Killswitch Engage’s Justin Foley Talks Touring, Grammy Ceremony, Social Media + More
Killswitch Engage are currently on tour in support of last year’s album ‘Disarm the Descent,’ which featured the return of vocalist Jesse Leach. The band is mixing in several festivals along with a headlining run. KsE recently played Carolina Rebellion, and that’s where Loudwire sat down with drummer Justin Foley for the following interview:
You recently got back from Japan and Australia. How was it?
It was great. We’ve been there a bunch of times. It’s probably the best Japan tour that we ever had. It was really, really cool. We got to go to some cities we hadn’t been to in forever like Fukuoka and Hiroshima. We always do Tokyo and Osaka and Nagoya and that’s pretty much been it forever, so we got to play some more places.
We got to go to a baseball game on a day off in Hiroshima. I always wanted to go to a Japanese league baseball game. As far as just watching it, one of the main differences is the crowd is singing the whole time. It was super, super fun.
When you’re on a tour like this where one night you’re headlining and then the next day you’re playing at a festival in the afternoon, is that difficult?
You just kind of roll with it. It’s fun when you do the festival stuff because you run into different bands that you haven’t seen in a while. We’ve been at this for so long that we have friends that we get to see. We have some really, really good friends in the Avenged Sevenfold camp, guys that used to work with us that are working with them. We get to see them now and we haven’t seen them in a long time. It’s very fun.
How do you go about picking a setlist?
We’ve been playing a lot of the new record lately, which is kind of a first for us. We always want to make sure that we’re playing stuff everyone knows and we don’t feel like when something’s new that everyone knows it yet, so we kind of work things in little by little. This one, it’s gone over pretty well, so we just keep putting more and more songs in. Before we knew it, we were playing more than half the record in our headline set, which is pretty cool.
As you get older and people have families and more obligations, is it difficult to leave and go on tour?
I think it’s always kind of like, “Oh, you know, leaving home again,” but no way would I complain about this job. I get to go and play drums for a living. That’s unbelievable.
‘Disarm the Descent’ has been out for just a little more than a year. Are you satisfied with how it’s been received?
Yes. Like I said, when we’re playing all these new songs, people know them. It’s just a really cool thing. They’re excited and they’re singing them back and everything, not just songs like ‘In Due Time’ and ‘Always’ that are videos. People know those and are stoked to hear those, so that’s a pretty encouraging thing.
You were nominated for your second Grammy this year, 10 years after your first nomination. When you saw that Black Sabbath were nominated, were you like, “They are definitely going to win?”
Yes. The same thing happened 10 years ago with Motorhead. We were like, well, okay, Motorhead’s going to win, so cool. This time, it’s like, Sabbath’s going to win.
How was the ceremony where your category was awarded?
It’s before the actual ceremony, right?
Yes, and it’s huge. Cyndi Lauper hosted it. She reads all the awards. She read our category. She did it 10 years ago, too, which is cool. Doing stuff like this, it doesn’t feel like it’s the same world at all, our world that we’re in. You don’t see insane multiplatinum pop stars. You just don’t see any of that.
Then suddenly we’re at this building where they’re there and we’re all in the same place as these weird pop stars. It doesn’t feel like what we’re doing at all. It’s amazing that it’s the same thing, that it’s also music. It’s weird.
So far the singles ‘In Due Time’ and ‘Always’ from ‘Disarm the Descent’ have charted. Are there going to be more singles coming out?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I don’t think we have anything planned right now, but you never know. We obviously didn’t expect anything out of them, but they’ve both done pretty well, so we’re encouraged about that. I have a hunch that once we wrap up with what we’ve got going through the summer, probably maybe in the fall and winter we’ll start writing again and do that. I think it’s probably winding towards the end of the cycle.
Any thoughts or plans of doing a live album or DVD?
We kick the idea around every now and then. We’ve been tracking stuff from shows some. We have the capability now to record every live show, so we’re kind of building up a reserve of things that we can use if we need to use it. I always like live albums. I think they’re fun.
You guys have more than 2.5 million Facebook fans. How do you go about leveraging social media?
I know Jesse is really on top of that stuff. He’s really on top of the online presence. He makes sure to do posts here and there about shows. He’s also on top of Instagram and all that stuff. It’s a little beyond my capabilities to be an Interneter, so I’ll let him handle it.
How about you personally? Do you have a particular platform you prefer?
No. I don’t. I know now that I’m old because I don’t understand Twitter. That’s the first one that I just don’t get. Kids these days are into Twitter. Then I realize I’ve officially reached a level of getting out of touch. That’s the one that did it for me.
It used to be the talk was the effect of illegal downloads and people pirating, but now we’re in the era of legal downloads and subscription streaming services. What’s your opinion on those?
The one thing you want is for more and more people to hear your music. That’s what you’ve always wanted from the first time you ever played in your basement till now, you always want more people to discover your band. Now that’s easier for people to do than ever, whether or not it’s legal. The bottom line is that it’s really easy for people to find your music, which is a really good thing because you want people to know it.
I think what it really comes down to, at least for us, is being a live band. That’s what we started with and and have doing shows forever and being a live band. I guess in the end, if there are more people that know you and like you, then you’re going to be able to be a live band successfully.
Do you have a favorite drummer joke?
I’ll steal this one from [KsE guitarist] Joel [Stroetzel]. Since I’m a big Rush fan, he said, “How many drummers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Five. One to do it and four to say Neil Peart did it better.”