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ASK THE ARTIST- MIKE D FROM KILLSWITCH ENGAGE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS

Posted on September 27, 2009

We checked in with Mike D from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE when he and the guys were on a short break from the road and put some of the questions you sent in to him. Here are his answers, just for you- including a DAMN fine sounding pizza recipie. We kid you not!

Coming soon- answers from MACHINE HEAD'S Robb Flynn. Don't forget to check the home page for details on who you can put your questions to next...

When did you start playing Bass Guitar, what inspired you do play and why did you choose Bass guitar over 'regular' guitar?- Edward Stevens

I started when I was 16. I had a friend who was selling a guitar and one that was selling a bass. I felt like I liked the guitar better, but could only afford the bass, so thats the one I bought!

What is Killswitch's formula for writing? Music and Lyrics. - Mike Rainer

We all bring our home demos to practice and listen to them. We pick em apart and go over them with a fine toothed comb. Sometimes we combine a few demos together to get songs, other times the songs are finished as is. Usually, if help is needed in the structure department, Adam tends to be a good judge what works and what dosent.
Lyrics are not my bag, Howard is the guy for that. They are usually done after the music is finished and they always take forever!

You are an AMAZING bass player, damn I wish I could be as great as you, but what I wanted to ask was what are best and worst things about being on the road with the band?- Monica Gonzalez

The worst thing is being away from my family and missing birthdays/family functions. It is tough not seeing my wife, but it strengthens the relationship in other ways... we dont get on each other's nerves as much!
The best part is playing bass for a living, I never, in a million years, would have guest I would be doing this for a living.....EVER. Playing for kids as intense as our fans is the biggest and best "high" you could ever get.

What financial preparations did Killswitch take before hitting the road the first time? How long did Killswitch tour on your first runs on the road?- Dustin Young

I saved money from my full time job as a graphic designer. I made a small "nest egg" to fall back on, when and if things didnt work out. The first time we toured we just "winged it" and threw caution to the wind. Sometimes you just gotta take chances and hope for the best. It was understood that no matter how poor we (KsE) got by touring, that we would try it for a year. Fortunately things worked out for us, but that is not always the case. As long as you go into it thinking that you will not make any money on tour, you should be fine.

Dear Mike D, can you give me a bad-ass pizza recipe like a couple that were seen on the (set this) WORLD ABLAZE dvd? - Blair Bondy

My wife's favorite type of pizza that I make her at home is a Thin Crust BBQ Chicken and Bacon Crust Pie. (All vegetarian of course)
Usually I buy a pre-made Thin Crust from the store.
1. I start by spreading a generous helping of pre-chopped garlic in the middle of the pie.
2. Next apply a small amount of Prego tomato sauce. (just lightly cover the crust, dont use too much).
3. Add a touch of Oregano and Ground Pepper then lots of fresh Mozzarella hunks.
4. Microwave 4-6 Veggie Chicken Nuggets for a minute (enough to warm them all). Then Chop each into thirds and cover em with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (enough to cover nuggets entirely. Don't use too much though).
5. Throw the BBQ Chicken on that sucker.
6. Take 6-9 pieces of Veggie Bacon and rip em into quarters and place them all around the crust edge of the pizza.
7. Finally grab some shredded cheese (I use "Fiesta Blend", which is a Mexican type cheese mix) and apply a small amount to the Bacon Crust and a dab in the middle section (not too much)
8. Bake on a Pizza Stone in the oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes (or until the cheese is browned a bit)
9. Broil on high for 3 minutes until the cheese is dark brown (I like it close to burnt... but not burnt). Watch it like a hawk at this point... Broiling is powerful stuff and burning at this temp is VERY easy.
10. Wait about a minute for the pizza to cool down and RAVAGE the shit out of it... wash down with a Ice Cold Beer...or 3.

Where do you get ideas/inspiration for your artwork?- Chris Grist

Mostly from horror movies and checking out other designers' stuff. I love Travis Smith's design work a lot. You can learn a lot by imitating design that you see and giving it your own spin.

Always wanted to know what bands and artists influenced you while learning bass and being in Killswitch engage?- Kyle Flannigan

In the beginning it was simpler punk stuff: The Misfits, The Ramones, Samhain, Black Flag, TSOL. As I progressed, the stuff I played did as well: The Cure, Eyehategod, Sleep, Only Living Witness, which leads to: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Anthrax...

