Last week, Killswitch Engage's Jesse Leach shared a teaser clip for his new old-school hardcore-punk project the Weapon with the promise that music was coming soon. Today, you can hear the group's debut song "At What Cost" in its entirety exclusively right here, and read an interview with the vocalist below on how the project came together, its lyrical content and the experience of building a vocal booth in his apartment. "At What Cost" is featured on the band's two-song, self-titled EP available on Bandcamp now.
HOW DID THE WEAPON COME TOGETHER? WHO ELSE IS IN THIS PROJECT WITH YOU?
JESSE LEACH I've been wanting to do a hardcore project for years but just never had the right people or the right timing. It started with my friend Chris Drapeau who used to play for Aggressive Dogs, a Japanese crossover band. He saw me post about wanting to start a hardcore project and sent me some tracks he had been messing with. I was immediately into what he was doing and the rest just came together fairly easy. I have my good friend Josh Mihlek — also Killswitch Engage's production manager — on bass and my friend and "Dark City Studio" — where we recorded — owner Andy Mass on drums.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO IT?
I grew up in the hardcore scene from the age of 14, so it's my culture, it's in my blood. I love the raw power the energy and the messages hardcore music provides. That and it's just fun to do simple, fast, pissed-off music.
ASIDE FROM THE STYLE OF MUSIC, WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF THE WEAPON THAT YOU DON'T OUT OF KILLSWITCH ENGAGE OR TIMES OF GRACE?
We are not striving for perfection, just feeling. With Killswitch and Times, it's very polished and precise. It can be tiring and tedious. Don't get me wrong, I love it and I'm very fortunate to do both of those bands, but to me, the Weapon is for fun and for the love of hardcore! On top of that, I can go in a little more hard on the lyrics and I don't have to concern myself with melodies or singing a part near perfect. I am not a fan of unflawed "perfect" sounding vocals — clearly, if you've seen me live — so it's a breath of fresh air to just belt it out and be done. Each song, I did three full takes, picked the best one and slapped backups on them and it was done in 45 minutes tops.
WHAT IS "AT WHAT COST" ABOUT?
"At What Cost" is about how we as humans are abusing and destroying the very earth that gives us life. It's far above and beyond survival — it's all for profit, greed and control. To me, this has always been an insane notion: Why we wouldn't want to protect this beautiful planet.
WHAT OTHER LYRICAL THEMES DO YOU EXPLORE IN THIS PROJECT?
At the moment I've only got a few songs written. So the themes thus far range from political corruption, human rights to keeping a positive mindset in the face of the hardships of life. We are sort of a mix of crust punk and post-youth, lyrically, which is sort of a contradiction, but it feels right. Pissed that the world is going to shit vs. keeping a positive state of mind.
IT'S CLEAR, ESPECIALLY WITH THIS PROJECT, THAT OLD-SCHOOL HARDCORE AND THE DIY ATTITUDE ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO YOU. HOW COME?
It's where I come from and it's in my blood. It's funny because people see Killswitch as a "big" band and we are doing well, but what a lot of people don't realize is we are very DIY. and do a lot of what we need to do in house with help from our DIY management company, Strong Management, who also come from the hardcore community. That work ethic and that drive has been a part of my life and I am proud of it!
IS THERE MORE TO COME THAN THIS EP AND WHEN CAN WE EXPECT IT?
Yes. We eventually want to put out more music on vinyl and have shirts and patches. We also would love to get some local shows in the northeastern U.S. to help raise money for various causes when we are ready.
LAST YEAR YOU BUILT A VOCAL BOOTH IN YOUR APARTMENT. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO BUILD IT AND WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE RECORDING IN THERE?
[Laughs] Yeah, I drew out plans and built it myself. It came out pretty great! It took about a week to build working every afternoon on it. My main thought and drive was just to have a place where I could work, sound out ideas and get demos going for all the projects I have going on. Thankfully, when the door is closed my neighbors can not hear me hollering away. It gets hot recording in there as I didn't have the funds to get an actual ventilation system. So I record in my boxer shorts and take breaks every 15 minutes to cool down. [Laughs] Hell, I make it work!