KILLSWITCH ENGAGE bassist Mike D'Antonio spoke to the "Thunder Underground" podcast about the experience of opening for IRON MAIDEN on the spring/summer 2018 European leg of the latter band's "Legacy Of The Beast" world tour.
He said (hear audio below): "That will be the summer I will judge all other summers by, as being the top-notch summer and then everyone else will fall by the wayside. But boy oh boy, that was a dream come true. And it was the first of the 'Beast' tours where they were going back and playing a lot of the older stuff, stuff that they hadn't played in a while, playing '[Flight Of] Icarus'. It was awesome. The setlist was amazing. Those guys were super-duper nice. Bruce [Dickinson] would stop by our dressing room occasionally. He was all excited about his flamethrowers. He had two gun flamethrowers. He ran into our dressing room and said, 'I've got flamethrowers,' and then ran away. And we were, like, 'What the hell just happened? That was Bruce Dickinson that just did that.' The crew — top-notch crew. They gave us one rule, beside being on stage on time: 'Do not spit on stage.' And if IRON MAIDEN's gonna give you one rule to go by, you do it. They could have said many other things, but they were super nice, very cordial. First day there, they gave us three buckets of IRON MAIDEN beer and champagne. They just made us feel like we were part of the team. And that's what you wanna feel, especially with a big band like that. They didn't have to do any of that stuff. They could have just said, 'Stay in your bus, and we don't give a crap about you,' and they made us feel like we were family. I'll never forget it."
Asked if the MAIDEN audience was receptive to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's music, Mike said: "The crowd was a different story. You are the band that's in the way of people seeing their favorite band. So, they're gonna tolerate you, some people are gonna be into you, but the vast majority — 99.9 percent of people — just wanna see MAIDEN, and it showed. [Laughs] Which is fine. Hey, we're not gonna have A-plus shows every time we play. And it reminds you that you have to pull deep sometimes and really give your hundred percent no matter what is going on below you. Sometimes you have to just look back, stare at the band and have fun with the dudes onstage. But hey, man, I'm sure we accrued some fans from that tour. And like I said, we were playing to some of the biggest crowds — between 40 and 80 thousand [people] per night. Sometimes two nights in a row with 40 thousand [people]. I'll never forget it. If people liked us or hated us, it was rad."
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's new album, "Atonement", will be released on August 16 via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The cover was created by U.K.-based artist Richey Beckett (METALLICA, MASTODON),with D'Antonio handling art direction and layout duties.
"Atonement" features guest appearances by the band's former lead singer Howard Jones and TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy. It marks the band's third full-length release since the return of vocalist Jesse Leach, who rejoined the group in 2012.