Among my peers, I speak about my long-time heroes often: BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Michael Jackson, Buddy Guy, … and someone a bit more modern, my cousin Jesse Leach.
Jesse and I grew up in the same neighborhood – on the Eastern half of Cranston, RI.
I’ve been following him since he picked up the microphone for heavy, tearing band Corrin in the 1990’s. Corrin was followed by somewhat more melodic Nothing Stays Gold.
Nothing Stays Gold split and, as usual, I was anxious to hear what Jesse would get into next.
In 1999, Jesse, along with Mike D’Antonio, Joel Stroetzel, and Adam Dutkiewicz formed a monster of a band – Killswitch Engage. Soon after, Jesse and I were living together. Rough demo tapes of early Killswitch material ended up being a perk of close quarters.
A few years later, Jesse left Killswitch. Pete Cortese, former Killswitch guitarist, contacted me soon after, saying he was forming a band with some buddies and that he wanted Jesse’s contact info. I threw the info over – and an amazing straight-up rock band called Seemless soon formed, also featuring Derek Kerswill.
Seemless ran its course, and Jesse has since formed a couple more amazing bands, currently two of my favorites – Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall.
Jesse has been a lyrical, vocal, rock, music, faith, and human rights champion hero of mine for years. It has been an honor to know him, to photograph him, to see his rise, to watch from early on…
With Jesse recently returning to Killswitch Engage, he has been a focal point in rock music news again recently.
Here are just a few casual photos from a visit we had in Austin, Texas in February of 2011.
Jesse Leach by Will Hawkins