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Jesse Leach (Killswitch Engage): “I’m actually first and foremost a poet.”

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By Patrick Emmett

Yesterday, Jesse Leach, vocalist for Killswitch Engage, Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall, arrived in Australia. And tonight, he will be beginning his special DJ tour across the East Coast, including a special spoken word night in Melbourne.

On the idea of doing a DJ tour, Jesse says, “I’ve been DJ’ing for about six years on and off, and fairly seriously for about three. My buddy Anthony, (who runs Eureka Rebellion Trading in Melbourne), we hit it off really well when I first met him on our last tour. We kept in touch after that, and one day he just hit me up out of the blue, like ‘Hey man, I know you do a lot of DJ’ing in New York and North East. What do you think about coming over here and giving it a shot?’ And of course. Give me a reason to come to Australia, I don’t care what it’s for, I’ll go!”

Jesse’s Memories, Words & Songs spoken word night, at Eureka Rebellion Trading in Collingwood on January 21, is a first for him. Once again, he says he has to pass it back to Anthony from Eureka Rebellion for the idea.

“Anthony mentioned it to me, ‘What do you think about adding on a date where you can talk about where you come from, what you’ve been through and what music influences you?’ I had a think about it, and honestly, it was something that was a little intimidating for me. It’s one thing standing in front of thousands of people with your band at your back, it’s another thing to be in a small room with a bunch of people staring at you while you tell your story.”

Jesse continues: “The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a good opportunity to give back to the fans who have supported me through thick and thin, and to give them a little insight as to where I come from, my musical roots and maybe some insight on some of my songs.”

What makes Jesse even more excited about the spoken word night is the city he gets to do it in. He is a big fan of Melbourne, and being able to do his first ever spoken word show in Melbourne is special to him for a few reasons.

“Most of the Australian friends I have are all in Melbourne, that’s where my good friends are. They’ll be there for me, so that’s kind of cool to know that I’ll have friends in the audience. And Melbourne, for me, is just a great party town. It’s a place I love to go and drink, there’s great food and good land life, so I’m definitely gonna be doing some bar and restaurant hopping while I’m there as well.”

There seems to be a trend of musicians doing spoken word tours and performance clinics lately. Jesse laughed with an easy answer when asked how his show will differentiate from other shows by veteran metal and hardcore musicians. “I think what will set me aside is the fact that I’m going to be sharing some of my own personal poetry. I don’t think there’s many metal guys out there reciting poetry!”

Jesse is first and foremost a poet. He’s been writing poetry since his teenage years. There is a lot of observational stuff, including poems from heavy drug phases. But when asked for a sneak preview of the poetry, he laughed and said “absolutely not”. You have to come to the show for that.

“I’m trying to find the poems that are the most coherent and make the most sense, but still manage to tell parts of my story and interweave them into my night. I wanna keep it funny and light though, I don’t wanna go and bum people out. So I’m still sorting out what I’m gonna read and how I’m gonna handle it.”

Will Jesse film or record this show for a future release? “I think, at the very least, I’m gonna film it myself. But I’m also gonna do an audio recording of it. Depending on how I feel, how it looks, how it sounds is if I’ll release it. And if not, then perhaps I’ll have to do more of these.”

If you’re eagerly awaiting new music from Killswitch Engage, they are definitely keeping busy by working on new music this year. Jesse explains “We have one brand new song that’s completely done. We did a song for the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. We actually surprised ourselves, we wrote one of our better songs. It’s supposed to be released in April, and we’re gonna start playing the song live to see if people dig it, but we’re all pretty stoked on it.”

“Other than that, we’ve got demos kicking around, we plan to start demoing for our new album in mid-February. In the meantime, we’re getting over to China and South East Asia in April as well, to keep our gears warmed up.”

And will Killswitch Engage be touring Australia in 2015? Jesse hopes so as much as we do. “We are all extremely big fans of Australia, so when asked where we’d like to go, Australia is very high on the list. If not 2015, maybe Soundwave 2016.”

Catch Jesse Leach at the following shows.

January 15 — Sydney — Hot Damn (w/ Hunt the Haunted, Absolution, Boardwalks & Isotopes)
January 16 — Brisbane — Brightside (w/ Torn Asunder & Among the Vanished)
January 21 — Melbourne —Spoken Word Night at Eureka Rebellion Trading (tickets available from Moshtix)
January 24 —Melbourne — The Gasometer (w/ King Parrot, Dead City Ruins & Acid Vain – Tickets available from Oztix)

*Photo by John Raptis

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