It’s not uncommon for music scenes to grow as a direct response to something that’s popular at the time, and in the early 2000s, metalcore really started to find a foothold amidst all the nu metal that was ruling radio. Killswitch Engage emerged during that period, with their label even pushing their music as an alternative to nu metal. So how do the Killswitch Engage guys really feel about nu metal? They shared their thoughts with Metal Hammer.
The magazine turned the interviewing duties over to Employed to Serve’s Justine Jones, who initially brought up the topic by recalling a promotional item from their label for Alive or Just Breathing in which the music was presented with a casket filled with all nu metal fashion at the time.
When asked if they were out to kill nu metal, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz stated, “We weren’t out to kill anything; it was just a piece of shameless promotion from our label. It was funny I guess.”
Singer Jesse Leach added, “Yeah, I mean, I get it, you want a hook to get people excited about a new band, and we were definitely doing something different from what was going on at that time, but… that kind of bravado is not our style.”
While the promotional item definitely butted up against nu metal, their respective views on the genre weren’t exactly favorable either. Adam D. simply remarked, “I dislike anything where the guitar player has six strings but they only use one.”
Leach shared that he wasn’t a nu metal fan, but did find things within the genre he liked and his dislike has waned over time. “I can take or leave some of it, but I really love Deftones, what they were doing was incredible,” said Leach. “You can’t deny some of the riffs of Korn, but some of that [nu metal] stuff was a little goofy. I definitely hated on it at the time, but in retrospect I actually prefer it to some stuff I hear now. It was a commercial sound, and we were into the underground, so it was a little hokey.”
That said, the guys also share that they weren’t really convinced in the early days that metalcore would take off like it has in the last two decades. “I had a day job and I thought, ‘Ah fuck it, I guess I’ll give this a shot for a year, it probably won’t work out, but I’ll feel bad if I don’t give it a shot.’ And here we are,” says Adam D.
Leach adds, “It still blows my mind that I get to do this for a living. I remember seeing Slipknot on late-night TV and hearing them on the radio and thinking it was the first time I’d ever heard screaming in that environment. It felt like the tides had changed, it was incredible, but if you had ever told me I was going to be part of that I’d have laughed in your face.”
Killswitch Engage’s last studio album was 2019’s Atonement, but the band has a Live at the Palladium live album en route on June 3. Pre-orders are available here. The group is currently catching a break from the road, but will be part of the 2022 edition of the Aftershock Festival on Oct. 6.