The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato talked to Revolver Magazine about the accident in Poland and how he felt about Chris Cornell’s death. Take a look:
“I was not in the right mindset to be playing shows when we did the last Dillinger tour.
“I was having a lot of anxiety, panic attacks, hypochondria – all these weird things that I’ve never experienced before. The band was ending and then things just kept happening. I didn’t even think we were gonna get through it.”
Asked about the bus accident, Greg replied:
“I woke up about an hour before it happened. We were stopped and the bus would shake every time a car would go by. I knew we were definitely somewhere we shouldn’t be. It wasn’t a truck stop. I’m thinking, ‘Okay – we’ve got a flat tire or something.’
“It’s f*cking freezing – we’re in Poland in February or something like that. Nobody else is awake. I’m exhausted, so I go back to bed. The bus is still shaking as the cars go by and I’m starting to get a little freaked out.
“But I thought, ‘This is silly. I’m not going to wake everybody up over a flat tire.’ So I take a sleeping pill and wrote something down – I wrote a lot on that tour – about my worry about us getting hit by something. Then I fell asleep.
“The next thing I know, it felt like we were getting hit by a f*cking missile. I thought we were rolling down some European hillside or something, so I was waiting for the next impact.
“When you realize you’re not dead, or that a piece of glass hasn’t gone through you, you get up. I felt this searing pain in my leg, so at first I thought I broke my femur, but then I stood up and realized I could put weight on it. So I knew my femur was intact.
“People were yelling and moaning. I looked to my right. [Dillinger guitarist] Ben [Weinman] and his wife – who was pregnant at the time – were standing there in shock. I was in shock. And then it was a blur.
“Within minutes, there were 50 Polish medics and police pulling people out of both doors. There was a f*cking helicopter and ambulances. They cut off traffic. Me and [Dillinger bassist] Liam [Wilson] are outside in our underwear in the freezing cold with people trying to ask us questions in Polish. Someone’s got a broken shoulder; someone else’s neck is f*cked up…
“At first, it didn’t really dawn on me how fortunate we were. The guy that hit us was mangled. They had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out. He didn’t die, but he ended up pleading guilty to falling asleep at the wheel.
“It turns out we had something on our bus that froze – that wasn’t supposed to freeze – and the engine seized, so we couldn’t get off the road in time. We were actually in the right-hand lane of the highway and the guy hit us at full highway speed in a f*cking 18-wheeler…
“I remember Randy [Blythe] from Lamb of God said, ‘This is one time where you should be grateful that the band isn’t a little bit bigger. Because if you were a little bit bigger, you wouldn’t have been pulling a trailer. Bands like us, Mastodon, Deftones, have a semi that carries the gear and merch. If you hadn’t had a fully packed trailer, you’d be dead.’
“He’s totally right. The back lounge of those buses is just a hollow sheet-metal box. Ben and his wife were sleeping in that lounge. My bunk is the bottom back bunk. So it would’ve ripped through them, and then chewed me up and everyone in the back bunks headfirst. It probably would’ve made it halfway through the bus.”
Focusing on Dillinger’s tour with Soundgarden and Cornell’s suicide, Puciato said:
“We went out with Soundgarden and things were going well. Then we had like three days off in the middle of nowhere because we were switching off shows with The Pretty Reckless, so I flew home.
“I went straight to some bar downtown, grabbed a drink and then got a text from a buddy of mine that said, ‘Cornell?’ It made me think something had happened, but then I was like, ‘Couldn’t be – I saw that guy yesterday.’
“So I asked the bartender, ‘Did something happen to Chris Cornell?’ And he goes, ‘Who’s that?’ So I immediately felt old. [Laughs] But I looked him up on my phone and he came up dead.
“I went to [L.A. nightclub] the Lash and got more wasted than I got the night of the bus accident, which was more wasted than I had gotten in a long time. I woke up the next morning and I had gotten so f*cked up that I couldn’t remember if everything that had happened was real.
“I went downstairs and turned on MTV Classic. ‘Burden in My Hand’ was on, so I just sat down and started crying. It was the weight of everything – the band ending, the record, plus the outlook for people with mental illness obviously being f*cking terrible, seeing as how a guy who seemingly has it all had to hit eject by himself in a f*cking hotel room in Detroit. I just had this feeling of like, ‘We need to get off this ride.’ Everything felt symbolic at that point.”
On Cornell’s suicide:
“It’s horrible. He was an addict. He went through it, you know? But I think it’s incorrect when people say addiction is a disease. I think it’s a symptom of trying to cope with something else.
“Here’s this guy with a beautiful family; he has his band back together, he has a solo career on the side, he looks great, he sounds great – he went through some sh*t and came out on the other side. I looked at him on that tour and thought he’d made it over the hump, you know?
“But then that happened and you realize nothing is as it seems, and this is gonna end poorly for all of us. We’re all gonna be miserable forever or fighting something forever until it gets the best of us. That’s what shook me – not the loss of the rest of the Soundgarden shows.”