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Sometimes it´s not that easy to find a slot for a chat with such a busy band like Killswitch Engage. Outside at E-Werk, Cologne, right before their show, STALKER caught up with guitarist Joel Stroetzel, who was eager to let us know about life with KSE.
Joel, every band has its classic, for your band it would be “Rose Of Sharyn”. Do you see it as a commitment having to play this song for the fans night after night?
To be honest, if I had to play it without a crowd in front of me I would probably go nuts (laughs). But I mean, those are songs people are most familiar with, and actually the songs which get the best reaction from the fans are the most fun to play.
About Howard Jones, so things really worked out so well for you guys at the end of day. There seemed to be some reservations against him in the beginning since Jesse (first KSE vocalist) set a standard for Metalcore. What´s your take on that?
The first time we jammed with Howard we knew right away that he is a great singer. Of course at first we didn´t really know how it would be writing with him and what people would expect from him and us. There are still people who like Jesse better, but a lot of people prefer Howard. I think it worked out as good as it could. Howard is a strong front man and he saved us (laughs).
Concerning the special edition “As Daylight Dies” and things such as bonus material, re-released older tracks etc., who has the final say on this, the band or the label?
It´s mostly a label decision. Actually about re-releases we do think that it might be a little cheesy and our fans may go “Gosh. We have to buy the record again.” It kind of sucks, honestly. So therefore we throw in another disc, DVD or something to compensate for that.
What about new ideas for the band ? I am sure you wouldn´t wanna get stuck in one direction too much. How far would you guys push your style or where would you draw the line style-wise?
You know what ? I am not too sure. But as our band progresses, we can become more melodic and heavier at the same time. Take our last record for example, it had a little bit of everything in there, a cool mixture. About writing new material, if we like it we´ll keep it and if we canｴt agree on an idea, let´s get rid of it.
About the Dio cover “Holy Diver”, how did that come about ? Even though it´s an 80s classic your interpretation is very KSE-like.
It was actually due to the 25th anniversary of Kerrang magazine. There was a list of cover songs to pick from and at first another Dio song, “We Rock”, came to mind, but then we recorded “Holy Diver”. We thought Howard would do some screaming on this great classic. However, to our surprise his phrasing came really close to Dio´s, so he did a really great job. It was a blast, a lot of fun really.
Do you actually get the same crowd response over here as in the States?
I think in the very beginning we were accepted over here a lot faster than in the States. The first time we came over here to Germany and the U.K. we got great reactions right away, whereas in the States you have to be touring constantly in order to build up the fan base we have now. People over here in Europe come to the shows because they are dedicated and really into the music.
So what´s your expectation for the show tonight at an obviously packed E-Werk?
I am not too worried (laughs). We have good support bands (DevilDriver, God Forbid) who will rock the crowd with us. Have fun and we will come back soon to play some more shows, maybe some festivals.