Jesse Leach’s Check Your Head: If You Don’t Have Something Nice To Say…

Jesse Leach's Check Your Head

Gun Shy Assassin is thrilled to reveal that Jesse Leach has joined the team as a regular columnist. Of course, Jesse is the singer for Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall and more than that, he’s a salt-of-the-Earth soul and a talented musician. Jesse will be checking in from time to time to share his thoughts. This week, he begins by calling on all of us to be more positive and think twice before knocking bands. It’s the first installment of Check Your Head.

So I have decided to make my entrance into the world of online writing or “blogging,” as it were. Guess we will see how long it lasts…I just wanted to share some of my thoughts — love it or don’t read it, it is what it is…here goes:

Have you ever been on YouTube watching a band you really love and respect and just happen to scroll down to read the comments? How about read an article online about your favorite band and then scroll down to the comments section? Well, I have and I very quickly become frustrated and have to avert my eyes and close the page. What is the state of modern heavy music? Or perhaps a bigger question is, what is going on in our society?

Granted everyone has an opinion, and everyone has a right to that opinion. However, I find myself asking where is the respect for the art, for the creation of music? It is one thing to not like a band and another to go out of your way to slander them in print, on an online forum. Even if you simply say what you are thinking, those words do not stick. When you type it for all to see, you make an impact. However small or large that impact is, you have the ability to distort someone’s potential for checking out new music they may actually like. Why is there so much negativity and “hating” going on in metal, hardcore or extreme music in general? (I am sure it is across the board with music, but let’s focus on specifics). 

Back when I first started getting into hardcore, punk, and metal (This is back when you could only get the music on vinyl and/or cassette tapes), there were definite divisions within genres. People would tend to stick with their own and thus, avoid all of the potential confrontation. What is amazing, in my lifetime (thus far), I have been able to see and be a part of the crossover movements. I saw hardcore bands starting to incorporate double bass and more intricate riffing. I was able to witness metal bands doing “gang back-ups” and “breakdowns.” I started seeing long-haired metal guys coming to hardcore shows and even in some cases, short-haired hardcore kids growing their hair out and wearing more black and sporting an Iron Maiden T-shirt.

In the early to mid-1990s, there was a great deal of cross-pollination going on and it was exciting! It was an amazing time to be a part of what has changed not just my view on music, but my views on the world. Music has shaped me since I was a child. Heavy music had a huge impact from my teen years through my twenties and I have great respect for its power and energy. I realized that change was hard for some people and caused conflict. When genres first started to meld, there were fights and conflict, but over time, it smoothed out and — for a time — produced some amazing line-ups and tours. 

So, here we are almost two decades later and at another junction. Why all of the hate and disrespect of bands? A good amount of people get into heavy or extreme music initially because they feel alienated or need to channel their aggressions. Or perhaps you came from a messed up home life, school life or being just pissed off and dissatisfied with the world around you and metal, punk, and hardcore is a great release.

We all have a common thread that binds us together: the love of the music! So what drives someone to say ignorant, negative and most times exaggerated things about a musician or a band? I feel some of these people act just like the people they claim to be separating themselves from. Growing up I would hear “this band sucks” or what have you, but that is where it stopped. What is going on today online is the equivalent to a person in the ‘80s and early ‘90s making fliers up that bad-mouthed a band and then put them up all over their neighborhood, town or city.

It sounds funny, I know; but think about it. Before the Internet, bands had to really work hard to get their music out there. The only people who were able to comment on the music were people who worked for magazine publications, or if you were really passionate, you wrote a fanzine. (For the kids who don’t know what a fanzine is, here is a generic explanation). My point is it took effort, and being that it took effort, there was thought put into it. The problem is that with the Internet, there is little effort and a much larger impact.

What has advanced us and helped get music out all over the world has also hurt the music (that is a whole other blog I could and very well may write). So the Internet: Simply log on, watch a video on YouTube, read a review or press release and boom! The comment goes up for all the world to see (might even be some below this blog). Imagine the power we have as lovers of music. The positivity and promotion of bands we could utilize by focusing our efforts on commenting on bands you love showing support for. How about the old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut up kid!” (Or some variation of that). However, I digress — the hate and slander will continue, but you reading this now can help change things one comment at a time. Give music the respect it deserves and remember the impact words can have. 

