Latest release: Incarnate (Roadrunner)Website: www.killswitchengage.com
Killswitch Engage will be making the trek to Australia next year for the first time since 2013. Bummed out by the cancellation of their Soundwave dates but bouyed by the success of new album Incarnate (#5 in Australia, #6 on Billboard), bass player Mike D’Antonio talked to Loud about band brotherhood, Japan and his 12 year-old self’s ultimate dream.
It seems like a long time since Killswitch Engage was in Australia last so it will be great to have you back here again.
Yeah, such a bummer. We were going to do that Soundwave Festival and it got cancelled last year. We had our ticket bought, we were gonna get on the plane, we had all our trips ready to go and it got cancelled last minute and we were so bummed – we needed to make it up to you guys. This was the first time we’ve had a chance to do it.
The last time you were here was the Soundwave you played before that – 2013. That was just after Jesse rejoined, so it has been a long time.
It sure has. That was a really fun one, though. Metallica played, Kyuss Lives! was playing, Madball was playing. That was a stellar line-up! So much fun. And we really were hoping that last year’s one was going to just as much fun. We always have a good time on that festival, and it just didn’t follow through. But we’re coming back! Get ready.
In a way though it’s going to be just as cool because you’ve got a new album to play and opinions are that it’s one of your best ones.
Well thanks very much! And yes, we’re going to play a way longer set and there’s a whole bunch of new material that we’ve been playing and we will play. Normally, we’re not the type of band that will bust out all new tunes on that tour. When you go to see them, you just wish that they played older stuff. But with this record it’s a bit different. It’s been catching on so well that we’ve been adding new ones here and there. But never fail – we love to play the hits, so never fear: you’re going to hear your favourite Killswitch tunes.
Obviously people would be disappointed if you didn’t do that, but Incarnate has been such a hit you must be getting more and more people wanting to hear stuff from that?
We get complaints that we don’t play enough of it! We’ve been adding more and more, and it’s finally starting to feel comfortable. I guess that’s the big problem with new songs is that when you’re playing them they just don’t really fit right yet. But we’re practised up and ready to go!
You were disappointed about Soundwave, but how has the rest of the year been going for Killswitch Engage?
I can say fortunately we’ve been touring our butts off. It’s been a complete blur! I’m having trouble remembering where I was a week ago, let alone yesterday! But that’s a good thing, being able to work and having people like the new record enough that they’re pulling us every which way over the map. I do remember that we just got back from Japan. We played Loud Park, and that’s always a really fun festival. We were there for 36 hours and it’s 14.5 to get and a lot to get back, so we made a little lay-over in San Diego… five days off, at the beach just to relax after that long trip to Japan. Played a show real fast and then went over to Mountfest in Mexico City and in fact we just got back from there this past weekend. Now we’re just relaxing until this next tour happens. We’re heading out with Bullet For My Valentine until early December, so we’re really excited to hang out with our bros. We really like those guys a lot.
Loud Park is massive! We had quite a lot of the bands come here and play last week right afterwards: Scorpions, Symphony X, Lacuna Coil, Queensryche.
That was one of the plans we talked over: should we do Australia right after because we’re so close. And I think that was the plan of a lot of bands so that’s what made it seem as not so great to us, to maybe spread it out a bit and maybe be there when you don’t have a lot of bands there, to avoid saturation.
How does Loud Park compare to other festivals?
I don’t know if it’s the same promoters, but a big festival over there that was metal used to be called Peacefeast and we had done that over there in 2002 and every other year or so and it was just giant bills and I think the first one we did was in front of 10000 people and this new one, it looked like 45, maybe 50 thousand people, so it was awesome. It was like pit central! There was, I think, like four pits, and Japanese people are very respectful. They just want to watch and see everything that you’re doing. They usually don’t make that noise, but they were just going crazy! It was literally the second time ever that we felt like they really cared about us! It was awesome. It’s not bad, when they’re quiet! It’s just a respect thing, but this time I think we just did something really right.
Do you think it’s possible that the culture is changing a little bit? It does seem to be changing in certain ways in a lot of places.
One thing that isn’t changing is that people just don’t really know English over there. At all, which can be troublesome if you want to plan a trip there without touring. It could be a little tricky. They’re kind of Americanised a little so you’d think they might have a little background of English, but I guess the cool thing is that they’re so respectful they’ll get five or six of their friends to come over and help you so when you ask for something in English that they can’t understand, they are going to try and get everyone they know involved to figure out your problem. That’s like the nicest thing ever! In America, somebody doesn’t speak English, people are going to tell them to go away!
Killswitch Engage are often considered the pioneers of what’s called modern metalcore. What do you guys think about wearing a badge like that?
It’s pretty neat! I’m not a guy who usually latches on to genre and genre-specific terms that are assembled for bands, but I was talking to Randy from Lamb of God one day, and he put it in perspective for me. He said, “Imagine your 12 year old self looking at you and saying ‘Holy crap, you guys started a whole new metal genre’.” That’s pretty awesome, and I’ve always taken that to heart. And I’ve never taken it for granted, either. I have a lot of respect for what we’ve accomplished. It’s a really cool thing and not many bands get to do it.
You’ve been around long enough now to have seen a lot of other bands come and go. You must consider yourself fortunate that Killswitch has been able to ride out a lot of those waves and still be here.
Gosh, it’s been so long. We’ve been in this band now for 17 years or something now and you never expect a band to last longer than two or three years, so to last thing long and to gain in popularity rather than just like die out… as you said, so many of my friends’ bands who were in it with us, in the trenches, so to speak, in creating this genre and bringing it to the masses… it makes me feel so lucky, so happy to have this still and to have the friendship with my band members. I really think that means a lot to do with our longevity, just everyone getting along so well. Being really good friends and being able to talk to each other and work out problems and solutions without getting into arguments. It’s really important to love what you do and get along with people that you work with.
A lot of bands seem to have problems establishing that kind of brotherhood. Then if you look at a band like Lamb of God or Sevendust, who’ve been through all the same ups and downs with the same guys – some bands can build that kind of relationship and some bands never do.
I think in our case it has to do with not taking things too seriously. Instead of thinking, ‘Oh let’s go out there and kill it’, with us it’s ‘Let’s go out there and have fun, smile and hope that the crowd participates’. Because that’s what we want to do. We just want to include everyone in our goofiness and have fun playing some metal.
I guess it would be hard not to have some fun with a clown like Adam in the band?
Yep! Yep, we’ve got a pretty weird one. But I think that’s the charm, maybe. You never know what he’s going to say. He never says the same thing twice, and he always shock us, every time he says something. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, but a lot of times, it’s funny!
Is there still something you’d really like Killswitch Engage to achieve that you haven’t yet?
Well, a lot like Soundwave… it would a childhood dream to tour with Metallica on a regular basis rather than just at a festival. I suppose we could say we did tour with Metallica just by being on that festival, but it’s really not the same thing! It would be pretty amazing, and by 12 year old child self would be literally jumping off a cliff. So stoked if we got to play with Metallica. So if Metallica’s out there, my 12 year-old self would really love to do that. Please make it happen!
Well they do have a new album coming out next month, so there’s always an opportunity! I don’t think there’s too many bands who wouldn’t want to do that. I’m actually surprised you haven’t done shows with them.
It’s a good goal! It’s a good goal to have, and it will probably never happen, but hey… what have we not accomplished? That’s one thing that would be pretty awesome!