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KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (HOWARD JONES)

ON THE NEW ALBUM „THE END OF HEARTACHE” YOU OBVIOUSLY TRIED A DIFFERENT APPROACH. IS IT TRUE, THAT YOU TOOK YOUR MAIN INSPIRATION FROM THE COVER ARTWORK, WHICH WAS DESIGNED BY MIKE D. AND BASED THE WHOLE LYRICS CONCEPT ON THAT ARTWORK? Actually, not really! I don’t know exactly where that came from. I’ve heard that from a few interviewers. On one of the songs, just the artwork and the songs seemed to coincide pretty well. You know, they went together. But no, I wrote all these songs at different times and everything, so I can’t really say that. IT SAYS SO ON YOUR OFFICIAL WEBSITE…SO THAT WASN’T THE CASE?!? No, definitely not! I had actually written some of the lyrics on the Roadrage tour that we did here in 2002, and then there were one or two of the songs I had written actually in the studio while we were recording, and everything else in between. Yeah… I can’t really say that it was based on the artwork. SO YOU WRITE YOUR LYRICS AFTER YOU’VE LISTENED TO THE SONGS? Usually I would hear the music and just get a vibe from it. But there were a few songs I had written well before there was music. “When darkness falls” I had written the lyrics to that, I say, when I was here in Europe. Actually, no lie, I wrote those lyrics in Germany. So, yeah! They were just written all over different times. Different times, different places. ONE THING THAT MAKES KILLSWITCH ENGAGE DIFFERENT FROM MOST OF THE OTHER METAL BANDS, IS THE POSITIVE CONCEPT IN THE LYRICS. A LOT OF THE LYRICS ARE BASED ON THE WORD, THE MEANING “HOPE”. IT’S ABOUT GOING THROUGH DEVASTATING EXPERIENCES, BUT ALSO YOU GIVE THE FANS THE FEELING: “NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!” DID YOU WANT TO GIVE THE SONGS A POSITIVE EDGE? Wow! Finally someone who picked up on it. Usually people just ask what the album is about. And then someone who actually got what I was aiming for. Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is. Just despite what you’re going through. Even if today is bad, hope for tomorrow. There’s always hope. That’s really what I was aiming for. It’s nice to hear someone picked it up. IT’S JUST VERY DIFFERENT FROM A LOT OF OTHER BANDS. ESPECIALLY IN THE HEAVY MUSIC GENRE BANDS SING ABOUT HOW CRAPPY THEIR LIFE IS AND THAT THEY’RE GOING TO KILL THEMSELVES BECAUSE EVERYBODY HATES THEM. WERE YOU TRYING TO SET SOMETHING LIKE A POSITIVE COUNTERPART TO THOSE BANDS? I think that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Killswitch. I think, there’s that balance. It’s like with the music there is the heaviness and then there is melody. And then also with something that could obviously be considered angry and negative, you know, it’s like: “Oh… I hate my life! Oh…the pain you put me through…” You know, everybody goes through pain and troubles and trials. And that’s the cool thing about being able to write about it and share things with people. I just think, that there is always hope. That regardless your life isn’t 24/7 dictated by what’s wrong. And that you can actually look forward, you can look ahead. So, that’s something we’ve always tried to strive for. And even, I didn’t even really think: “Ok, how do I make the song positive?” It’s just what came out. And it just worked out that way. WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF AN OPTIMISTIC, POSITIVE PERSON? No, probably not at all! (laughs) I think, I have bad days just like everyone else. But I really do think that, if today isn’t good, then – God help me – tomorrow has to be better. So I always, in that way maybe I am a little optimistic. But, I have bad moments just like everybody else. ON THE ALBUM “LOVE” SEEMS TO BE ANOTHER CENTRAL THEME. I COULDN’T REALLY MAKE UP MY MIND WHETHER THE SINGLE “ROSE OF SHARYN” WAS ABOUT A LOVE, OR LOSING A LOVED ONE THROUGH DEATH. IS THAT SONG ABOUT LOVE OR DEATH? Well, you can probably just sort of interpret that one which ever way you like. I leave that up to everyone to