KILLSWITCH ENGAGE play Montreal’s Heavy MTL festival on August 11th along with SYSTEM OF A DOWN and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH with all three bands heading down Canada’s 401 highway to play Toronto’s Heavy T.O. festival on August 12th. Killswitch Engage guitarist Joel Stroetzel sat down with BraveWords.com to talk about playing Canada’s two premier metal festivals.
BraveWords.com: You’ll be in Montreal and Toronto in August to play both the Heavy MTL and Heavy T.O. festivals. You’ll be bringing along an old familiar face, original frontman Jesse Leach has returned to the band. How’s it going with him back in the band?
Joel Stroetzel: “It’s kind of crazy and kind of nostalgic. Everybody was really excited that Jesse wanted to come back because we were not sure how things would pan out with a third new singer.”
BraveWords.com: VAN HALEN proved that that’s not always successful.
Stroetzel: “Even if you get a good singer, it’s not always the right thing. But it’s been really great. Jesse has stepped up. He learned a bunch of ‘Howard’ songs and really impressed us. He’s been writing a lot and just really working his butt off. He’s an awesome dude and it’s just really great to have him back.”
BraveWords.com: Is this a temporary thing for 2012 or is he ‘the guy’ to move forward with?
Stroetzel: “The plan is to move forward and he’s the guy. That’s it.”
BraveWords.com: The last album (Killswitch Engage) was released in 2009? What are the plans for a new album?
Stroetzel: “We shooting to have something out before the end of the year. Hopefully, early fall, but we’re not really sure. We’re in the studio right now and things are shaping up pretty well, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
BraveWords.com: Musically, with Jesse back, do you continue doing what you were doing with Howard or do you go back to the sound of the early days with Jesse?
Stroetzel: “We’re just trying to do the best next record. Everybody has been real fired up going into the writing sessions. Things are coming out fast and aggressive, but there’s also that whole melodic element with big choruses here and there that we did with Howard. We’ll just see what happens. we’re just writing music that we like and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
BraveWords.com: You’re on the Trespass America tour with Five Finger Death Punch …
Stroetzel: “We didn’t know a lot about the line-up until the last week. The Five Finger guys first approached Adam (Dutkiewicz, guitarist) and then our management about doing something this summer. Their crowd is a little different then your typical ‘Killswitch’ crowd and we thought it would be a cool opportunity to play for some different people. Plus, we have some friends (in the other bands) on that tour. We’re really looking forward to it.”
BraveWords.com: Are you amazed that you can co-headline a huge summer festival tour?
Stroetzel: “I wasn’t aware that we were ‘co-headlining’. I think we’re just opening for them.”
BraveWords.com: I think co-headline judging by the tour poster...
Stroetzel: “Fair enough, but I’m not sure that’s official. We’re just psyched to be on such a big tour. Especially, after being off the road with ‘Killswitch’ for a couple of years. Everybody is fired up and it’s going to be a great summer.”
BraveWords.com: Let’s talk Heavy MTL and Heavy T.O.. Outside of Europe, this kind of all-day/weekend heavy metal festival is exclusive to Canada. What’s your take on this kind of festival?
Stroetzel: “I think it’s amazing and I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in the States because we’ve been doing Euro festivals for years. Last summer, we did the Heavy MTL and Heavy T.O. festivals with TIMES OF GRACE and it was a great time. Heavy MTL is a really well run festival with great bands and we can’t wait to do it with ‘Killswitch’ this year.”
BraveWords.com: Five Finger Death Punch will be with you on the bill, but you’ll also be playing with System Of A Down. Are you a ‘System’ fan?
Stroetzel: “I like those guys a lot and have been listening to them since their first record. They’re kind of different and crazy, but they appeal to different types of people from typical metal heads to a more rock n’ roll crowd. I’ve never seen them live, so I’m looking forward to it.”
BraveWords.com: Are these kinds of festival a good idea in North America? Why is it only working up in Canada?
Stroetzel: “I’m not too sure. We’ve had OzzFest through the States, but it doesn’t seem to get as many people as they do in Toronto or Montreal. The Euro festivals get 50,000 or 60,000 people. I’m just not sure why - maybe it’s just not the right bands.”
BraveWords.com: For a festival show like Heavy MTL - do you switch up the set list at all?
Stroetzel: “It all depends on our set time. We’ll try to do our full set. We’ll play anywhere from forty minutes to an hour twenty. We’ll just play the right songs for the time given.”
BraveWords.com: Plus, you’ll have a chance to reach a bunch of new fans...
Stroetzel: “Yeah. Definitely.”
BraveWords.com: As you mentioned, you played Heavy MTL last year with Times Of Grace with Adam. What did you appreciate the most of the festival and the city?
Stroetzel: “I love Montreal and I love Toronto as well. My wife is actually Canadian...”
BraveWords.com: She’s a Canuck, eh?
Stroetzel: “Yup - a Canuck, so we’re frequent visitors and I’m an honorary Canadian. I love both cities and I’m very excited. We’ve done lots of shows over the years in both places and it’ll be nice to play for a bigger crowd. Hopefully, we’ll reel in some new fans.”
For more info: HeavyMTL.com, HeavyTO.com