KILLSWITCH ENGAGE frontman Jesse Leach, who has been open about his battles with anxiety and depression, spoke to HeartSupport about why mental health awareness is important to the music community.
"On paper, if you were to look at my life, you'd say — and I've gotten this from people — where, 'You have such a good life. You're living your dreams. You're doing everything you wanna do. Why are you sad? How dare you say that, oh, you're not feeling well?' or this and that," Jesse said (see video below). "And I think for me, as I've gotten older, it's gotten a bit worse, but because I've reached out, because I've gotten help, because I speak about it, I meet people who are the same as me, or even worse off than me, it's helped me to develop tools to push through and to not feel alone. And I think that's huge. If I were to say anything, that's probably the biggest thing. Knowing that I'm not alone, knowing that I can reach out to somebody… There's people on my own [tour] bus right here that know what I'm talking about. And once you start to recognize behavioral patterns, once you start to recognize even body language, the way it looks on somebody… 'Cause some people are obviously depressed; other people you'd never know. They can carry on and put on this façade, like, 'Oh, I'm cool. I'm good. I'm good,' and when they're in their bed at home at night, they're crying and they're thinking suicidal thoughts. So it's just a matter, for me, of keeping the conversation on the table, constantly talking about it, and the more we talk about it, the more it evolves. Honestly, that can save lives, and I think that's why, for me, it's so important."
This past January, Leach took to his social media to say that he needed time "to get help" after splitting with his wife of over 16 years.
2018 was a tough year for Leach, who underwent surgery on his vocal cords to remove nodules in April, and dealt with depression, anxiety, and "full-on mental breakdowns" throughout the rest of the year. Although these setbacks had an impact on the recording schedule for the new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE album, Jesse eventually finished laying down his tracks for the effort with the help of guitarist and producer Adam Dutkiewicz, whom he has described as his "musical soulmate."
In May 2018, Leach gave a shout-out to his "badass" wife for supporting him through his vocal surgery and for being his "biggest fan, biggest critic, best friend, partner in crime and the love of my damn life."
Jesse previously revealed that the reason he originally left KILLSWITCH ENGAGE in 2002, after recording two albums, was because "there was definitely something wrong with my head. I was dealing with a depression," he said. "At that time, it was a pretty lowdown feeling of being alienated, just sort of not being prepared mentally for a life on the road."
In August, Leach wrote lengthy social media post in which he once again admitted that he had "a mental illness," adding: " I too have anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression and addictions. I do and say things 'out of character' when I am mentally 'high or low' — it's just part of the distinction of the illness."
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's next album will be released in the fall via Metal Blade Records in the U.S. and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world. The follow-up to 2016's "Incarnate" will mark the Massachusetts metallers' third full-length effort since the return of Leach, who rejoined the group in 2012.