Adam Dutkiewicz of Times of Grace Talks "The Hymn of a Broken Man," Fenway Park and "Braveheart"
Mon, 20 Dec 2010 09:59:03
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"I guess you could call us a little artsy fartsy," chuckles Times of Grace and Killswitch Engage guitar-slinger Adam Duktiewicz.
On their official debut for Roadrunner Records, The Hymn of a Broken Man, Times of Grace walk the line between calculated modern thrash and airy elegant alternative. Duktiewicz's riffs hit with smart bomb-style precision before subsiding into moody ethereal textures through cuts like "Until the End of Days" and "Fall From Grace." Meanwhile, Dutkiewicz's longtime collaborator, Jesse Leach, delivers pummeling poetry about finding faith again. It's that explosive dual assault between Leach and Dutkiewicz which makes The Hymn of a Broken Man purely indestructible and unforgettable. This is one of the most anticipated heavy metal records of 2011, and it delivers tenfold on every promise and more.
Even though The Hymn of a Broken Man doesn't invade stores and digital outlets until January 18, 2011, Adam Dutkiewicz sat down for an early exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about the journey to Times of Grace, Fenway Park, why this album might be his Braveheart and so much more.
Did you have one cohesive vision for The Hymn of a Broken Man from the beginning or did it come together piece by piece?
No, it was completely a vision. The way the whole thing fell into my lap was so unique; it just happened. In 2007, I had emergency surgery in London, and I ended up writing pretty much the whole record from a hospital bed. It's a bit ridiculous [Laughs]. It was almost like a stream of consciousness, starting with me being laid up in the hospital. I was bummed out at the thought of losing my job, having to think about a new career, never touring again, and staying off the road because of the risk of injury. I wrote the whole album in my brain with all of the lyric and melody ideas in order to keep my mind off all the negative stuff happening at the time. It was this selfish little thing in my brain. After I got home, I realized I needed some help with the lyrics and singing duties because I'm not that good of a lyricist or a singer. I called Jesse for some help. That's probably why it does feel cohesive. It was this positive forward motion in my head. Music has always been like my crutch in life. It's the thing that's always there. It's my bitch [Laughs].
Did these ideas stir in your head for a couple of years?
They were sitting around for a little while. To be honest, the thing that really saved me was having a mini tape recorder that I could sing any ideas I had into. I could spit out those ideas so I wouldn't forget them after I actually got home. I was in London for about two weeks after the surgery because I wasn't able to fly. You're supposed to give your back a little time to recover before you can get up or stand. You're literally bed-ridden. After two weeks, I flew home. I was able to put ideas down on that little tape recorder. Once I was mobile and actually able to get out of bed, I went to demo stuff whenever I possibly could.
This was quite the labor for you.
Yeah, a little bit. It was always there. There was never any real rush. It was something that I wanted to do on my own for myself. The reason it took four years to do is I always try to make Killswitch Engage my priority. I've been really busy with all that other stuff. Killswitch is taking a little bit of a break and getting some down time because we've been touring so damn much. I was like, "Now is the time for me to get this thing out there."
Was the chemistry between you and Jesse instant again?
Yeah, it was a piece of cake. Jesse and I have been the best of friends for years and years. It was literally one of the easiest things ever. We're family. It was like brothers trying to make music together.
It's a very urgent, in the moment record.
That's how it was brought together even though it took four years to make.
What's the story behind "Until the End of Days?"
Well, it's about a lot of stuff. Most importantly, it's about losing faith and finding comfort and solace. You're feeling your life wither away, physically, mentally, and spiritually. It's finding reassurance and feeling a path.
Is there one theme throughout the whole record?
Of course! There are a lot of themes, but there is a main theme. That one vision is—through a lot of awful things that can happen in your life—there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what. It's the way you look at things. You can sit there, have all these terrible things happen, and accept them. You can mope, or you can try your best to battle through all of the negativity and uncertainty. Strive to be happy. At the end of the day, isn't that what life's all about?
That positive element has always been a part of your writing. Fans don't get that enough.
For sure! People are probably still burnt out on the nu metal era where it was like, "I fucking hate you, mom!" [Laughs] We're the exact polar opposite of that.
Do you feel like there are any correlations between The Hymn of a Broken Man and Alive Or Just Breathing?
Absolutely not! I haven't even thought about that record in probably ten years [Laughs]. Of course, we play several songs off that record live, but there were never any parallels drawn between the two. This record really just happened. We put our heads into it, and the songs fell in our laps. It's a truly a record born out of passion and necessity.
How important is it for you to evoke visuals with your music?
We have a DVD coming with the special edition of the record, and it's got a lot of atmospheric visuals. We're thinking about using it live as well to add something that will engulf the show-goer. I feel like you want to invade as many senses as possible. Atmosphere and visuals can be very influential and inspiring when it comes to making music or anything artistic you do. It's a big part of the way we work and the way we're inspired.
What is it about Massachusetts that has encouraged so much great hard rock and heavy metal?
It's weird; it's unexplainable. I know, for me, growing up in Western Massachusetts, there was more of a community. I was like the loser throughout high school so it was always there for me, and it always has been. It's a really cool and accepting community, and that's why I was so involved in it. I just fell right into it.
Well, Western Mass waved the flag for heavy metal way more than Eastern Mass.
Massachusetts is completely divided! What is it with Eastern Mass kids hating Western Mass kids? Who did that? They're always talking down to the Western Mass kids. It's hilarious. It was a little hood up in Eastern Mass; I ain't gonna lie!
There are a lot of blowouts and fake tans.
[Laughs] That's hysterical.
If you were to compare The Hymn of a Broken Man to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I don't friggin' know—Braveheart [Laughs]. It'd be anything that has to do with internal struggle. It really is a story. It's a very personal record for Jesse and I. A lot of these songs are testaments of our hard times in life and internal struggles. I'm sure everyone has to deal with those at one time or another. We just made songs out of them.
You should probably paint your face blue when you play these shows.
Sure! Why not? I'll dress like William Wallace.
Where did the title The Hymn of a Broken Man come from?
After Jesse and I started writing some of the lyrics for that song, it just came to be. We were going over it, and we were like, "That's a pretty powerful statement." We knew we needed to name the record that because these truly are hymns of a broken man. These songs were written out of a lot of anxiety, nervousness, depression, and all that stuff. We were at that point where we did feel broken. It made so much sense.
Do you actually write lyrics for each song together or do you split up songs?
Whenever we write something, we'll share it. We brainstorm together. We'll talk about what the song means. It's almost free form.
Did you always know "Fall From Grace" would be the album's finale?
Yeah, it always felt like that. It's that mellow period. It's the statement song. It felt like a good closer song. It seemed perfect to end on that.
What are you listening to right now?
Mostly sports radio! I'm enjoying all of the news on our recent acquisition Carl Crawford. We've got Adrian Gonzales from The Padres and now Carl Crawford. The Sox are looking good next year.
Fenway remains the best ball park ever too.
Fenway's the best. Nothing even touches it. You just feel the ghosts, man. It's so unique and rich in history. It's vibe-y. It's a great place to see a game.
No other place that smells like piss is as cool as Fenway.
You haven't been to my place [Laughs].
Are you excited for Times of Grace?