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The 14th Annual New England Metal and Hardcore Fest is almost upon us and with it a plethora of National as well as local acts will be descending upon Worcester, MA. One such local act is a little band called Killswitch Engage who will not only be headlining the final night of the Fest but also be debuting their new lead singer to the collected masses. Or is that old lead singer? After KSE and vocalist Howard Jones parted ways last year, the resulting vocalist search lead back to none other than original Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach. Bassist Mike D. sat down with us to talk about Leach’s return, their Metal Fest appearance and what to expect from the “new” Killswitch Engage:

1. First off, what’s it like having Jesse back in the band?
It is feeling pretty great. Rejuvenating in so many ways. It is like a fresh start at a new band that everyone knows.

2. The rumors began to swirl immediately following Howard’s departure, was it an easy decision on who the new vocalist would be?
We wanted to go through the motions with tryouts, make sure no stone was unturned, singer wise. But in the back of our minds, the idea of Jesse coming back was very exciting to us. When all was said and done, Jesse put forth the best audition we could have ever hoped for. He proved to us that he could deliver great performances from both Jesse and Howard era songs. In the end he really wanted the job, and it showed… We feel like the best man won the position.

3. Will Adam be producing again or will you work with and outside producer as on 2009’s Killswitch Engage? What does Adam add in his role as producer?
Yes Adam will be producing the new record. It seems like things get done more efficiently and effectively with Adam at the helm. Adam knows how to get results and he is all business in the studio. It is easy to give him full authority over the project, he has proved time and time again that he knows exactly what he is doing and how this band should sound on record.

4. Sound-wise and even with Howard singing, KSE albums have primarily balanced heavy music with uplifting and positive lyrics (Except maybe the last record), will that continue with Jesse back? What does he add to the songwriting this time around compared to 10 years ago?
Jesse has free reign to do what he wants, after all he wrote the book on how KsE lyrics should sound. I have a feeling Jesse will hold true to what he does best on this new record. His lyrics, no matter how dark, always have a light at the end of the tunnel… something you don’t see much of these days in music.

5. While any Killswitch Engage release is heavily anticipated in the metal community, having Jesse back certainly puts the new one under the microscope. Is that something the band considers when going in to record? Does it add pressure to the recording process?
All we can do is write a record, we as a band, feel is effective and makes us happy. There is pressure with this release, but we really believe in the new material, and that seems to melt the stress away. Fortunately we were already writing a more aggressive record then past releases, having Jesse sing on it is the cherry on top… I can see this thing coming together very well, and I know it will make our fans incredibly satisfied.

6. You’re headlining the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest on Sunday in Worcester, what do hometown shows mean to you especially with the line-up as it is now?
It feels like things have come full circle. We started playing these Metal Fests with Jesse on the small stage, and now we are headlining the entire event on the main stage with Jesse at the helm. It feels fantastic, especially since we have not played Worcester in a good 5 years or so. It is a tribute to how great and dedicated our fans are. They have stuck by us through thick and thin. We cant wait to give back to these kids.

7. Will this be the first live performance with Leach since the NYC shows a few years back?
We did four shows with Jesse on our last U.S. run. NYC (2), Albany, and Connecticut, and they were super fun and the crowd seemed to love it.

8. Regarding Metal Fest, this year’s line-up features you, All That Remains, The Acacia Strain and Unearth among other heavy MA acts. What are your feelings on the state of the New England metal scene in 2012? Are there any up and coming bands that you’d like to see on par with KSE in a few years?
It is great to play with our friends again. The kinship here in Mass is like no other. Everyone supports everyone else, gone are the days of stage competition. Nothing but love for our brothers. I feel like Acacia Strain is poised for greatness… they are touring their butts off, and that’s what it takes to succeed in this business.

 9. Is there a tour planned once the new record is finished?
Yes, I believe the announcement will be official in the coming weeks. We are booked well into 2013 already.

10. Jesse’s back, new album out soon, triumphant Worcester headlining show completed. What’s next for Killswitch Engage?
Finish The new record and Tour, Tour, Tour……

The newly revitalized Killswitch Engage headline The 14th Annual New England Metal And Hardcore Fest on Sunday, April 22nd at the Worcester Palladium.

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