Ahead of the release of the band’s eighth studio album Atonement, Metal Wani had the chance to catch up with Dutkiewicz to talk all things Atonement, the band’s upcoming tour plans, and what is next on the horizon for Dutkiewicz personally.
Starting off the conversation, Dutkiewicz explains his relief at finally being finished with the record, stating “I’m excited because we’ve been working on it so damn long that I'm glad it’s out of my life. It’s a good thing to finally have it done man. We’re glad it’s over and also it’s really exciting to be playing some new material finally.”
Dutkiewicz’s relief is definitely something that is noticeable, and the completion of the record is certainly a feat for the band given vocalist Jesse Leach's need to go in for vocal surgery during it's recording. When asked if this surgery was something that worried the band, Dutkiewicz offers “Honestly it was just kind of something that was looming in the background for a long time. Jesse has been struggling with keeping his throat healthy for quite some time now so I think I once it hit this plateau it just seemed like a necessary thing to get taken care of, and it was pretty scary at first but the doctor assured that it was a very common vocal surgery and a lot of singers have to go through with it. At the end of the day it was done, he recovered properly and his throat is stronger now so I’m actually glad he did it”.
Atonement is a very personal album, something which feels musically in sync with its very personal lyrics. When queried about the way the band comes up with their deeply reflective lyrics, Dutkiewicz explains that “It always starts with Jesse, and it always starts with an idea in Jesse’s head” before going on to describe Leach's formative lyrics as a type of free-form poetry. Elaborating further Dutkiewicz explains that if anyone assists with the lyrics that it is usually him and states “As the producer, he will bring some of that free-form poetry to me and be like ‘I have this song with this concept and I’ve written all of these phrases and stanzas but I’m not sure how to put them together to the music', so me as the producer, it’s my job to help him out”.
The discussion then canvases the musical aspects present on Atonement and delves into the particulars of the album including solos and the more aggressive natured pace of the album compared to the band’s previous record Incarnate, something which Dutkiewicz praises as a showing of strength from the band.
Atonement holds a guest appearance which many Killswitch Engage Dan’s are sure to love, featuring ex-singer Howard Jones appearing alongside Leach on the track “The Signal Fire”. When asked about how this collaboration came about and what he thinks it means for the fanbase, Dutkiewicz states “Its just a cool thing to show them like there are no hard feelings and that we're all friends and we’re going to have them on the same track”.
Closing out, the discussion covers the outlook for the remainder of the year for Killswitch Engage, including a European Headlining Tour, and the United States Headlining tour in early 2020, before delving slightly into Dutkiewicz's other projects, including an update on the next Times of Grace release.