Interviewed by Rob Benny
Date: August 2007
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike D’Antonio, the bassist for New England Metal core giants KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. During the interview, he spoke of "As Daylight Dies,” the progression of the band, and some exciting plans after the ‘Warped Tour’. Enjoy! - Rob Benny
Rob Benny: How's the ‘Warped Tour’ going for you guys so far?
Mike D’Antonio: It's going really well. This is our first time out on the ‘Warped Tour’. We've already done ‘Ozzfest’ twice, and did the ‘Taste of Chaos’ twice, so it's a pretty refreshing experience to come out here for the first time. And being that we're one of the token Metal bands on the billing, we're really happy the way the crowd has been responding so we'd surely do it again.
Rob Benny: It's great that the crowd's been giving you a warm welcome. And it's really cool how you guys attract a new audience to the ‘Warped Tour’, you know. More metalheads are coming out to see you guys here.
Mike D’Antonio: Oh yea, it's great. And, when we're doing our signings, we've noticed we're getting a lot of blue haired kids with Mohawks approaching and telling us how much they enjoyed our set. It's definitely a positive sign. It works and makes sense to the people who want to hear different music.
Rob Benny: Totally, So talk a little bit about your newest album "As Daylight Dies"
Mike D’Antonio: Well, the album's been out since November of last year. Roadrunner Records is actually doing a re-release of the album in a Special Edition format. It's due to hit stores on August 28, 2007. It's not going to be your typical "Roadrunner re-release.” It's going to feature two brand new tracks, a compilation song released on the WWE album, and a song from Kerrang Magazine compilation: a cover of DIO's "Holy Diver." Also included is going to be a Bonus DVD containing all three music videos from the album.
Rob Benny: The cover of "Holy Diver" is really awesome by the way.
Mike D’Antonio: Thanks! Yea, we shot the video for it last month, and it premiered on our MySpace a few days ago. People love it, and we've had some great feedback from it.
Rob Benny: Great! As far as "As Daylight Dies" goes, it's definitely an evolution from "The End of Heartache.” There is more versatility in the band's songwriting, and it seems as if it's a more mature output from the band. What influenced the writing process, and how has it changed since "The End of Heartache"?
Mike D’Antonio: We've definitely incorporated some new elements into our music, some more Southern Rock based guitar-riffs and melodies. And overall, I feel we've really found our voice as a band. I like all of the material we've done, but I think that with "The End of Heartache" and "As Daylight Dies,” we have found the signature "KILLSWITCH" sound. This is where we want to stay and move on from this point, while continuing to evolve in our songwriting.
Rob Benny: I agree there is a consistency between the two albums that define your sound. What bands have been influencing you, personally and as a whole band?
Mike D’Antonio: As far as the band goes, a lot of Swedish Metal bands have influenced us. For instance AT THE GATES, SOILWORK, IN FLAMES, ENTOMBED. Me personally? I've been listening to a lot of New York Hardcore bands from the 80's and 90's, like LEEWAY, THE CRO-MAGS, BAD BRAINS, AGNOSTIC FRONT. You know, tough guy, in your face, aggressive hardcore music with loud guitars.
Rob Benny: Awesome. I'd like to add that ever since your current vocalist Howard Jones has been with the band, your music has shown a whole new dimension. What was the reasoning for Jesse (original vocalist) leaving the band?
Mike D’Antonio: Well, Jesse brought a lot to the table, so I give him a ton of credit for that. However, when we went out on tour, his voice just didn't have enough power to carry on a full set. On our first tour, every four days we'd have to take a day off in between so he could rest his voice. There were nights where we'd wind up playing for only 10 minutes because his voice would just be completely shot. And you know that when you go out on tour, you cannot get by playing for only 10 minutes a night, and have to make up excuses every four nights for taking a day off. So after our first tour (which he left the band afterwards) we had to sit down and talk to him, suggest that he take voice lessons, or do something to improve his throat conditions. We eventually agreed to part ways, and sought a replacement. Overall, it was the best decision for both ends.
Rob Benny: I see. What made you choose Howard?
Mike D’Antonio: When we first heard Howard, we thought that he had roundness to his voice. The ability to go from screaming and singing as clear as he does without a problem was what made us take notice. We auditioned a lot of singers that were Jesse imitators, but Howard just had this incredible, new, unique sound that we felt could really take us to another level. And now, we're doing 60, 90-minute sets every single night and Howard's voice holds up without a problem. So he added a whole lot to our sound, and overall we're really happy the way things are going.
Rob Benny: As far as the ‘Warped Tour’ goes, who is your favorite band to see live?
Mike D’Antonio: One of my favorites is UNDEROATH. They're actually playing some make up dates that they missed last year too, which is really cool. REVOLUTION MOTHER, they're great to see live. THE UNSEEN is a great Punk band, capturing the classic punk sound of the 70's, 80's. Also, reggae band PEPPER is another great live set because they're different.
Rob Benny: Absolutely, Reggae bands along side Punk bands, Punk bands sharing the stage with Metal bands, it doesn't get any better than that.
Mike D’Antonio: Exactly. That's why I think ‘Warped Tour’ should always have bands from different musical genres, and different styles. I've never bought the whole idea that "every band has to sound like GREEN DAY to play on ‘Warped Tour’"(laughter).
Rob Benny: So, what are your plans after the ‘Warped Tour’?
Mike D’Antonio: First, we're going to do a Scandinavian Tour, mixed in with a few Russian tour dates. We're all really excited because we've never played in Russia before, and it's going to be an interesting experience for all of us. After we come back, we have some plans, which are not yet confirmed, to do a really big Metal tour with a co-headlining slot, sharing the stage with another really big Metal band. I'm not allowed to say anything just yet, but if all goes through, it is going to be a huge tour. It is like a total dichotomy. Going from extremely Punk, Pop-Punk and Hardcore (‘Warped Tour’), right to a straightforward Metal tour with all Metal acts and all Metal fans in the audience.
Rob Benny: That's really cool. I'm looking forward to see what happens next. Lastly, do you have anything else you'd like to add?
Mike D’Antonio: That's pretty much it. August 28, the re-release of "As Daylight Dies" hits stores in Special Edition format, and we've got some exciting tour plans coming up within the year of 2007.
Rob Benny: Thank you very much; it's been a pleasure interviewing you!
Mike D’Antonio: You're welcome!