When you hear the name Greg Puciato, the immediate thought is of the ripped frontman and the now infamous video of him headwalking during a Virgin Megastore appearance in 2005. Ten years later, that band hasn't slowed down but the individual members have grown and expanded into other projects like Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, Killer Be Killed, and Puciato's latest effort, the distinctly synth-pop leaning The Black Queen.
The Black Queen features the vocalist, as well as Nine Inch Nails collaborator Josh Eustis and Steven Alexander, mining all things not-guitar focused, influences like Depeche Mode, Yaz, and even the works of Jimmy Jam. Their newest video for the project is the beautiful "Ice to Never," a stark and serene clip that seems perfect for a late night video show on cable access, complete with undulating washes of vivid color. The song alone is compelling enough, but add in the video and the origin of the band, and it is facsinating. Check it out below, and get your copy of the band's single and "The End Where We Start" at iTunes.
With this new project now in the wild, we asked Greg Puciato about the origins of The Black Queen and where it was going, along with an update on Dillinger Escape Plan. The details are below.
NOISEY: What was the inspiration that sparked The Black Queen?
Greg Puciato: For me, everything I do is based on need. Something needs to get out, and if there is no outlet for that thing, either emotionally or musically, the outlet creates itself out of necessity. The Dillinger Escape Plan is a very cathartic outlet for me. A vehicle for a lot of rage and pain and frustration, usually manifesting in an extremely aggressive fashion.
The last record was the zenith of that for me. Just a complete toxic heave. As it was being written, and then completed, and then in the wake of it, I could feel that I had expelled a lot. And a lot of what was expelled was covering other things, as is typically the case with things you’re carrying around. That left me with a lot of room for those other things to grow. I was very fortunate, because this is very rare, to meet people and begin working with them, who not only had very complimentary skill sets and reference points, but who were also at extremely similar need based points in their emotional and musical lives.
How did the band come together?
On my end I could feel the necessity mounting for a while, starting all the way back in 2006 or so. By 2010 it was reaching a point where I knew it would become “something”. I ran into Steve at what was Spaceland back in May of that year, he had spent some time teching for Dillinger before, and told him I had a bunch of melodic ideas I had been kicking around. He said he had a lot of the same, and we agreed to get together to see if there were any crossroads or sparks when we combined the two. There were, and pretty soon he had set up shop in the living room of my one bedroom apartment at the time.
A year and a half later I met Josh at a DEP/Mastodon show in Denver. He was with Puscifer at the time and they had come to the show. Steve and I were big fans of his work in Telefon TelAviv. His song "The Birds" had a big impact on me that year even, very shortly before we met. We pretty instantly recognized a connection, and realized that we lived near each other. Fast forward four years later and we’ve all spent most of our off-tour time since then living together, constantly catching up on decades of missed life hang and simultaneously working on this record. Writing songs, refining songs, throwing songs out, exploring different concepts and common denominators, as well as trying to prop each other up and keep each other brave while we were each going through a lot of shit.
What are the goals for the band? Do you intend to gig?
To stay emotionally and musically honest and to push and challenge each other to leave no possible stone unturned, and then to hopefully recognize and acknowledge when they in fact all have been unturned. The marriage of personal life and creation that took place during this was really unusual, with the writing and recording process becoming indistinguishable from life, almost feeling like real time documentation, particularly since there was no studio to go to. We recorded and wrote what we wanted, when we wanted to, in the place where we lived. I would like to find a way to continue that and not completely separate and isolate, as I feel it was instrumental to the end result, but who knows. This record felt like lightning in a bottle in a lot of ways, really pure, so trying to make that happen again…who knows. Yes we will play shows.
Whats currently going on with Dillinger Escape Plan?
Musically the writing is underway. Lyrically and theme/focus-wise I’m on a bit of a break. Inhaling rather than exhaling at the moment. The last one, like I said, was pretty full on for me. I write very unconsciously autobiographically, vomiting yourself up so you can look at yourself and see what you’re dealing with, that sorta thing, and a lot of what I dealt with then is gone. I can’t imagine writing that record now when I read it or hear it. I have no interest in ever making “content” or being artistically owned by either an audience or bills, so I need a minute to see what else is in there.
Being in a band is like having a conversation with someone, but with other people watching or listening to the recording. You need to have something new and honest to say, so the conversation is stimulating and interesting and revealing. Nobody wants to have the same conversation twice, and it certainly probably wouldn’t be interesting to hear or see from the outside. Once you resolve something, you have to find something new. Or else you’re just a character repeating a script like a long running theater production. I’m not as self destructive as I was then, I know too much, I’ve been through too much since the last one, a lot of the poison is gone, but there’s still some in there. I just have to dig and scrape around a bit harder to get to it.