Killswitch Engage are currently out on the road, supporting their latest album, Disarm the Descent. We got guitarist Adam D. on the phone the day after the opening show of the tour, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (The band donated money to tornado relief, and also sold a special T-shirt that benefited tornado victims.) In the interview below, he discusses Disarm the Descent, the band's current live set list, studio work vs. touring, and serving as executive producer for The Devil Wears Prada, among other subjects.
Last night was the first night of your tour—what was the mood like in Oklahoma City?
It was really, really awesome, except for the fact that I broke everything that I had onstage. I actually sweated through my wireless pack. It broke, and then I broke a cable, and then sweated through one of my guitars. It was pretty warm in the club, I guess. But the crowd was great, everyone was awesome, and it was still really a lot of fun because it’s always about the kids’ response and just seeing everybody having a good time and partying.
You guys have been touring for a long time—are there any places you're hitting for the first time on this run?
I actually don’t think so. We’ve played pretty much 48 of the 50 states, I believe. I don’t think we’ve ever played, like, Wyoming and maybe Mississippi. I think those are the only states we’ve never played.
Are there cities where you wish a new venue would open up, just because you've played one club so many times?
Probably. There’s a lot of places we end up usually going to when we come through a specific town, you know what I mean? But at the end of the day, a club is a club. It’s the crowd that really makes the difference.
How many new songs are you playing on this tour?
We are actually doing five new songs in the set, which is a buttload if you ask me, but we just did a European tour and all the fans really took to the new stuff, so it kinda makes sense. Of course, it’s our new record with Jesse [Leach], so it seems like it’s a cool thing to do for Jesse specifically.
So is the set mostly geared toward Disarm the Descent and Alive Or Just Breathing? How much Howard-era material are you playing this time out?
No, not at all. We still play a bunch of songs that we wrote with Howard, and Jesse does a great job with them. We just wanna make sure that the set is well balanced and represents the band’s career.
Early on, when he first rejoined, were there any Howard-era songs that Jesse had to be basically talked into performing?
No, not at all. One of the stipulations of him rejoining the band was he had to play whatever Howard-era songs we thought were necessary to play for the fans, you know, so when he tried out, he did a bunch of ’em, and did a really good job. Another one of the reasons he got the gig, you know?
You expanded the tour from four bands to five, so is everyone playing a slightly shorter set? What are the logistics of the shows?
No, I think actually the doors just open a little earlier. We just wanted to make sure that since As I Lay Dying had to leave the tour, that we still brought a lot of good stuff to the bill, so we stacked it a little heavier.
What's the division of labor between you and Joel Stroetzel?
Well, in the studio, we actually just play—whoever wrote the song plays the parts in the studio, and then teaches them to the other person. And then live, we delegate that to whoever wrote the part as well. Or if I’m singing a part, and it’s a tricky part to play, I’ll give it to Joel, that kind of thing.
How early in the production process for Disarm the Descent did you know what kind of album you were making?
Well, right away we all settled into the mindset that we wanted to make a faster, more aggressive record than the last one. So that was kind of what we went for in the beginning, and then we gave Jesse all the demos and it all just kind of fell into place after that.
You recorded and produced the album, but then handed it off to Andy Sneap to mix—what are your feelings about that?
Yeah, I actually have mixed some of our records in the past, but this time I just physically couldn’t do it, because we were on tour and I just didn’t really have the time to do so. Andy’s just one of those guys I get on with really well. He’s a really great guy, and I trust his work a lot, and I knew it would be in good hands with him.
What do you think he brought to the production?
He’s really good at getting tones cleaned up, and getting all the sounds to fit together. He’s great at that, so it was a no-brainer for us. It’ll fit well, and we won’t have to struggle with it, and any critiques I do have, we’re good enough friends that I’ll just say what I’m thinking and he’ll take it in. We both respect each other in that aspect.
How do you decide which songs will make the album, and which ones will be, like, Japanese bonus tracks? Is that something that happens during the recording, or after the fact?
We all decide after the fact. Once we make all the songs for the record, we’ll go through and work on song order, and we’ll all kind of make a decision together about which songs go where, which songs don’t make the record and which ones start off the record, all that stuff. We keep it all diplomatic.
How much of a studio rat are you? If you could just make records, and send the band on the road without you, would you?
I love being in the studio. I just love making music, period. But touring is fun. I like traveling. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds, you know?
You're executive producing the new Devil Wears Prada album...how is that different from producing, which you did on Dead Throne? Do you parachute in, listen to some tracks, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and bail again?
Yeah, I kind of—it’s a completely different role for me this time. I just came in, gave them my thoughts and my feelings on some of their material, helped out with some of the vocal production, and after that…it’s literally the producer’s gig, but…it was a different thing for me.
So you've actually been down to Atlanta to see them?
Yes, I have. I actually just left, what was it, Wednesday. So I was there for about two weeks.
They've been releasing video updates from the studio—will you be making a cameo appearance in one of those?
Right, right. I think maybe I might end up in one of ’em. We’ll see.
Are there any other Roadrunner bands you'd produce for, if asked?
I’m not that good at saying no. I’m kind of a whore when it comes to making records, so if I could find something good about what they do and get on with them, then yeah. I would work with anybody. For sure.
If a young or unsigned band wants to work with you, how do they get in touch with you? Do you have an 800 number, like Bill Murray?
[Laughs] No, no, actually, getting in touch with me through my management is usually the way to do it.
Killswitch Engage are on the road right now—find a show near you!