How Killswitch Engage surfed the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal to glory

A photograph of Killswitch Engage

How was it to be part of the NWOAHM?

Adam D (Guitar): “Oh, you know, it’s just one of those terms that people like you guys like to chuck around. It has connotations, and I guess there was a sound that went along with those bands. But we never set out to be any style of metal – we grew up listening to all kinds of stuff. So, people put a name on it, and we were just like, ‘OK, fuck it’ and went with it.”

Did you feel like you were part of that scene?

“There was definitely a sound that went on with all of those bands. And we became noticed when all that stuff was going on. Signing to Roadrunner is when it all kicked off for us… so… I don’t know… I guess. That time was incredible. The big things that were happening at the time were nu metal, all that bouncy shit, so when we heard bands with leads and riffs, it was like, ‘Wow!’ It actually sounded like metal again.”

How big a danger was there of you splitting up when Jesse left in 2002?

“Of course it was massive. We were pretty much convinced the gig was up. It’s hard when you lose the actual voice of your band. The singer is what most people really gravitate towards, the lyrics over the guitar parts or whatever, so when you lose that aspect of what you do, the rug is really pulled out from you.”

How similar was it with Howard in 2012?

“The same kind of feeling again, man. I remember thinking, ‘Well, it was fun while it lasted! I guess we can go look for someone, but if it doesn’t work out then I gotta go get a day job!’ People who aren’t in bands can’t really imagine what it’s like to have these relationships and be on a bus, and live with these other humans for such a long time. It’s really hard to explain to people. It’s a strange thing to call work.”

What was it like when Jesse came back?

I did the Times Of Grace record with Jesse before [2011’s The Hymn Of A Broken Man], and that set the tone for how we were going to work as a band this time around. It was a real change going from Howard, who was in this really dark place, to Jesse. Instead of things being difficult, it becomes really easy. You have this guy that has never really toured extensively before, and you see it through these whole new eyes. You’re like, ‘Wow! Our singer is really excited!’ and that energises you.”

Jesse Leach's track-by-track to Killswitch Engage's new album

Killswitch Engage: “Open your mind beyond metal”

Howard Jones: Metal's Unsung Hero

Metal Hammer

Founded in 1983, Metal Hammer is the global home of all things heavy. We have breaking news, exclusive interviews with the biggest bands and names in metal, rock, hardcore, grunge and beyond, expert reviews of the lastest releases and unrivalled insider access to metal's most exciting new scenes and movements. No matter what you're into – be it heavy metal, punk, hardcore, grunge, alternative, goth, industrial, djent or the stuff so bizarre it defies classification – you'll find it all here, backed by the best writers in our game.