[ The following song helped to inspire what follows ]
Jesse Leach’s Check Your Head
We are born with a chance
We’re gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
We’re gonna rise above
– Black Flag
It’s 5:00 am I am up before the sun on January 7th 2011. I can’t sleep and I can’t wait to punch the clock at 7:00 am at work. I know this not the type of statement you read everyday but this day was different, it was my last day working for someone else (or at least I thought). My new band/project “Times of Grace” was ready to hit the road in support of our new record “The Hymn of a Broken Man” I couldn’t have been more excited!
After five years of wearing scrubs and uniforms, going from a parking lot valet, to a radiologists assistant, to an administrative assistant (just a few of the many jobs I have done in the past 10 years) I was now going to be a full time musician again. I was coming out of a very dark time in my life dealing with bouts of depression, relationship issues, financial ruin among many other “issues” at the time. I put all of my demons and all of my hope in to The Hymn of a Broken Man and it was my time to prove to myself I could get back out on the road and live the tour life again.
To me it all began with four shows in March of 2010. I was asked to join “Killswitch Engage” on stage to sing seven songs and split the set with Phil Labonte (All That Remains). Phil was filling in for Howard Jones, who was unable to complete the tour for various reasons. That first night (March 18, 2010) I was so taken back by the energy and the sheer enthusiasm the fans had for songs I had written eight years ago?! I was absolutely hooked and wanted nothing more than to be on the road again.
Nothing compares to the energy of a live show when the crowd is right there with you reciprocating. I knew deep inside one day (and in my mind with Times of Grace) I would get back out and live that life on the road again.
So that day finally came on February 1, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland: Times of Grace made our debut and it was immense! Being back out on the road changed me in many ways. I will never forget the first time I stepped off a plane on European shores for the first time in my life and it was to play music at a festival!! Everyday out on the road that year with Times of Grace was surreal. I had many moments when I had to remind myself that this was actually happening.
However after Times of Grace did some touring in 2011 (and one tour in early 2012), the album didn’t sell as well as the record label wanted (and in truth, I am now aware there were some people at the label who saw it simply as a side project to Killswitch Engage while Killswitch was sorting out a rather difficult situation and on “hiatus, rather than an actual band). So it wasn’t long before Times of Grace was dropped and shortly after Killswitch began the process of picking up the pieces and moving forward with writing a new record. I was gutted and just unable to process that I once again had to start over again, find a job and go back to “normal life.”
I was once again broke and feeling low, trying to sort out what I could do for work. I didn’t want to go crawling back to the job I had before, I just couldn’t bring myself to that. My pride was damaged and I was determined to find work closer to my heart. After searching online and in local papers, I set out on foot to “pound the pavement” down in Manhattan with my resume in hand. After countless rejections and a few awkward interviews I landed a job at a great gastro-pub that specialized in Scottish whiskey and English style “upscale” pub food (right in my comfort zone). I landed a job as a bar-back, with the strong potential to move up to bartender.
I figured with my experience at other bars (outside of NYC), I would be just fine at my new place of employment. The job was pretty damn overwhelming; the sheer pace and the amount of things that had to be just right on top of the in-depth knowledge of all ingredients as well as where certain liquors, beers, and wines came from, what they paired with, etc., etc. This job was no joke. I lost 15 pounds in three months from the pace of that job and moved on up to help open and establish another restaurant (that is still going strong today and using the set up and work flow I helped create) in the same company. There are many stories to be told about this time in my life; hell I could write a short book about it. Life in the service industry in NYC is a wild and high stress environment, but it is not for everyone. I walked away with good friends, lessons learned and life experience.
Fast forward to today. I am sitting in my apartment in New York typing at my desk. I just got back from Russia and South Africa in between tours with Killswitch Engage. I have been to every continent in the world besides Antarctica and put out a record people actually care about …all in just two years! As I look back on everything that has happened since 2011, I am absolutely astounded. Through all of the years of struggle, hardships and small victories, I never lost hope that I would one day find myself back on the road and do what I love to do.
I realize not many people get the opportunity to live their passions and reach their goals. I have been able to do it three-fold and I am so grateful! Don’t get me wrong, life is not without its struggles and battles…but such is life. I also know in the “business” I am in, successes are fleeting and you can easily fall flat on your face; trust me I know. However I find myself today in good spirits filled with a renewed sense of hope for the future. I strive to live my life with no regrets and no grudges held.
So to you reading this now, to those who have supported me over the years, the fans, the friends, the people who doubted me and those who for whatever reason have wished me failure…Thank you. Thank you for your strength and love, thank you for giving me determination to prove you right or wrong. To all those who have supported me, it is because of you that I am able to live through my music. I want to give something of myself back to you all.
As the saying goes, “All things in due time.” That being said, its been a long time in the works and I am pleased to announce the launch of my personal website JesseLeach.com. I will use this forum as a means to connect and communicate via words, photos and videos. I intend on doing behind the scenes of tour, blogs, album reviews, interviews with people/artists I respect and whatever else I can think of.
I’ll leave you with a great quote from a great writer and a profound soul Maya Angelou.
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change your attitude”
Well it’s time I made a change and expanded my horizons.
As always, thank you for reading; there’s much more to come on all fronts. See you on the road and on my new website!
One Love & PMA