Zach Shaw of Metal Insider conducted an interview with bassist Mike D’Antonio of Massachusetts metallers KILLSWITCH ENGAGE prior to the band’s April 22 appearance at New England Metal Hardcore Festival in Worcester, Massachusetts. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Insider: At what point did it become apparent that KILLSWITCH ENGAGE was no longer going to move forward with [vocalist] Howard Jones?

Mike: When we started writing the new record, there was just no creative juices flowing on his end. And after the last record, we kind of got a sense that things weren’t going right. Then the interim, in between the two years that we had off and writing the new record, it was just not going into the proper direction. We could tell that it was stifled, a very stifled situation. So that’s all I can really say. It was easy to tell.

Metal Insider: When did the idea of bringing Jesse Leach back into the group come up? I know that he went through an audition process, but when did his name first pop up?

Mike: I mean, it’s pretty much the first thing that comes up when you’re thinking about replacing. The third vocalist never works out. But we wanted to try everyone we could possibly think of. We had a really short list of names that we thought were appropriate, and Jesse was at the top. We tried out a bunch of people; you never know if there’s that diamond in the rough that you haven’t heard or sat down with and played with. You just never know what’s going to come out of a situation like that. So we had a little audition in New York City, and Jesse was involved in that. We had started about 11:30 in the morning, and about every fifteen minutes it was a new guy coming in and auditioning. We were playing the same two to three songs over and over and over. So by 4 o’clock, we were shot. We didn’t want to play anymore. And then Jesse walked in, and this energy hit us. We proceeded to play like 12 tunes, like “Bang, bang, bang, bang!” And they all just felt right and no one wanted to stop, and that’s the energy you need if you’re going to pick yourself up and keep going. We all felt it, looked at each other and said, “Wow! We haven’t felt like this with anybody who’s come through here yet, and there’s probably a good reason for that.”

Metal Insider: I know that Jesse will be singing a good amount of Jones‘ material. Were there any hesitations about doing this, from both him and the band?

Mike: It was a priority to whoever was going to step into Jones‘ shoes to be able to sing his songs because they’re the ones that really propelled us. Fans will say what they want to say, but the songs’ videos were the ones that got us moving in the right direction. And pretty much every video is Howard and his stuff. So it had to happen that way. We don’t want to gyp fans. Fans want to see songs they know and like. There’s a good mix, it’s about half and half. And Jesse‘s cool with it. Jesse puts his own spin on it, which is also really cool. It’s not going to sound like exactly Howard Jones. It’s going to sound like an angst-ridden Jesse Leach screaming stuff out with his own vibe. But it works really well, and I think fans are going to be very satisfied. It’s not a cover version.

Read the entire interview from Metal Insider.