JESSE LEACH On Upcoming KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Album: ‘None Of It’s Gonna Be Phoned In’

In an interview with Rock Antenne conducted at this past summer’s Summer Breeze festival in Dinkelsbühl, Germany, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz and singer Jesse Leach spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band’s follow-up to 2019’s “Atonement” album. Adam said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “[It’s going] very slow, but we’re taking our time with the demoing process. We’re gonna start recording right after this tour, actually. So, I would like it to be done by the end of the year, but it will most likely be completed early next year. And then we’ve gotta wait for the vinyl, and you know how that works. And so it’ll probably be like mid-to-late next year. It takes that long.”

Regarding what fans can expect from the next KILLSWITCH ENGAGE LP, Jesse said: “I think it sounds like KILLSWITCH, but we’re really pushing to do different lyrics, different themes, different sounds. None of it’s gonna be phoned in. And that’s why it’s taken so long — just rewriting stuff and really just doing quality control.”

Added Adam: “We made an effort to have everyone spend more time together writing instead of separately. Because we live so far from each other, it’s hard for us to get together and jam. And we made an effort to all meet up and write music together this time. So there’s that too. So it’s gonna feel a little different, for sure. [It will be] more collaborative.”

Last month, Dutkiewicz told TotalRock‘s Neil Jones that KILLSWITCH ENGAGE was “still at demo stages” for the upcoming album, “but we have quite a bit of demos. And Jesse‘s been writing and rewriting and going back to the little chopping block. We decided to have everybody in the band become a part of the lyric writing too. So Jesse will bring ideas. We say, ‘We like this. We don’t like this. This is the idea. Carry on with that.'”

Asked how the process of making a KILLSWITCH ENGAGE has evolved over the years, Adam told TotalRock: “In the past, I took a lot of it on my shoulders, to handle a lot of the duties. But I think the last record, in particular, everyone was just — they felt like a bit detached almost, because I was doing almost everything on my own. And I think they’re just, like, ‘We don’t even feel like we made a record.’ So they wanna be more of a part of the production process and the writing process. So I’ve made sure to keep everybody looped in and in the same circle. Communication’s key to anything.”

He continued: “I do my best to try to make something that we’re kind of proud of. So, at the end of the day, it’s up to me to make sure that everybody in the band is happy and we’re all going in the same direction.”

As for the musical direction of the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE material, Adam said: “We’re still doing what we do. We’re just trying to push the boundaries and shake it up a little bit and make it not the same thing we’ve been doing for 20-something years.”

In a separate interview with Ore Bihovsky of TotalRock‘s “Louder” radio show, Adam said that he and his bandmates were still “demoing” and “writing” material for the next KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album. “We’ve been kind of busy with other side hustles and whatnot,” he said. “But, yeah, [we’ve] just been taking our time and wanting to get Jesse in the right head space and get him comfortable. But we’re pretty much ready to record now. We’ve just gotta wedge some time in between shows and tours and things going on within everybody’s lives.”

Asked if the challenges of staying productive during the coronavirus lockdown contributed to it taking this long for KILLSWITCH ENGAGE to come up with enough material for a new LP, Adam said: “Not necessarily. I’ve got a bunch of stuff going on. I’ve been writing a ton. But it was just more so pushing Jesse to get a little more, I guess just to vary it up a little bit more and maybe try to pull from other places for inspiration and just try to get some different lyrical content.”

In August, Leach told The Razor’s Edge that KILLSWITCH ENGAGE had 14 or 15 demos ready for the next LP. But he added: “We’re gonna be tossing out, like, four or five of them already to redo some stuff and to rethink some stuff just to make sure that everybody in the band feels like we’re doing the best we can, and it does sound fresh yet familiar. So it’s a challenge… You wanna please your fans, but you also wanna please yourself as an artist and as a band. So we’re focusing on us first. And then my hope is that the fans will in turn be pleased with what we’re doing because we are putting the effort in to ensure that it’s something that isn’t just a remake of something we’ve done before.”

