Justin Foley - Killswitch Engage
Justin Foley - Killswitch Engage
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Drum Channel reached out to Justin while he was getting settled in Florida.Drum Channel: How are you? What is going on?
Justin Foley: I just moved to South Florida, near West Palm Beach and I’m in the process of getting a house. There have been a lot of problems, so I’ve been in a stressful situation lately.
DC: Wow, nice area.
Justin: Yeah, a little bit north of Miami, so it’s nice. The weather is pretty nice...all my friends up north were getting killed this winter and I was down here – beautiful sunny weather.
DC: I can imagine, but doesn’t that affect the situation with your bands?
Justin: No, not really, because I lived in St. Louis for the last four years and everybody else lives in Massachusetts. We don’t really practice, so I just meet up with them on tour.
DC: When do you think you will be settled in Florida completely?
Justin: Hopefully next week. We are supposed to move in next weekend. I will be very, very happy when that happens.
DC: So you are not in your new home right now?
Justin: No, I am at my parents’ house. They are luckily letting me stay here while I get this whole thing sorted out.
DC: So what band projects are you in, currently?
Justin: Well, not a whole lot right now. I just play drums on the Unearth record that is going to come out this summer. That is about it, as far as playing is concerned.
DC: But you are still with Killswitch Engage, right?
Justin: Yes. We haven’t been doing much, lately. We have been taking a break for a while.
DC: Would you say that drums are not so important in your life right now?
Justin: Well, I miss them a lot. Unfortunately I don’t get to play them much right now. I just miss them. I am realizing how important they are by missing them so much.
DC: Do you have a rehearsal room in your new house in Florida?
Justin: I will. Once I finally get to move in I’ll have a room that I can play in, practice, and record a little bit. Nothing fancy, but just enough to demo.
DC: So when can we expect you back on tour?
Justin: I don’t know. Eventually Killswitch will get back to writing. That is the next thing we’ll do, but I really have no idea when that is going to be. I think people are just taking a little break and are doing other stuff. Adam (Dutkiewicz) has Times of Grace going and Mike D'Antonio has a band, Death Ray Vision, he is playing with, so people are just taking some relax-time away from Killswitch after so many years of going straight.
DC: So are you looking out for any new ventures in your life, for example are you trying to find a different job besides making music?
Justin: Not right now. Right now, I’m just looking if anybody needs me to play – like Unearth needed me to play – that kind of thing. If they want me to go out and tour with them a little bit, that would be a fun thing to do, but as far as looking for something outside the music, I haven’t got to that level yet. I want to play.
DC: What endorsements do you have right now? Your old set-up or did you change something?
Justin: No, I haven’t changed anything - it's the same stuff. I have Yamaha, Zildjian, Pro-Mark and Evans. Last summer, right after we toured the US, I got a new drumset from Yamaha, but we haven’t played since I got it – so I haven’t even seen it yet; and it has been almost a year. It sucks. I think it was finished and sent to storage for the next US tour while we were in Europe. Because there hasn’t been a tour for so long, I haven’t even seen the drums. It’s terrible. I can’t wait to see them.
DC: Did you practice a lot recently or haven’t you touched them?
Justin: Before this moving thing got kind of full-care, I was at home practicing all the time and writing stuff.
DC: You said you were in the studio with Unearth. How was that?
Justin: It was great and really fun. Adam produced the record, so we got to hang out and make another album together, which was a lot of fun.
DC: Would you say that Unearth is pretty tough stuff to play?
Justin: Yeah, it is pretty fast. They wanted it pretty fast on this record, so I had to dial it up.
DC: How did you succeed the challenge?
Justin: I don’t know, but they seemed to like it. Actually, when I had to practice for it, I was in a tough spot, because I didn’t have a place to practice, so I just had pedals and a kick pad and that was it... but they seemed pretty happy with the result. I think the record came out good, too. I think people will be stoked to hear it.
DC: Do you know when it is going to be released?
Justin: No, I am not sure. I think some time in the summer, but I don’t know for sure.
DC: What else are you doing, now that you don’t play drums so much? What do you enjoy in your free time?
Justin: Well, since I got to Florida, I am trying to play golf a little bit. I have been playing for years but never more than a couple of times a year. Since I moved here, I have been trying to play once a week. It didn’t really make a difference because I am still terrible.
DC: Anything else in Florida? I mean, it is a beautiful countryside.
