Metalcore legends Killswitch Engage will soon be back in Australia touring with Parkway Drive and playing some of their own headline dates. The band has amassed a huge following over the years due to their high energy live shows. We were lucky enough to chat with Killswitch Engage vocalist Jesse Leach ahead of the tour as he shares his excitement to return to the land down under.

SCENEzine
Firstly how was the experience touring alongside Iron Maiden earlier this year?

Jesse Leach
That was nuts. It was kind of a childhood dream come true for all of us. We were so honoured first of all to be asked. To be backstage and watch the show every night it was wild. It was also a lot of work too because we had to prove ourselves every night. I think we handled ourselves pretty well, we didn’t get booed offstage people seemed to be enjoying us. It was good for us, humbling for sure. They are definitely kings of metal.

SCENEzine
Watching Bruce Dickinson do you think you’ll still be on stage at his age?

Jesse Leach
I don’t know (laughs). Maybe I’d like to live out in the woods somewhere and not be on tours. I’ll be honest with you if I can still do it at that age I will be doing it yeah. He makes it look easy it’s crazy, the guy is just incredible.

SCENEzine
Now that you’ve been back in the band since 2012 do you no longer feel like the new guy? Or should I say the old but new guy?

Jesse Leach
(laughs) I’m pretty comfortable with it man. The first couple of years I definitely felt like the new guy but I’ve paid my dues and proved myself for the most part. I’m in a pretty happy place right now but I still feel like I’ve got more to prove especially after the vocal surgery that I had and the training I’ve gone through. I feel like I’m just getting better.

SCENEzine
In the years you weren’t in Killswitch Engage were you aware how many people missed you on stage and how many lives you impacted?

Jesse Leach
Not really I tried not to pay attention to it. I was trying to live my life doing my own thing being a blue collar worker and a part time musician, trying to keep my head down and stay humble. I think it’s a good thing to it allowed my to grow without all of that influence of people. Nowadays when people tell me I am very honoured but I really try to just not allow it to harbour or feed my ego in any way because I think that’s a very dangerous thing to do, to believe peoples hype. So I stay grounded and just keep pushing forward doing what I love. I’m thankful that it impacts people in a positive way but I don’t hold onto that too tightly.

SCENEzine
My first experience hearing Killswitch Engage was the song “My Last Serenade” and I was blown away by the song and your vocals. What was it like for you hearing it back when it had been recorded?

Jesse Leach
I definitely enjoyed it and thought it sounded cool but it’s a very different perspective when you are the writer. The way it impacts people has a little to with me but really has a lot to with that persons experience, the time they heard it and what they were going through in their lives and what the song means to them. That’s the power of art I’m just the messenger. When it hits you, you’re the one who makes that song what it is to you. To me it was just another song I didn’t think it was going to be a hit so it came as a big surprise and it’s amazing that we still play that song live and people still love it, it’s crazy.

SCENEzine
How did the chorus lyric for that song come to you?

Jesse Leach
Sitting in my bedroom being a young man thinking about the world being heart broken. The typical thing people do in their early twenties when they are a musician (laughs).
 

 
SCENEzine
It’s not long until you are back in Australia touring with Parkway Drive. You must be stoked to get back down here?

Jesse Leach
Oh yeah absolutely we love touring Australia. I would move over to Australia if I could that’s how much I love it there. We are all really stoked. I’ve never met the Parkway Drive dudes but according to everybody they are really good guys. I know they do really well over there so it’s a win win situation

SCENEzine
You are also doing some Killswitch Engage headline shows. Is it cool feeling because you are not playing an album in full or promoting a new album so you can be more liberated with your setlist?

Jesse Leach
Yeah for us with this tour especially we are going to be pulling out some older jams and some stuff we haven’t played in a while. Headliners are always good because it’s a different energy when you have your own show. The energy is a lot higher for the most part. I’m sure on the Parkway shows there will probably be younger fans of theirs who have never listened to us. That’s why it’s cool to support a band in their own country because hopefully we will gain some new fans. But the headline shows are always a nice breath of fresh air because you know what you are getting into and people are going to be there to sing along. It’s nice to have a balance between the two.
 

 
SCENEzine
Is there anything you look forward to when you get to Australia like Aussie beer, eating Tim Tams or hugging a koala?

Jesse Leach
(laughs) Hugging a koala, no those things are dirty. For me it’s the people, my friends that are there and the fans. The shows are always great and the weather is usually pretty good. I’ve never had a bad experience touring in Australia ever.

SCENEzine
You’ll be in Australia during Halloween do you have any favourite Halloween memories from growing up?

