Killswitch Engage

For the past decade Killswitch Engage have been one of the biggest names in modern metal, not just within the US, but internationally as well. With the recent announcement that the band will be touring Australia with Kill Devil Hill this April, talked with bassist Mike D’Antonio about their upcoming tour, Grammy nominations, and what it’s like to be apart of the band after fifteen years.

Hey Mike, how are you man?


Hey Alex. I’m pretty good, right now we’re in the middle of another snowstorm over here. The snow is currently about four, four and a half feet at the moment. And we’re supposed to get another foot added soon so it’s going to get uncomfortable really soon [laughs].


Ah, that’s a shame to hear man. Now, I’m not sure on the Australian-American time differences but last night for us over here, you guys announced your Australian tour this April with Kill Devil Hill. How excited are you for the tour?


Yeah, we’re super excited. It’s been a little while since we’ve been there, and this time it’s our own tour. Last time was with Soundwave, which is always a lot of fun. Like Metallica played I’m pretty sure and Kyuss Lives, favourite bands, played as well which was really cool. We’re super excited to get back there, there’s lots of fun places to hit up, awesome vegetarian food, great surf and sun, and your weather will be a lot better than it is here.


Yeah, hopefully. Sun is always better than snow. What can the fans expect from the band this time round?


Well, if you haven’t seen us with Jesse, our new old singer, he’s been doing a bang-up job and it’s amazing to have him back in the band. The band hadn’t felt like a real band in a little while, so it’s pretty rad to see things through the new guys eyes. As far as new stuff goes, we’re always updating the setlist, Jessie is always learning some of Howard’s (Jones) old songs, and we like to have a fresh setlist. So you’ll probably see some songs that we haven’t played in a while.


That’s good to hear. Are you excited to be touring with Kill Devil Hill as well?


Yeah, that’s Rex Brown’s (ex-Pantera) new band, I haven’t heard them just yet, but I’m really excited to see them play. It’s pretty rad, he’s a legend!


You guys have been to Australia a few times over the last couple years, what have your previous experiences been like?


Just awesome. We’ve had some really fun, really hot and warm times, and lots of expensive eating times [laughs]. But it is expensive, everything’s gotta be either shipped or boated over so it is more costly than the US, we gotta tighten our purse strings a bit when we come over. But the weather is perfect, the beaches are amazing, and you got some really fun night life over there too.


2014 marks the ten year anniversary of ‘The End Of Heartache’, are there any plans to bring out a tenth anniversary edition or to do a full album tour?


Well it might be weird because that was Howard’s first record with us and he’s not with us anymore. So, we haven’t talked about that just yet. Another anniversary that’s just going on is the band’s fifteenth year together, so we’ve been focusing on that really. We also just finished up doing the ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’ tenth year anniversary, and that was just so much fun. Super blast from the past with a few songs we have never played live before in our set. I don’t think we’re the kind of band who does an anniversary tour every time one comes up, otherwise we’d be doing something each year or so. It has to be something really special too and ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’ was a really special record to a lot of people so it just made a lot of sense.


As you said, it’s been fifteen years since Killswitch Engage started. Adam, Joel and yourself have been apart of it since the beginning. Back then, did you ever see yourself at this point in your career?


You never think a band is going to last more than three, maybe four years. Realistically, It’s kind of like a girlfriend [laughs]. Like how they can come and go you know? You have to really put up with someone, attitudes can clash, some people don’t get along, maybe a player isn’t as good as you thought they were. For some reason, I just really believed in the project. It took us about six to nine months to find Jesse, we had enough songs for the first LP, and we recorded those same songs four different times out of sheer boredom until we actually put out the record. There was a time where I was trying out for other bands, bands like Blood Has a Been Shed and Unearth, just because I wasn’t sure if Killswitch was even gonna work out. Not having a singer is a pretty big deal, it’s not really a band until a singer gets in on it. But I never thought about this far into the future, it’s really surprising how things fast forward. Once you’re out of high school man, it seems like time flies so fast.


As you mentioned before about ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’, do you find it strange or humbling that people still revere some of your albums so strongly, even nowadays?  


Oh, very humbling. It’s the coolest thing ever to actually have a mark in metal music, and to have something put out there that so many people look up to.  It’s pretty much every kids dream I think. It’s a pretty awesome dream that I never thought would happen. It’s so rad! Like when we did the tour for ‘Alive…’, people were singing along like it had just come out. It was very heart warming to see.


Are there any plans for a new Killswitch Engage album on the horizon?


Well this one (‘Disarm The Descent’) hasn’t been out for a full year yet, although it feels like it has. It came out in April so we’ve still got a couple months left. The label has been talking with us about putting out a record out every year or every year and a half or so. Which is really weird for us as we work every two, two and a half years. So they’ve already put the bug in our ear, and we’re talking about doing a record at the end of this summer maybe. So we’ll see how motivated everyone is, but I’ve already started writing. I have one demo down as of this week.


With regards to the last album, how did it feel to have ‘In Due Time’ nominated for a Grammy, and to be in the same category as Black Sabbath and Anthrax?


It’s mind blowing. To even be spoken in the same sentence as a Black Sabbath is the coolest thing ever, especially to the younger version of me. We were nominated about seven or so years ago for a Grammy award, and back then we were sitting in the auditorium and Rod Stewart got up to accept his award. And when he got on the mic, he said it was the first award he ever got. Rod Stewart has had something like thirty or forty US hits and to hear him say that made us think that we’d never win an award. Which was kinda funny, so this time round we knew that Sabbath were gonna win, so it was no shock, no big deal. The Grammy’s aren’t something that I really hold in high regard but it was really cool just to be recognised. There’s only one category for metal music, out of something like a hundred and forty awards. To be honoured by being mentioned along with those five other metal bands was pretty fucking cool.


Yeah as it would be man! Just before we wrap this up, is there anything you would like to say for the fans over here?


Australia, thank so you much for wanting us to come back. We feel very honoured to be able to come to your county and play for all of you. Thank you for believing in the band, even with lineup changes, all sorts of weird crap like that. We couldn’t ask for better fans, and we’ll see you in a month or so!

Killswitch Engage tour this April. Dates and details here.

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