Hellzine n°6 | Interview with Giraffe Tongue Orchestra

This is the original english version of our written interview with Ben Weinman (The Dillinger Escape Plan), here with his new project Giraffe Tongue Orchestra.

First of all, I suppose there is a story of meeting behind the creation of Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, could you please sum up this story and explain how you decided to build a project together? GTO was the brain child of myself and Brent Hinds. Brent and I have been friends for a long time and though we are pretty different we get along really well. I have always respected his creative process and I think we both inspire each other. It’s been a project that has been in the making for the better part of a decade, many hands have touched i, and finishing it has been a one the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I read that the name of the band come from a pretty anecdotic story, could you please tell our readers your version of the facts? As anecdotal as it is, the story is true. Brent was traveling on tour in Australia and visited the zoo on an off day. He called me saying he had the name of our band…Giraffe Tongue because he was watching them peel bananas with their gross sticky tongues. And that’s how it started. Orchestra was added on later to make it GTO.

Also, it’s quite difficult to describe your sound and you simply qualified it as “cool music”, but can you tell us how you came to this sound? Is it something deliberate or it came more naturally?  I think what is most interesting about our sound is that you can hear each of our styles within the music but somehow it is one cohesive sound. We just wanted to create something original and honest. And the process was pretty organic once the pieces all started coming together.

On the other hand, the Giraffe Tongue Orchestra’s style is completely different from what you do respectively in your other bands, weren’t you afraid to disrupt your fans? By the way, do you expect to conquer a totally different audience?  No. Dillinger fans tend to open to our other projects and for the most part have been very supportive. I think GTO has the potential to reach a different fan base.

In general, what are your main musical influences or/and inspirations in life? King Crimson, David Bowie, Mahavishnu Orchestra.

The project started in 2012 but you’re releasing your first album this year, is it due to your respective schedules with the other bands? Or you just took the time to make things as you wanted them to be? The project started around 2008. It took this long both for logistic reasons and because we wanted it done right.

By the way, could you please tell a little bit more about how you worked on this album through those four years? Like I said before, this project has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Not only did we have to work around the schedule of busy musicians but there was also the challenge of finding the right combination of musicians for the project. This was not the sort of thing where we had two months off of tour and came together in a room to throw a record together. It’s been a true labor of love.

Could you also explain the meaning of the artwork of “Broken Lines”? We wanted the artwork to be something classic and iconic reminiscent of the great albums of the 1970s like Pink Floyd. 

And what are the themes you explore through the lyrics of the songs on this album? Is there any red thread or a concept?William wrote the lyrics to This Record. They’re basically a blend of what’s going on in the world and what was going on in his life at the time. He’s described it as being written from the standpoint of someone who feels Under Siege and is trying to throw off the confines of whatever is trying to hold them down. I think it’s pretty political and has a strong message.

Now, the time of the release is approaching, how do you feel during these last weeks before d-day, and what’s happening during this time? Honestly, it kind of feels surreal. This is a project that I’ve been working on for so many years and so many times during the creation of it I thought that it would never see completion. But we just kept pushing and pushing and finally the day has come. I’m excited to share it with the world.

And can we expect a tour after the release? We have some shows planned for December at the moment. There will be a larger tour announced later.

Also, you founded your own record company, “Party Smasher Inc”, could you please tell us a little bit more about how and why it happened? And apparently, it’s not only a record company, can you give us a few details about your activities? It started with the idea that scenes don’t exist like they used to in the day, and I really wantex to nurture community through quality control. I started party Smasher and now it’s evolving into a media gang.

And isn’t it too difficult to run such a project, beside your career as a musician? No. I’ve always liked to diversify and be involved in projects other than just Dillinger.

And finally, do you have a few words to add for your Belgian fans? I’ve always enjoyed spending time in your country. Thank you for always being so supportive of underground music.

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