Back after quite the hiatus, Times Of Grace (featuring both Adam Dutkiewics and Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage as well as drummer Dan Gluszak as permanent members) have just released their new record Songs Of Loss And Separation, and are gearing up for a heavy touring cycle later this year.
The band was originally concieved when Leach was out of Killswitch, and was a way for the two friends to work together. As leach moved back into the Killswitch front seat, the project went dormant for a few years, but late 2017 was picked up again, with the new album having quite the gestation period to get just right.
While Killswitch is of course known for being quite frenetic, Times Of Grace gives guitarist/writer/producer Dutkiewics the opportunity to flex quite a different set of muscles, and flex them he does.
We caught up with guitarist Adam Dutkiewics to talk about the new record, writing for multiple projects, and his adoption of modelling amps for touring.
Songs of Loss and Separation comes a full ten years after The Hymn of a Broken Man, but it’s actually been in the works for several years, with recording starting in December of 2017. Can you tell me a little about the gestation of the record, and how its recording was quite so spread out?
Well, I actually started writing material for this record about 8 years ago. Some of these songs are VERY old. This band is more of a “side project” for both Jesse and I, seeing how we are so busy with our main gig Killswitch Engage. It’s definitely more of a passion project. We work on it when we have the time, and when we feel inspired to write for it.
As I understand it, the record wrapped in June of last year – was there any talk of releasing at the time, or was the plan always to hold off until after the pandemic had eased up?
It took us a bit of time to release this record because we were looking for someone to help us promote and distribute it. There’s a lot of work to put into the release of a record when you’re not signed to a record label.
You’ve had a really positive response to the initial experience – with the album in the can for over a year now, you must be itching to get it out and hear how people like it?
Honestly, I’m just very glad to have this record out of my life! I spent way too long working on it and kind of drove myself nuts with it! I am happy to share it with everyone, and I REALLY hope people like it. As artists, it’s our job to create, and hopefully that creation can inspire or affect someone in a positive way.
How different does Times Of Grace feel in 2021 as opposed to back around the time of Hymn Of A Broken Man?
This record feels very different than the first. Jesse was not in Killswitch Engage back then, and now that he is, I wanted to make an effort to have this project feel different than Killswitch. Writing with that in mind gave me such stylistic freedom to write whatever I wanted.
It was so liberating to be able to make songs that feel moodier and darker than Killswitch… A much different vibe at times.
How do you approach writing for Times Of Grace as distinct to how Killswitch operates? Do you write songs intentionally for each project, or do you earmark new songs as being for one or the other? Or is it something completely different?
Like I was saying on the previous question, I write for this project with a different head space. Obviously, when I write for Killswitch, I have that bands’ fans in mind. I always want to try to write something that they will be able to gravitate to and enjoy. Times of Grace on the other hand, I felt like I could write whatever I was feeling. It felt very inspired and liberating to do.
So guitars – what did you use on the new record as far as guitars/amps/pedals? Was there any overlap in your rig for the album with your Killswitch rig, or did you start from scratch?
I used quite a few different things for the new Times Of Grace record. For guitars, I used my Caparison “Metal Machine” for the heavy guitars. For pushed cleans and dirty guitars, I’d use either my “Metal Machine” with the pull knob enabled on my Fishman Fluence pickup, a Framus Panthera, or a PRS Custom 24.
As far as amps go, I used my 5150 for all heavy guitars, then a Matchless Clubman 30 or Fender Vibrolux for pushed cleans and dirty tones. I actually ended up using some of the scratch guitars from my Kemper here and there as well. For pedals, it was only a Maxon OD 808. I also have an old Fender motor driven delay unit that I used for the really long, spooky sounding guitar parts. All of my non Kemper tones were from scratch.
Did you have any specific records in mind as far as the sound you wanted for the album, or was that fully formed in your mind from the writing phase?
I didn’t base the record sound on another record at all. I just wanted it to feel a bit more organic than a lot of the records I’ve done before, and I wanted it to feel more “Rock n’ Roll”, with less polish.
You’ve used a lot of amps over the years, I’m curious what your thoughts are on digital/modelling/profiling amps?
Profiling amps have completely changed the gigging world for me. I still prefer tube amps in the studio, but live, it makes SO MUCH sense to travel with a Kemper. Your FOH engineer gets the same tones every night, no mics involved. I get the same tones in my monitors every night, and we don’t have to rely on rental gear that we’ve never used before, as well as an amp or cab breaking down onstage. I can fly across the world with a guitar and a suitcase, and I’m ready to play anywhere.
As a producer I would guess you get to try out a lot of cool gear – has there been anything that impressed you lately that people should check out?
A lot of the new software for guitar modeling and drum replacement have come so far. I feel that they’ve made a producers’ job so much easier nowadays. You really can make a great sounding record in your bedroom now.
You’ve written a lot of riffs over the years between Times Of Grace, Killswitch, Serpentine Dominion, etc, etc. Do you have one that you think is the most fun to play? Any that even you find hard to cleanly pull off?
I don’t really have any riffs that I find more fun to play than others. For me, it’s all about the vibe of the show and connecting with the people in the crowd. I guess any of Joels’ riffs always feel a bit tougher for me to pull off since he and I write differently. I bet he’d say the same about my riffs.
Killswitch have a number of festival dates lined up for the next year as well as the Knotfest Roadshow and a few other bits and pieces, should we expect to see a new record any time soon?
No new Killswitch material coming anytime soon. We still haven’t toured the US for our last release “Atonement” due to the pandemic!