Jesse Leach
Yeah I played a party with my punk band when I was in high school and I got to make out with a girl that I had a crush on, so that was pretty rad (laughs). Halloween parties are kind of a big deal in the punk scene for rock n roll people because we do a different kind of partying. We get some beers, play some loud music and dress up horror style. It’s fun every year. This year I’m going to be DJing that night in Melbourne at Cherry Bar with Matt from The Bronx. So we are going to have a little punk rock n roll party.

SCENEzine
Do you have any favourite Horror movies lately?

Jesse Leach
Yeah I just watched one called The Ritual dude it’s so good if you haven’t seen it. It’s about these dudes who go out to the woods and discover these cult like people who live out there with this creature. Super scary I love it. And that move The Witch that came out fairly recently. I love horror movies I watch them all the time.

SCENEzine
You never know you mightt bump into Jamie Lee Curtis while in Australia because she is coming here to promote the new Halloween film.

Jesse Leach
Dude that would be rad it probably wont happen but if it does that would be super rad I love her.

SCENEzine
It’s over a year now since the world lost two rock icons Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. Does it seem real to you that they are actually both gone?

Jesse Leach
I think because I spent so much mourning Chris Cornell especially since I was a massive fan of him that unfortunately it does feel real. I was also a big fan of Anthony Bourdain who we recently lost too, he was a TV host here in America. I’ve got friends who have committed suicide it’s something that I have dealt with on more than a regular basis. Artists fall victim to that darkness, myself I struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s something that I think about a lot so unfortunately it’s not a shock it doesn’t feel like it’s unreal. It’s vey real and I think that why it’s important people keep talking about it and it isn’t such an uncommon thing to want to kill yourself. It really isn’t especially with artists, creative people in general have a certain type of personality that lends itself to mental illness. For me it’s something that I try to keep on the table and keep talking about. Hopefully we can prevent a suicide from another artist down the road. I didn’t really listen to Linkin Park that much but I have a lot of respect for those guys. But I was definitely a massive Soundgarden and Chris Cornell fan so that was a huge lost for the music community.

SCENEzine
Do you think the reason the general public becomes so shocked is because if you are in a famous band and travelling the world you must have it all together?

Jesse Leach
Yeah absolutely and I think that’s a stigma that unfortunately is prevalent. Just because someone appears to have it all together with fame and fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that they are stable or happy. Even if you are surrounded by people you can still feel very alone. I think on my social media I try to bring it up enough to make it a topic that is discussed more. Because what you see on stage or television isn’t the full story. But yeah you are right it’s definitely something where people say he had it all why did he do it.

SCENEzine
I’d like to thank you on behalf of many of your fans as well for the song “Strength of the mind”. Lyrically that’s such a powerful song.

Jesse Leach
Yeah that song is kind of an anthem for me. Every night I sing it I feel it. I try to put myself in those words and use those words as a weapon. Also just to tell my story I know I’m not the only one there are people just like me who struggle with mental illness. Or just having moments of feeling crazy if you’re going through something that’s tragic for you. I think that’s why I wrote that song I just knew other people would relate to it and get something out of it. That’s part of the beauty of music being able to communicate across language barriers, across countries and borders. I’m proud of that song and I’m glad we play it every single night. It’s been in the set ever since it came out. It’s probably one of my favourite songs I’ve written.
 

 
SCENEzine
I’ve noticed in interviews and on stage you wear a lot of punk bands shirts. Also you have a new punk band called The Weapon. What’s it like crossing over to the punk world knowing some punk fans might not know who Killswitch Engage are?

Jesse Leach
I like it I don’t mind it at all. My friends bust my balls about my band they call me a rock star and a pop star. That’s fine I’m glad to make a career out of it but in truth the amount of metal I listen to is small in comparison to the punk rock I listen to. I wouldn’t want to be in a punk band full time it’s fun to have music that I play for a living and music that I thoroughly enjoy. But that being said I do have a project called The Weapon we are currently working on a record. It’s exactly the kind of music that I listen to and I’m super stoked on it.
I love being in Killswitch but I think I’m going to always be a punk deep down inside it’s where my roots come from. It’s the first music that made me want to do this kind of stuff.

SCENEzine
Lastly can you describe the feeling of having these new Killswitch Enage songs but the world can’t hear them yet?

Jesse Leach
Yeah they actually have more music to go but almost done. These guys wrote like twenty two songs man so I definitely have an albums worth of material done then choose the ones that are best for the record I’m stoked with what I’ve done so far but I’ve still got some work to do. Still working on it.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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