Greg Puciato had been occupied after Dillinger Escape Plan disbanded in 2017. The musician kept his side projects Killer Be Killed and The Black Queen, and launched an acclaimed solo career, while also serving as a member of Jerry Cantrell’s backing band.
Pioneers of the mathcore genre, Dillinger were associated with the underground scene of groups like Botch and Cave In, but their sense of melody and pop sensibilities took them to much greater heights. The band was taking off after releasing their blistering debut, 1999’s “Calculating Infinity” (their only record without Puciato), System of a Down offered to take them on an arena tour.
Greg Puciato reveals reaction from the crowd in early days
Thinking that the band would never surpass the club scene due to their abrasive sound, Puciato and co. were thrilled at the offer, but unfortunately, the reception to their performances was lukewarm at best.
In an interview with Metal Hammer, Greg reminisced about those days, saying:
“We were part of this Relapse Records, grindcore scene – these bands like Coalesce, Botch. No one was really talking about it until the System thing happened. We were in the van in the United States; playing rooms to 200 people felt like a big show. If there were 70 people there, we didn’t see that as a bad show, our scale of size was there… we thought there was no way a band like ours was going to get any bigger than that.”
“Anyway, we had this friend of a friend who was our manager, and he said that Daron [Malakian, guitarist] from System Of A Down had been in touch about getting us to open on this European tour starting in two weeks. We were like, ‘WHAT?!’ We asked what size rooms and they said it was all booked as arenas, and there was a soccer stadium in Italy – big, giant places, and they’re already all sold out. It was for no money, but we knew we had to do it.”
“That tour changed everything for us. We never would have done Reading and Leeds, any of those big European shows, the press we got in the NME or whatever, it all came from being on that tour. When we came back, we were two or three times the size we were previously.”
The singer added:
“Well, we had defiance that came from pushing against everything. We held onto that right until the end. Even when we were doing 3,000 people in London or whatever, we still thought we were this upstart band. We still thought of ourselves as this young band saying ‘f*** you’ to everything. But on that tour, we were getting booed mercilessly; it did not seem successful at the time.”
“It was only when we came back and realized that if you are usually playing to 200 people, and you then get 800 of a 5,000-strong crowd into you… that’s a huge difference for our size. Suddenly there were 600 people where there used to be 200. We realized that something had happened.”
“But we were getting booed so badly that we couldn’t even hear our monitors, and that gave us this idea that everyone hated us, and we just used it as fuel. We hated the fans, the industry for holding us back, and other bands for not being as good as us and not taking us on tour because they were scared of us. Everything became this thing to push against.”