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Killswitch Engage - Talking about Metal and Art with Mike D.
A day after the Roadrage Tour the Metalrage Crew was heading towards Amsterdam again to bang some head with Killswitch Engage, Johny Truant and As I Lay Dying. Unfortunatly, As I Lay Dying couldnt make it to the venue because of "Logistical Problems". We had the opportunity to talk to bassplayer Mike D'antonio about the re-release of the first album and more!


How are you doing so far?

Really good! We've only been out here for two weeks but we're having a great time with As I Lay Dying and Johny Truant. They are bands that are close friends to us, so good times.

And a lot of drinking..

Yes, a lot of drinking!

A few days ago Killswitch played at Rock am Ring. I was there and the crowd was huge, do you think its the biggest crowd you played for?

I believe so! I think it was estimated at 20.000 people. It was huge. Rock im Park was big as well.

The End of Heartache has been out for quite a while now, so I guess the new stuff is ready to be recorded? Or did you guys only had time for touring..

We have been touring ever since that record came out. We got our first month off last month. In a little over a year. It has been a really grueling schedule. We havent had time to sit down and write stuff. When you get home you dont want to get away from music as far as possible. I think we wont have anything ready for a while, propably May next year.

So no writing during touring?

Not really. Guitars are for out of the box!

Just curious because we talked to Trivium yesterday and Matt Heafy was working on his laptop putting down some basslines. The guy seems to be constantly working.

He's a maniac..but when you get a little older you wont do that anymore. I'm actually going to be recording with him later this month for the Roadrunner Anniversery cd. It will be me, Matt, another guy from Trivium and King Diamond. Should be fun!

Do you think Killswitch opened opportunities for similar sounding bands?

Well I assume so. It seems that everybody in Massachussets suddenly came to a next level; like Shadows Fall, Unearth, All that Remains. It all kind of started with Hatebreed showing record labels that they could sells some records. I think we just snuck in the door that Hatebreed had left open. But all those bands have been working really hard. As early as I can remember, it has been from 1991 that this style of music has been going on. Its kind of weird because people think its a new thing but it has been around for quite a while. Its nice because my friends who stayed in that scene are now having the benefits of being able to sell records and so on. For starters, I never thought I would be able to pay rent with music. It was always a goal for me to be able to go home and not worrying about paying rent.

So the life of a Professional Musician is rewarding..

Its a strange thing and still blows my mind.


Recently the first album got re-released. What is the story behind that?

The quality wasnt so good, we only had about $2000 when we recorded it. We snuck in every night and the recording studio didnt know. We would get in at 11pm and work on stuff until 7am. We got caught a few times but fortunatly it worked out. We just wanted to put that record out to get our name out and play shows. Things could've been done better and the soundquality could be brought up more. Carl from Ferret Records got in touch with Adam and said that he would love him to remix the album because he actually had a distribution deal which allowed him to get the record in a lot more shops. Like lets try something different and put a new cover in it. I got excited about that because I do all the graphic design as well. It was really fun to rip apart an old cover and give it a new face. We all had a lot of fun working on that project, and we threw in 4 demo songs and gave it a new face. Its nice that people are able to hear that record in a good quality, before you could only get it through the internet.

Well actually I once found a copy here in Amsterdam in a cd-store, and I went like "wow, an original"..

Yeah its rare and hard to find, even in the States.

There are also 4 demo tracks on the rerelease, did anything happen to them?

Yeah I believe he remixed them..

Well because they really sound like demo tracks compared to the rest of the album.

Well I think Adam did some tweaking but there is only so much you can do. I think we went in there and recorded those live. Those were the only songs we had at that time so we didnt really have anything else to put on it.

On the special edition of the End of Heartache release there was a bonus cd with a few songs on them, and in my opinion, those werent really special..

Really? Well those two songs werent on the album.

I know but these days most people probably have downloaded them anyway. But why no small dvd with cool video footage or anything?

There's two videos on it!

Yeah but Im more referring to live or backstage stuff. Or are you saving that for a DVD?

Yeah, we have that planned for December. We're still talking about what to do with it thouh. But the thing with the re-release of End of Heartache was that the record company said to us: "We have priced this so low all the time and we have to raise the price". So to justify the new higher price we decided to add a cd and put some fun stuff on it, so the new price seemed justified. People are also able to order the 2nd disc online so it worked out pretty well.