Justin: Yeah, it is really nice. My fiancée bought a kajak, so we will go out on the water. That is about it.
DC: Do you have a lot of frirends in Florida already or bands that you hang out with?
Justin: No, I don’t really know many people here. There are a couple of friends that I live sort close by– but that’s really it. Other than that, I don’t know anybody down here except my parents that retired who moved down here right before we did.
DC: What music are you listening to now?
Justin: The last five or six days I have been listening to Radiohead nonstop. I’m in a phase right now. I’m trying to get into their brand new record, but I don’t like it as much as the others do.
DC: When did you actually hit the first drum?
Justin: I don’t remember exactly. My dad had a drumset. He didn’t really play. He played when he was in his early twenties, but not seriously. It was in our basement and I think maybe when I was eleven, I hit it for fun, but I never really thought I was going to be a drummer. I played trumpet for a little while and that was my first instrument. When I turned 13, is when I started playing drums.
DC: When did you actually think about becoming a professional drummer?
Justin: Since I got my first drumkit, I hoped that I would be able to be a drummer, but you never really plan on it. It is such a hard thing to do and you have to be lucky. I always wanted to and once I got to college, I thought, “I really have to make this happen.”
DC: But you went to college to get a regular education?
Justin: I went to college to get music education. I got a classical music education and that was when I got serious about music. I was still in a metal band, but I went to school and played all the classical stuff.
DC: Do you have any magazines that you recieve on a regular basis, musical wise or drumming wise?
Justin: I get Modern Drummer and Drum! Those are pretty much the only two that I buy on a regular basis.
DC: So you are staying in tune with what is going on in the scene a bit?
Justin: Yeah. Oh, and I go to sickdrummermagazine.com.
DC: What do you prefer nowadays? Having the print copy or visiting the online magazines?
Justin: I go back and forth. Sometimes I just want to sit back and read things quietly and sometimes I want to go online and watch video lessons or actually listen to some people playing the parts. It goes back and forth.
DC: Being not on tour, are you still trying to keep in touch with the Killswitch fanbase or are you just a little bit disconnected right now?
Justin: Yeah, I feel disconnected right now. Most of the time I really am in touch with people is when you are on tour. Then you go out and talk to them after the show. When you are not on tour, you don’t see them. Sometimes when you go to a show, like when I went to see As I Lay Dying a couple of weeks ago, there are a couple of Killswitch fans that I saw for a minute, but apart from that, I don’t really run into people very much.
DC: When you are on stage, are you using in-ear monitors or what are you using?
Justin: In-ear Monitoring. I started using in-ears maybe three years ago.
DC: Are you always comfortable with those or do you miss real monitors sometimes?
Justin: No, I love the in-ears. For me, they are much more consistent than the old monitors are. I think they are terrific. I can hear everything and control the volume and my ears don’t get tired or hurt. I love them.
DC: What does it take to be a professional musician nowadays?
Justin: It is very, very hard and it is very competitive. So many people are out there playing. It is not competitive the way a sport is competitive, but it is competitive because there are so many people that are working to be as good as you, so you have to work harder than those people to get better than them. Finding work is hard, especially finding work that you enjoy doing. Sometimes you can find something to play that isn’t exactly your thing, but it is something to play.
DC: As a professional musician, do you think about retirement pay and such things?
Justin: No, I don’t think about that. I just think that I will probably have to be playing forever or that I will hit the lottery – one or the other.
DC: So you are not saving money for retirement?
Justin: I am. I save as much as I can, just because it can be over tomorrow. It can be over because somebody in the band doesn’t want to do it any more or maybe suddenly people aren’t into your music anymore – you never now. I have always been careful about saving and not blowing my money on things. If something does happen, I will have a little bit of time where I can decide what the next step will be without something tragic happening like having to live in a box. Whether I think that I have saved enough to retire someday is another story. I don’t think that it’s too likely, unless something crazy happens, but at least I don’t have to stress about it for now.
DC: Have you ever thought about giving lessons?
Justin: Yeah. I used to give lessons right before I got into Killswitch, but once I got into Killswitch, touring started to get more and more intense, and it is hard to give lessons when you are gone all the time. But, who knows? Maybe I will try to give lessons again. I always felt like I was a bad teacher, though. I just thought that I had a tough time getting my ideas across. I had some kids that became really good drummers, so I couldn’t have been that bad, but I always felt that I was struggling with transferring the knowledge.
(c) Stefan Fischer 2011, Fischer+Blanchard 2011