INTERVIEW: Adam Dutkiewicz – Serpentine Dominion

Adam Dutkiewicz, more recognisable with his full-time outfite, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, has also recently done a death metal album with George Fisher from CANNIBAL CORPSE and Shannon Lucas, formerly of THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER. We were given the opportunity to chat to him earlier this week about their debut record, the origins of the project and what they hope to achieve with SERPENTINE DOMINION.

What do you think distinguishes Serpentine Dominion above your other work?

Adam: Well, of course, there’s a monster for a singer. Right off the bat the vocalist is one of the best vocalists in Death Metal so it’s pretty cool for me man!

What was your primary motivation behind starting SERPENTINE DOMINION?

Adam: Honestly, it was just for the fun of it. Once I got talking with George, we were on that Mayhem Tour in 2009, and we just started chatting a bit and I just mentioned “hey what if I wrote a record for you to sing over it, would you do it?” and he said yes and that was just exciting for me. I’ve got so much respect for CANNIBAL CORPSE and for George as a singer. So yeah, just for fun to be honest with you.

How has the reaction been to the first few singles so far?

Adam: To be honest with you I’m not 100% sure. I guess all my friends like it so that’s cool. Your friends are supposed to like it, right? I don’t really pay too much attention to what the internet says if I’m honest with you.

You mention the genesis of this project being in 2009, were you writing for this album that entire time?

Adam: It was completely after the fact. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and CANNIBAL CORPSE were on the same tour and hearing George onstage everyday made me think “wow, this guy’s an incredible singer.” He’s great on the records and he sounds just as good onstage, if not better, live, and that thought process just made me think it would be so cool to write music with this guy because he’s so talented. That’s literally the whole motivation behind it. Once he said yes I just got writing.

With this project did it enable you to spread your wings and take on areas of the creation of an album that you might not typically get involved in?

Adam: Oh yeah, sure. I think having Shannon as the drummer meant a lot of tempo bumps were possible. I made it a bit more extreme with the speed and the aggression just knowing that Shannon’s such a monster that we could really push things a little quicker and it become a bit more of a shred fest than anything KILLSWITCH ENGAGE has ever done.

So what do you think Shannon brings to the record and how involved was he with the writing process?

Adam: To be honest with you the other guys weren’t involved much at all with the writing. I would just demo material and send it to them and once they heard it they would give me the thumbs up or the thumbs down and they didn’t have any issues with the demos and stuff so it was all cool from there. But having Shannon opens up a world of possibilities for speed and aggression with all the double bass he can do, he’s just so clean with it all, it’s amazing to have him as a drummer

So you specifically wrote for Shannon?

Adam: Exactly. I talked to him and went over and asked what his threshold for double bass speed and where are you comfortable at? Once we’d had a couple of conversations I would get writing and tweak things here and there for his preferences and mine.

Did you take a different approach to working your vocals in alongside George’s vocals that you might to Jesse?

Adam: Not really so much. I’ve always seen myself as the guy in the shadows. If I was to ever do stuff with George it would just be to accentuate or make a section pop. Kind of like the whole layering thing since George is so guttural I tried to do more highs or even do some lows with George. It kind of adds a whole element to the sound of the vocal delivery instead of having one guy sing the whole way through.

You’ve gone with quite a different approach to the lyrics thematically this time in comparison with both KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and CANNIBAL CORPSE, why is that?

Adam: Well it’s actually something George and I discussed before even getting the lyrics together. It’s something that George initially bought up and I loved the idea. Something about the corrupt ideals within the world today and whether it be political or even with big business or religious groups and the state of specific mind sets within churches. It’s a cool theme that’s very appropriate for today’s world considering what’s happening. We couldn’t have picked a better time to put this record out.

Did you approach writing for SERPENTINE DOMINION with a different set of influences to writing with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE?

Adam: Maybe a bit more extreme metal. Taking from a band like CANNIBAL CORPSE or DECAPITATED or something like that. But it was mostly picturing what George’s vocals sound like and what should accompany them. I’m not even kidding when I say I specifically wrote this record for George and Shannon. It’s kind of funny to think about that.

Did the writing for Serpentine Dominion clash with Incarnate’s at all?

Adam: Not at all, I wrote this record back in 2009/2010 so these songs have been sitting around forever. Long, long time.

Why the delay in getting them out?

Adam: Kind of a bunch of reasons actually. Mainly finding the time to record it between tours and other projects and of course getting George’s schedule and my schedule to line up because we’re obviously so busy with our main projects. Another huge snag was that George initially wanted to try and write all the lyrics himself and he ran into a big snag with getting some ideas together. He never really was a lyricist, he doesn’t write for CANNIBAL CORPSE or anything like that, and he tried to get some ideas together but it didn’t really work out. That’s why eventually we had to ask Jesse [Leach, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE] to be an outside lyricist and bring some ideas to the table.

So Jesse wrote most of the lyrics on the album?

Adam: Oh yeah he did. We told him most of the themes for the album and just had him write some thematic poetry and from there I would take some of those lyrics and place them in the song for George and we’d go from there.

What plans have you got for SERPENTINE DOMINION moving forwards?

Adam: Well, first step is to obviously release the record and see what happens with that. Depending on how that goes if people end up liking it and if it’s received it and maybe we’ll have a think about creating some new music. If time allows and there’s enough time for it there’s the possibility of maybe putting a band together and maybe playing some shows. We’re not really certain of it though.

Serpentine Dominion is set for release on October 28th via Metal Blade Records.