News quickly broke last week that Dillinger Escape Plan parted ways with longtime label Relapse. Interestingly, the band followed up with an announcement that they had struck a partnership with the smaller Season of Mist Records. We caught up with Dillinger Guitarist Benjamin Weinman to learn more about their unique move, the split with Relapse, his views on the future of the industry, and an upcoming DEP iPhone App.
You say the Season of Mist deal is a collaboration with some partners and your to-be-named label. How does the Seasons of Mist partnership differ from a standard record deal?
There are many things about this release that will be very standard of a typical record deal. The things that are different are what are important. We have been offered record deals, our own labels by major record companies and distribution deals. Every combination of label/artist relationship has come across my desk at some point since our deal with Relapse expired. The truth is that the industry is changing on a daily basis. To seal our fate for the next 10 years at this time could be suicide. The question is, do we want to become a record label? Hell no. I barely have time to handle all the Dillinger business at hand, let alone all the tasks that come with releasing, promoting, marketing and distributing music. But at the same time, we are very hands-on. We know enough about our band at this point to not want to leave it in the hands of someone else completely. The Season of Mist collaboration is the perfect solution for our next release. It provides us with a knowledgeable staff and creative team to help us nurture our vision with the freedom to change our model as things change in the business.
You say Trent Reznor has been an inspiration for how you want to do business moving forward. How much of it will directly influence what you do? He opted to do a direct distribution deal with RED on his last record, why not do something like that?
Trent has proved that any band with a core following, contractual freedom and a little initiative can create a scenario where the gains are much greater for both the artist and the fan much better than a traditional label could. A direct distro deal is definitely a good move for him I think. He has created an online presence that rivals even some of the largest social networking sites. We are not there yet. I think that even smaller bands can really learn from some of the things that he has done, however. We are in the works of supercharging our online world a bit. Working on things like an iPhone app and ways to better connect with the fans more efficiently with as little middle men as possible.
What prompted you to look for something new after working with Relapse for over 10 years?
As I always say, there is the right way of doing things, the wrong way of doing things and then there is the Dillinger way of doing things. I think Relapse records could say the same thing for themselves when talking about how they have developed as a record label out of a basement in Pennsylvania. Relapse and Dillinger covered a lot of new territory together and we are extremely proud to have had such a long-lasting successful relationship. That being said, the old industry model is dead and you can either drown or get on board. Just as established record labels have to reevaluate how they do things, so do established working bands. We are not some one-hit wonder. We are a real working band. This is our job, this is our art, this is our lives. We live this shit every day and will, in some way, for the rest of our lives. While we may not be working with Relapse (or any label for that matter) in the same way that we used to, we are still just doing what we have always done, surviving with as much control as possible over what we do.
How do you feel about the rollout of Ire Works? Was there anything you wish you or Relapse had done differently to help in the promotion of that album? Did anything of that nature have to do with the decision not to re-sign with Relapse?
Well, I don’t want to go into a book about the industry here, but the truth is that when a label puts a great deal of promotion and effort into a record, it is because it is an investment into the future of their relationship with an artist. When there is no future with that artist, there usually is a little less resources put into that particular release. That being said, I think Relapse did a fine job with Ire Works. There were a lot of negative things surrounding this record and not only are we so proud of the record, but just happy it came out at all. With this record, we saw the band’s profile raised to its highest level around the world. Ire Works also got by far the best reviews of any Dillinger record to date. I would have liked the record to be release under different circumstances, but considering I guess I can’t complain.
You’ve been very vocal in the past about being happy to self-manage DEP. Do you think there’s ever a point where a band should consider management?
Managing Dillinger is no easy task. It’s really just a financial and creative decision for us. There are plenty of down sides. I really could be producing a lot more music if I wasn’t always busy with the business side of things, and that is a fact. I also think that some bands just aren’t cut out for it. Every situation and every band is different. I would say that if a band doesn’t have someone who is interested in the business side of things, or at the very least learning and asking a lot of questions, a band is pretty much doomed. If they do have someone like that, then unless some manger comes along who will drastically improve the bands lifestyle by creating so many opportunities that the their percentage is well worth it, then they should considering doing it themselves and seeing how it works out.