Killswitch hit the on-switch
Killswitch Engage have made a name for themselves through brutal breakdowns, melodic licks and enigmatic performances around the globe. After original vocalist Jesse Leach returned the band, they have released a second album "Incarnate' and announced an Australian tour.
We found out how things are in the Killswitch camp.
Marc Stapelberg: So who are the Star Wars fans in the band? They have used that cover shoot for the tour poster.
Joel Stroetzel: I think all of us are. It was a unique opportunity and something we were all excited about to do. We originally got an email. First they asked if we would be interested and then we all picked which character we would want to be. Obviously we had to have Adam be Princess Leia. He is no stranger to playing princesses.
MS: What did you guys get up to the last time you were in Australia?
JS: We always have a blast in Australia. Some of the guys love to hike. Obviously you guys have some fine beaches and some of the guys like to go to the beach. Adam and I ate kangaroo for the first time. Some of the guys like to go to the wildlife places and see koala's and stuff because we don't get that stuff back home. Pretty cool, man.
MS: Any plans for this tour?
JS: We are going to be in Melbourne for a few days. I think we are spending two or three days there so we are all looking forward to the China Town there. There's a place we really like to eat dumplings and it is just a fun town. But they are all fun towns. Nothing planned specifically as of yet.
MS: Jesse's songs deal with both internal and external struggles. He has also expressed views about his dismay at society at large. Does the rest of the band share similar view?
JS: I think we all kinda do. I think we all appreciate his lyrical content. I think he does a good job of representing really who all of us are as a band musically, as people. He's a very honest guy which is really cool and I think a lot of his lyrics can be interpreted in multiple ways. Some songs that sound like they might be political are really about internal struggles and vice versa. He has a creative way of putting words together where it is sort of open for interpretation, yet at the same time saying what he means.
MS: What does the title stand for?
JS: Being Jesse's second record back with the band since he re-joined, 'Incarnate' is kind of just a simple statement about who Killswitch Engage is, this is who we are, this is who we are right now, and what we sound like. I think that was kind of the whole concept behind it.
MS: What gear will you be using?
JS: We usually use Laney's - either Ironhearts or Tony Iommi signature heads, whatever we can get our hands on. They sound really good, and four celestion speakers. Pretty simple. Adam and I use maxon and overdrive pedals in front of the dirty tones. If we have the luxury we will get a separate clean amp - the old Ironhearts you can use them for clean. That's generally what we use for fly-in shows. We also have little campers we use for the fly-in shows. I think we just see what is available down there. We only fly with guitars and pedals and stuff like that and usually whatever Laney can rent us for the tour. Obviously we have our permanent touring rig which we own in the US. They are very, very cool about taking care of us.
MS: What will you be up to til the tour next year?
JS: We are currently right in the middle of a tour with Volbeat, and Black Wizard. We taking a break to do a few of our own headline shows right now. We are in San Francisco at the moment. We have a few more weeks left of this tour and then we are going to be going over to Japan for Loudpark, Knotfest with Slipknot in Mexico City, and then we are doing a whole European/UK run with Bullet for My Valentine in November.
MS: Slayer and Lamb of God have expressed dismay at the brutality of touring. Does it ever feel like too much?
JS: I think sometimes it does. I think only when the tours get too long. I think everybody is thankful that we all get along with each other and we have a good time. Everybody eats together, and drinks beers together so we are kind of a happy family in that sense which helps. But yeah after five, six, seven weeks I think everybody gets to the point where they want to go home for a little bit and take a break. We always try to give ourselves at least a few weeks off between each tour and not try to overbook ourselves really for the preservation of the band. It really affects people's sanity if you are out too much.
MS: What do you guys do to get downtime?
JS: Ah for sure. I love hanging out with family and friends. And I play other music at home too. I have another project called 'Brothers Born'. It's like folky stuff. And I do that on the side. Jesse does DJ event things, Adam has all kinds of projects he is always working on. Justin plays golf and Mike's into skateboards and all that stuff. So everybody has their own little hobbies they do at home and blow off steam and get away from the whole heavy metal thing.
MS: How was the recording process?
JS: We generally approach making records kind of the same way we have for many years now. So we just write as many riffs or finished songs as we can individually til we are happy with them. Then submit the songs to each other and pick the ones we like and work out the arrangements with each other til everyone's happy. Not too different to what we have done in the past. The writing of the record went fast. Adam and Justin in particular had a lot of songs that they wrote that were really good and didn't need a lot of editing. So before we even did it we had like sixteen, seventeen, eighteen demos. It's kind of a nice luxury to have everybody in the band write.
MS: There are some speedy licks on the new record. Did you push yourselves?
JS: The last record as well - there is more technical guitar stuff happening. Adam and I had to definitely push ourselves a little bit especially in the studio to get things tight. Obviously there is the challenge of making those songs translate live. It kept us on our toes a little bit. But it is fun and once we get comfortable with everything you know guitar antics are fun.
MS: What's it like having Adam as a producer and fellow guitarist?
JS: Its great. He is as much of a goof as he is on stage. He is very serious about recording, he is a perfectionist and stern about it but still be funny and has a sense of humour. He holds himself to the same standard as everybody else when he is tracking his own guitars. He really takes the time and he is just as hard on his own playing as everyone else. He is a fair and just producer. He does a great job and I really enjoy working with him.
MS: Are you including any new songs into the set?
JS: We just starting to put 'Cut Me Lose' into some sets. That's kinda of fun. That's a sludgier more melodic. Until the Day is a new one that we are throwing in the mic. At this point we are throwing most of the songs from the new record into the sets. It's a little bit different each night. I'm not sure what we will be doing by the time we get down there but I think the set is going to be new record heavy I think. We really are trying to push this one and get people to know the songs.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 1ST - POWER STATION, AUCKLAND (18+)
FRIDAY MARCH 3RD - ENMORE THEATRE, SYDNEY (LIC/AA)
SATURDAY MARCH 4TH - EATONS HILL, BRISBANE (LIC/AA)
SUNDAY MARCH 5TH - 170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE (18+)
TUESDAY MARCH 7TH - 170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE (18+) SOLD OUT
WEDNESDAY MARCH 8TH - METRO CITY, PERTH (18+)