Killswitch Engage

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Killswitch Engage

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“I feel like the past few years have been the most consistent and happy that everyone’s been,” says Stroetzel. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride. It was obviously a big scare when Howard [Jones] left the band, because we were like, ‘what are we going to do? How is that going to work?’”Much to the band’s relief, Leach returned with a new gusto. “He had all the reasons not to want to do it back in the day, which is totally fair, but we were just really lucky it all came together. I feel like internally, it’s the happiest everybody has been for quite some time.”


Lineup changes aside, Killswitch Engage have maintained a considerable amount of consistency when it comes to the guitarist’s weapons of choice. Both Stroetzel and fellow guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz are big fans of the Maxon OD808 overdrive pedal, a pedal that – like the Tubescreamer – has become synonymous with the metalcore genre. “Our live rig has stayed pretty consistent over the years. We were using the Laney Ironheart for the dirty stuff for a long time, but we’ve just started using the Laney TI100 Tony Iommi Signature head. But as far as clean tones go, we’re still using a Laney Lionheart and pretty much the same pedals – the Maxon OD808, the CP-9 Pro Plus Compressor and the AD10 Analogue Delay.”


“The Ironhearts are kind of metallic and scooped – very focused. It’s an awesome sounding amp. We were just looking for something a little bit throatier and with that thick tube grind that we weren’t quite getting out of the Ironheart. The Laney folks were kind enough to let us check out the Iommi Signature, and we fell in love right away.”


Killswitch Engage began work on Incarnate, sharing song ideas and demos via email from their various home dwellings. Stroetzel says that his preferred method of song writing involves burning the midnight oil along side a drum machine. “For me personally, I do my writing at night. I have an old two-track drum machine and I lay down a drum track and some scratch guitars, trying to piece together songs. I think it’s kind of the same thing for most of the other guys. And once we get stuff that we think is worthy of sharing with each other, we email it and from that point we decide whether we need to get together and jam.”


“It’s funny, I think as each record goes by, we all live further and further away from each other. Jesse’s in New York, Mike [D’Antonio, bassist] and I are in Massachusetts, Adam is in California and Justin [Foley, drummer] is in Florida.”


When the band was satisfied by its collective efforts, they convened and began developing what would soon be Incarnate. “We did that a little more with this record than we have in the past. A lot of the other records were a combination of us being able to play live in a room together and writing from our homes. We just didn’t have that luxury on this album, with all of us living so far away.”


Despite the lack of proximity, Stroetzel is confident the writing process had little affect on the album’s outcome, “Adam and Justin worked out MIDI drum tracks for the demos we had, and we each started learning the songs that way. As the songs came together, we would hand them off to Jesse so he could start writing and putting his ideas together, so it really wasn’t that different from jamming live in a room, instead it was just a bunch of guys sitting in front of a computer in a room [laughs].”


With the demise of Soundwave Festival and consequentially Killswitch Engage’s 2016 trip to Australia, the conversation diverts to the likelihood of a return to the sunburnt country. “That was quite a bummer when we found out we weren’t able to come over, we always look forward to Soundwave and just going to Australia in general. It’s such a great place and such a great scene, other than the long flight over there [laughs]. Hopefully something will come around as far as a good festival. I guess we are going to have to come back and do some kind of club tour in the very near future.”


As the conversation concludes, one question is still yet unanswered – when will pinch harmonics become dated? Stroetzel affirms the question’s banality with a swift response; “[Laughs] I’m going to say never for that one. They are always cool in my book.” 


Incarnate is out March 11 via Roadrunner Records.