take what they want from that song. Let’s just say, that song has some very personal meaning. So… if you can get something out of it – excellent! USUALLY IT’S THE JOURNALIST’S JOB TO FIND NAMES FOR THE MUSIC. BUT IT’S NOT THAT EASY WITH KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR MUSIC? We’re just heavy music with melody! I’ve never really attempted to classify this band. Even before I had entered the band, there was just really no way to say: “Oh, they’re just a typical metal band, or, oh… they come from hardcore bands in their past!” You know, it’s just a hardcore band who likes metal. And it’s Killswitch! They just play heavy music with singing in it on occasion. So, I’m not classifying. It just really doesn’t do what we’re trying to do justice. It’s just music, it’s aggressive music with hopeful lyrics. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. BUT IT WOULDN’T REALLY MAKE YOU HAPPY IF SOMEONE CALLED YOU JUST A METAL BAND, OR JUST A HARDCORE BAND? If that’s what they want to do… hey… go for it! But I just preferred people just to classify us as a band that either they like, or more than likely hate! YOUR GUITARIST ADAM WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRODUCTION AND THE ENGINEERING. FOR THE MIXING JOB YOU HIRED WELL-KNOWN PRODUCER ANDY SNEAP. WHY DIDN’T YOU GO THE WHOLE WAY AND DID IT THE DO-IT-YOURSELF-WAY? I think, Adam was considering mixing it himself. And when there is time constraints, we’ve all been real busy, and I know he’s real busy. But at the same time, we also have a lot of faith in Andy Sneap. He’s good at what he does. He’s real good at what he does. And if you listened to the new Arch Enemy album… wow! Sounds amazing. So, hey – why not?! He’ll get the job done and he’ll probably do it a lot faster than any of us could, went there. And we’re pretty happy with how it worked out! HAS THERE BEEN ANY OTHER PRODUCERS IN THE DRAW? No, he was pretty much the one. Especially, because Adam has faith in him. And Adam has a great ear, and he’s talented. He’s very talented in what he does. Adam has faith in Andy? Hey– we’re sold! THAT WASN’T THE FIRST TIME ADAM WAS WORKING AS A PRODUCER. IT’ S LIKE TWO CAREERS HE IS PURSUING: LIKE ONE CAREER AS A PRODUCER, WHERE HE HAS BEEN GAINING QUITE A NAME, AND OF COURSE AS A MUSICIAN. DO YOU THINK, THESE TWO CAREERS MIGHT COLLIDE IN THE FUTURE? It’s been pretty busy for him lately, and he manages it to make it work. Instead of him doing this interview right now, he’s actually recording a band. So we make adjustments, he makes adjustments and it just works out. We’re happy for him and he’s definitely getting a name for himself, that’s for sure. A lot of people are starting to pay attention to what he’s doing. And he’s good. He’s very, very good! THE TITLE SONG “THE END OF HEARTACHE” – WOULD YOU GO WITH ME – THAT IT’S KIND OF A BALLAD? Uhh… I don’t know?!? I heard the music and I immediately thought: “I’m going to sing most of the song!” And… So, I didn’t really considered about, but I’ve heard that phrase, I think, two or three times now. People say: “Hey, that’s like a heavy metal ballad” – “Oh, no… what have I done?!” So, ok, let’s go with that, alright, I wrote a metal ballad! You know, sort of like (starts singing) “Eveeery rooose has it’s thorn”. Can we take that out? NOPE! ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, THAT YOU DON’T LIKE METAL BALLADS? AND POISON WAS A GLAM ROCK BAND, BY THE WAY… Oh, I know, but, I do understand that. But, arrrgh… come on, that was a great ballad!! I’m just thinking of the term “ballad” in general. That was a ballad!! GOD, YOU’RE SUCH A POSER… (laughs) Hey, I love all types of music, that’s just me. You know, Germany… please, it’s like the home of metal, this I know. I think, Germany is the first place, I really got turned on to like Kamelot, and then there’s. oh, what’s that band- Domain! There’s this band called Domain, for me I love those guys! (laughs) COMING BACK TO YOUR MUSIC HERE: YOU STARTED OUT IN A HARDCORE BAND, NOW YOU’RE IN A