Interview: Killswitch Engage’s Joel Stroetzel

Joel Stroetzel, the rhythm powerhouse from Massachusetts metalcore outfit Killswitch Engage holds court.

1. I couldn’t live without my…
“Maxon OD808 overdrive. We use it for everything, really. Overdubs, rhythm tone… in every other project I play in back home, regardless of the style of music, I use it. It’s a phenomenal overdrive pedal. We tend to play with higher-gain tube amps and sometimes it gets a little flubby – the OD808 tightens things up.”

2. In another life I would be…
“I was always into art and wanted to be an artist growing up. Painting, sketching, sculpting. All that stuff.”

3. The moment that started it all…
“I started playing piano when I was, like, seven years old. A couple of years went by and I heard Welcome To The Jungle by Guns N’ Roses. I was like, ‘Mom, I want a guitar now! I can’t do that on the piano…’”

4. The one that got away…
“Almost 20 years ago, my friend bought one of those ESP Kirk Hammett ouija board guitars when they did a limited run. He was like, ‘I’ll give it to you for a thousand bucks’. I backed out at the last minute and now they go for, like, $8,000…”

5. My Spinal Tap moment…
“When we played Download in 2014, Adam’s [Dutkiewicz, lead guitar] guitar didn’t work for pretty much the entire set. His amp went down, his guitar went down. He was pretty much just running around drinking beer and yelling at people.”

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6. The best advice I was ever given…
“I remember Lemmy saying in an interview that you’ve gotta pick between rock ’n’ roll and family. It’s a tough balance. I’ve been married for 10 years and I always miss my family and friends. I can see why it doesn’t work for a lot of people. It’s a fun life if you like it, but it’s not for everybody. Adjusting when you get back from a tour – there’s a few days when you just don’t know what to do with yourself.”

7. The first thing I play when I pick up a guitar…
“I don’t have a set warm-up, I usually just noodle around. I’m kind of finicky about tuning. I’ll pick up a guitar, jam and whatever comes out, comes out. I’m more into tone than technique.”

8. The most important thing on my rider…
“Beer!”

9. My guiltiest musical pleasure…
“I’m a fucking huge Prince fan, and I was really kind of devastated by his passing. I remember going to see Prince in 2000 when I had long hair and was wearing a Cannibal Corpse shirt! But he was like the 80s Hendrix. He was just great at everything.”

10. If I could learn to play one thing…
“I always wish I could play pedal steel guitar, but I’ve never had the patience for it. I have lap guitars, I have a B-Bender Telecaster, but pedal steel… I’m not sure it’s a road I want to try to go down!”

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