EVH Interview: Adam D. of Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz is a busy man.

Not only is he one of the founding members of the hard-touring Massachusetts-based metallers, but he also serves as one of the main producers of the band’s albums.

Oh, and he’s also manned the boards for groups such as As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Unearth, The Devil Wears Prada, and several others.

With Killswitch Engage’s latest album Disarm the Descent, Dutkiewicz – also known as “Adam D” – faced the hurdle of replacing singer Howard Jones with Jesse Leach, who actually sang on the band’s first two records.

While out on tour with Lamb of God, EVHGear.com had the opportunity to catch up with Adam D..

EVHGear.com: How long did it take you to record Disarm the Descent, considering you changed singers midway through?

It was a little strange since we started writing the material with our old singer.  Once we all figured out that it wasn’t going to work out anymore, we had to stop and find a new singer.  That was a pretty lengthy process, so it took us about a year to make that record.  There were also times when we got offered a tour we didn’t want to turn down, so that added some stops and starts.  It was work on and off for a year.

EVHGear.com: Did the direction of the songs differ from Howard to Jesse?

Adam D: Not at all.  We pretty much gave Jesse the same demos we gave Howard.  We don’t really strive to do anything except put out music that comes naturally and feels naturally to us.

EVHGear.com:  How has the reception of Disarm the Descent been thus far?

Adam D:  It’s been great to see.  It’s even weirder to see that we have a lot of younger fans now.  We’re all getting old as crap. [laughs]  And you look out and think, “Wow, those are a lot of newer fans.  And everybody seems to know a lot of the new stuff already!”  That’s pretty awesome.

EVHGear.com:  Does going on recent tours with a band like Periphery help draw that younger-skewing audience?

Adam D: Of course, somebody that is new to metal or is into a band that is doing something really cool like Periphery, maybe we’ll get exposed to that fan more than in another case.

EVHGear.com: Do you think you went in a harder direction with Disarm the Descent?

Adam D:  I guess it’s a little more aggressive.  Personally, I was a little disappointed in how singer/songwriter-heavy the last one we made was.  We worked with an outside producer, with Howard wanting to write more rock-style songs versus keeping it aggressive and metal.  I grew up a hardcore/metal punk kid and wanted to get back to the thing that I used to love doing. We just wanted to make sure we got back to our roots.

EVHGear.com:  How did you develop the producing chops for the various projects you’ve done over the years?

Adam D:  I don’t really have chops.  I guess I’m just lucky. [laughs]  I just always loved making music, and I think that’s where it all comes from.  Getting in the studio and watching a song come together from start to finish is a really cool and rewarding process.

EVHGear.com:  Who are some of the bands you’ve worked with as a producer that you’re especially proud of?

Adam D:  I’m pretty proud of every record I’ve done and proud of every situation I’ve been given.  I can’t pin one record down in particular.  I just try to do the best I can in all situations.

EVHGear.com:  Do you have other projects you’re working on at the moment?

Adam D:  Right now, I’m trying to finish up my side project with the singer from Cannibal Corpse and the old drummer from Black Dahlia Murder.  It’s really fast and crunchy and aggressive.  Even more noodly and crazy than anything I’ve ever done with Killswitch.  It’s kind of been under the radar at the moment.  I’ve been chugging away at that.  I’ve been touring so much this year that it’s hard to find time to commit to making a record.

EVHGear.com: How did going to school at Berklee College of Music help you become a professional musician?

Adam D:  First off, you learn a lot of music theory and all that, and that helps your ear and how to think about the way music in general works.  But I’ve always been a believer that you should do what feels right.  I don’t know if it necessarily helped me out with Killswitch and songwriting, but of course it gave me a better handle on how signal-flow works in the studio and the things that make recording gear tick.

EVHGear.com: What prompted you to want to play guitar originally?

Adam D:  I just enjoyed it.  I taught myself how to play guitar when I was 16 years old, because it was something that I thought sounded cool and was fun.

EVHGear.com:  Who were some of your guitar heroes growing up?

Adam D:  Of course, Eddie Van Halen was No. 1 – even before I started playing guitar.  I thought he was so creative and innovative.  When I actually started playing, I taught myself a lot of old Metallica stuff, AC/DC.  I’d say those three were some of the biggest.

EVHGear.com:  What do you like about the Wolfgang you’ve been playing? 

Adam D:  I’ve kept it pretty much stock, but I did end up taking out the pickup selector, just because I ended up bumping into it.  But other than that, the reason I like it so much is the neck is so cool.  It’s just a great, great, fast neck.  And, the electronics on it are great.  I’m also endorsed by EMG, so I love using 81s in the studio, but I love the Wolfgang pickups.  They just sound open, musical and chimey.  They’re responsive.

EVHGear.com:  So what’s up for Killswitch Engage on the horizon?

Adam D:  We’re doing the Lamb of God tour in the United States, but after that, I think next year we’ll try to do some more international stuff, rack up the frequent flyer miles.  After that, who knows?  Maybe take a little bit of a breather and start writing some new material.  We’ll see.

For more information, visit Killswitch Engage’s official website for more information.