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The First Album I Ever Bought: Jesse Leach, Killswitch Engage

The Killswitch Engage frontman on how Minor Threat inspired him to become a vocalist

The first record I ever bought that really made me want to sing was Minor Threat’s discography off Dischord Records [Minor Threat, 1984]. To this day I can still put that on and it makes me want to punch a wall. It’s the most energetic, pissed off music I’ve ever heard, but it’s intelligent and positive too.

I remember being in my bedroom at home and legitimately pretending the wall was the audience and practicing my hardcore stances by screaming along to Minor Threat. I think they’ll always be one of my favourite bands and that’s absolutely the record that made me want to pick up a microphone and do what I do, for sure.

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I already heard Metallica and Anthrax and bands like that, and I liked them, but I’d not heard anything as intense as Minor Threat. I think it was the anger that really spoke to me at a young age; I’ve always been able to relate to anger and I’ve got a pretty bad temper. Ian MacKaye’s voice and the speed of the band really hit me as well, and the grinding guitars had such a different tone to metal. It was so visceral, and like I said, it still makes me want to go nuts whenever I hear it.

I really like Screaming At A Wall, because that’s exactly what I did when I first heard it, and Bottled Violence, which starts out with the sound of a bottle smashing. That’s such a great noise. Filler is a killer track too and I think their cover of Steppin’ Stone is awesome. That, in turn, led me down the road of getting into garage bands. It’s the gateway when bands do that kind of stuff and it’s rad, especially when you’re young. That’s how you found bands pre-Internet: from bands covering songs, wearing t-shirts in photos, and name-checking people in interviews.


Jesse was speaking to Matt Stocks. Killswitch Engage's Beyond The Flames: Home Video Volume II is out now.

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