Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz on playing the album that launched his band
Since releasing their groundbreaking second album Alive Or Just Breathing in 2002, Killswitch Engage has been a front-runner in the American metalcore scene and have earned legions of fans all over the world.
Alive celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, and the guys are have just kicked off their Australian tour, which will see them playing the record in full. They played to a sold out audience in Auckland on Wednesday night, which guitarist/back-up vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz says was a total blast.
“It was really, really good, man,” he says animatedly. “We haven’t played Auckland in like 10 years, so it was nice to be back. You could tell there were a few people who were waiting a little while for us to play there. It was very cool, it’s always flattering to know people give a crap about what you do,” he chuckles.
Killswitch Engage has pushed through some unique circumstances in the 15 years since the band launched Alive. It was undoubtedly the record that launched their career, and it was only a short while after it hit the shelves that vocalist Jesse Leach left the band for personal and health reasons. Howard Jones was recruited as the vocalist, while Justin Foley became the band’s now long-serving drummer, and Dutkiewicz would make the swap from drums to guitar.
That lineup would create three albums together. Jones left the band in 2012 after 10 years as frontman, and with Alive celebrating its 10th birthday that year, Leach rejoined the group to perform on the album’s anniversary tour.
Dutkiewicz has been a member from the very beginning and the producer of every Killswitch album since Alive. He knows it’s been a hell of a journey, but he doesn’t reflect on it too deeply, even in the midst of these shows.
“Man, I just feel old, to be honest with you,” he laughs. “It’s pretty crazy. When you look back at everything that’s happened since we made that record, it’s a long and surreal road that we travelled. Who would have thought when we made that record that 15 years later we’d still be doing what we’re doing? A lot of bands don’t get the opportunity to do that.”
Does he miss playing drums? “Maybe a little bit, I guess. I think I have more fun playing guitar because you can drink beer and play guitar, you can slap kids in the face and dance around, you know, it’s fun. I’m wireless, even. It’s great!”
There is no denying that in a personal sense, the band members consider themselves different people to the guys who created Alive all those years ago. Dutkiewicz was 25 years old that year, but the most significant aspect of that time was certainly the group’s ascension from local band to world force.
“You think back and you just think about how young and naive you were. It was a cool time in our lives because we were coming from nothing. We were basically a local band at that point, and that’s the moment where everyone started noticing who we were.”
While Alive is arguably one of the band’s most popular records, Dutkiewicz feels he can recognise it was written by a group with less experience.
“It feels like a young version of us. A little bit more… immature? I guess immature’s not the word I’m looking for, it feels like a young incarnation of the way we think about songs and the way we write things. Who would have thought when we made that record that 15 years later we’d still be doing what we’re doing? A lot of bands don’t get the opportunity to do that.”
Who would have thought when we made that record that 15 years later we’d still be doing what we’re doing? A lot of bands don’t get the opportunity to do that.
That said, he and the band are extremely excited to perform the album – there’s no hiding that Killswitch get a kick out of playing their older stuff.
“It’s a nostalgic thing [for us], it’s the thing that put us on the map, it got us to reach out to more people and for them to realise who we are.”
Naturally, then, the band plan on playing the record exactly as it was recorded, bar one little difference.
“We’re trying to do the record front to back as it is, but because of a tuning thing we have to switch two songs around, so instead of making the crowd wait while we stop and re-tune and stop and re-tune again, we’ve just shuffled two songs so it’s all more cohesive live. But yeah, that’s how the tour’s sold, we like playing the record the way it is. I think there’s something to be said for that, it’s almost like you’re experiencing the record but performed right in front of your face.”
As for the rest of 2017, well, Dutkiewicz has always been a juggler (“I feel like if I’m not being creative, I kinda just start going crazy, I’ll get the itch or something”), so it only makes sense that Killswitch Engage, after a year of touring their most recent album Incarnate, will more than likely be working on new material.
“We’re talking about it, yeah. We’re not 100 percent sure what we’re going to do with the rest of the touring cycle, so I think we’re all kind of itching to start making music already. Looking forward to it.”
We have two double passes to Killswitch Engage’s Perth show on March 8 to give away. Visit our Facebook page for details.