Killswitch Engage take the roots of hardcore punk, the flash of guitar wizardry, the evil core of heavy fuckin' death metal, and the heart of rock and roll, throw them in a mosh pit, and create some of the most brutally harmonious music the world has ever known.
Their tour in support of their new album Disarm The Descent just kicked off, and soon the band will be creating a metalcore maelstrom at Revolution Live. The band have sold millions of albums, climbed the heights of Billboard charts, and taken their sound around the world. We spoke to bassist Mike D'Antonio about his Fort Lauderdale tattoo artist, the Cro-Mags stabbing at Webster Hall, and how music can change the world.
New Times: Wasup, man? How's it goin'?
Mike D'Antonio: Good. I'm just on line right now to get on this plane so if you hear like a PA announcement or anything...
Cool. So what's your history with Fort Lauderdale and South Florida?
We've done quite a few shows there over the years, like Ozzfest. And out there lives one of my family's favorite tattoo artists, Dave Poole out of Rockabilly Tattoo in Lauderhill. We've gotten a lot of work done at his shop and flown him up to our house to do work for family and friends. That's the main staple of Fort Lauderdale for me, hanging out with Dave anytime we're down there.
I've seen interviews where you cite Harley Flanagan from the Cro-Mags as a big influence...
Yeah, he was definitely a huge influence on me growing up. His style on stage was like no other, really shoving the music down people's throats. I always took that to heart and wanted to emulate that; really feeling the music, he was the music, jumping around and being a nut. A lot of his enthusiasm and energy bled into normal life and that was a wrong influence for that guy.
He was involved in a big stabbing during a Cro-Mags show at Webster Hall in NYC and my friend Mike was playing bass for them (Cro-Mags) and he got stabbed. There's no circumstance where that should ever happen.
If someone owns the name of the band or whatever it was about, I don't care.
It was Mike from Sworn Enemy and Agents of Man who was stabbed. Harley apparently broke into the backstage area and it took 7 or 8 people to subdue him, and they broke his leg because he was being so crazy, going on a stabbing spree. That's what the reports are reading.
My friend Mike is good, but he had a newborn baby and that was really sad that had to happen him when he had a little kid to take care of.
Let's leave the violence on the dance floor, and the forget about it. It's just music. There's far more important things in the world than music.
I would say like poverty. If you've ever been to South America people are living in some dismal places. Kids are on the streets selling cigarettes for money to give to some weirdo pimp.
America is so homogenized, we're kept from the rest of the madness happening around the world.
Music may not be the most important thing in the world, but could it be that somehow it helps inspire people to do good or help others?
I'd like to think our music does. It's definitely drastically different from when we first started in 2001. I was happy being negative. I thought that's what metal was all about.
I see now, with like the poetry of our singer Jesse Leach that the positive message can go off without being forced. That it can have meaning. So hopefully we're contributing, and we do have people say we helped them through a really hard time so it's rewarding.
I read you're a vegetarian, are you into animal rights?
I am a vegetarian, but not an animal rights activist. I've been vegetarian for 22 years. It's just something I believe in. The rest of the band eats meat. I'm not the type of guy that says don't do this or that.
You got some real hardcore punk roots, how'd you first get into it?
I had a cousin that used to skateboard way before I knew what that even was. He got me into Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, and Dead Milkmen. I fell in love instantly with skateboarding and the punk rock that went with it. And then just flipping through magazines and seeing what band T-shirts the guys in skateboarding were wearing, remember this is way before the internet, I went to the store and you had to hope you were buying the right thing just by looking at the logos and artwork and stuff. There were a lot of misses and hits in those days.
My musical influences are still Cro-Mags, Leeway, Agnostic Front, Madball, and Bad Brains. I listen to them daily, and they're truly dear to my heart.
What's your favorite thing about Bad Brains?
Compared to every other band, they stand alone. How they wrote music and the way HR sounds like no other. People try to copy, but no one can particularly get it right. I'm not sure what his influences were, it just made sense to me. He's just cool.
The first album is my favorite and then Quickness, which a lot of people hate, but I love the blend of hardcore and metal, and the blurring of lines between that started really happening in the '90s.
What about a band like DRI out of Houston, Texas?
I had the Crossover album, but I was never a huge fan of thrash. I thought it was like, hokey. I like metal, hardcore, and punk rock. I thought thrash was weak.
Killswitch Engage, Disarm The Descent Tour with Miss May I, Darkest Hour, The Word Alive, Affiance, at Revolution Live, 100 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 449-1025, tix $29 adv, $32 day of show, June 4, 6:30pm
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