MIKE D’ANTONIO (DEATH RAY VISION, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, OVERCAST): “Fans Of New York Hardcore Are Really Going To Like This One”

Mike D'Antonio of Death Ray Vision photo
Photo: Evil Robb Photography

New England Hardcore outfit Death Ray Vision are set to release their third album entitled No Mercy From Electric Eyes on June 30th via Metal Blade. Death Ray Vision’ bassist Mike D’Antonio (also of Killswitch Engage and Overcast) took the time to talk with Metal Express Radio about their upcoming album, bringing in their new singer, managing his schedule around his band’s as well as his graphic design business, and more. Check out the chat below!

Metal Express Radio: Death Ray Vision’s third album entitled No Mercy From Electric Eyes is set to be released june 30th via Metal Blade, what can you tell fans about the upcoming release?

D’Antonio: God we’re just so stoked to get it out. We passed it in back in October, so it’s just been this big waiting game to finally get it out. It’s more punk than anything, its’ got maybe more Southern Rock infused with COC thrown in there. It’s definitely got the Hardcore and Metal vibe to it. We’re just trying to take it up another notch and it’s sort of a restart with a new singer Keith Bennett who was bass player for Wrecking Crew and he was in a band called Panzer Bastard for a long time, he’s just an old school hardcore guy probably first generation Boston hardcore guy. I remember we were in between singers and the idea to ask Keith if he wanted to join the band came up and no one thought that he would join the band, but he agreed to do it. So we just grabbed onto him as as tightly as possible, yanked him into a practice space and started practicing as much as we possibly could before he said no, but as far as the record goes he killed it. It’s definitely slightly different than maybe the last few Death Ray Records, and I think the fans will really appreciate the new vocals.

MER: Death Ray Vision has had a different singer for each one of your three albums, do you feel each album brings something different for the fans?

D’Antonio: Yeah for sure, definitely all three have different vibes. You know, the original idea was just to be with have Brian Fair (Shadows Fall) and myself play songs, just get a band together and just play in between touring just something to do (local anyways.) So unfortunately after this the first record, Brian had moved pretty far away and it just seemed like it wasn’t going to work out so much, so we had to switch gears and Jeff Gard came into the fold. It was going really well for a while, but sometimes these things just don’t work out, but you know getting Keith in the band has really revitalized us, and it’s the shot in the arms that we need and it’s just got way more of a overall harder, and more legitimate vibe to it. I mean the last record is to me, anytime anyone says any of the titles I laugh because they’re all jokes. They’re all just meant to be tough guy stuff coming from the skinniest weakest dudes ever, so in that respect the whole time we were writing all this stuff and making these funny names for things, we really want to be a hardcore band from New York from the late 80s, early 90s. That was kind of the goal and and you kind of need those tough guy sayings and song titles in order to get that. Um a point across uh, but we just weren’t that type we weren’t those type of people we’re the most non-violent people in the world, but the funny thing is that Keith being a legitimate tough guy legitimizes the band and now we we can write these songs with less tongue-in-cheek and more like I said legitimacy.

MER: Yeah, it’s so funny that’s exactly what I was just thinking as soon as you had said you maybe you didn’t have that image but after seeing like the latest video you guys put up for “Behead The King” and I was looking at photos from your show at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire recently, and thought “yeah he’s pretty intimidating.”

D’Antonio: Which is great, it actually works out for the vibe of the band a lot better than the skinny kids trying to trying to pull that stuff off. It’s so much fun being in a band with him. He’s an incredibly sweet person, but get him on stage, that was our second show that show in Hampton, it was really really fun and just seeing the video back. I had Go-Pro’d a bunch of that stuff, and just seeing how comfortable Keith was on stage made me extra comfortable and just excited for the future. You just never know how how these things are going to go and that guy just seems like he was born to be in the band and it really fits, I think everything’s just so cohesive now, smooth sailing.

MER: You put out there that you were a fan of Keith’s previous work as well, so from being a fan of his previous work as a musician, how was it bringing him on board?

D’Antonio: It was scary, it’s the Old school hardcore guy hanging out with the probably second or third-generation young kids, even though we’re all super old but weren’t compared to him. We’re just like another generation apart. So we just weren’t sure if he was going to take it serious. I really did not think he was going to say yes, so when he said yes, we just latched onto him and said “Let’s go! Let’s do this!” Then I just immediately started practicing for the record, so everyone’s on the same page. everyone’s just really excited and Keith is kind of steering the ship now. He kind of knows what he’s going for He kind of knows what the band should be doing and what shows we should be doing. So we’re kind of letting him steer it, and go in his direction. Hopefully that’ll take us to some good places.

MER: And you recently released a song and a video for behead the king Do you feel like that song gives fans an idea on what to expect from the full album?

D’Antonio: It encompasses a lot of the you know, breakings and melodic stuff that we do. It’s got a chorus that may not be too catchy, but you can sing along to it, and the overall just tough vibe that we’re trying to get through to the fans. For the first time ever we’re signed to Metal Blade. It’s strange when the label is so easy to work with and they asked us what we wanted to do for a single, and I’m so used to record labels telling me “it’s going to be this and this”, and being maybe even slightly disappointed that they didn’t choose the track that I like But that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to like it just because I like it. But in this way, it was completely different where they just said “what tracks do you guys want to do for videos?” and I don’t know my brain fell on my ear. I was scrambling, I have no clue. I’m used to everyone telling me what to do And when it comes to this stuff, we picked both songs for the videos.

