“I’ve only maybe been home maybe a month in the past year,” Killswitch Engage bassist Mike D’Antonio says. “I don’t see my wife nearly enough. Or my dogs. I just tell her to pretend I’m in the army but I’m not getting shot at. It’s the only drawback to having one of the greatest jobs in the world,” he laughs. “There’s always going to be drawbacks to any job that you do, but this is a gift from heaven to be in music and to have people come out and like your stuff. I’ve been in many bands that didn’t work. They just fell by the wayside for one reason or another, and this one [Killswitch Engage] worked. It feels great that you can produce something that people will like and that they wanna go out of their way to see. Or, they wanna have you come all the way across to Australia and play.”
It’s amazing to think that, just five years ago, the band were in limbo. Former frontman Howard Jones had quit and they were unsure if they were going to continue. In that time D’Antonio got back in touch with some old friends to form Death Ray Vision.
“It was a really fun thing to do with my old stomping ground dude’s band Overcast which was a band I was in before Killswitch. I really like playing with those guys. Sometimes it’s good to get out of your element and play with different people here and there. You can learn a lot if you’re not playing with the same people over and over again. It was real easy to throw some stuff together for that band, and at the time Killswitch wasn’t really doing much. It was the interim between Howard and Jesse [Leach, vocals] where we weren’t sure what was going on with the band. If we were even going to be a band. At the time I just wanted to play shows. It didn’t matter if it was a bar show to 20 people or a festival here and there. Throwback hardcore with a little bit of metal was a style of music that I thought was really fun. I got together with Brian [Fair] from Shadow’s Fall and Pete Cortese from my old bands Overcast and Seemless and busted out some songs. We made an EP and then a whole record on Bullet Tooth Records, and that was a lot of fun.”
“Currently there’s nothing planned out right now,” he says in reference to whether there will be new material from Death Ray Vision or not. “I’ve been writing a lot of demos, and I’m sure some of them will end up being Death Ray Vision stuff, but it’s not something we plan on doing super often. Killswitch is going super nuts right now with touring.”
Luckily, original frontman Leach (who had left the band in 2002) rejoined the band, and in 2013 they released Disarm The Descent. Earlier this year they went on to release album number seven, Incarnate.
“It was a bit different,” D’Antonio admits when asked about how recording Incarnate differed to Disarm The Descent. “It was a bit more cohesive this time around because Jesse was in the mix writing with us. The last record [Disarm The Descent] the music was all done and Jesse [re]joined the band and he just had to put his stamp of lyrics on it. With this one he was with us listening to demos, talking about parts, working out lyric ideas. Everyone in the band writes, so we all bring demos to practice and listen to and talk about. Sometimes we move them over to ProTools and play around with it with everyone’s input. It was great to have Jesse’s input and to have his ideas shining through for really helpful. Especially with the artwork, he had a lot to do with that as well.”
D’Antonio designs all of the album artwork and merch designs for Killswitch. A passion he’s had for a long time. He speaks about how he designed the artwork for Incarnate.
“Jesse had a weird dream about a person sprouting roots and going into the ground while his or her arms were lifted into the air. Cranes were circling above, and snakes were coming up from below. It was sort of a good and bad I guess. Good and evil kind of a thing and very specific. It was a challenge to figure out exactly how I was gonna meet that criteria but that’s one of the fun parts. Especially when you nail it and that was what happened.”
Next year, Killswitch Engage will embark on their sixth tour of the Australia. A country that D’Antonio loves but not for a reason, you’d expect.
“I love your fruit bats,” he laughs. “They’re crazy looking. I’ve seen one hit a wall and get stunned and fall on the ground and flap around and then fly away. Those things are massive! They’re bigger than my dog. I have two pugs, and they would be frightened by a fruit bat. Last time we were there we went to the Botanical Gardens and checked out the fruit bats hanging upside down from the trees and watched them fly over the harbour when the sun was going down. That was awesome; it was like a vampire movie or a Batman movie.”
Killswitch Engage Australian/NZ tour
GET TICKETS HERE: http://selecttouring.com.au/tours/killswitch-engage
1st March – Powerstation, Auckland (18+)
3rd March – The Enmore Theatre, Sydney (All ages)
4th March, Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane (All ages)
5th March – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
7th March – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+) SOLD OUT
8th March, Metro City, Perth (18+)