KILLSWITCH ENGAGE vocalist Jesse Leach recently spoke with United Rock Nations. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's forthcoming album, "Atonement":
Jesse: "I think it's musically the most diverse record we've done as a band, and lyrically, I feel like I really captured different moments in time through my life and the way I see the world. I wouldn't change a thing, which is a really great feeling. I'm very proud of it."
On the album's title:
Jesse: "I think that can apply to you as an individual — like, a re-evaluation of yourself, holding yourself accountable for past actions or current actions and desiring change. I think it can be applied to other people as well. If you have been wronged in your heart and in your mind, someone has done you harm, there's a certain amount of redemption or revenge even that I believe is in order. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but some deeds and some actions should not go unpunished. To me, part of the whole idea of atoning for one's deeds is applying that to somebody else as well."
On resuming singing after having surgery on his vocal cords in the spring of 2018:
Jesse: "Mentally, it was very taxing, and I went through a bit of a dark period wondering whether or not I would be able to continue doing what I'm doing. At first, it was very difficult, and then [after] I had the surgery [and] got into my vocal training and was able to see that the surgery was a success and to be able to sing like I have never sang before and then get the training that I so desperately needed, it became quite liberating. I wouldn't say easy, but it got easier as time went on. I'm very happy. I think the surgery was an absolute blessing in disguise."
On the surgery's impact:
Jesse: "It changed everything. I was singing on a broken instrument, a damaged instrument for the majority of my return with KILLSWITCH. I'd get off stage some nights after too many shows in a row, and I'd be spitting blood into the sink. I was fatigued; I was getting sick; and it's just because of number one, a lack of proper technique — not really knowing how to use my voice, but also not sleeping well, going out late to a bar after a show and talking and yelling in a bar. Little things that you need to care of of yourself as a vocalist. You need to stay hydrated, and I wasn't doing a lot of that. I was doing it here and there, but definitely partying a little too much and not realizing that I needed to slow down and take care of myself in order for me to have any sort of longevity with this. I changed everything — my lifestyle, the way that I am, the way that I sleep, everything. It's been incredible. It's been a game-changer for me."
On how his surgery affected the recording timeline:
Jesse: "The music was done before the surgery. I actually recorded about five or six songs prior to the surgery. It was pumping the brakes in the middle of our recording process, and in the middle of our touring schedule. It was a good two-month period where I couldn't even speak. I was on complete vocal rest. Through that time, I definitely experienced a bit of writer's block and depression, and coming out on the other side of it and having my voice back, opening up for IRON MAIDEN all summer just after my surgery, that really helped with my state of mind and my motivation. I believe it all happened for a reason."
On his relationship with former KILLSWITCH ENGAGE vocalist Howard Jones, who guests on the "Atonement" track "The Signal Fire":
Jesse: "Long story short, we became very fast friends recently — I want to say about two years ago, in Canada. He came out to one of our shows, and just being in the room together, all six of us, it was a pretty great energy, and I realized that I had a lot in common with Howard. That evening, we were on the bus and he was showing me tracks off his record from his band LIGHT THE TORCH before it came out, and I was inspired. I was like, 'This is great — it's so nice that he's moving on and writing good music.' The title of the band really stuck with me, and that's where the idea of 'Signal Fire' came from. The song itself is about unity; it's about solidarity; it's about standing with each other and calling out for help and fighting the fight side by side. Once the song was done, the lyrics were written and I'd listened to it, I was just thinking, 'Wow, what a great opportunity. Since the song was inspired by LIGHT THE TORCH, why don't we have Howard come on and actually hear him sing this so there is solidarity and we're showing the fans and we're showing everybody out there that KILLSWITCH is a brotherhood and a family, and there's no division, there's no awkwardness."
On TESTAMENT vocalist Chuck Billy, who also guests on the album:
Jesse: "We've toured in the past with TESTAMENT, and we're all really big fans. Those guys are not only just incredible musicians and legends in metal, but really good dudes. The song was written, and as I heard the demo, I was like, 'This is a thrasher. This one's going to rip.' I wrote the lyrics; we tracked it; and Joel [Stroetzel], our guitar player, was listening to it and says, 'This kind of reminds me a little bit of TESTAMENT. What if we just asked Chuck to do vocals on this? I think it would make the song that much better.' Sure enough, Chuck said yes, did the vocals and just blew us all away. We're so honored to have a legendary vocalist on that track."
"Atonement" will be released on August 16 via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The disc's first single, "Unleashed", can be streamed below.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's last release was the "Beyond The Flames: Home Video Part II" two-disc, Blu-ray and CD package.