball Stage on the Warped Tour, and will remain there until the tour ends August 25 in Los Angeles. ...
New York metalcore bruisers It Dies Today will begin selling raffle tickets today to help fight leukemia. The tickets can be purchased at the band's merch table on the Warped Tour. Prizes include Fernandez guitars, Burton snowboarding gear, It Dies Today limited edition T-shirts and other merch. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and a specific child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who is battling the disease. Frontman Jason Wood is from Grand Rapids and chose the charities because of a recent experience with the disease. "My best friend, Chad Harjar, passed away from leukemia last year, and it really affected me because of how close we were and how similar our life aspirations were. We were in bands together and we were really ready to go some place. I joined It Dies Today a few months after his death, and he was the person who I wanted to share the experience with the most." The It Dies Today raffle will continue through August 10 in Buffalo, New York. ...
Alter Bridge, the band featuring three former members of Creed, have signed to Universal Republic Records and will release their new album in the fall. And, they swear, it won't sound anything like their former band. "The material we've been working on is really aggressive and I think it's the best work we've ever done," said guitarist Mark Tremonti in a statement. "We're very excited about beginning this chapter in our lives and career." Alter Bridge's debut One Day Remains came out in 2004. ... Heaven and Hell have added several shows to their fall tour, which they claim will be their last dates together before the members part ways. The fall tour launches September 5 in Binghamton, New York, and runs through October 6 in Irvine, California. As previously mentioned, Queensrÿche and Alice Cooper will open. After the tour, singer Ronnie James Dio is expected to work on a new album with his band Dio, and guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler are expected to begin work with Ozzy Osbourne on a new Black Sabbath record. ...
To coincide with the Heaven and Hell Tour, on August 28 Queensrÿche will release Sign of the Times: The Best of Queensrÿche. The package will be available in single and double disc sets. Both feature 17 career-spanning tracks and the 2-CD set features 15 rare and previously unreleased recordings including the newly written "Justified," recorded with original guitarist Chris DeGarmo, who left the band in 1997. ... 36 Crazyfists have signed with Ferret Music and plan to release a new album in 2008. ... Montalvo, California's The F---ing Wrath have completed their debut album, Season of Evil, which is scheduled for release in August. An extensive tour will follow. ...
Members of Exodus, Death Angel and Forbidden are planning to attend the July 14 premiere of the film "Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal" in San Francisco. "I am totally stoked," said Exodus guitarist Gary Holt. "After all, San Francisco was the birthplace of this monster called thrash metal, and it is only fitting that it receives a proper showing right where it all started. After seeing the movie, all I could say was it's about time; and it couldn't have been done any better." ... Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson plays a guest solo on the tenth album by Malevolent Creation, Doomsday X, which comes out July 17. A video of the studio recording sessions can be seen at SlickDrummer.com, where the new record can be streamed in its entirety.