With a unique style, ferocious riffs, and great melodic sensibility, Killswitch Engage has morphed into one of today’s most successful acts in heavy music. The band pioneered the genre of music known as Metalcore, combining elements of heavy metal and hardcore for their brutal mix of pummeling rhythms and grand, melodic choruses.
In addition to being one of the axe slingers in this band, Adam Dutkiewicz (more commonly referred to as Adam D.) is also known as one of the top producers in the genre. Besides having produced all of his own band’s records, the Berklee College of Music alum has also worked with bands like Unearth, Every Time I Die, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, and Underoath. Be sure to check out As Daylight Dies, the latest release from Killswitch Engage.
IC: What would you say is the main change from the previous album, The End of Heartache, to As Daylight Dies?
A: Most of it is paying more attention to what we do… bringing through our personality a little more. That’s about it. We didn’t really to try to reinvent the wheel. We just wanted to protect more of what we kinda do.
IC: Who are your main musical influences?
A: Oh crap, everything man. I listen to all styles of music. You take from whatever you listen to. If you’re a songwriter, you’re being inspired by everything. Hell, even a broken muffler on a car or something like that can really, no joke, can inspire random rhythms…
IC: I understand you got sdatarted with Killswitch Engage playing drums. Why the change to guitar?
A: Because when you’re playing drums, you can’t get really drunk. You have to be responsible, because you’re the guy holding the band together. And I got really tired of setting up my drum set and tuning it. It’s way easier to just plug in a guitar, tune it real quick, jump around, and throw yourself into the kit – it’s fun.
IC: Speaking of throwing yourself at drum kits, you guys tend to get pretty crazy on stage. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on tour?
A: Oh crap, everything. A lot of shit happened man, for sure. I was pelted in the head by a microphone where I had to get six stitches and a random kid licked my open wound, which was pretty gross. Lots of funny shit happens on stage every night, it’s a good time.
IC: What did you major in at Berklee? Did you ever graduate?
A: MP&E [Music Production & Engineering] and yes, I did.
IC: What’s the best thing that you took away from the whole Berklee experience?
A: Man… I guess pretty much that people were full of hot air (laughs). I’m being honest with you, man. I think Berklee really helped my musical background for sure. I brushed up on theory and stuff like that. The MP&E course was more so just kind of a beginner thing. For me, I feel like if you’re gonna be a producer and an engineer, you gotta be more so dealing with that job and striving to be interning. I think that’s really where you learn how to do jobs like that. It’s definitely a great course for getting the random beginner aspects and the outline and the tech specs and all that stuff.
IC: After you graduated from Berklee, what happened?
A: Lots of interning, lots of producing in bands myself and hell man, I’m still learning. That’s the whole thing, as an engineer and a producer, the more records you do the more you learn about how to make music better. A lot of producing is actually just a lot of psychology and saying the right things to the player at the right time so you make people comfortable and you get great performances and great songs out of the situation.
IC: When producing a band’s new record, what kinds of things do you look for?
A: Well I think any job of any producer really is just to find the qualities of the band and kind of make them blossom. You always have to find the good in what a band does to make a good record, because you want to make those things shine. At the same time, another job is to find the negative aspects of a band and what makes them weak, work on their weak points, and just try to just get rid of those within that record.
IC: If there was one producer you could work with, who would it be?
A: The dude that did all the big Radiohead records. I think he’s got a really good idea of space and textures…. Nigel Godrich, I think he’s great.
IC: What kinds of guitars, amps, mics, etc. did you use to make the new record?
A: We’re endorsed by a small Japanese guitar company called Caparison. They’re all hand-made. They’re kind of like Ibanez, but made really, really good. You know, kind of shredder guitars, very cool. We used those on the record. For amplifiers we used some Mesa/Boogie Triple [Rectifiers] and the Soldano SLO head. For cabinets we always used Mesa/Boogie straights with Vintage 30’s in them. And for guitar tone, you can’t go wrong with the idiot setup – the [Shure SM] 57 through a decent mic-preamp.
IC: What amps do you use live nowadays?
A: I’ve got a Mesa/Boogie Roadster and Joel [Stroetzel] is using a Mesa Triple Rectifier.
IC: Now for a serious question. Do metal bands get chicks or what? I would imagine that many would hold back from going to the shows to avoid getting destroyed in the mosh pits.
A: (laughs) Well, you know the funny thing is, a lot of girls come to the shows to try to meet the bands. They feel a little more important when they’re hanging out with dudes that play on stage. Yeah, we see fans get the road curse all the time. But I know for a fact that everybody in this band doesn’t do that. We’re all chill dudes, we got our girlfriends and wives and stuff like that.
IC: Once you became more serious about your guitar playing, did you have any particular practice routine to get your skills together?
A: Just a lot of beer. Just getting drunk in your bedroom and then putting a little delay on your guitar and just riffing in the mirror.
IC: It’s a funny thing – judging by our recent interview, Zakk Wylde also seems to have a strong affection for beer and guitar playing.
A: It’s funny, I would totally believe in Zakk Wylde’s abilities to drink beer. But I just had an interview for Guitar World and this person that works at Guitar World (she’s actually a girl) challenged Zakk Wylde in a beer-chugging competition. She won. She won! And then I came in and challenged the same girl and I won. So I think indirectly I’d beat Zakk Wylde in a beer-chugging competition, which rules.
IC: Interesting, we’ll have to set that up sometime, right?
A: Oh yeah, I’d love that. I’d love to just meet the guy – hang out and drink beer.
IC: Can you give any advice to aspiring musicians?
A: Don’t take no for an answer and do what you wanna do. Do what drives you and motivates you. It’s all a creative thing so always keep the creative aspect the most important thing about what you do.