Murphy's law states that if something can go wrong, it will, and Killswitch Engage knows this all too well.
Their second album, Alive or Just Breathing, was a surprise success and suddenly Killswitch Engage was one of the coolest new bands in heavy metal. The strain of constantly touring to support the album proved too much for vocalist Jesse Leach, however. He unexpectedly quit Killswitch just weeks before the next leg of their tour, leaving the band in a lurch. Not ones to let a last minute member switch, uh, kill their momentum, they engaged the services of new front man with Howard Jones and went right back to touring for the rest of the year. There's been no stopping them since then. Their last album, The End of Heartache, was their first with Jones and went on to sell 400,00 copies and even garner a Grammy nomination for best metal performance.
"We're all still pretty much the same people," says guitarist and producer Adam Dutkiewicz. "The only thing that has changed is the shows are getting bigger and better. Whenever we roll up to play a show the crowd's always really great no matter where we are."
A graduate from the Berklee College of Music in Boston--whose alumni include John Mayer and Diana Krall--Dutkiewicz has put his degree to good use, producing all of Killswitch Engage's albums. In Killswitch's downtime, he keeps busy producing his friends' bands, which include UnderÃ¸ath, Unearth and All That Remains.
"It's my profession," Dutkiewicz says. "It's definitely a little different when it's your own band and your reputation is at stake. You're worried and you're nervous. At the same time, it's a good feeling because it's such a creative thing. 'My little baby that I'm so proud of. It's going to grow up to be a big boy.'"
Despite having a bitchin' name and writing cool songs Killswitch would likely be just another talented band no one had ever heard of if it wasn't for the explosive popularity of Metalcore. Named to describe the cross-pollination of hardcore punk with heavy metal, Metalcore has become the latest trend in metal, and Killswitch unexpectedly found themselves being praised as one of the leaders of the genre.
"I don't even get the whole label thing," Dutkiewicz admits. "I think the label thing is something the journalists had to create to describe the sound of a band. All that subgenre stuff is garbage if you really think about it."
Killswitch Engage have come a long way from their humble beginnings as the opening or supporting act. Now they're the headliners and the main draw for a concert.
"To be honest, I don't like going on last because I'm usually a little bit too drunk by then," admits Dutkiewicz. "It's kinda cool because you get up on stage and you're headlining and you see all the people there and it's like, 'Wow. All these people are here to see us.' It's also nice to go out and get your day done and then chill out while the other bands are finishing up. We're just there to have a good time and drink everybody's beer."