HARDCORE-METAL-THRASH-DEATH-NU DEATH-BAND. BUT WHERE ARE YOUR MUSICAL ROOTS? Definitely a little bit of old-school, a little bit of the newer stuff. You know, I definitely… when I got into bands and I started doing them, I was listening to a lot of Sick of it all, a lot of Earth Crisis, things like that. So it was a little blend of both.. So, this was kind of nice. And I’m still involved into my other band. It’s real heavy, I would say. We get a lot of Meshuggah-comparisons. So, it’s just heavy. But I’ve always liked heavy music. I’d say that the band that probably influenced me more than any was probably Faith no more. Just because I listened to it so much, when they were active. But I’ve always liked everything from rock to hardrock to metal to death metal. I’d listen to Faith no more and then I’d listen to the first couple of Death albums at the same time. You know, that’s just me. I’ve always just had a strange taste of music. YOUR OTHER BAND BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED, IS ACTUALLY THE BAND WHERE YOU AND JUSTIN FOLEY ORIGINATE FROM. AS FAR AS I UNDERSTOOD IT, YOU DIDN’T BREAK UP THE BAND OR PUT IT ON ICE. IS THAT BAND GOING TO CO-EXIST TOGETHER WITH KILLSWITCH ENGAGE? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BRING THE TWO SCHEDULES TOGETHER? The schedule is going to be a little crazy. I actually just finished a tour with Blood has been shed about three weeks ago. We still stay active, just not nearly as active as Killswitch, but that’s ok. The other guys in Blood has been shed they have lives. My guitarist has two kids, he’s got a wife. He’s hoping to run the family business. Our bass player is engaged, and working with troubled kids, things like that. You know, so everyone stays pretty active. So, when we can find a little time we’ll make it work, go out on the road, maybe do a little writing, stuff like that. I love music. So to get to do two bands – that’s great! DID YOU GET ANY HARD FEELINGS FROM THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS FROM BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED, BECAUSE TWO MEMBERS LEFT AT THE SAME TIME? No, no, no hard feelings. We’re all friends and we’ve all known the guys in Killswitch for a long time. So, when that happened, it was fine. Then Justin came along. It was like: “Wow! That’s great!” Nobody complained. Blood has been shed will always, well, not always, but especially as of the last couple of years it had been a part-time band. So, that’s pretty much just what it is. DID YOU GET ANY CRAP FROM DIE-HARD HARDCORE FANS, LIKE “OH, HE BETRAYED OUR MUSIC TO PAY IN A METAL BAND!”? I’ve heard that a few times, just like: “Oh…Blood has been shed is better, oh… Killswitch is better!”. They’re completely different things. That’s like comparing apples to Godzilla. MUSICALLY HARDCORE AND METAL GO PRETTY WELL TOGETHER. BUT THE IDEALS BEHIND THE MUSIC ARE QUITE DIFFERENT. WHAT IDEALS OR ETHICS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOU FROM THE HARDCORE SCENE INTO THE METAL SCENE? Definitely the whole strength in yourself and just the comradery that you have with hardcore and hardcore bands. And just the people who come to those kind of shows. And with metal there’s just this complete and utter dedication to the bands that, you know, kids and adults, whoever, if they’re into a metal band, they’re fans. Especially as long as they keep putting out decent products. But, yeah, it’s just, I like that. And if we can take those qualities and bring them together and just kind of like mix them up, then there’s Killswitch. Great! And all of us used to listen to a lot of hardcore, and we still do. Just because we’re around it so much, and we still play with a lot of hardcore bands. And being involved with Blood has been shed we’re still around a lot of hardcore bands. So, it’s a cool thing. ON THE INTERNET, FANS ARE DISCUSSING WHETHER YOU AND JUSTIN HAVE BROUGHT TOO MUCH OF A HARDCORE FEEL INTO THE BAND. CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THOSE FEARS? I definitely didn’t look at any