Asked if Dutkiewicz will once again be in charge of the production of the band’s new LP, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE drummer Justin Foley told Forever Loud: “Yeah. We’re pretty sure that we’re gonna do it with Adam and Adam‘s gonna be the producer. I mean, it just makes sense. He knows what we’re doing. We know how to work with him. We all know how to work with each other real well, and he obviously gets the band and what we’re trying to go for. So it just makes too much sense not to do.”

In July, Leach told Oran O’Beirne of Bloodstock TV about the band’s next album: “I think we made some headway. Definitely some good ideas, some good demos. I’m revisiting some ideas. We had a great little meeting where all of us got together and listened and talked, which, to me, has been a great process. And I think it’s gonna make this album a lot different than what we’ve done in the past, ’cause everyone sort of has their voice. We’re taking more time with it. So, yeah, it is taking a bit longer but it gives me hope that the end result will be that much better because it is taking a little bit more time to do it. But I’m stoked, for sure. There’s some bangers on there already.”

During the same chat, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE bassist Mike D’Antonio revealed that he wasn’t feeling very inspired in the early days of the coronavirus downtime. “During the pandemic, for me, I kind of wasn’t able to do much at all,” he said. “You’d think that that would be the best writing process, to be nervous about your future and not sure what’s gonna happen next. But I was just locked in some sort of a mode where I couldn’t even do graphic design; for about six to eight months, I didn’t do anything. But I think after that, it definitely seemed to start flowing. Especially when we did the live gig at the Palladium [in Worcester, Massachusetts], the livestream that we did [in August 2021], that kind of helped make the juices work a little bit more. We learned a lot of songs from ‘Atonement’ that we actually never played live together before, so that was an experience. And I think that’s what kind of jarred us into, ‘Okay, let’s get this thing moving again.'”

In June, Leach told Pete Bailey of Primordial Radio that the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album was “taking a lot longer than, I think, any of us anticipated, because there’s a lot of quality control going on. And making sure that it’s fresh; we’re not repeating ourselves,” he explained. “So that process has been a little arduous but I think necessary because we don’t wanna put out something that people are gonna go, ‘Oh, yeah. Another KILLSWITCH record. Whatever.'”

Regarding where he and his KILLSWITCH ENGAGE are right now with respect to the writing process, Jesse said: “We’re solidifying a lot, but there’s still some back-and-forth and looking at parts and rewriting the music. And then I’m revisiting a lot of the lyrics. I’ve actually rewritten a bunch of stuff. ‘Cause we all got together and had a meeting, and all of us just kind of gave our input on everything, and I took notes. It’s the first time, really, I think we’ve done that. But, again, I do believe that it’s necessary at our stage in our career to really just kind of get all of our heads together to make sure that this record is gonna be what we all feel is a good representation of who we are right now.”

On the topic of the lyrical inspiration for the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE material, Jesse said: “Initially, for me, I really wanted to put out something that was healing, something that could help people cope. But it’s kind of turned into anger, it’s kind of turned into frustration, it’s kind of turned into seeing the greater deceptions of everything that’s going on, the struggles of humanity. So I’ve kind of taken a turn for a little bit more of a darker topic than I initially had hoped for, but I think it’s necessary. I think once I really sort of dug into myself, I realized that there was a lot that I was not tapping in to. And when I got honest with myself, I [said], ‘You know what? There is a lot to be pissed off about.’ And maybe that’s the route; maybe that’s the good therapeutic way to deal with it. You don’t always have to sugarcoat things and let people know there’s gonna be hope. Maybe it’s just time to get your hands dirty and talk about some of the harder-to-deal-with topics, and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing lately.”

“Atonement” was released in August 2019 via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The disc featured guest appearances by former KILLSWITCH ENGAGE singer Howard Jones and TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy. It marked the band’s third full-length release since the return of Leach, who rejoined the group in 2012.

In July 2021, Leach and Dutkiewicz released the second album from their TIMES OF GRACE project, “Songs Of Loss And Separation”, via the band’s own imprint label, Wicked Good Records, distributed by ADA Worldwide.


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