Times Of Grace
Just before Killswitch Engage cracked the big time, their former lead vocalist Jesse Leach parted ways with the band, who would since go on to become a world renowned metalcore pioneer. Back in the early 2000s it was the dreaded ‘personal issues’ that caused Leach’s Killswitch demise, and he has since watched them become arguably the biggest metalcore band on the planet.
Leach, however, has always stayed in touch with the band’s guitarist, and producer extraordinaire Adam Dutkiewicz – he of the most mighty mutton chops in metalcore – with intention of working together again. And so it came about: in 2008 the pair got together to start writing and form a band outside their initial Killswitch institution.
The fruits of that work have finally come to reality. The new project, entitled Times Of Grace, finally released their debut album in January, and while The Hymn Of A Broken Man mines a similar melodic metalcore vein to Killswitch Engage, Times Of Grace are definitely a beast unto themselves. Jesse happily explains his immense pride in the work to Beat, from Yonkers, New York. “It’s the culmination of my life’s work,” he states, without even the merest hint of overstatement.
“I feel very blessed this album’s finally coming out. That’s pretty much all I can say, man,” he gushes happily. “I’m just very, very excited.”
Naturally, with the project coming together in such an unusual manner, there’s a lengthy story behind the album’s evolution and completion. As Leach explains, “Four years ago, Adam threw out his back really badly,” he recalls, “and laying on his back, while in that hospital bed, questioning whether or not he was going to walk again – or if his career was over – his way to cope with it was to write a record.
“He wrote the thing, and recorded it through a dictaphone,” he explains, still somewhat amazed at the idea, “and he put it together. When he was able to move again, he gave me a phone call and said ‘hey, I wrote this record, it means the world to me, and I just don’t know if it’s a Killswitch record’… and he wanted me to sing on it.
“I was immediately like ‘Whoa! Absolutely!’” laughs Leach. “It was incredible. He gave me the record a few days later, and I wrote Strength In Numbers the first day I got it.
“From then it’s been an interesting journey,” he continues, “both of our lives have been through interesting places. I had basically hit rock bottom in my life, and that’s a lot of where the lyrics come from. Born out of pain and suffering!” he laughs gruffly. “It hit me on all fronts, man, brought me down to my knees.”
Such was the synchronicity between Leach and Dutkiewicz during the writing and recording process that both men felt like they were simply acting as a conduit for the creativity that had been sparked between them, and the task become to take it from merely intangible ideas through to the completed product. “The song The End Of Eternity was written, it was basically a song that Adam gave me without any lyrics, without any vocal ideas,” Leach explains, “and he said ‘I want you to write for this’. And so while I was doing that, he was writing to it.
“He came to me with lyrics that were completely opposite to where I was coming from,” he chuckles. “He made it work. What he sings in that song represents the light, and what I wrote represents the darkness of the song. It’s about the struggle between light and dark, and it was just incredible how we were both on completely different levels with the lyrics but they melded together seamlessly as one in the song. And a lot of that type of stuff happened for us, there was a lot of synergy between the two of us when we were making this record. A few times we both felt like we were channeling something… it didn’t take that much effort.”
So does Leach feel like Times Of Grave will still appeal to Killswitch fans, since the sound is not a million miles from that of his former band, even though it still has its own unique character? “I don’t know,” he offers, “I guess it’s up to them.
“For me, this album was created out of necessity, and it’s not that I don’t want people to like it, but that wasn’t the major concern when we made the record. We sort of had to make it, we weren’t thinking about record sales, touring or any of that stuff. I guess Killswitch fans will like it, but it’s a different animal altogether. So, we’ll see!”
Although Times Of Grace have a stronger starting point than most brand new bands, it is ever in the forefront of their minds that they are a start-up band, and this kind of prevents any longer term plans being made, before they see how the record and the tentative touring plans fare first. “I think we’re gonna see how it goes,” Leach shrugs. “Adam and I have full intentions of making another record, but you can’t really guess with that stuff. It all depends on how well it does and how well it’s received, and if there’s some demand for it, and all that type of thing.
“Playing it by ear is the wisest way to do it! It’s a shaky industry to say the least!”
Leach is also adamant that Australia is most definitely on the band’s touring radar – if things for the bands get that far – which means fans metalcore will be hoping to witness Times Of Grace here soon.
TIMES OF GRACE’S debut album The Hymn Of A Broken Man is out now through Roadrunner.