Jesse Leach is a Grammy nominated American musician and writer from New York, best known as the current lead vocalist of the metal band Killswitch Engage. He is also currently involved with the projects Times of Grace & The Empire Shall Fall.
Jesse grew up in the local hardcore and punk scene in Providence RI during the 1990s, whilst the thriving slam poetry and Hip hop community there also played a part. He is also a big fan of ska and reggae, and cites Joe Strummer, Bob Marley, Chuck D (Public Enemy), H.R. (Bad Brains) & John Joseph (Cro-Mags) as some of his main influences.
Jesse is heading off on a DJ tour across Australia on 15th, 16th, 24st, as well as a special spoken word event on 21st Jan in Melbourne called "Memories words and Songs", sharing childhood memories, musical inspiration, lyrical themes and personal poetry. More details here.
As a major Fred Perry fan and owner of 10 shirts already, below is a playlist Jesse has put together exclusively for Fred Perry Subculture of some of his favourite tunes. Enjoy!
King Tubby "A Rougher Version"
The King! One of my favorite artists of all time! King Tubby creates soundscapes that soothe, transport and make you move. I listen to King Tubby at the very least once a week at home, if not everyday when on tour. I have never heard a King Tubby joint I didn't like. All hails to the dub master, dub wise!
The Clash "Bankrobber"
The Clash stand the test of time for me as far as bands go. I got into them from the song "Rock The Casbah" when I was a kid. However the more I listened the more I gravitated toward their Reggae hybrid style. I love their early punk stuff, but to me the blend of reggae into their sound was crucial and actually was a gateway to introduce me to Reggae music! This song in particular had a certain melancholy felt in Joe's voice making you empathize with the character in the song. Brilliant all around. That bass line though, is what makes it just feel a certain way.
The Specials "Ghost Town"
A spooky Ska song? Yes indeed, The Specials are a great band, one of the first Ska bands I fell in love with. When I first hear this song it stopped me in my tracks at a party as a young punk teenager. I had never heard reggae ska groove with minor chords, and then it breaks into a quick section of major chords lamenting about the good old days! I am sure many music fans can relate to scenes self destructing and clubs shutting down because of violence. Great band amazing song.
The Business "Real Enemy"
Classic street punk! This song is an anthem that inspires me! It is such an intelligent take on the struggle of a frustrated working class (Very much like what of Agnostic Front's "Unite and Strong" says only a year later)! Focusing anger and frustration on the correct target, finding unity in struggle. This is my type of punk rock, thinking mans punk. One of the best Punk Anthems ever written.
Agnostic Front "Blind Justice"
From one of my favorite hardcore records of all time "Victim in Pain" this songs sound and lyrics still ring true! "There's no justice, its just us, blind justice screwed all of us...we need justice for all of us." Its the same ol story corrupt government and the victims of greed and political posturing. There is a reason Agnostic Front is still going strong, they are New Yorks finest hardcore!
Peter Tosh "Stepping Razor"
Peter Tosh wrote some great music and was the more radical of the "Wailers." Bob Marley was my gateway artist in to Reggae but as I grew older and really paid attention to lyrics, Peter became one of my favorites for his confident voice and ballsy lyrics. This song in particular is bad ass, I put this on and it makes me smile. Love me some Peter Tosh!
Dr. Israel "Time"
Dr. Israel is an underrated pioneer of styles and sounds. His blend of Jungle, Reggae, electronica and dub is brilliant! The man even sampled Black Sabbaths "The Wizard" and put a drum and bass rhythm under it and it works (See "The Doctor vs The Wizard"). This song has the classic Hip hop bells and boom bap (Boogie Down Productions). Over the rhythm he speaks of unity and African roots. Nuff said.
Hollie Cook "Desdemona"
Hollie was introduced to me by my pal Randy Blithe (vocalist in the almighty Lamb of God) as he is also a Reggae lover. Hollie has easily become one of my favorite artists. She not only has killer production but her voice is beautiful. She blends Reggae groove, girl group harmonies and an underlying Melancholy that speaks to the soul. I had the pleasure of seeing her live and I was smitten by her stage presence. She is confident and very sweetly shy at the same time. In my opinion Hollie is a modern Reggae great and will only gain more notoriety the more people hear her and recognize her talent.
The Skints "Rise Up"
The Skints blend Reggae, Ska and a even a Hip hop sensibility. With three able vocalists sharing vocal duties it keeps it fresh. Every song on this record "Part and Parcel" has a slightly different feel but maintains a solid feel through out. Rise up is the first track and a great representation of their over all sound!
Bad Brains "Attitude"
Easily one of the most influential Hardcore bands of all time, the Bad Brains are a massive influence on me and were even my gateway into my love affair with Reggae music. This song is an anthem that has become part of my personal ethos "P.M.A." Positive Mental Attitude. The raw energy of this album and the lyrics make this a contender for my favorite hardcore record ever. The blend of hardcore and reggae is brilliant. Some argue the hardcore is better than the reggae, but for me its the two that are the backbone and strength of The Bad Brains.
Dennis Brown "Money in My Pocket"
The golden voice of Reggae, as soon as I hear a Dennis Brown song I am all smiles. He was the Marvin Gaye of Reggae, untouchable soul master! This particular song is one that brings me back to getting my paycheck when I was at a full time job