Elaborate on the personal place you went and how the circumstances behind the dark place and what it meant to you and segue from that into: What do you think the purpose of pain is and how does God use it in our lives?
As far as what I was going through, it was a pretty personal thing and I’ve sort of been leaving the descriptions out of the media for the sake of my personal life and for the people involved, but I will say this: It brought me to my knees to the point where, for the first time of my life I questioned my faith. I questioned life. I didn’t know what I thought about anything. It brought me to my absolute knees. I’d never been in that type of place in my life, where I just felt even suicidal, because I just didn’t want to deal with what I was dealing with – the thoughts I had and the pain I felt. But, when you hit rock bottom in your life, I have a foundation. I was raised … my father’s a minister. I was raised in the church and I’ve always had that as my foundation and something to fall back on. When I hit rock bottom, the only thing I could turn to was God. Nobody else, I felt, could help me. That is really what brought the lyrics out of me – especially the hope that is there and that brought me out of that dark place. It put me where I am now, which I’m happy to say is the best place I’ve ever been and the strongest place I’ve ever been in my life. God works in mysterious ways and I believe this record is my testament to that. It’s my way of telling my story – and Adam’s story, too. We collaborated very well on it. During the recording of this record there was a lot of discussion about life and about the deeper things and God, etc. I think that was the catalyst for us to be used as instruments – if I can be so bold – to create this record. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to put into words when you go through something like that. I’m just… I feel blessed that the end result was this record, because I honestly think it has the potential to help people. It does maintain hope. There is rays of life stuck in the record. Anyone’s walk in life, if you’re not honest about your experiences then you can’t be a real teacher. I’m a human. We are all sinners. To me that shows the human side, where there is the doubt, there is a struggle. On the same side, you have God available. It is my testimony at this point in my life. I couldn’t be more humbled by it and just excited that I was able to create something out of it.
It seems like some of the best art of all time – even going back to the biblical days where David was writing the Psalms and some of the laments he wrote about then and you fast-forward through several centuries, like to our black brothers and sisters who were in slavery and just the pain, sorrow and anguish they were going through – out of that came some of the best bittersweet blues and sorrow and I think one thing that makes art special is somehow it taps into the pain that’s kind of common to all man. What are some of your thoughts on the use of art and how healing and beneficial it can be when you kind of tap into that pain and suffering?
Yeah, I think absolutely. Music has always been that for me. I’ve always been able to understand when going through my awkward struggles and the stuff that al lot of young kids go through. Music was always there for me. That’s definitely something that’s always helped. I could go on record by saying that, if it wasn’t for blues music, I wouldn’t even be who I am. And rock music as an entity wouldn’t be what it is. I owe a lot to blues music and blues musician. There’s something cathartic about hearing pain in someone’s voice and being able to relate to that, because you don’t feel alone, I guess. And then there’s just something about it.
Another example, speaking about art in general… Do you ever watch a movie and before it ends or during the movie you have these revelations. You have these ‘Ah-ha!’ moments, where things just really make sense. It brings a point home. I love that. I’m a big fan of movies and music. It makes an impact on you. It really does. It stops you in your tracks and makes you think important things about your life. You appreciate the things you have and really count your blessings, because you never know where life is going to take you until it happens. I hope that this record can be added to that list of things.
It’s funny to say this and I’m not this kind of a person. I don’t usually listen to my own music, but since we’ve made this record and it’s been completed (it’s been done for about a year now), I’ve revisited it frequently on long drives. It’s almost like a meditative thing. It feels really good to listen to – to know that… I can get emotional listening to it, because it reminds me of what I went through, but at the same time it’s such a blessing. It’s a testimony to surviving that and coming out of it. I owe a lot to music and art that’s dealt with pain. It’s funny, because it’s therapy. People go to therapists for a reason. People go to church for a reason. People do many different things for many different reasons. Creating music and art for me is like going to therapy. It’s a beautiful thing.
Tell me a little bit about Seemless, your band. What’s the status of it and what’s going on with that?
Yeah, Seemless has been done for about two – two and a half years now. We just felt the band had run its course and we had nothing more to give. The drummer went on to do Unearth and I actually started up my own band, which I have been playing in the underground for about two years. It’s called The Empire Shall Fall. That’s a little more like punk, jazz, progressive metal. We’re doing fairly well. We’re going to maintain that project as well, while Times of Grace is going to do a little bit. I’m very much involved with The Empire Shall Fall and continue writing with them.
Plans for touring Times of Grace, videos, etc?
We’re auditioning some friends in the next couple of weeks (this interview was done back in October) and some people we had in mind to be in the live band. Just trying to pull everything for the live shows. When you come to see us play, not only are you going to get to see the band, but I’ve been working on these visual ideas for the past six months – things that’ve come out of dreams and thoughts that I had while listening to the record. I’ve been able to work with a visual artist, who created an actual dvd, like a visual dvd, that will accompany the special edition of the record and also will be played in the background behind the band while we perform. We’re definitely pulling the act together for the live show. The tentative plan is to start touring in February. Doing a few tours and see how it goes. You know, see if people are receptive to it, because Adam still has Killswitch going on. I have The Empire Shall Fall. We’re basically trying to maintain and take it one step at a time. Lord knows, it could be very successful and it may not be. You never know. We’re going to hit the road and do a couple of tours and we’re going to take it from there.
