Last month, TIMES OF GRACE, featuring Adam Dutkiewicz and Jesse Leach of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, released its long-awaited second album, "Songs Of Loss And Separation", via the band's own imprint label, Wicked Good Records, distributed by ADA Worldwide. Asked in a new interview with Australia's Maniacs what led to the decision to go the independent route, Leach said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "A long time of negotiating and just kind of weighing where we are with the band and where we are in this world right now. We have KILLSWITCH, we have our career, and with TIMES OF GRACE, it just felt like, 'Let's keep this free.' There's no guarantees what's gonna happen with it. We don't wanna owe a record label a bunch of money. We don't wanna have any pressure to have someone say, 'You need to tour on this.' 'Cause if you're signing a record contract, there's a lot of things that go with that. And we had some pretty crazy offers with some really staggering money. And it was just, like, that's not who are. That's not what we're trying to do. So we're able to steer the ship in a whole different way. We're calling all the shots. And if the album sells well, if people care enough to buy a record these days, which that's not an expectation of ours, we're gonna see a ton more money from album sales, which is nuts. And then owning the rights, retaining the rights to it, years down the line, we can remix it, we can do whatever we want and not ask anybody permission or have to go through a lawyer. There's none of that; we took it all out. And it just seemed like a quote-unquote risk to take.
"If you've got the means to do it… ADA, the distribution company we work with, they fronted some money, but not half as much as you would get with a record label," he explained. "It's low risk, and it potentially is better for the future, for what we're gonna do. And retaining your ownership, I think it's really important these days, 'cause no one's really selling a ton of records, so it's not about that anymore."
As for whether he would advise up-and-coming bands to release their recordings themselves instead of signing with a record company, Leach said: "Yeah, but I think the landscape is changing. I think that being said, even where we are with streaming and Zoom, there's so many possibilities now for younger bands to take advantage of. You don't have to go out and sell a ton of records or pound the pavement on the road for two years and go broke anymore. You could have an incredible streaming thing in your own living room with Internet cameras and an audio rig. You can do so much on your own and build your audience and have streaming numbers that promoters will look at and go, 'Wow. That person did it all on their own. They didn't need a record label.' I would say the one thing that you're gonna need is Internet presence and you're gonna need promotion."
He continued: "As far as a record label, they're pretty much just a bank that gives you a loan and then helps you figure out how to do stuff. But in this day and age, there's so many independent people you can hire on yourself — P.R. people, marketing people — that are kids. There's so many people just doing it rogue. You don't really need to sign a contract anywhere. So I would say take full advantage of everything you've got and just be smart and be careful who you do business with. It's like the Wild, Wild West right now with the Internet. And now that we've got a way to stream, there's so many things you can do with that. You don't need anybody."
TIMES OF GRACE's debut album, "The Hymn Of A Broken Man", arrived in 2011, nearly a decade after Leach's exit from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, the pivotal New Wave Of American Heavy Metal band the duo co-founded with friends in 1999. The first music from TIMES OF GRACE materialized during Dutkiewicz's arduous recovery from near-crippling back surgery. A collection of songs the multi-instrumentalist and producer knew would suit his once and future bandmate. The first album earned acclaim from BBC Music, The Aquarian and Rock Sound. It willfully upended expectations, with flourishes of shoegaze and ambiance in its songs.
Photo credit: Hristo Shindov