If you asked Liam Wilson 10 years ago what his post-college plans were, chances are they didn’t include leaving school early, joining an up-and-coming band, and starting a new life playing international shows as part of The Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP). After the supposedly cursed band’s former bass player was permanently injured in a car accident, a series of fateful events brought Wilson, a fan, to audition for the group. “The rest, as they say, is history,” he says. Since his start, DEP has released four studio albums, with their latest due this March. On a short break before the US and European tours begins, Wilson chatted with VN about his top three passions—music, veganism, and Bikram yoga.
VegNews: You’re a Philadelphia local, born and raised. What are your favorite veg stops?
Liam Wilson: There’s a natural food market called Essene, and another restaurant called MiLah. Oh, and Kaffa Crossing, which is Ethiopian food. In the last 10 years, there’s really been a huge vegan and vegetarian push here. Whereas in New York it’s a little bit more polarized—it’s either vegan spots, or not-vegan spots. I think Philadelphia is a little more integrated, where almost every bar menu is one-third vegetarian or vegan next to other typical fare.
VN: What sparked your transition to veganism?
LW: I was a senior in high school, and a really good friend of mine was vegan. I didn’t realize he was veg, I just really dug his non-political attitude about it. That was [my] New Year’s resolution. I read Diet for a New America within the first two weeks of that year, and I realized all the reasons I was suggesting to go vegetarian were the same everybody else goes vegan. My initial gut reaction was to the animal-rights aspect of it. Within a few weeks to months, it became a bigger scope issue where I started thinking the environmental thing was important.
VN: Do you have a favorite tour city?
LW: I have to be honest—half of what I love about touring is getting to other cities and Happy Cow-ing it through the day. I really like London and the UK for all the curries, Australia for the fruit, and San Francisco for Millennium and Café Gratitude. Between vegan restaurants and Bikram yoga studios, anywhere that has one or both I’m a fan of.
VN: Then you keep a steady yoga practice on tour?
LW: Absolutely. I have a perverse goal to try to practice in more studios internationally than anyone else. I’ve been practicing [Bikram] about four years. It’s funny when I get to Vienna and they’re teaching in German. That’s what I like about Bikram, it’s the same poses. I don’t really understand what they’re saying, but I know the postures.
VN: How difficult is it for you to eat on the road?
LW: Ten years ago, I’m sure it was a bigger pain for me than it is now. For me, the answer, ironically enough, even though it’s almost more complicated in every other way, is eating more raw. I’ll get a bag of spinach and eat it like potato chips. It might be harder to get a tofu steak, but to eat vegan, or even raw, you’re going to find that stuff almost anywhere. There are times it sucks, like when I was in Poland and was like, “Okay, I’m eating mushroom pierogies again.” Even there, you learn to pack some extra LÄRABARS in your bag and suck it up. It’s as hard as you want to make it.
VN: On average, you tour nine months out of the year, which sounds exhausting. Do you see yourself slowing down at all?
LW: I’m still pretty energized. I’m turning 30 this December, and I don’t necessarily feel any slower. The more I move my diet away from processed vegan food and eat more raw, and the more Bikram I’ve been doing—I see everyone else in my band slowing down before I would.
VN: What are your long-term goals for DEP and after?
LW: I can’t say this will always be my primary source of income, or that I’ll always work in the industry by being a player. Perhaps I’ll tech or tour manage for some other band. I’ve also considered opening a restaurant or café, or going to Bikram training. There are all kinds of things I have simmering on the back burner. Unless some real disaster comes in, which this band has certainly been prone to, I can’t imagine doing much more than this for at least another five to 10 years.