“Not only do I love creating it and playing it, I just love listening to it – all sorts, it doesn’t matter what genre or style.” (Adam on music)
“We are glorified T-shirt salesmen!”
US Metalcore band Killswitch Engage are regular road warriors – jumping from one tour to another, they rarely seem to stop to take a breath. Fortunately, I managed to grab guitarist Adam D for a brief period off the treadmill for a chat when they came through Manchester to play two nights with Bullet for My Valentine. We discussed several topics, including the Times of Grace project, which featured KsE frontman Jesse Leach, as well as the surprising news that Killswitch tour with four different setlists that they rotate.
The band are about to release a new Live Blu-ray – “Beyond the Flames.” From the press release I noted that it contains live footage going back throughout the history of the band. I asked Adam who had been responsible for gathering the footage together. Had they recorded many of their own shows over the years, was it fan footage or indeed from a variety of sources? Was it a long process?
Yes, it was a lot of shows. I guess it was more so Mike, our bass player – he went through a lot of the footage. He wanted to get a good collection of some of our performances around the world over the years. It spans quite some time and it spans all sorts of territories. We have shows from Japan, Europe, and shows from America. It is random footage too, so it’s just like little slices of our history. A lot of the time when we play festivals, the festival will record the footage. They usually air it on television afterwards, so we will get permission to use that kind of stuff. A lot of it is stuff that the festivals film themselves. Some of it I think that we had filmed ourselves, not a lot of it. It’s really like a big mish-mash of our career of the last four years or so.
What about the setlist tonight, will you be changing it around from what was played last night?
One thing that we made sure of doing this tour, even when we are not playing the same city in a row, we have four different sets that we switch out. We just have them on a rotation. These back-to-back shows – 3 gigs – we have two different setlists that change dramatically. We even end with a different song and start with a different song. All the stuff in the middle is flipped around. It keeps it fresh and if we have any fans that come two nights in a row, it’s a completely different set.
My editor wanted to know about the Times of Grace project and the album Hymn of a Broken Man, which seemed to serve as a catalyst to Jesse re-joining Killswitch. Had you ever considered revisiting that musical catalogue, either in the studio or through some live dates?
Yes, certainly. I have written about eight songs now. I hope to have that in the works next year, so it’s on my “to do” list. I am not 100% certain on the line-up, I will be recording everything. I am thinking that we will probably end up using our touring drummer that we have been using, Dan. He is such a talented kid, and such a better drummer than I am. It will be nice to have him as part of it.
Next logical question, would there be live shows?
Ah, hard to tell. I think Killswitch has been going so hard with the touring thing that I am personally a little burned out a little on the travel. I need to go home and see my family for a little bit. We will see what happens next year. Maybe if I have a couple of months of cooling down I will get that tour bug again.
You also have a producer role. Just wondering what gives you greater pleasure. Producing a great album for another band, or playing on one with Killswitch Engage?
I don’t know. I get a rush out of both of them. Just because I have always been the kind of guy that likes to create, just making something. It doesn’t matter if it’s my own or just taking someone else’s vision and making them find it. It’s still the creative thing, I just really get a kick out of it. Watching a song kind of grow up.
From your crazy onstage antics, would you say that you bring the fun element to Killswitch Engage?
(laughing) Maybe, I guess. I am definitely the guy that, when I speak on the microphone, it’s usually something sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek. If I have had a couple of beers or whatever, I get up in front of people and I just want to be the prankster.
Who would be some of your favourite musicians, bands from the past and from the present?
Well, I grew up on a lot of Classic Rock, I always dug bands like Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Van Halen and stuff like that. As far as, like, metal nowadays, I have not really listened to a lot. I have always liked Meshuggah obviously, they have been one of my favourites for years. I just listen to everything. It’s really hard to pick anything out.
Can you recall your first musical experience, a song on the radio, parents record collection?
Yeah, my parents would listen to some records, but it was literally “Raised on Radio.” I was literally listening to rock stations as a kid. That was really what sparked my interest. I always loved it for some reason.
Is there a song that never fails to move you emotionally every time you hear it?
(sighs) I don’t know, it’s hard to say. There is just so much music that I love. I can’t really single out just one song. There is just so much stuff. I am such a music fan. Not only do I love creating it and playing it, I just love listening to it- all sorts, it doesn’t matter what genre or style.
What would define your perfect day?
Getting outside if it’s warm, having a nice hike. Just being outside and feeling warm sunshine. Some nice cold beers, some music at home with a fire.
So, music is always present. Any other interests apart from music?
My girl is a great cook, I help her cook. It is a lot of listening to music, hanging outside and drinking a couple of beers. Playing video games even, you know? It’s good stuff.
What would your friends say that they appreciate the most about you?
Oh Jesus, I don’t know…ahh, my honesty.
What is your most valued material possession? Probably a guitar, I am guessing.
Yeah, I would probably say my recording software because that is how I make the music.
Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?
I had two in particular that I got pretty tongue-tied with. The first was Eddie Van Halen, yeah that was a big one for me. The second was James Hetfield. I never get star struck, and with both of those guys it just took me back for a second. I was, “wow, crazy!!” I was able to bring it back though and chat to them for a few minutes about music.
If you could close your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that be?
Maybe home, with family.
In the future is there anything that you would like to do more of?
Well, this new Times of Grace project that I am working on the new record and mentioned earlier to you. A new record, it’s got a lot of darker more melancholy rock n roll style to it. It’s another outlet for me, it’s a lot of fun that’s not metal-sounding at all times. It’s a big open book and I can do whatever I want, there are no expectations… nothing like that. Literally, it is a blank slate which is nice.
Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?
Retired (laughs)…If I am still making music that’s a beautiful thing man. That would be wonderful. Hopefully, I will be if my body is still working – man, I am feeling old lately. It’s been a long year. We released the record and just haven’t stopped. We are due for some time off and some healing time. The only way that you can make a living is by touring. We are glorified t-shirt salesmen.