Killswitch Engage Guitarist Opens Up About Pandemic Depression: “The Worst Year of My Life”
Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach has been quite open about his struggles with mental health over the years, but when it comes to Adam D., the band’s primary songwriter, producer and lead guitarist, we think of the affable, goofy fella prancing around the stage in daisy dukes and a cape. The thing about depression, though, is that it can come for anyone… and Adam D. has now opened up his acute struggles over the past year-plus on account of the social isolation caused by the pandemic.
The revelation came, fittingly enough, on Stoke The Fire, the podcast hosted by Leach and DJ/presenter Matt Stocks. Adam explained that he first viewed the downtime as a boon for creativity, like many of us in those early days, but quickly spiraled once he realized how long of a haul we were in for:
“It started out almost as thinking it was gonna be a good thing for my headspace. I remember we got on a conference call with management, and I’m, like, ‘Yeah! We get a break! We finally get a break! COVID forever!’ [Laughs] I was, like, ‘This is gonna be great. We’ll take some time and we’ll take care of ourselves, and when we get back we’ll be in an even more positive headspace. And we’ll tour non-stop when we get back to it.’ And then I think once the realization of ‘COVID’s not going anywhere’ hit, I was, like, ‘Oh, no. Oh, no.’ And then the loneliness. My girlfriend works, like, 12-hour days, so I never fucking see her. So the loneliness started eating me alive. Getting injured again — I hurt my back really bad again. Going to the hospital — all that shit. Fuck, I was [on a] downward spiral.
Adam, if you’re reading this (or if any of Adam’s people are reading, kindly pass this along), I would like to suggest that your back pain was the result of your depression, not the other way around. Long-time back pain sufferer here myself, and it took me years to learn that. Further reading here if you’re interested.
“I guess I never really realized how dependent I am on human interaction after all. I get so burnt out on it being on tour, because you’re always around other people, so I always just thought I preferred being alone. And then when I was alone for that long, just completely by myself, I fucking went crazy.”
“This was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life — a hundred percent. I’d never gone to such a dark place ever before. I’m glad that I’ve finally pulled out of it, and the promise of good things coming was really the catalyst for that. Being able to see people, getting vaccinated and then being able to go out and things opening again, and all the [coronavirus] rates dropping. Now life is pretty much back to normal where I’m living. And it’s just amazing to see people again. I was so scared to go home and see my family because of my grandmother — she was not doing well, so I didn’t wanna be the reason that somebody in my family got sick and then gave her something. It’s just so nice to have some sense of normalcy back, and I think that’s really helped me out a lot.”
“It’s kind of fucked up. The only thing I really took from it is that I never want to go through anything like that again. And it’s so funny — I know Jesse talks about depression and anxiety all the time, which runs in my family. Every one of my siblings has had to deal with something. And they’re either on some form of medication or they have to do some form of crazy meditation to keep their thoughts at bay. I never truly experienced the depth of it until this last year and how controlling it can be. I always just assumed, like, ‘Just have a fucking beer and have a chat with a good friend, and it’ll help fix things.’ And from what I went through last year, I realized now nothing fixes it — nothing fixes it. It’s like the most hopeless feeling you could ever have. It’s really fucking crazy. And I truly know now what it means to be depressed.”
That last part is especially well articulated, and I hope Killswitch fans reading it who’ve taken that mindset towards depressed friends — “just have a beer, pull yourself out of it!” — will take a moment to reflect on what he’s said.
One “promise of good things” Adam is likely referring to is the exceptionally good new Times of Grace album, Songs of Loss and Separation, the title of which now has new meaning in light of Adam’s above comments. Give “The Burden of Belief” from the record a spin below along with the Stoke the Fire podcast episode.