JESSE LEACH On Upcoming KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Album: 'There's Some Bangers On There Already'
July 17, 2023
In a new interview with Oran O'Beirne of Bloodstock TV, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the follow-up to the band's 2019 "Atonement" LP. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think we made some headway. Definitely some good ideas, some good demos. I'm revisiting some ideas. We had a great little meeting where all of us got together and listened and talked, which, to me, has been a great process. And I think it's gonna make this album a lot different than what we've done in the past, 'cause everyone sort of has their voice. We're taking more time with it. So, yeah, it is taking a bit longer but it gives me hope that the end result will be that much better because it is taking a little bit more time to do it. But I'm stoked, for sure. There's some bangers on there already."
During the same chat, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE bassist Mike D'Antonio revealed that he wasn't feeling very inspired in the early days of the coronavirus downtime. "During the pandemic, for me, I kind of wasn't able to do much at all," he said. "You'd think that that would be the best writing process, to be nervous about your future and not sure what's gonna happen next. But I was just locked in some sort of a mode where I couldn't even do graphic design; for about six to eight months, I didn't do anything. But I think after that, it definitely seemed to start flowing. Especially when we did the live gig at the Palladium [in Worcester, Massachusetts], the livestream that we did [in August 2021], that kind of helped make the juices work a little bit more. We learned a lot of songs from 'Atonement' that we actually never played live together before, so that was an experience. And I think that's what kind of jarred us into, 'Okay, let's get this thing moving again.'"
Last month, Leach told Pete Bailey of Primordial Radio that the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album was "taking a lot longer than, I think, any of us anticipated, because there's a lot of quality control going on. And making sure that it's fresh; we're not repeating ourselves," he explained. "So that process has been a little arduous but I think necessary because we don't wanna put out something that people are gonna go, 'Oh, yeah. Another KILLSWITCH record. Whatever.'"
Regarding where he and his KILLSWITCH ENGAGE are right now with respect to the writing process, Jesse said: "We're solidifying a lot, but there's still some back-and-forth and looking at parts and rewriting the music. And then I'm revisiting a lot of the lyrics. I've actually rewritten a bunch of stuff. 'Cause we all got together and had a meeting, and all of us just kind of gave our input on everything, and I took notes. It's the first time, really, I think we've done that. But, again, I do believe that it's necessary at our stage in our career to really just kind of get all of our heads together to make sure that this record is gonna be what we all feel is a good representation of who we are right now."
On the topic of the lyrical inspiration for the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE material, Jesse said: "Initially, for me, I really wanted to put out something that was healing, something that could help people cope. But it's kind of turned into anger, it's kind of turned into frustration, it's kind of turned into seeing the greater deceptions of everything that's going on, the struggles of humanity. So I've kind of taken a turn for a little bit more of a darker topic than I initially had hoped for, but I think it's necessary. I think once I really sort of dug into myself, I realized that there was a lot that I was not tapping in to. And when I got honest with myself, I [said], 'You know what? There is a lot to be pissed off about.' And maybe that's the route; maybe that's the good therapeutic way to deal with it. You don't always have to sugarcoat things and let people know there's gonna be hope. Maybe it's just time to get your hands dirty and talk about some of the harder-to-deal-with topics, and that's kind of what I've been doing lately."
Back in June 2022, Leach told Australia's Heavy that he and his bandmates would try to get the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE LP "wrapped up and done quickly, because we want it to be a record that's not gonna take a lot of time to create. We want that raw, fresh feeling, so a lot of these demos I'm trying to [get] through quickly just to get the energy and then we'll sort of dissect them as new get into the studio," he explained. "So I think there's a real spirit within us to put out new material and then tour on that new record come next year, hopefully. So that's kind of what we're all thinking."
Elaborating on the time table for the completion of the next KILLSWITCH ENGAGE LP, Leach told Heavy: "I'm personally setting goals for me to create quick, very emotional, raw stuff for the demos and then probably taking a little more time, once we get to the studio, to polish that up and make it sound really good. Some of these demos I'm getting ready to send to the guys, if you would listen to them, most people would probably laugh 'cause they're just me going nuts, just trying to get the idea out quick and then we'll worry about re-recording it and polishing it and sort of making it sound KILLSWITCH-y.
"I've always been really hard on myself — a perfectionist, if you will — and I think it's hindered me in the demo-making process," he explained. "So my approach to this record is I wake up in the morning and I write lyrics out of the sleep. I listen to the music. It's moving very quickly for me, and it just feels fresh; it feels new. And then us getting into a room and jamming on that shit together, which we haven't done in years, that's the vibe we're going for. We kind of wanna bring that live feeling, that live sound to this next record… I want that energy to be there.
"Live music shouldn't be perfect," Leach added. "I don't like the studio fixes, I don't like the tuning — I hate all that shit. So the less that can happen, I'm into it. I'd rather keep it raw. It's rock and roll, man — it shouldn't be perfect. I think metal, over the years, has become very compressed and very manufactured. To me, I'm all about pushing away from that. So I think this next record will be a push-and-pull, 'cause [KILLSWITCH ENGAGE guitarist and producer] Adam [Dutkiewicz] is very much a perfectionist with the way he likes things to sound. So it should be interesting. He's on board of that too — sort of getting more of a live feel to what we're doing. I think it comes across. When you come see a band live like us, it is a little different than a record. But it should be."
"Atonement" was released in August 2019 via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The disc featured guest appearances by former KILLSWITCH ENGAGE singer Howard Jones and TESTAMENT frontman Chuck Billy. It marked the band's third full-length release since the return of Leach, who rejoined the group in 2012.
In July 2021, Leach and Dutkiewicz released the second album from their TIMES OF GRACE project, "Songs Of Loss And Separation", via the band's own imprint label, Wicked Good Records, distributed by ADA Worldwide.
Photo courtesy of Atom Splitter PR / Metal Blade Records
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