I mentioned having to recently go through 300+ live photos I took of Muse at ACL Fest and Leach remarked how good of a band they were…
I don’t listen to a bunch of Muse. I dig some of it, but I respect those guys. I think they’re one of the great … bands like them and there’s a band called Thrice. They put out four EPs called The Alchemy Index. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it…
Yeah, yeah! I’ve got all four.
That blew me away. To me, that’s what bands should be doing – pushing the envelope with a live show, like Muse, or how you record your records. I love those types of things. I think modern heavy music needs stuff like that. It needs more diversity. It needs more exciting, fresh ideas. Thrice is one of my favorites right now.
Awesome. They’re great.
They’re one of the bands I look at and go… When the label was asking us, ‘Hey, who would you like to tour with?’ I was like, ‘Thrice! Thrice! Put us on tour with Thrice.’ Hopefully, word gets back to them and we get to set something up. I can’t think of a better band I’d like to tour with.
I don’t like talking for another person and/or their faith, but with that in mind … Why does Adam work with so many Christian bands?
“Adam has a deep-rooted knowledge of God. He’s definitely a believer. I just think that, in his own way, he’s kind of figured himself out. It’s been an experience working on this record with him. And the experiences that we’ve been seeing together in the past month and having the record come out, I think he’s realizing a lot. I mean, we both are, really. I think that people are going to see a different Adam on the road for Times of Grace than they’ve seen on stage with Killswitch,’ he chuckles.
“I think he enjoys music that has a really deep-rooted passion and it just so happens that the bands he tends to work with are Christian bands – a lot of good Christian hardcore and metal that’s sprung up over the last ten years. It’s quite remarkable, actually. It was tough to find music that I could relate to that was non-secular (back then),” he laughs again. “It’s awesome to see.”
One of the things that blows me away about this album is the guitar playing – the tones and the sounds. How did you feel the first time you heard some of these? You mentioned the first song you wrote, “Strength In Numbers.”
When I first heard this thing, I was in a van touring around the country. It was quiet enough in the van just to look out at the scenery, driving through the mountains and the woods and hearing this music. It totally floored me. It excited me. It moved me. Adam … he’s got a gift. If you really look at what he’s done, you realize how wide-spread his influence is. It’s not just the Killswitch stuff, it’s what he produces and the way he produces. He very much has a creative say on some of the stuff he works with. I think it’s feasible to say he’s responsible for modern American metal – how it is now. He’s done so many bands, it’s just obvious how big of an influence he is to a lot of writers. For me … and I’m a friend of his! Don’t get me wrong. We’re good friends. We’re buddies, but I’m so proud of him. When I first heard this, I was like, ‘Wow! I can’t believe I’m going to be able to sing on this!’ It just totally floored me. The demo’s to what you’ve heard have come a long way. He remixed the record 7 or 8 times. He re-amped the guitar sounds. He’s a perfectionist. You’re hearing the end result, but mark my words, the first time I heard it, it sounded great to me and I didn’t really see anything wrong with it, but he’s a perfectionist,” Leach laughs.
I’m really glad he did, because he sure is great. I’m really glad you said some of the things you did, because I really agree that his fingerprint is on … he’s great, dude!
A huge majority of modern metal* – and you mentioned Christian metal – like Underoath and As I Lay Dying. Adam D is right there behind the controls, behind the sound and the songs. He’s incredible. I didn’t even know how vast it was until I actually researched the guy and checked out all he’s done. It’s incredible. It’s maddening.
Yeah, if I was in a band I’d want to be using him for a producer. That’s for sure.
Yeah. He’s borderline genius. He’ll tell you he’s a jack of all trades and master of none and then I get pissed off I want to punch, because he’s funny, too.
Anything else you’d like to explore or express?
I think, for me, the record speaks for itself. I hope that people are able to listen to it with an open mind. I deliberately don’t explain too much about the lyrics and what’s going on with the record, because I want people from all walks of life and from all states, whatever, have the ability to get something out of it. I think the message will ring through if people are open to it. It’s a blessing, because I really feel like I’m already successful, because freedom collaborating, regardless of what it does in the retail world and how ‘successful’ we are financially with it. I feel like I did my job. I did what I was called to do. I’m just looking forward to seeing how it impacts people. Hopefully, it’ll touch people. For Adam and I both, when we started doing this record, there was no discussion of forming a band, touring, being successful, making money off it. None of that was ever discussed. If people just listen to this record and see that this album was created to help us and to help other people. That’s the spirit of this record. I couldn’t be more proud of that. I just hope people are able to take something away from it and I hope it touches them and help them realize that there is always hope. There is always Someone or Something there to help you. My foundation is God and I hope people see that and walk away with something.
*(A short list of the bands that Adam D has produced: Shadows Fall, Unearth, Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Agony Scene, He Is Legend, Underoath, All That Remains, Mychildren Mybride, Austrian Death Machine, A Day to Remember, As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, The Acacia Strain).
Copyright © 2011 HM Magazine. All rights reserved.