of those. I tend not to pay too much attention to them. It’s internet, it’s a necessary thing. And it’s cool, because everybody has a voice, but I don’t really pay too much attention to it. But yeah, I could understand that, because we’re in a pretty aggressive, heavy band. And then Killswitch – it’s aggressive. But it’s nothing like Blood has been shed. So, I understand that. But we all just got together and started writing. We are happy with what we came out with. We didn’t try to formulate anything, or say: “Ok, we have to make sure, this is a little easy-on-the-ears or anything like that!” We didn’t really think about it like that. But it just ended up there, being more melody on that album than on the last one. Go figure… ON THE NEW ALBUM YOU REPLACED FORMER SINGER JESSE LEACH. THE SPECULATIONS ABOUT HIS REASONS TO LEAVE, RANGE FROM “PROBLEMS WITH HIS VOICE”, TO “WANTED TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY” TO “HE FELT A NEED TO FIND GOD”. WHAT WAS THE REAL REASON FOR HIM TO LEAVE KILLSWITCH ENGAGE? I think Jesse had already found God, he and God were pretty good friends for a while. He’s always had his beliefs and everything. His throat was actually giving him problems, screaming and singing night in and night out was a problem. And that tour, when he ended the tour, he’d only been married for two or three months. And he was really missing his wife. And knowing that a new album is about to come out, and to support it on tour, you’re gonna be out for a year, a year and a half, maybe two. And just those things, and he was getting pretty burned out on metal, if that’s what you want to call the music. Or just really, really aggressive, music, where he’s screaming all the time. He got burned out on it. And it was all those things. He just decided, it wasn’t for him anymore. BUT HE’S STILL PLAYING MUSIC WITH HIS BAND SEAMLESS. WHAT KIND OF MUSIC IS HE PLAYING NOWADAYS, IS IT A POP BAND NOW? No, they’re more of a… they’re more rock. And its maybe 99% singing. And it’s great! It’s really, really good. I would say, it’s a mix between Queens of the stone age and Soundgarden. And it works! It’s good, it’s got some really good groove to it, maybe throw a little Kyuss in there, while you’re at it. But yeah, it’s good. And it’s what he wanted to do, and it suits him really well. But yeah, there’s definitely no competition, no problem between any of us. He came and did some vocals, and then we all went out to eat and hung out, we’re all friends. I’ve been known Jesse longer than anybody else in Killswitch, I’ve known him for about ten years now. He’s been a friend, still is a friend. WILL THERE BE ANY MORE CO-OPERATIONS LIKE THAT WITH JESSE ON FUTURE ALBUMS? You never know! He might. We might give him a call, that’s what happened. Like: “Hey, you want to come sing on the album?” – “Sure!” So, you never know. Might happen again, hard to say. WHEN TWO NEW BAND MEMBERS JOIN AN ALREADY EXISTING BAND – HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A CHEMISTRY THERE, OR HAS IT BEEN SOMETHING LIKE “A BAND WITHIN A BAND” AT FIRST? I think, we gained some chemistry from being out on the road for so long. We played a lot of shows in the past year and a half. And for us, there just seemed to be a click when we got together, it just seemed to work out really well. That’s not to sound cocky or arrogant, or anything. It’s just…it did, it worked out really well. We all got along. I think that has a lot to do with it. When you get along well as friends, it just makes things that much easier. And he’re we are. Made an album, and we’re kind of happy with it. So, hopefully other people will enjoy it as much as we have. Even though I haven’t listened to it in while. (laughs) I just don’t want to listen to it. IS THERE A SONG ON THE ALBUM, WHICH MEANS MORE TO YOU THAN ANY OTHER SONG? Wow, that’s pretty hard to say. I guess, I would say “Rose of Sharyn” and probably the title song. I don’t know, they all had meaning, just because I kind of remember where I was at in my life when I was writing