How has your recording experience changed since you recorded 2000's Killswitch Engage vs. recording 2009's Killswitch Engage and has technology made it easier for you to achieve your goals???- Brandon Manchego

The technology makes it easier, although the songs get harder to play, so it is a double edged sword.

Mike, what kind of tools and software do you use when making graphics and illustration? I.e. are you using Photoshop, Wacom tablets/graphic tablets, what is your work flow? Do you just 'wing it' or draft things out on paper first etc- Nic Walker

I primarily use Photoshop, and always have. Anything vector I use either Freehand or Illustrator. For layout I used Indesign or Quark. I cant draw worth crap so a tablet would be a waste of money for me. As far as drafts... I just go for it live on computer, I get the best results that way. Problems get sussed out on the fly, and lead to learning experiences.

I was wondering why you cut your hair?! Although I do say you look better with it cut. Take care Mike- Joshua Gomezi

I hate taking care of hair. It is such a waste of time for me, I'd rather shower and go. I do, however, miss it on stage. I guess the worst part is that all the sweat runs into my eyes now... ouch, that shit hurts like hell.

Hey Mike! I was just wondering, if you could be in any band from any time period, what band would you choose and why?- Brian Koz

It would be pretty cool, I imagine, to be in Metallica during the first 4 records. If I had "metal heros" when I was a kid, it would be Metallica.

What would be good tips for getting into the music business- Jon Curran

Start small and work your way up. If you are in a band... PLAY, PLAY, PLAY. If you are talking about the business end, start meeting people and making friends.... one hand washes the other.

Hey Mike, I'm interested in getting a Killswitch tattoo, being an artist, what design do you think would be the sickest?- Tom Palazzi

I guess it all depends on what you like. Personally I like the lady with the fire hair from the 1st record. Just remember, most of our design stuff is made for DARK backgrounds... they will look really weird if you "reverse" the design by getting the image done in black. The prefered way to get a light colored image is to darken all around the edges of the image and in the background.

My question is, How did you make it through the tough times of being an artist and having that thought that you knew you were going to make it through it all. Did you have any help at the time as well? - Travis McGrechan

My then girlfriend, now wife, always believed in me. She understood what my life was/is like, and accepted me despite everything. She was there for me to fall back on when I had nothing.
I guess the worst part is that I never thought playing music would be my career... ever. I am still surprised to this day that I get to do this. Having a backup plan is the best advice I can give you in this instance. I went to college for design, something I really love to do. Design provided me with extra money in between tours and the satisfaction of accomplishment when off the road. Eventually when the band is done, I will go back to doing design full time.

How did you meet each other and form the Band ?- Bandon Wildhaber

We used to all play shows together in different bands. Adam and Joel were in Aftershock, I was in Overcast, and Jesse was in Corrin. All 3 bands did the same style of metal influenced hardcore so it was natural to join forces. Next Adam wanted to play guitar instead of drums (first 2 records), so we got Tom Gomes (another friend from Aftershock) to play drums. Next Jesse left the band and we decided that Howard was our guy, he was in the band Blood Has Been Shed (who I had played with a lot in my band Overcast). Lastly Tom left and we picked up Justin, (another Blood Has Been Shed guy). And we have remained this way for 3 albums and 6 years.

Hey Mike! I was just wondering what was the meaning behind the art designs on your Ibanez Custom Bass ?- David MacLean

My first signature bass (MDB1) is matte black with a design silk screened on top in a clear glossy varnish. It stands out only when the light hits it just right. I wanted something that was not too "in your face" design wise.
My second signature bass (MDB2) is dark mahogany with a design that is laser engraved into the wooden body. I just like the classiness of an engraved design, you don't see it everyday.
Neither of the designs have any meaning, I just like the way they look.

Killswitch Engage hit the UK to headline the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour in November.  Full dates can be found on the TOURS PAGE.

Current album KILLSWITCH ENGAGE is in stores now. Click HERE to buy online.

Miss the previous Ask The Artists in the series? Check them out at the links below:

HERMAN LI (DRAGONFORCE)
DEZ FAFARA (DEVILDRIVER)

 

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