[Interview] Chatting Basketball, ‘Disarm The Descent’, And The Simpsons With Killswitch Engage’s Justin Foley

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Tomorrow sees the release of Killswitch Engage’s Disarm The Descent, the band’s first new album in four years and the first to see the return of original singer Jesse Leach. In anticipation of this release, we caught up with drummer Justin Foley a few days ago and are excited to bring you our exclusive interview with him! Head on below to see his take on the new album, who he thinks will win March Madness, some of his favorite Simpson’s “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, and more!

You can pre-order Disarm The Descent here.

Bloody-Disgusting: How are you doing, sir?
Justin Foley: Not too bad. How are you?

BD: Not too shabby. It’s a little bit cold and snowy but…you know, that’s Michigan weather for you.
JF: Yeah, that’s too bad. Sorry to hear that. I won’t tell you that I live in Florida and it’s sunny and 75 degrees outside. Whoops! Sorry! [laughs]

BD: Well, I hope you’re enjoying it while I’m here freezing my butt off!
JF: I actually plan on sitting inside and watching basketball for 12 hours straight today, so I’m not going to go outside. [laughs]

BD: Are you setting up your bracket?
JF: Yup, I got mine all set. Now I just have to watch and make sure that everyone I picked loses like usual.

BD: Who do you have winning?
JF: I have Gonzaga beating Georgetown in the finals.

BD: I’m a Wolverines guy so that’s who I have to go with.
JF: I do have them knocking off Kansas. I have them in…do I have them in the Final Four? I think I do.

BD: Well, if nothing else, I appreciate you putting them in the Final Four! [laughs]
JF: [laughs] I went to UConn so I usually put them in and have them go all the way through the finals. That’s worked out pretty well for me three times [laughs]. But other times it hasn’t. This year I didn’t know what to do, so…

BD: So, aside from basketball and sunny Florida weather, what else is going on in your life right now?
JF: We’ve got a couple of weeks off between tours. I just got home from our last one this past week and I’ve just been kind of relaxing before we get ready to go back out again to Europe.

BD: Jumping to Disarm The Descent, one of the big draws that fans have with this album is the return of singer Jesse Leach. You joined KsE after Leach had already left the band. What was it like being a part of the “reunion”?
JF: It was great. I was a fan of him and I was a fan of…I have a very unique perspective on the Alive Or Just Breathing record from the other guys because I had nothing to do with it! [laughs] I joined at the tail end of that record cycle. I was already a fan of the band and I was playing songs that…as a fan really, at the very beginning!
So to be around 10 years later and to have everything that’s happened and the band has taken on something beyond anything that we thought would ever happen and to go back and have him come back in the fold and play that entire record, it was really a treat for me. I felt very luck that that all played out. I felt the way that I think a lot of the fans of that record felt being able to see the whole thing done in its entirety. It was really a blast.
And having him back to work with again is terrific because I was a big fan of his work and all of his projects, especially recently with the Times Of Grace thing, which I think is a terrific record. And then to be able to have the whole creative process with him was really, really fun.

BD: You yourself had quite possibly one of the most unique perspective’s in that, as you said, you were a fan of this record but had nothing to do with it whereas the other members had a great deal with it. And now you’re in the band. So you were somewhere right in the middle where almost no one else resides.
JF: Yeah, it’s funny because it had been so long ago and when we play with songs live we might experiment with them a little bit but mostly, when they work, we just get into a rut and play the same songs over and over again. So for years now I’d been anxious to do some of the other songs from that record that we’d never done live, such as “Rise Inside” and we’ve played “Just Barely Breathing” a handful of times but not very often at all. “To The Sons Of Man” we used to play right when I first joined but we haven’t played it in years and years. I was pushing to play those songs for years but the other guys were hesitant to.
So it was kind of funny that I finally got to play the stuff I’d been wanting to play for so long. And I had more fun playing “Rise Inside” every night then I’ve had playing in a really long time.

BD: Where do you see Disarm The Descent in terms of the legacy of Killswitch Engage?
JF: I don’t know. I think it definitely sounds like us. It sounds like a Killswitch record for sure. If it sounds like a record from 10 years ago or a record from now with the old singer on it? I don’t really know. I don’t know if I could say that because I’m involved in it now, so it’s hard to look at it that way. But I definitely think it sounds like one of our records and I know that we’re all really, really proud of it and really looking forward to going out and playing these songs and adding these songs to the set and, just in general, having it come out so people can hear it.

BD: Which track on Disarm The Descent had a drum fill that you just loved playing?
JF: This is a pretty tough drumming record for me because a lot of it was very fast. When we got together all of these songs were so fast, and I’m not really a fast drummer, so there was a lot of stuff that I had to work to get [laughs].
There’s one fill in a song called “The Call” which, towards the end of it, is kind of all over the drums real fast with the kicks in the middle of it. That was a fun one to write and pull off in the studio [laughs].

BD: Which track gave you the most trouble during the recording process?
JF: We tracked so many songs that my body was exhausted by the end of it. And it just so happened that the last song we did was “Turning Point”. By then it wasn’t that the song was so difficult it’s just that I was shot by then [laughs]. So I was really struggling through that one after four days of playing drums for eight hours a day. I was just really exhausted by then.
When I listen to that one I can hear myself being tired and it bothers me but it is what it is.

BD: Lastly, which track was just the most fun for you to play?
JF: I think it would be “The New Awakening”, the one that we put online a few days ago. That one is really fun. It’s just a pretty driving song and there’s a lot of notes in it. Once it gets going it doesn’t want to stop until the end.

BD: So aside from a ton of touring, what else does the band have planned for the future?
JF: I guess it really is as much touring as we can get in. At some point there’ll be another song released. Well, we hope [laughs]. But right now we just have to get out on the road and that’s what we have to focus on now.

BD: Are there any plans for a live DVD?
JF: No, not any plan that I know of yet. I think that a lot of people are curious to see the reception for the record because it’s giant change, you know? Any time a band changes singers, it’s a huge change. So hopefully we’ll see how things go once the record comes out and how the shows do and we’ll take it from there.

BD: Coming around to a different topic, I know that you’re huge fan of The Simpsons. Since I come from Bloody-Disgusting and horror, I was wondering which of the Treehouse Of Horror episodes are your favorite?
JF: Oh, definitely the one where they do The Shining take off. That one is really, really good and is definitely one of my favorites. Actually, all three of those in that one are really good. I think that’s the one where they also have the toaster, where he goes back in time with the toaster. And the third one is where they eat the kids in the elementary school. [laughs] That one’s awesome!
Man, there are so many good Halloween ones. I like the Halloween ones because they can get really weird. They can do whatever they want. Like the one where they’re in the Itchy And Scratchy cartoon and it’s drawn all cartoony? I know that they don’t like to draw the show cartoony at all but in that episode they could do what they wanted and it was really fun.

BD: Are you a horror fan on the side? If so, what are some of your favorites?
JF: A little bit but not like some of the other guys are. I know Mike D [bassist Mike D’Antonio] is a big fan. A couple guys on our crew…Josh, he’s a big fan. They watch them all the time. I watch them on occasion but I wouldn’t say I’m a big horror movie…I don’t know much about it. I think that’s because I don’t watch movies a whole lot.

BD: Justin, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Thanks so much and best of luck with Disarm The Descent!
JF: Thank you very much!

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