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Killswitch Engage: Jesse Leach’s return as seen by Adam Dutkiewicz


During the decade Jesse Leach was away, Killswitch Engage has lived and grown. The band’s popularity, their ambition and, therefore, their demands have increased. Even if Jesse Leach was the band’s original vocalist and although they were always in good terms, he was not the obvious candidate after the departure of Howard Jones – especially since Jesse left the band due to vocal limitations in the first place.

Auditions were indeed conducted, and Jesse had to prove his worth.

When we interviewed him a few weeks ago, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz pointed out Jesse’s amazed, childish joy when he discovered the experiences and comfort that come with being in a well-established band.

« The main reason he left the band was because he was having so many problems to make his vocals actually work. He had a lot of problems with his throat. But now he knows what to do to take care of his voice and make sure he’s healthy. »

Radio Metal: After Howard Jones’ departure, you quickly announced that Jesse Leach was coming back in the band. I was going to say it really looks like you never considered doing auditions – but you did, because I just talked to Jesse…

Adam Dutkiewicz (guitar): We definitely did. We just moved fast! (laughs) We ended up trying out a good amount of people, and Jesse was on that list.

So he was really the best choice to you? There was no other option?

We were a bit apprehensive about the way he would sound on Howard’s material, which is why we wanted to try him out. But once we played the songs with him, we knew it was going to work out.

Does writing music with Jesse feel the same as when he was in the band back in the days?

Writing it still feels the same. Performing it is completely different. The main reason he left the band was because he was having so many problems to make his vocals actually work. He had a lot of problems with his throat. But now he knows what to do to take care of his voice and make sure he’s healthy.

What was the impact of Jesse’s return on this new album? Did that encourage you to go for a “back to the roots” approach on that album?

Not at all. Actually, we wrote most of the material before he was even in the band, while Howard was still in. I think having him back in the band definitely added a bit of a spark back into it. We have this new guy, this fresh guy, who’s like: “Yeaaaaaaah, I’m in a band!!!”

Was he really like that, with the girlie voice?!

Kinda, yeah! You could especially tell on tour. He’s looking at everything with new eyes. We’ve seen this world, so we’re like: “Yeah, we’ve been here before…” And he’s like: “Wow, where are we?!” Even if he was our old singer, it’s still pretty fresh for him. He’s doing a lot of things he’s never done before.

You played the album Alive Or Just Breathing in its entirety on tour to celebrate its tenth anniversary. I guess this idea was triggered by the fact that the man who sang on this album is back in the band, but was it his idea or yours?

It just came up as an idea to play the record in its entirety because it’s the ten-year anniversary of the release of that record. Everyone always says that’s the record that put us on the map and let people know who we are. We combined that with the fact that it’s Jesse’s welcome-back-to-the-band tour.

What was this experience like?

For me, it was a very cool thing every night to see so many people who still cared about a record that came out so long ago. It’s a cool revelation to have this moment where you’re thinking: “Wow, I’ve been able to do this for over ten years!” That’s pretty amazing. A lot of people can’t say that.

Do you see a link between this album and the new one, Disarm The Descent, even if the music was composed before Jesse was back?

I don’t think there’s a link between the two records at all, to be honest. I feel like the new record sounds like us today. And of course the other one sounds like us ten years ago!

« He’s looking at everything with new eyes. We’ve seen this world, so we’re like: “Yeah, we’ve been here before…” And he’s like: “Wow, where are we?!” Even if he was our old singer, it’s still pretty fresh for him. »

This album features the most aggressive parts we’ve ever heard from Killswitch Engage, especially some drum parts that include blast beats. And at the same time, this may also be the most melodic album of your career. Was your intention to push all the aspects of your music to the absolute maximum?

To be honest, we didn’t really think of it like that. For myself, I just tried to write music that was comfortable. So maybe our progression is getting more extreme and melodic at the same time. Yeah, it’s possible! (laughs)

Is it the reason you’re proud of this album – because this is the furthest you’ve been in your style so far?

Yeah, I guess. It’s funny, really, because I don’t know if I can say I’m proud right now. I’ve been listening to these songs for nine months, so I’m like argh! But you’re always proud of the music you make while you’re making it. I wouldn’t say this record is more important than any of the other ones. Each record is like stamp in time of where we were in our career at that point.

You’re the craziest of the guys on stage, so that even Jesse looks disarmed sometimes. Have you ever secretly dreamed of being a band’s frontman?

The problem is, I can’t sing very well! (laughs) No, not necessarily. I like having a good time on stage, and I like seeing people smile and be excited. That’s very rewarding for me. I never really think of it as trying to be a pseudo frontman of sorts. I just want people to have a good time.

You always conclude your shows with your version of Dio’s “Holy Diver”, which is very good. Do you think you’ll record another cover song on the next albums?

I don’t think so, unless we’re asked to do another cover song. We kind of just did that for that metal publication in the UK, Kerrang. They were having an anniversary issue, and they asked us if we would do a cover song for them. That’s how it came to be. We try to concentrate more on our own material.

Are you still in touch with Howard?

Yes.

So there’s no animosity, no war the media would want to write about?

I don’t like being mad at anybody. Being angry is just a waste of time, I think. We should try to be nice to everybody. More people should try that!

« I don’t like being mad at anybody. Being angry is just a waste of time, I think. We should try to be nice to everybody. More people should try that! »

Can you update us regarding your work as a producer? What will you be doing in the next few months, production-wise?

Unfortunately, nothing, because we’re on tour the entire time. I’m not even kidding, we’re busy until September. Lots of travelling. We definitely play in Paris, on April 29th.

I talked to Jesse about Times Of Grace, and he said you would like to release new albums…

If we find some time!

Have you completely stopped playing drums or do you play sometimes?

I have a drum set in my basement, actually. Once in a while, if I have some time, I’ll have a couple of beers and go downstairs to play for a while. But I don’t really play too much anymore. I’m freaking busy!

That’s it for me. Any last words?

Thank you to the fans, of course, because without fans, we can’t play music. We’re nothing without fans, so thank you for your support to the band.

Interview conducted by phone on February 2013
Transcription: Saff’

Killswitch Engage’s official website: www.killswitchengage.com

Album Disarm The Descent, out since April the 2nd 2013 via Roadrunner Records



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