Jesse Leach: “The album was a therapy session”

It’s been one of the most anticipated reformations in metal in recent years, the ex-vocalist of metalcore titans Killswitch Engage, Jesse Leach, teaming up with his former bandmate Adam Dutkiewicz. Having not played together for over eight years, the duo’s new band Times Of Grace are set to release their debut album “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” on Roadrunner Records on January 18th.

The band is the brainchild of Dutkiewicz, who started writing the album in his head from his hospital bed in London after receiving emergency back surgery. When he returned to America, that’s when Jesse received the call. “[Adam] said ‘Hey man I wrote a record and I really want you to sing on it’ so of course immediately I was just elated. I was like ‘Wow, that’s amazing. Of course, of course!’” said Leach.

“About a week later I got a three song demo from him and I was just floored, I couldn’t believe the music he was writing. It was right up my alley, the tones and the sounds he was creating are so diverse.”

The Hymn Of A Broken Man is the first recording Leach and Dutkiewicz have worked on together in over eight years. Photo: Roadrunner Records

Leach revealed how much emotion went into writing the album as both he and Dutkiewicz were going through a tough time whilst making the record.

“The interesting thing about that record is that [Adam] was going through a real rough time, wondering if he was ever gonna walk again or that his career was over. He had a despair about him and you could sense it through talking to him. I don’t think it even really hit home with me until in my own life a few months after I started going through some really dark times, a ‘personal hell’ if you will.

“That’s when I realised we were on a parallel road, we both were in a really bad spot and we made this music to make us cope – that’s what this album came out of. It’s a dark record but it’s also a record interwoven with hope and light and positivity. It was almost like a therapy session when I was recording vocals, it was wonderful.”

Leach and Dutkiewicz hadn’t worked together since Killswitch Engage’s 2002 album “Alive Or Just Breathing”, but Jesse admitted that it was great to get back into the studio with his longtime friend. “We talked about deep things like religion and faith, we connected very much on those topics. I think that’s part of really what helped us craft this record. I’d go up there for the weekend and spend the whole weekend with him. At night we’d go out for pints and hang out and talk, it’s just a great experience.”

Leach has had a full-time job since he left Killswitch Engage over eight years ago, meaning he could only work on the album at the weekends. But he doesn’t regret leaving his former band: “I was a kid on ‘Alive Or Just Breathing’, I was wet behind the ears. I didn’t know who I was as a vocalist. I wasn’t confident in myself, I wasn’t a man.

“After these past eight years of my life I became a man in a true sense and I found confidence in my voice. I have a strong sense of purpose now with this record. Just his story, initially why he wanted to write the record or even had to write the record, it was so inspiring to me. Especially after I got the record I started to go through some really rough stuff too. It was a growing process for both of us. I was ready for this, I was ready for something to happen in my life that was crucial and had purpose.”

The band’s debut album is set for release later this month, followed by a tour. But with Dutkiewicz’s Killswitch Engage commitments and Leach still working, could more Times Of Grace material ever happen?

“It depends on the response we get to it, it depends whether people want us to go out and play. It depends if there’s a demand for it. If people demand for this project to continue on I’m sure it will, but I can say in some way, shape or form Adam and I will be making music again in the future.

“Speaking for myself I would love Times Of Grace to be a project that carries on for years to come, but I know either way we’re gonna be making music together. Until the day we’re not able to make music anymore but that’s all to be seen.”

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