Anthony Toto of Pop-Break.com recently conducted an interview with guitarist Joel Stroetzel of Massachusetts metallers KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Pop-Break.com: The documentary for "Disarm The Descent" was excellent; it captured the vibe of KILLSWITCH reuniting with [singer] Jesse [Leach] and reconnecting as a band. In a way, your band came full circle. You faced a difficult situation 10 years ago when Jesse left the band and Howard [Jones] joined the fold. Jesse is back after Howard left. Could you elaborate on the experience?
Joel Stroetzel: Going way back, one of the things we liked most about Howard was that he didn't try to be Jesse out of all the people we tried out. The same thing happened again when Jesse came back after Howard left. We said, "How do you sound singing Howard's songs?" He did it and it sounds like him. We liked that he didn't try to be somebody he's not. Both guys are unique. Yeah, it was great having him come back. It's just like old friends reuniting after all these years. We kept in touch over the years and we did the TIMES OF GRACE project with Adam [Dutkiewicz, guitar] and Jesse. Everything's been great and the spirits are high!
Pop-Break.com: The documentary touched on the uncertainty regarding the future of KILLSWITCH after Howard left the band.
Joel Stroetzel: I won't go into any of Howard's personal stuff out of respect for him. Howard was in a rut and we did a few short tours with him. Ultimately, we were like, "Hey, let's just take a break." Almost two years passed and it didn't really seem like he was into going back out on the road. We talked about it and it was a friendly thing. It wasn't, "Screw you, you're fired," or, "Screw you, I quit." We talked and decided this was the way to do it. It's all good. Once Jesse found out that Howard left, he was like, "I don't want anyone else getting that job. I don't want anyone else getting that gig! I want it!" We were, like, "We know you could sing your songs, but you mind learning a few of Howard's?" He came and nailed it. We were in the process of trying out people at the time before we heard from Jesse. We tried out a bunch of folks and he came in and tried out against everybody. He nailed it and it was great.
Pop-Break.com: Are there any plans or ideas floating around for new music?
Joel Stroetzel: We have been talking about that a lot more over the past month or so. There is a little bit more touring to do on this one. Over the first quarter of , we'll do some overseas stuff that we missed and maybe a few things here and there in the States. I think early through halfway next year, we're probably going to start working on something. I don't know how long it's going to take, because it could be a song here or a song there. At some point, we would like to start thinking about new material. None of us want there to be four years in between records again.
Pop-Break.com: Do you see the return of Jesse Leach as the rebirth of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE?
Joel Stroetzel: It feels like it. It feels like a whole new band, but it also feels like Jesse never left. It's a natural thing and it's very easy. We're really lucky it worked out. It's great because Jesse is such a positive guy. He keeps everybody's chin up really because he's excited about everything.
Pop-Break.com: Where does "Disarm The Descent" sit for you among your catalog? Is it your favorite?
Joel Stroetzel: Right now, it's probably my favorite because I'm not sick of playing all the songs yet. [laughs] Yeah, I think we're all pretty proud of it, because we worked hard on it. We weren't really sure how things were going to turn up. Having Jesse back and being able to make another record with him, we were all very excited about it. The fact that it happened, I'm very pumped about that.
Read the entire interview at Pop-Break.com.