them. I remember the couple of songs I wrote on the Roadrage-tour. I remember the songs I had written on the Headbanger’s Ball-tour in the States, the songs I had written in the studio, the song I had written in the shower before we just started recording, the song I wrote while we were recording. I think, “Rose of Sharyn” was probably the last one I had written. And they all have a lot of meaning for me. Cause I remember exactly where my head was at, at that time. But yeah, those two “Rose of Sharyn” and “End of heartache” definitely have some meaning for me. WHAT DID YOU BRING INTO THE BAND, THAT THE BAND DIDN’T HAVE BEFORE? Probably a 215-pound-leadsinger! (laughs) Cause before that it was like a 150-pound-guy. I love that guy, but… what a tiny guy! (laughs) He’s a small one. I don’t know, I think, I’m just a bit more aggressive. Jesse has a very laid-back way, that’s the thing most people didn’t really get to see him play live. But he’s a little bit more laid-back, and you definitely feel what he is singing. Me, I’m a little more in-your-face, like: “Uaarrgh!”. You know, a little more aggressive. But I definitely try to have some emotion and everything. But yeah, definitely more aggression! HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR “CELEBRITY”-FANS? SLAYER’S KERRY KING FOR EXAMPLE DOESN’T LEAVE OUT ANY INTERVIEW, WITHOUT MENTIONING YOU GUYS AND RAVING ABOUT YOUR MUSIC. DOES THAT MAKE YOU BLUSH SOMETIMES? Yeah, definitely! I mean, it’s Kerry King! Come on, how can you not?! I mean, all of us we listen to Slayer for years and then, to see him come out to some shows and to start hanging out. Ending to see him come…he came out on the Blood has been shed shows just to hang out with the band. You know, he’s a regular guy just like anybody else, except that he’s Kerry King. So there you have it. But, yeah, it’s really cool that there’s been some people that are really into this band. I mean, I never expected the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin to be into our band, but apparently… He came out to one of the Ozzfests and I hung out with him for a while, then he turned on some of the other wrestlers onto us. I never would have thought that! So, the fringe benefits of being in a band: So, if you’re gonna start a band, don’t give up! Just keep playing, because… somebody’s gonna like it that you never expected! TOGETHER WITH SUCH BANDS AS SHADOW’S FALL, LAMB OF GOD OR CHIMAIRA YOU FORM A NEW GENERATION OF HEAVY MUSIC IN THE STATES. WHERE DO SEE THAT SCENE GOING IN THE FUTURE? We’re just doing what we do, and all those bands have been around for a little while. Just they’re starting to get a little more acceptance, which is really cool. So, we’re happy about that. And, Lamb of God, Shadow’s Fall – we’ve known them for so long. It’s so weird. I remember playing with Chimaira with my other band back in ’98, something like that. It’s just strange to see how things have progressed to where they are now. And it’s just really nice. My friends and I we’re seeing the world together and having a blast. Doesn’t get any better than that! LAST QUESTION: OBVIOUSLY YOU DO SING IN THE SHOWER. SO, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG TO SING IN THE SHOWER? Wow…I would say “The last to know” by Faith no more! I sing that song in the shower all the time. And I actually wrote the chorus to the song “Breathe life” on our album, I wrote that in the shower. (laughs) Yeah – I sing in the shower! WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THIS YEAR THEN? HEADING OFF TO JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA THIS MONTH? Yeah! Playing some shows with Anthrax and Dillinger Escape Plan, and who else? I believe, From Autumn To Ashes, and Burnt By The Sun. It’s a pretty strange mixture of bands, it’s gonna be fun. I love that! Well, that’s in Japan. And in Australia will be with Anthrax and Soilwork. Then we get back to the States and tour with In Flames. And then we’ll be here in Europe in June.

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