As I get out of my bed (way too early of course) it’s a rainy day in Holland. Nevertheless it’s a good day for me personally because I got the opportunity to do an interview with Adam Dutkiewicz, the guitarist for Killswitch Engage. After a small chit chat we start the interview. And I gotta say this dude is really relaxed, great! And if you ever meet him, give him a beer! He like’s that a lot!
Last week I was discussing the news of your latest album being released soon. My friend and I came to the conclusion it was actually pretty weird to hear about it ‘cause we didn’t read anything about Killswitch Engage releasing a new album or anything like that. I mean, there wasn’t a studio update, or a ‘making of’ video or something…and suddenly we read about the cover art for the album being ready. Why did you choose to do it this way?
‘Well, we kinda wanted to do it ‘under the radar’. We didn’t want to deal with the pressure and all the shittalk, just that hype around a new album you know? We just wanted to relax and make a record. We’re just chill guys you know, really laidback dudes, so we just wanted to be kinda quiet about it.’
How were the recording sessions for the new album anyway?
‘They were cool man! It went really smooth and we didn’t have any problems. We basically came together and threw some songs out.’
(At this moment some guy outside starts to use his claxon ‘cause there’s a big truck blocking the entire road. Really funny how this guy got pissed off by that, we had a good laugh about it.)
Did you set any specific goals before you started writing and recording?
‘To be honest we just wanted to write some songs that we’re happy with. Just make it NOT suck. We kinda wanted to push the boundaries a little more. Make the metal parts a little more metal, the melodic parts a little more melodic.’
In an interview with MTV, Mike said that ‘As Daylight Dies’ is a heavier album than the previous ones. In what way is the album heavier in your opinion?
‘I guess the album it just a bit smarter. There’s a couple of (makes a sound) “chaggadichagchag-riffs” for sure. I’d say it’s a little bit more of a metal record this time because the guitar is a little more involved.’
I’ve heard the album and I must admit I’m again stunned by it. To me this album seems even more focused on combining melody and heaviness at the same time. There’s really a lot of melodic parts in the new material, is that something one particular bandmember came up with or was it a decision made by the whole band?
‘Well it’s not even really a decision you make. It just kinda happens. We just write this song together, that’s musically interesting and whatever happens with the vocals, just happens. Howard and I just put things together to make it feel good you know what I mean?’
Although all the Killswitch covers are very different from each other, there’s always a certain Mike D’antonio style visible. Aren’t you afraid that people want a slightly different style after a couple of releases?
‘Ehm…yes and no. I think the cover of our upcoming album just shows someone who’s looking at it, that it’s a Killswitch Engage cover. It’s something a KsE fan will recognize. They’ll feel familiar with it.’
Is there a specific meaning behind the face with a golden and a missing eye?
‘I don’t think so. That would be a question for Mike though.’
Mike also said that you all had a lot to contribute to the writing process because you hadn’t written any music for so long. Are you gonna do it like that next time as well or was it just something that turned out this way.
‘Yeah, everybody brought some ideas to the table. But you know what? Every record we bring stuff to the table. And whoever brings stuff brings stuff, whoever doesn’t, doesn’t. Whoever’s got good ideas throws ‘em on the table and that’s really where it all starts.’
So you don’t write on the road or what?
‘No man! It’s hard to do that. And we’re drunk all the time, hehehe!’
So, again aiming for a Grammy nomination then?
‘Fuck that! That was just bullshit man! Going to those Grammy Awards just made me realize everything I hate about the music industry.’
Last year you guys released a DVD that actually got certified gold. Did you ever expect that?
‘Not at all man! Not at all! I don’t expect a lot of stuff man! But it happens and then I’m like: “wow, that’s pretty crazy!”.’
On the DVD Justin tells us that you drove him nearly mad because of all the takes that he had to do over and over again. Are you such a perfectionist or do you push everybody to his limits to get the best out of him?
‘I’m just that much of a perfectionist. Whether it’s pushing people or editing the shit out off something, it has to feel right man. If it doesn’t feel right it’s not good.’
These days there are way too many bands that want to sound like a Killswitch Engage rip-off and sometimes they succeed quite well. Though, KsE kinda has a leading function in the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal scene, what do you think makes you so special?
‘Are we special? Hehehe! Well I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re special, I’d say that we’re definitely different as people than a lot of the other bands though. Because we don’t really care about trends, we don’t care about what’s going on and we just don’t wanna sound like something else. We’re just writing music that we’re happy with. We’re not worried about selling records but we just wanna do whatever feels right. It’s really about making a product that we can live with.
It seems like a lot of bands forget about that. They just put a fucking record out they don’t even like. They just don’t look out for something special. So many people don’t care, it’s fucked up! They’re like “Lets throw this fucking song together and see what happens.”. And they hire a producer to sound a certain way. Just fuck that man! Write music that you’re happy with.’
In what way are European gigs better (quote) than in the USA? I thought people from the States were way more energetic.
‘It’s kinda true that the shows in the US are a bit crazier. People are a little nuts in the US. And they’re more violent you know. At the same time, Europe and the US are two totally different things. The US is more trend-oriented when you come over to Europe the fans are really your fans you know. They come out for you. They just care about trends less than in the US. That’s just good to see. I really like playing in front of the crowds over here.’
A couple of days ago I saw the DVD “Metal: A Headbangers Journey”. It’s a documentary I think every metalfan should check out at least once. The question the documentary is based on is: “Why is metal music consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned?” I’m really interested what your opinion about that is?
‘It’s probably not understood yet by the mainstream culture. They all make negative associations with metal. And they’re like: “scapegoat metal is bad” because the way it sounds like with all the screams and stuff. It’s not, well it’s not Jannes* you know, hehehe!(*probably only Dutch people know this guy). But bands like ourselves don’t come up with evil things in our music and we don’t even believe in that shit you know. We just feel the energy from our music and there’s just excitement in it. It’s just fun to listen to. I think there’s a long history of negative associations with metal and that’s probably why it’s condemned by the mainstream people.’
In the documentary, the traditional heavy metal is emphasized way more than the newer styles. You could say that in this way, old school metal fans are separated even more from the younger fans. Don’t you think that’s bothersome?
‘Yes and no. It’s really the close-minded fans that separate themselves from other styles of metal. I mean, there’s young kids nowadays that appreciate old stuff AND new stuff. That’s really the way to be man! Why should you shut something out because of a generation? Fuck, I can listen to old metal. But old people can listen to new metal as well man, if they choose to.’
The DVD also discussed the band that invented Heavy Metal, which band do you consider to be the founders of the genre?
‘Ehm…the genre starters…probably Black Sabbath. Who did they choose?’
I’m explaining the different visions on the ‘founders of heavy metal’ that the DVD comes up with. Adam draws the conclusion that it’s definitely not Led Zeppelin because that’s really more of a rock band. The final conclusion would be Black Sabbath because of it’s true heavy metal sound. Sabbath really was the first band who came up with that typical heavy grooving sound.
What can we expect of Killswitch Engage in the nearby future?
‘Tours! Lots of ‘em!’
Europe as well?
‘Yes! Early 2007, wintertime. We’ll be here then.’
This was the final question, anything left to say to our readers?
‘No. Just…thanks! Thank you, that’s all!’
Thanks for your time!
‘Yeah, no problem man!’
Afterwards Adam and I talked a little bit about the stuff we talked about before the interview and we went separate ways. I can’t wait to see KsE live January 17th.