MER: There is your notable career with Killswitch Engage as well as Overcast, and I know other members in the band have had their hands in other bands such as Seemless and Living Wreckage, how would you really explain the similarities and differences to death ray vision to everyone else’s projects?

D’Antonio: Well, we definitely went out of our way to to not do things like some of those other projects. We’re tuning to more of an old school hardcore tuning of E drop, it’s definitely higher in the tuning range and it feels more old school, more chuggy, so we try to do that. That’s definitely one way of separating everything. A lot of times it’s just Pete Cortez who was in Overcast and Seemless and now the guitarist for Death Ray Vision, he just just rips. He just records so much material, it’s insane, and we have to just pick and choose and we have to tell him “Stop writing! We’re done! We have enough material now!”, but it’s just stuff that flows out of him constantly, and I think because it’s someone else writing in a band that I’m in it sounds completely different than like Killswitch where I write for both bands, but you know you can kind of tell probably what songs I write because I have a certain style in each band, but in having other players in the mix, it can rearrange your style and make you play differently, so I think in that way just the players and and the tuning alone right there will set us apart.

MER: Throughout the years since Death Ray Vision have been around, you’ve pulled out double duty a lot with Killswitch Engage and Death Ray Vision on the same bill. How do you manage such a busy schedule?

D’Antonio: It’s really fun to do all that stuff to do all that work. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have something to work on. I just can’t really sit around for too long. I also have a graphic design business, so anytime I’m off tour, it’s all guns blazing on tour off tour. I can do graphic design anywhere, I do it from hotel rooms, and our bus. Touring can actually be incredibly boring, you just kind of do stuff for like an hour a day, and then the rest of the day you just got to figure out something else, so I figure out something out by writing new music. Then I’m sitting on my couch, I’m like I wish I was playing again, Death Ray Vision is there to pick up the slack, and provide me with something to do. I mean, I can’t tell you the amount of family functions I’ve been to in the past 25 years. It’s kind of sad, but that’s just the career path that I’ve taken unfortunately.

MER: Out of Death Ray Vision’s three albums, what is one you would suggest to a new fan and why?

D’Antonio: I think the new one definitely brings it, and mostly because that’s the singer that we’re staying sticking with, and just the overall vibe. If you’re feeling New York hardcore, I think you’re gonna really like this one.

MER: Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to throw in?

D’Antonio: Death Ray Vision is playing a lot of shows coming up. We’re gonna be in Northampton (Friday June 23rd), New York City Saturday (June 24th), Rhode Island (Sunday June 25), and then the record comes out June 30th. We’re gonna have a big record release show in Boston, we’re really excited to play most of the record for people. Killswitch is going to be going to Europe in August. It’s the first time since the pandemic that we’ve been to Europe, so we’re really excited to go. We’re doing Wacken again, which we haven’t done since we shot the video for ‘This Is Absolution‘. That was about 12-10 years ago, maybe I don’t know. It’s been a long time, and we’re doing Dynamo first time ever really which we’re excited about that, then we’re doing Bloodstock which is in the UK, and they asked me to do an art gallery at Bloodstock. There’s a building that’s going to have you know, 20 or so of my art prints hanging up in that gallery, and I’m really excited for people to go check it out. I’ve been doing Dark Icon Design since 1992, so there’s a lot of artwork that I had to sort through and find the good stuff to put it on the wall, but really excited for people to check that out as well.

MER: What are three of your favorite records that you have been a part of?

D’Antonio: Alive Or Just Breathing, because we signed with Roadrunner Records. It was just like a pipe dream, we we were like, okay, we’re gonna do one and done, let’s do a record one record that we could be extremely proud of and then we’ll just get thrown off the label, and then we’ll say “we’ll just go and find her on another smaller label to be a part of”, it was just one of those records. It was made for us, and we gave it to the masses, and people fell in love with it too so that was amazing coming from band’s that played small VFW halls, and tiny little venues to like 10 people, to make something completely out of nothing, and kind of formulate your own style, and pray to God that it worked, and just put it out there, and it actually does. It’s a really cool feeling, so that record will always be the number one.

Second would be the new Death Ray vision. It was a incredible record to be a part of, alike I said it came together really slowly over a pandemic probably over a year and a half just to write it and get everything solid, get the new singer up to speed and and start getting everything done. I’m just incredibly proud of how it came out, and really excited that we were able to do it on a pretty big label like Metal Blade. It’s such killer history there, everyone there is so incredibly nice.

Third would probably be As Daylight Dies, or End Of Heartache. Just the Success of both those records, and the fact that people actually like something that I was doing for like the first time ever, it’s a really cool feeling. I never thought I’d care that anybody liked anything that I was doing because I played in so many bands that people could give a shit about, but the fact that people actually liked it, and we were drawing fans, and we were actually able to headline these shows and play festivals. It was just this growing entity that was. It felt unstoppable, so it was just a it was a great feeling to be a part of those three records for sure.


  • Matt Zaniboni

    Matthew is an interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He started his passion for music journalism back in his college radio days serving as the Heavy Metal Director at WKKL out of Hyannis Massachusetts. During Matt’s tenure in radio, he has had time working for commercial stations in Boston Massachusetts such as WAAF, WZLX AND 98.5 The Sports Hub before landing with Metal Express Radio. Anytime you want to talk heavy Metal, hockey, Guiness, and dad life, Matt is your guy m/

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