An Interview With Killswitch Engage’s Justin Foley: “The UK Has Supported Us Forever”

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Killswitch Engage 2013 600 x 300 Band Photo

Back in the Summer of 2014 at a sunny (for a change) Donington Park, Killswitch Engage ripped the 2014 Download Festival main stage a new one and reaffirmed to anyone who wasn’t already aware that they’re now as good as they’ve ever been, if not the best they’ve ever been (read the review of their performance and the whole day here). A couple of hours before they hit the stage Rock Sins’ pair Jamie Giberti and Matt Hill caught up with Killswitch Engage drummer Justin Foley to talk, amongst other things, playing in the UK, future plans and who’d be on his dream festival line up.

Jamie: First of all welcome back to Donington!

Justin: Thank you!

Jamie: What made you guys choose to come over and do Download as your only Euro festival for this Summer.

Justin: Well the schedule was getting pretty tight with a lot of stuff so we didn’t have a lot of time to come over this Summer. So we thought lets do that *laughs*

Matt: Killswitch have always done well here at Download in the past so is it something that always grabs your attention when the offers come through?

Justin: The shows here have been great. Unbelievable. I vividly remember the first time, being on the main stage thinking “this is ridiculous! What are all these people doing watching us?!”. But it just keeps happening, so we keep coming *laughs*

Jamie: You had your tour here in the UK with Trivium earlier in the year which seemed to go down very well…

Justin: Oh absolutely, that was a lot of fun.
Jamie: The crowds for your shows here just seem to keep getting bigger and bigger, that must be very gratifying.
Justin: Yeah, you know I think Brixton is the biggest room we’ve ever headlined – anywhere! So that’s very cool, It holds what, 5000? We don’t headline 5,000 places anywhere else. The UK crowd has supported us forever and it’s been really fun to be able to come over here a lot.

Jamie: Awesome! I know you said earlier your schedule is getting pretty busy, I know you’ve got a few US Summer festival dates in the calendar, is that pretty much what you’re getting booked up with?

Justin: Yeah, kinda a bunch of radio festivals. I don’t think the US has had as many festivals before, we’re getting more but a lot of them are radio based. So we’ve been doing a bunch of those this Summer and we’ve got a couple more to go so we’re looking forward to getting that wrapped up.
Jamie: You do seem to have been pretty much on the radio since Disarm The Descent came out.
Justin: We’ve been all over the place for sure. But it’s good, it’s better than nobody wanting to see you.
Matt: How much time do you take away from touring for writing or is it all written on the road?
Justin: We never write on the road, it’s always before / afterwards. So that’s another reason we’re hoping things will calm down a little.
Jamie: Do you all sit and write in a room together or does everyone bring parts in separately?
Justin: We’ll pretty much all demo at home and then we’ll bring stuff in and play it for each other, put it together, change stuff around.

Jamie: One of the festivals in the States you have coming up is the This Is Hardcore Festival, which I saw you discussing on your Facebook about maybe changing the setlist up a bit to make it more hardcore friendly, that sounds quite interesting…

Justin: Yeah! We’re looking forward to that, it’s in Philly and we’re trying to decide what to play for that, maybe we’ll dig out some real oldies. It’s weird with that because it always seems that people ask for really random obscure songs but then if we ever do them no one cares. But I think we’re going to do some of that.
Jamie: Basically you can’t win whatever you do.
Justin: It’s just the one show so it should be a cool vibe.

Jamie: Is your setlist today pretty similar to what was on the tour?

Justin: Yeah pretty much, pretty much. We’ve got a long set today for a festival, we’ve got an hour, but when you start filling it up with songs that have videos or single releases you run out of room quicker than you think. Especially now we have quite a few records.
Jamie: I know Jessie’s said in the past he’s not particularly fond of playing Holy Diver but when you come to places like this it almost seems like a mandatory thing..
Justin: Nope! Not doing that today *laughs*
Matt: Yeah you really can’t please everyone. You’ll always get the “just play the first album, play it all the way through” *laughs*. But now that Jessie is back, does he have a reluctance to sing some of Howard’s songs?
Justin: No not at all, what’s important for Jessie is if he’s really able to relate to the song, so that’s just what he needs to do for himself to get the songs from Howard’s records but he’s fully fine with it.
Jamie: It’s getting on for two and a half years now since Jessie rejoined and obviously at the time you couldn’t know how it was going to go but it’s worked out so well for the band.
Justin: Could. Not. Be. Happier. It’s great to have him in the band and it’s great to have him around in general, and whenever we finally do it I can’t wait to make another record. It’ll be awesome.

Matt: If you were putting on your own festival and you could pick any three bands of all time to headline, who would you pick?

Justin: Ok….I’d put Zeppellin on. It’s the lamest answer ever but you’d just have to. Let’s see…. I’d have Faith No More, they’re one of my favourite bands. And I’d put Meshuggah. They’d blow everyone’s mind.
Matt: Oooo, that would be incredible.

Matt: One last question which is a regular we ask a lot of people, are you a Simpsons fan?

Justin: Uh Yeah!
Matt: Who is your favourite Simpsons character, if you can pick.
Justin: No one has made me as often as Homer so it’s got to be him. But you can’t go wrong with anybody. There is no bad answer there.

Justin Foley and the rest of Killswitch Engage are currently working on the follow up album to the worldwide smash Disarm The Descent. As soon as there is any news regarding a new album, or anything else from the band, you’ll be able to read it here on Rock Sins. In the meantime, follow Killswitch Engage on Twitter at @kseofficial.