Do you have any special ideas floating around for the upcoming DVD? Its seems that most live DVDs these days consists of one or two live performances, some background shenanigans and a music video and thats basically it.

We'll definitely try to do something special but I don't know if it will be different compared to the rest that is out..

But did you see the Chimaira DVD? That was done great with the documentary etc.

We would really like to do something like that but I dont know if there is enough money for that.

I guess you guys have tons of footage?

Yeah we have enough footage. I like to think that we have funnier moments in our lives compared to other metalbands, a lot of stupid stuff has happened to us. We got a lot of that on tape, so I hope that goes on the DVD. We'll probably chop that up with a live recording, because I cant stand people talking about themselves without some music or something funny going on now and then.

Is there a live performance recorded yet?

We have a couple of different shows we could use but I think we're going to record a show in our home town. We also have a good amount of backstage stuff so I hope it all works out. We definitly know what we hate so we're going to stay away from that!

Time for some unlogical questions. If you could put a dreamband together to tour with, who would you pick?

I'd like Danzig to sing. Jimi Hendrix would play guitar and Kirk Hammet would play second guitar. Cliff Burton on bass, I guess I'll play second bass. On drums..John Bonham.

Sounds like a good band! Why does Justin (Foley, drums -ed) only have one bassdrum? Two is way more metal!

Its more metal but its heavy too!

Yeah but you have a guy who lifts it for him..

We do! But Justin likes a really basic, small set.

He's great tho, I have some old stuff with him with Red Tide, that progressive death stuff, its great. Great player.

We're just not a flashy band with two bassdrums and stuff.

But why do you have two guitarists, because sometimes one of them has to go to a wedding or something and for the crowd it sounds pretty much the same..

Yeah Adam did it on its own. We've done both, Me and Joel and Me and Adam. Its cool that we can pull if off. We started out as a four piece, and Adam used to play the drums. He started complaining that the drums were to heavy because he had to take them everywhere and there wasnt a handle on them. But Adam and Joel have a really great chemistry playing off eachother. When we started writing End of Heartache we knew we could write with two guitars. There are some songs that we can't play live because of that.

So whats the most metal thing you have ever done?

Yeah I broke my bassguitar on Howard's head during Roadrage 2002. I wasnt looking and swung my bass really hard and it felt like I hit a wall with a baseball bat. So I continued playing and I saw that the neck was broken. I looked at Howard and thought: "Man I must have hurt him bad". I walked towards him at the end of the set and gave him a hug and said "Man I`m so sorry" but Howard went like "What?!" so I just said "Whatever" and walked away. No bruises no nothing. The guy is made out of steel.

The worst thing you've ever eaten?

I drank this really awfull rum last night.. I think we got it in the UK. Its was a short name..stro rum I believe? It was like drinking lava. I took another shot and I dont know why!

You do all the artwork right?

Yep.

Going to do something cool for the DVD? Because you did a nice cover for the special edition..

About the special edition..when we did the recordcover for End of Heartache, I showed that cover a year before the record was going to get out. Roadrunner really liked it, and they were stoked that it was an easy thing to look at. At the time we were finished recording, around February, 36 Crazyfists comes out with their album. And the cover had a big heart on it! So I called Roadrunner and asked "What are you doing to me? You guys are putting out a record with a cover that looks quite the same as my design, the colours are almost the exact opposite of what I did, and you already saw my cover over a year ago! You're killing me!" and Roadrunner was like "Oh yeah, sorry man, we forgot."

So for two weeks after that I got no sleep. I worked hard on that design and I was so happy that everyone in the band liked it, because that basically never happens. I was really bummed out. I came up with the flower and the nail cover to use as an alternate cover. But when it came down to it, Roadrunner said "Just forget it, we'll use your original design. We like what you did and we want to go with that." So its cool that the alternate cover got used for the special edition.

As for the DVD, I got nothing ready yet. I do alot of artwork for other bands at the moment. I`m doing shirts for Unearth, All That Remains, the All That Remains. I've done stuff for Shadows Fall, like there logo. The unfortunate part is that I dont have much time to do it. I bring my laptop out on the road so I can blow of some steam when working on new designs. It is a good way to get your mind clear. I own a design company but I've had to push away alot of clients because of my lack of time. I only do projects for which I really have some time. My intention is not to hurt other people by taking to long. I only do stuff of which I know that I can get accomplished in a certain time period.

Allright, we're pretty much through. Thanks for your time!

No problem!