Killswitch Engage will release their latest album Atonement on August 16th through Metal Blade Records. Mike D, the band’s bassist, recently called in to the Talk Toomey Podcast and discussed the special guests, artwork and new label.
Click the player below for the entire conversation. Here is an excerpt:
Toomey: Well let’s dive into “Atonement” like I told you before we started recording, amazing album.
You guys, I don’t think you’ve had a bad album in the catalog, you might be able to argue that point. But
to me it’s a Killswitch Engage album, it has all the elements I want, plus some of the old elements I
wasn’t expecting, and even Chuck Billy man. So all in all, a great album man, great job.
Mike: Thank you so much. You know, we never have special guests on our records or if we do it’s pretty
rare. I think there’s probably been four at this point. Phil from All That Remains, Jesse even came in
and did some stuff when Howard was in the band. Now Jesse’s in the band, Howard came back and did
some stuff. The one song you were talking about with Chuck Billy, it just came to us just saying Chuck
Billy should be on this song. We weren’t trying to crowbar in our favorite or anything like that. It was just
an idea and it actually worked out, which sometimes those ideas fall away and don’t work out so well. So
stoked that he had time to do it and he sounds freaking incredible on it.
Toomey: It’s one of those things where it’s not a blatant special guest, it’s not just like, you don’t yell out
Chuck Billy or anything out right before it happens, it just happens. It doesn’t come out of left field, it
doesn’t sound wrong, everything just works out on this album.
Mike: It took awhile to create, a lot longer than we expected. We wrote 21, 22 songs. We just had to say
okay people, just stop writing. [Laughs] We were so excited, we were on a roll, and everyone was
bringing in demos and all the demos were really good. We had to cut it off and say okay this is gonna be
a chore when we gave it to Jesse, and sure enough [laughs] gave it to Jesse, he didn’t know where to
start, then he had some vocal surgery and then finally finished everything up. He did about 17 tracks,
something like that. This record as opposed to other records we were able to choose exactly what
should be on the record, and what should be beside her. I don’t know what we’re going to do with the
other songs yet. There was no this is good enough or this isn’t good enough, for all band members it was
a united stance of this, and that’s the first time that’s happened.
The bands that float to the top have a new element that they throw in the mix to kind of regenerate the
idea of the whole merging of a few different styles, and I think that’s how you stand out. You’ve gotta
throw something else in there, man.
Toomey: 100% right on that one, you guys definitely did it and did it well and continue doing it well. If
you like Killswitch Engage, you’re gonna love the album. You didn’t try to break the mold, you didn’t try
anything. If you’re a Killswitch fan you’ll love it, if you’re not you’re probably gonna enjoy it too because
it’s a great album.
Mike: Thanks so much I appreciate it. We wanted to go all out with this one, it’s a fresh start. We
finished our contract with Roadrunner Records, and wanted to start completely fresh, and we’ve loved
Metal Blade forever. Historic record label with some of the most incredibly nice, family oriented people
on the planet so we couldn’t have thought of a better place to be, and thank you to those guys for having
us. We wanted to do special things for them, so hopefully that’s what we did.
Toomey: On the Roadrunner Records front, you guys are probably in the less than 1% of bands that
completed that 7 or 8 album Roadrunner Records deal that tons of bands have signed, and I think you
might be one of the few that have actually fulfilled the entire thing.
Mike: I don’t know anyone who has [laughs]. We’ve been in the business 20 years. It’s an
accomplishment man, we did what we said we were going to do. When we signed our signatures on that
paper we actually pulled it all off. When we were signing they said, don’t worry it looks like a lot of
records you’ll make it to the end. We said okay, if that’s how much faith you guys have in us we’ll figure it
out. We made it, and it feels like a brand new thing. From the record cover to a lot of the tones, and just
the feeling of the record, it seems fresh. So that’s what we’re trying to get out there, Metal Blade, go
Toomey: I love that you asked to use the classic Metal Blade logo on the album.
Mike: That’s what I grew up looking at and seeing, and for me it just seemed like a momentous logo to
throw on there, like my childhood coming full circle. I always marveled at it saying oh man it would be so
cool to have that logo on my record, now we finally got a chance to do it. I got special permission from
Brian, the owner, to do that. I don’t think they’ve used it in like 10 years.
Toomey: That’s a big thing too, you’re a graphic designer, you understand branding. You understand
that if somebody wants to use the old logo, you’re like well, actually we’re trying to really focus on this
new one so can you use the new one. So that you even got the permission to ask is a pretty amazing
Mike: It never happens. That’s another thing, I was shocked that those guys were super down. They
were like yeah, sure, do what you need to do. Make this record look as cool as you want it to look. That
felt great, warms the heart right there.
Toomey: With the art direction side of Killswitch do you have your hand in everything or have there been
things that I don’t really feel like doing the Japanese promo single of this random song. Are you hands
on everything? Are there things you kind of farm out?
Mike: I try to be hands on everything. It gets real same-y if the same person is doing all the design work
so it’s cool to farm out some stuff, but I’m always the guy giving the ideas or the direction for any of the
stuff. Very little that I pass off. That makes Killswitch design like a full time job in itself. [laughs]
Toomey: If you gotta do all the tour merch, and the album artwork, and what’s the backdrop gonna look
like, we need this we need that, you get something in that isn’t right, there’s a lot going on there.
Mike: It’s a lot of fun, but I also feel that makes it a cohesive package that one person is doing everything
and overseeing the whole thing, so you don’t see some random thing and say oh this doesn’t even look
like the same record, or I don’t know why they used that dumb typeface. [laughs]
Listen to “Ep. 219 Mike D’Antonio (Killswitch Engage)” on Spreaker.
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