Times Of Grace: A Fruitful Reunion

We catch up with former Killswitch Engage singer Jesse Leach to find out more.

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Posted 17th January 2011 in Features & Reviews, Times Of Grace | By Chris Cope
Times Of Grace

You might think two ex-bandmates working together again might be fraught with tension and plenty of eggshell-walking, but Times Of Grace is the exact opposite. The band, composed of Killswitch Engage dynamo Adam Dutkiewicz and former Killswitch Engage singer Jesse Leach, are releasing their debut album ‘The Hymn Of A Broken Man’ in what seems like a very fruitful reunion. We caught up with Leach to find out more.

How was it like to play with Adam [Dutkiewicz] again?
It’s great, it feels right. From the moment we started the record, the whole vibe of it was almost like riding a bike - you just jump back into it. It’s very much like our friendship. I’ve been friends with him for 10, 11 years and we may not talk for months on end when he’s touring or whatever but connect and talk and just pick up where we left off and it really felt like that with this record.

Was it him that asked you to sing on it?
Yeah. The story is basically he threw his back out when he was in London about four years ago now, and while he was on his back in the hospital he composed most of this record in his head, believe it or not. When he was able to play again, he demoed the record for me and sent me three or four tracks. I got a phone call and he basically said, ‘sup man, I wrote this record, and it’s really personal for me, and I’d be honoured if you could sing on it and help me write some of these songs’.

Are you pleased at how the album’s come out?
I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been able to say that about something, and not only that I wouldn’t change it but I actually enjoy listening to it, which is really odd, because it’s not how I am at all. It’s sorta been like, not to sound a little cheesy – it’s sorta been like therapy listening to it. It’s born out of really just pain. The backstory to it is Adam was wondering if his career was over - he was pretty much paralysed from the waist down for awhile, didn’t know if he was going to walk again. So he was fighting a depression basically, when he started the record. I was in an OK place when we first started the record but very quickly became…into a downward spiral myself and a lot of these songs are about that pain and the shit that we had to endure. But there’s always a positive spin to it – the songs basically bring you through the pain. So with making the record, it was almost like therapy for me. It sounds funny, but I’m really happy to say that. I feel honoured and blessed to be part of such a powerful thing in my life.

Was the album name ‘The Hymn of a Broken Man’ a jab at Adam sitting in hospital?
Haha! Sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh. It’s not meant to be a literal broken, it’s meant to be like spirits broken. Adam and I were on a parallel road for a while, both in a really rough spot.

What’s your favourite song on it?
It’s hard to say. There are a couple that really strike a chord with me. One is probably ‘End of Eternity’, because I wrote the lyrics about what I was going through, but Adam sings most of the song, so it’s really powerful to hear somebody else channelling your pain. We rehearsed that last week and we’re doing auditions, hearing him sing that man, it really moved me.

Speaking about your time in Killswitch Engage - are you grateful for that?
Oh absolutely. It basically made my career. Without Killswitch I wouldn’t be who I am today. I still look back on those days with a lot of fondness. It is what it is as far as me leaving – no regrets, I had to do what I had to do. Absolutely honoured, it is a very important time in my life.

I see you’ve sung with them a couple of times since?
Yeah, we remained friends. I’ve come up on stage with them and Howard [Jones, Killswitch Engage singer] and sing some parts and did a song here and there. I actually had the chance to fill in for Howard when he was out for four shows over here in the states, and it was so much fun. It was like redemption, it was so good to sing those songs again. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep a good relationship with those guys and I’m very good friends with a few of them, so no bad blood between us, we’re all brothers.

I think a lot of people might think there’s a bit of tension with you guys after you left the band.
It’s rumours, it’s what the media would have you wanna believe and what people think went down. But the truth of it is, I was a kid, I made a mistake. It took a little while to sort of come around but on the whole, we never stopped being really good friends.

Going back to 'Times Of Grace', if you could fit this album in a genre…would it be metalcore? Straight up metal?
Hard to say. For me when I hear the term metalcore I don’t really understand exactly what that means. But I would say it is metal/rock, cause there’s definitely a great amount of rock going on. My vocals are very inspired by rhythm music and soul music, and it’s kind of a mix of rock, blues, soul and a little bit of the ambience/shoegaze stuff - Adam uses a lot of delay on guitar parts. It’s really hard to fit to a category – and I’m kinda proud that it is hard to categorise. But I’m sure somebody will come up with something to make us compartmentalised in a genre. But I really don’t like the term metalcore, but it is what it is.

The sound of some of the songs wasn’t really what I was expecting.
We didn’t set out to do that – the songs just kinda happened on their own. It sounds funny to say that but there was definitely an energy that existed between Adam and I when we were making this record. We didn’t have any conscious discussion about ‘Hey let’s do this or not do this’ - we just wrote for the sake of writing music, there was no thought behind it as far as ‘What are people going to think’, ‘Is this gonna be picked up by a label’, ‘Are we going to tour on it’ or ‘Are we going to make money of it’…none of that stuff played at part on writing this record. So I couldn’t be happier to hear somebody say that some stuff on there isn’t what they expected, that’s great.

So it all came from the heart?
Absolutely my friend - heart and soul.

‘The Hymn of a Broken Man’ by Times of Grace is out on Jan 17 via Roadrunner Records.