Killswitch Engage - Howard Jones
20 December 2005
For a band that claim to be standard bearers for 'generation heavy', singer Howard Jones seems pretty mellow musing through the year just gone. But as he explains, 'it's hard to have an ego when you're broke'...
You'd perhaps expect full-scale carnage and depraved debauchery on a multi-metal band tour called Taste Of Chaos. Instead VF's Lydia Clare discovers Killswitch Engage's singer Howard Jones relaxing on his bus backstage in Cardiff. He doesn't like touring, nearly crapped himself with nerves at Download, and would rather be hob-knobbing with the Black Eyed Peas at the Grammies! Who says all rockers have to die early?
Virtual Festivals: It's been a hell of a year for you guys. What's the one experience you'd like to rewind and do all over again?
Howard Jones: Wow, um, is that a music question or a life in general question? Anything? Well I did ride a roller coaster with Corey from Slipknot and I think Iíd quite like to do that over again and get some more pictures because it was really funny. I donít know what made me think of that but it was pretty amusing. It was one where you go down the hill and they take the shot and itís just one of the funniest pictures Iíve ever seen. Thereís just the two of us laughing and drooling everywhere.
VF: And what's been your personal highlight, other than the roller coaster?
HJ: Thatís a tough one. Itís all been really cool. There have been so many different things but I guess it would be going to the Grammies. Not that I expected to win or anything but it was just a very surreal moment. We got there and just thought, 'What are we doing here? Weíre just a bunch of goofballs.' It was one of those moments where I just wanted to call my mom. It was totally crazy.
VF: Did you get to meet any of your idols there?
HJ: We did meet a few people, but it was just so hard because there is so much going on. I got there the day before and did a bunch of interviews and got to meet the Black Eyed Peas. And I actually collided with Kanye West in the bathroom. There are just so many different people there. You look around and itís like, 'Wooh thereís Usher and wooh thereís Hulk Hogan standing behind me'. But the amount of press you have to do, you donít really get a chance to rub shoulders with people. You just do your thing then sit and watch the whole presentation which does go on for hours.
VF: You toured and recorded ĎThe End Of Heartacheí pretty much simultaneously. Do you prefer touring or recording?
HJ: Touringís terrible. There are cool parts to it but it is very draining. For me though itís not the recording thing, itís much more the writing part, just actually creating something out of nothing. On the record it does usually sound a little different but just getting to that stage is really cool. Touring is just not fun sometimes. I mean this is a decent bus but I donít tend to sleep too well on buses. But then again there have been some great shows so I make the most of that.
VF: What do you think has been your best show?
HJ: Thatís hard to say, well actually the show we did for the new DVD was great. The crowd was stunning and it was kind of our home town in front of about 3,000 people. Itíd sold out in like two or three days and we just didnít really know what was going on. We had a bunch of big cameras there and it was just great. There have been shows on this tour too, Glasgow especially was exceptional. That show I just walked off stage with my mouth open, the crowd were just that good.
VF: So you think a crowd makes a show?
HJ: Oh yeah, without a doubt. We always try and enjoy ourselves regardless. Weíre a bunch of silly guys so on stage we just make the most of it but that show was just baffling.
VF: Talking about other shows, you played an amazing set a Download. How was that?
HJ: There were just so many people. I couldnít really take my eyes off the crowd, although until I actually walked on stage I refused to look. Iím pretty sure that as I walked on stage I almost crapped myself!
VF: I can imagine it being pretty intimidating, that Sunday was just intense.
HJ: Oh yeah, there were a lot of people. I mean weíve played really small shows and then you get that and itís like 60,000 people. It was a surreal moment; no actually it was just flat out frightening, there is no other way to describe it. My stomach just dropped and I just thought Ďoh wow, this isnít rightí. Shows in the UK are usually really great and that was one of the biggest things weíd ever seen.
VF: Did you get to see any other acts?
HJ: We got to wander round a little bit but once again we were doing loads of press. Unfortunately we missed Everytime I Die. It would have been awesome to see them with a big crowd. Weíre pretty good friends with them, their guitarist filled in on guitar for my other band and Adam recorded one of their albums, which was actually pretty funny because Adam recorded that album and I came in and sang on that album, but that was before I was with Killswitch.
VF: All very interconnected!
HJ: Oh yeah it is, it really is, everybody knows everyone.
VF: Do you find that with Roadrunner thereís almost a family situation, especially recently with the 25th anniversary stuff and the Allstars album?
HJ: Everyone gets along and I think that album wasnít too difficult. Getting the schedules and everything else was awkward but if you were asked to do something you were just like Ďsureí and then all of a sudden there it is. Thereís not a lot of ego in heavy music, at least not at the moment which is nice. Well Iím sure there is, as there is with anything.
VF: A lot of people say that metal bands do tend to be a lot more friendly.
HJ: Maybe itís because we donít make any money. Itís hard to have an ego when youíre broke.
VF: Going back to this current tour, are there any differences between tours in different countries?
HJ: No not really, itís pretty much the same, just young girls who are frightened of me, thatís pretty much it. Iíve actually seen girls crying at meeting some of the other guys on tour, including The Used and Funeral for a Friend. Weíve done pretty well on the tour though; all the guys have done ok. Itís been different for us because itís been a different kind of ground. Generally at our gigs we have big sweaty men but because of Taste Of Chaos thereís a whole different kind of crowd that gets to come and see us. Thereís always been a sense of melody to our music and people are getting to see that. It really didnít happen too much before. The shows themselves have had a pretty young crowd.
VF: I can imagine especially with Funeral for a Friend, who generally attract 14 and 15 year olds.
HJ: Yeah itís been odd. We were walking around the shopping area earlier and weíd stopped for some food and I was just eating and talking to the guys and I just happened to look out of the window and there were between 20 to 30 kids just staring at me through the window. I was just like, ĎWell, appetite ruinedí. Itís all really interesting though. Its exposure on a very big scale and a very different scale for us, but itís been cool.
VF: How has Adamís absence affected you?
HJ: It has definitely been a bummer because he is just such a character. I donít know if youíve seen him on stage but heís just usually up to some sort of antics. Whether heís wearing very short shorts and the boxers are way below or just like on our DVD heís wearing a cape. We did a few late night talk shows back in the States and he was wearing a Viking helmet. Heís an interesting guy! You definitely miss his absence and we miss him terribly. Heís family but weíve done the four piece thing on quite a few occasions, although now I think this is it. Heís had surgery and is feeling a lot better. But Iíve definitely had to talk more and move more because thereís a lot more space that needs to be filled. Heís usually running around and doing all the hard work and I move around a bit while heís doing push ups or throwing things at people; he is just the silliest guy.
VF: Has there been a build up of camaraderie with the other bands on the Taste Of Chaos tour?
HJ: We do tend to get on well with everyone. Itís the nice thing that everyone will be hanging out and we know The Used from other tours from back in the States. The guys from Rise Against are awesome guys and the one of the guitarists from Story Of The Year and I have just clicked. The Funeral guys are just stand up amazing guys. At any given time weíll be like, ĎOh I need some moviesí so we go to other buses and get some films and then end up talking for an hour and a half.
VF: Are there any tales of tour debauchery that have been going on?
There have actually been none. Itís been a very mellow tour just because thereís been so much flying thatís involved. Usually every show in Australia you had to fly to, so it was the States, to Australia, then round Australia and then to over here. So yeah in general itís been pretty mellow.
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