With over 15 years in the game, metalcore pioneers Killswitch Engage are still keeping things fresh, relevant and earth-shatteringly heavy in the world of sing-song breakdowns. Their seventh full-length album ‘Incarnate’ dropped earlier this year and was an absolute monster — combining the group’s penchant for stratospheric hooks and melodies with power chords and shred-a-minute guitar heroics. In lieu of the band returning to our shores in 2017, we decided to get the band’s residential riff-master and all-round legend, Adam Dutkiewicz, on the blower to discuss energy conservation on stage, getting old and finding the answer to that all-important, age-old question: which Star Wars film is actually the best?
Killswitch Engage will be returning to Australia in March next year, for the Incarnate Down Under tour, and the last time you guys were here being your 2014 tour with Kill Devil Hill. How excited are you and the rest of the band to be coming back Down Under?
We’re always excited man. We love playing down there. The fans are always so appreciative that we came down, and made the flight. It’s always such a fucking fun place to hang out man. We love it there!
That’s awesome. And what do you think it is about Australia, and about playing Australian shows that makes it so good? What’s our secret, Adam?
I don’t know, I guess you guys just like to party [laughs]. We appreciate good times, you know, so that’s basically it. You guys always want to have a good time, and we can all get along if that’s the case.
Absolutely. I think that’s probably a defining trait for Australians: wanting to have a good time at the expense of almost everything else.
Yes! That’s why it’s awesome [laughs].
Most international bands seem to just stick to a short East Coast run, and places like Sydney and Melbourne when playing shows in Australia. However, I find that Killswitch always makes a point of stopping by places which are a little more out of the way, like Perth on your tours, and I’m sure that the fans definitely appreciate that. So out of all the Aussie tours and festivals shows that Killswitch has played over the years Adam, which one stands out for you the most? What was the craziest or most fun to play?
Oh man… I can’t really remember which one we did… which one was it? I think it must have been the first Soundwave we’ve ever done  because we’d never played in front of crowds that large in Australia before. That was really incredible you know, to be able to be a part of that tour. It was just tonnes and tonnes of people, and everybody was having a good time. It was great, man, and it kind of blew us away.
Those early years for the Soundwave festival as a national tour, were when the festival was still kind of in its infancy, and the shows were just crazy.
Yeah, and there was like a million different bands playing, it was so cool to be a part of it. So many different styles and genres; it was really neat.
Sweet. Now I interviewed Jesse [Leach, vocalist] a few months ago, prior to the release of ‘Incarnate’, and he mentioned that his favourite new songs to play were ‘Cut Me Loose’ and ‘Just Let Go’. So now that the record has been out a while, and you’re touring off it, what are your favourite tracks to play live Adam?
Mine is still ‘Hate By Design’ because it seems like that’s the one that really gets the crowd moving. Everybody’s singing along; it’s really cool man. I base everything on crowd reaction. Always.
You definitely have a reputation for being a bit of a ‘showman’. I’ve followed Killswitch for years now, and had the pleasure of seeing you guys play multiple times, and you guys always put on a good show. What do you think it is about playing live that really connects with people, and what do you personally bring to the band’s live show?
Well, that’s just it: it’s a connection man. It’s all about people getting into a room together, partying, and having a good time, you know? That’s what it boils down to when we get on stage. We throw our energy to the crowd, and if the crowd throws energy back at us, then we’ll get a little more riled up and a bit rowdier. It’s all about that ‘live feed’ man.
So it’s reciprocal for you: you give them energy and they give you guys energy?
Exactly man! That’s the only thing I look for in a good show: everyone having a good time. That’s all that really matters to me.
That’s really awesome. When you play you seem like you’re always trying to one-up that last show, whether it be with jumping around or doing some crazy antics. Now that you’re getting a little older Adam, are you finding that you have to dial it back a little bit, or are you swinging the opposite way and trying to go harder?
Oh, I gotta dial everything back man [laughs]. Oh god… You know the older you get, the more your joints ache, and my knees are shot. My back hurts also. All that shit. It’s very typical, ‘getting old’ shit. I ain’t the spring chicken I used to be, but still trying to have a good time for sure, man.
Surely you’ve got plenty of years of riffing ahead of you, though? Look at a band like AC/DC. Those dudes are in their 60’s and they’re still rocking out.
I know, Angus [Young] is my hero man. He’s still moving around and shit, like crazy. I mean, how the hell is he pulling it together like that? It’s quite impressive, right? He’s no joke man. He’s the real deal.
Now you’re also bringing Fallujah along for the ride on your Incarnate Down Under tour, which will also be their first time playing shows in Australia. How did that come about, and are Killswitch fans of their heavy, atmospheric death metal sound?
We’ve never actually met those guys. It was really just a suggestion from our management and booking agent, and they were wanting to come down to Australia. So it just seemed like a good pairing for the two of us to play together, and I haven’t had a chance to check out their stuff, but it sounds like all the sort of stuff that we love. So I’m sure we’re going to absolutely love it.
Speaking of death metal, I heard the new Serpentine Dominion stuff and it fucking rips dude!
What was it liking working with someone as infamous as George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher?
Oh, it’s fucking awesome. Both of those dudes, you know, I respect them so much. So to be able to be making a record, just for the sake of having fun, is like ‘Wow, I love these dudes and now I’m making music with these dudes.’ It was such a neat thing for me, and a great experience. I had a total blast doing it.
That’s very cool dude. I’m definitely excited to check out the full record, ‘The Vengeance In Me’, becuase it sounds super-fast, heavy and massive. Now to wrap up, the poster for your Incarnate Down Under tour, has Killswitch posing in Star Wars costumes from a Revolver magazine shoot you did a while ago, and finds you cutting a very wholesome image of Princess Leia.
Aren’t I fucking beautiful? [Laughs.]
For sure! So I wanted to ask, Adam, what’s your favourite Star Wars film, and why?
Ah shit… I don’t know… Maybe The Empire Strikes Back? Empire… is pretty cool. It’s the darker one and the plot is the coolest. I’m definitely a fan of the original trilogy, because of when I was a kid, and they’re just the most nostalgic to me. But to be honest, the new one [Episode VII: The Force Awakens] wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t terrible.
Yeah, I quite enjoyed The Force Awakens, and I personally agree that Empire… is still the best film. But I’ll tell you why it’s the best: because George Lucas had almost nothing to do with it. It had a different director, and Lucas didn’t write the screenplay; he just did the overall ‘story’ and acted as producer. So his touch is so minimal on that film, and that’s why it’s fucking awesome.
No way! Wow, I did not know that. Thanks for that little bit of knowledge!
No worries Adam. Thank you for taking time out for KYS today, and best of luck with the tour next year.
Thanks very much man! No problem at all.
General ticket sales are available now for Killswitch Engage’s ‘Incarnate Down Under 2017’ tour. Check out the tour dates, including a sneaky NZ stopover, below:
Wed 1st, March – Powerstation, Auckland
Fri 3rd, March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sat 4th, March – Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Tue 7th, March – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Wed 8th, March – Metro City , Perth