[quote]”We had an entire day of auditions starting at 11:30am, probably 15 or so characters come in through the door, by about 4:30/5 o’clock we were all kinda beat, ready to go home…’til Jesse walked in the room. We proceeded to rock out 15 songs in a row”[/quote]

Killswitch Engage is still viewed by many to be “one of the new bands on the block”, despite the fact that they have been rocking out since ’99. That makes 13 years of constant touring and recording despite lineup changes and other “near fatal catastrophes”. At this late stage of their career, they embark on what is considered by many as the hardest thing to pull off; the changing of a very publicly adored singer. It’s not impossible; AC/DC did it twice, so too did Iron Maiden and Amorphis. But,Killswitch have an ace up their sleeves, it’s not a cold start, it’s a restarting of an old engine, as they welcome back into the fold their original singer Jesse Leech.

We sat down with bassist Mike to ask how things have been going, how they audience is accepting of the new KSE and where they plan to take the next several months.

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MetalBlast: Facundo Campos with MetalBlast, live at Heavy TO, sitting here with Mike from Killswitch Engage. How ya doing man?

Mike: I’m very good.

MB: How are you enjoying a slightly dryer version of day 2?

M: Definitely seems better that way, with the dry factor. So far so good, I kinda just woke up. Getting ready for the set fairly soon.

MB :Caught anybody so far?

M: Origin, little bit of Origin; that was awesome, heavy, very heavy, crazy. Can’t wait for Deftones. Really excited and of course our buddies at Cannibal Corpse, always amazing.

MB: Awesome. There’s a lot of buzz going around, partly because of you guys. A lot of people are really excited to see the new/old version of KSE.  Do you find that going around, everybody’s like that?

M: It seems that way; even with all the Youtube clips and all the stuff, people want to check it out for themselves to make sure it’s on par. I hope the come away thinking “fuck yeah” because that’s what we think. We’re pretty excited; it’s great to have a new set of eyes with such old jaded people. It definitely brightens up the tour , he’s a great guy and he’s doing a bang up job. I’m pretty stoked about it.

MB: You have a segregation; the new fans, the old fans have you found any division between their acceptance of Jesse… rather re-acceptance?

M: Not yet, not really. Which is great and phenomenal. That was one of our main concerns; can Jesse do the Howard songs? That was one of the things we really had to figure out for ourselves before were like “Cool, let’s go on the road” and he proved to us that he wanted to do it. And we were like “Okay, I guess he knows those songs”. Cause…he actually auditioned for the part and did an amazing job…he just blew us away. We had an entire day of auditions starting at 11:30am, probably 15 or so characters come in through the door, by about 4:30/5 o’clock we were all kinda beat, ready to go home, that was enough of playing the same 3 songs over and over again, ‘til Jesse walked in the room. We proceeded to rock out 15 songs in a row; the spirit was back, the energy was back, all the smiles were there, that’s what you need.

MB: I’m curious, who else, if you can drop names, auditioned for the band?

M: I don’t know if I can drop names (laughs)

MB: Give us a character description…

M: There was a bad guy…and there was guy with hair…there was a dude with a beard…

MB: There was dude with a beard? Any tattoos involved? Piercings?

M: Of course, always.

MB: You guys have had a few big gigs, you did Donnington a little while back, the crowd was completely into it, there’s the big shows you have, but you guys also love the small shows, the small venues where you really get to connect. Is there any difference between how the fans connect with Jesse especially at the big shows or smaller shows?

M: It’s pretty obvious that the smaller shows that the people are right up against you and you can feel that emotion, but he’s learned to…take on that craft of figuring out how to get kids that are far away from you involved and he does it really well, which is awesome. It’s definitely something that you have to learn.

MB: There’s been rumours that you guys have been touring then writing and recording on the side. I’ve heard something about maybe half an album being done…  I’m just wondering, is there any truth to that rumour?

M: We have a good amount recorded. After this tour we’re on the Trespass tour with 5 Finger Death Punch,  Trivium, God Forbid, Battlecross and a bunch of other bands and we specifically said “Let’s go out and do some shows, let’s have Jesse really get into the fold, really meld with us in the live thing again, really become a strong entity once more” and this is the best way to get a crash course in hate and life by being on tour. But yeah, just to get him in the mindset, so we’re gonna go back and do some more vocals. So… the next 2 ½ – 3 months is just vocals , finishing up the record and beoing ready to go for the new year.

MB: Awesome, so we can expect something in the new year?

M: Absolutely.

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I remember staying up past my bedtime when I was a kid, I had been flipping through radio stations aimlessly until my finger just stopped on Q107. I was instantly hooked by the drums, guitar and sheer heavyness of the song. I really didn’t know what music could be that heavy. Ever since then I’ve been hooked and attended shows in the seediest of dives to the most expensive arenas, met my share of rock stars, even won a few awesome pieces of memorabilia. But I’ll never forget the time an 8 year old me thrashed out on my bed at 2am to “Master of Puppets”.