After a few years of uncertainty with former vocalist Howard Jones, Killswitch Engage have put their foot back on the gas pedal, gearing up for a new record and hitting the road again as part of the Tress Pass America festival alongside Five Finger Death Punch, Trivium, Emmure and more. AP caught up with Adam Dutkiewicz to get the inside scoop on their new record’s thrash sound, the return of Jesse Leach and keeping true to their DIY nature.
Killswitch are putting together your new record right now, too. How far along are you?
We’ve done basics for 16 songs, and we’ve got some vocal ideas down for two of them. When we get back in September, we’ll put the finishing touches on the other 14. The two are just about completed. One of them actually leaked already somehow. Somebody at the record company who is an absolute idiot did it. The only bummer about it was the fact that it’s just not done. It would have been nice to have something a little more complete leak.
The song that leaked, “No End In Sight,” you’ve been playing on the tour. With the song in a non-final form, how is it working out as the “return of Jesse Leach” song?
We’re working out the kinks since we’ve barely played it as a full group, so the more we play it, the tighter it will feel. Kids seem to be responding to it pretty well, and I think we’re playing in front of a lot of new faces this tour, so it’s kind of a cool reaction, anyway. A lot of people just not really knowing what to expect out of us. It’s pretty cool.
This entire record had been demoed out before Jesse Leach had rejoined the band, but Howard [Jones, ex-vocalist] had not touched any of it. What is happening with all of that material?
The way you always have to look at putting a record together: You do a bunch of songs, and normally some of them kind of float and some of them sink, and you want to kind of create the best record possible and then have a bunch of B-sides for a later release or exclusives [through certain retailers].
Being in a state of limbo between vocalists, how did crafting these songs go?
We all try to come up with ideas on our own and then bring them to the table. I’ll just kind of come up with a song idea in my head, then put it together within Pro Tools and show everybody. Then all the lyric ideas kind of come last, so being without a vocalist wasn’t too inhibiting of our process. We want to make sure everybody has a say even on songs that somebody completely writes from start to finish. At the end of the day, we’re a five-dude band, not one-dude band.
Having played in Killswitch for more than a decade, how are you keeping it fresh for yourself?
We’re just pushing ourselves to keep it a little more aggressive this time. Trying not to fall into the whole, “We sound like this” kind of thing. The addition of Jesse is going to change things up a bunch, too. We haven’t made a record with him in 10 years. I think it’s definitely going to feel like a fresher record.
Where’s the aggression coming out?
We’re keeping a lot of fast songs on the record exactly that. I’ve always had that mentality of “love 'em and leave 'em.” Never leave room to bore the listener. Get on with your ideas and get on with the thrash!
Like the majority of past Killswitch records, you’re producing again this time around. What about doing it yourself is appealing as compared to working with someone?
It’s a bit more stressful for myself, but I think everybody’s really comfortable because we’re all friends and we keep it in-house. It feels a heck of a lot more DIY, and we’ve always been that kind of band. We’ve always been an anti-rock star and anti-industry band. We do it because we love it, not for the fame or the money. [Producing it ourselves] feels like it’s more our thing since we have control of it. I think a lot more bands should try to take that stance, to be honest. You shouldn’t just leave it up to someone in the industry to make it for you.
The record has been rumored to be titled Disarm The Descent. What can you say on the matter? Any news on a tentative release date?
That [album title] is not 100 percent [confirmed], but it has definitely been tossed around. We’re thinking about releasing early next year. Very early, like, right after the holidays.
With the return of Jesse Leach still on everyone’s mind, what do you think about the future of the band and where things are headed from here?
I know for a fact that we’re all stoked to be back doing this. We’ve had about two years off since Howard had to cool down, so we’ve been waiting to get back out and now that we’re doing it, we’re just so thankful. I always want to make sure I give my gratitude to all the fans and everybody waiting around and supporting us. It’s great to see us coming back and people still caring and coming out.