If you are a musician reading this, don’t be afraid to push genre boundaries and go against the grain, rebel, have your voice heard (Hell, I mixed soul and blues with metal on my new record), and most importantly, be YOURSELF even if people don’t “get it.” After all, isn’t that why we got into heavy music in the first place?! If your are simply a fan of music, support what you love and bands or musicians you think “suck?” Go easy on them; constructive criticism is OK, but empty slander and insults are just uncalled for. Hey at least they are putting themselves out there for your pleasure (or not) and entertainment. Think twice before posting up a comment that you may not even 100-percent believe, but do it just to be “funny.” I promise you if you do these things, you will feel a whole lot better about yourself…and secretly a good amount of musicians will be happier for it.

As I once said (on a record most have not heard yet) “Where’s the love? Where’s the unity?” Support one another and our music will have a much larger impact on this world! While your at it, why not support your favorite band by purchasing a record, paying for that download, or buying a T-shirt. Let’s keep this thing moving! 

Keep on banging your head, watch out for one another in the pit and see you on the road soon! 

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About Jesse Leach

Jesse Leach is the dynamic frontman for Killswitch Engage, Times of Grace and The Empire Shall Fall. He also spent time with Seemless. The Empire Shall Fall’s album Awaken is in stores now, as is Times of Grace’s Roadrunner debut, The Hymn Of A Broken Man. Of course, Killswitch Engage have a new album in stores called Disarm The Decent.

  • Duncanwilder666

    Here Here Sir! Couldn’t agree with you more.

    -Duncan Wilder Johnson

  • Pawn89

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jesse. It’s sad to see all the hard work that bands put into their music being degraded by the unwarranted hatred of internet forums and comments. Here’s hoping we can make a difference!

  • Zombiefreak69

    This is why you’re a great lyricist, You’ve got a lot to say and they’re pretty much all very wise words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mkmiles Michael Miles

    This is a great first installment! A great all around read and something i think we can all liken too. Thank you for sharing Jesse!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000601605734 Nikolay Brankov

    Well i think, that the persons, who like the music, are not reading those comments. Those comments won’t make any impact, if everyone stick to their opinion. People are always listening someone, if it’s good to like something or not. This is the main problem.

  • jim

    well said. it’s all stuff i’ve thought about before! x

  • Will7008

    I agree as well. There is a difference between voicing constructive criticism, and just spouting comments to “hate” on a band. If you do not like an album, that’s okay. Some people might though. So saying “This album sucks” or “____(band name) is really shitty” is just wrong. Musicians do this for the love of music, and for us, but to just insult a band is wrong. It makes it seem like all they’re hard work is meaningless, if a bunch of angry teens just continually disrespect the band, for the fun of it. 95% of people who make comments in general, couldn’t do what the band is doing now. Musicians have a lot of talent, and a specific group of people will always like them, (That is called being a fan). So I agree with Mr. Leach, respect musicians so they actually get to enjoy the expirence, therefore you get to enjoy the music!

  • Rob Embury

    Respect.

  • Dieter

    funny to see how everyone how commented below me is (totally) agreeing with Leach
    Could it be that no one dares to disagree with this ? Just because it’s true ?
    If you totally agree with him or not is not really where this is all about. The important thing is the intention. I really appreciate the attempt to make the heavy music “scene” a better thing. And I can imagine some people really didn’t want to ‘hurt’ a band by saying just their own opinion, people with good intentions. Being a metalhead/punker/HC-kid is not just about liking the music, it also about having the right intentions. Someone who really intends to break off a band, a person, an opinion,can they be real ‘good persons’? … I could go on complaining about some people for ages, but there is actually only one thing I want you to ask yourself. HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITHOUT GOOD INTENTIONS ?

  • Motoxfreak44

    OMG! jesse i live by what u just said! i mean i hear kids at school hate other bands cuz of things like their straight edge! or other beliefs they have. i think its stupid to judge bands by their personal lifestyles. i think its stupid that people dont like a band for their music, people just need to mellow out… i mean not everyones going to like the same band! so just let those people be and let them enjoy their music.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000848448880 Aurelijus Lasys

    That’s an awesome article, Jesse. But what about bands like Nickelback, Papa Roach for example? What’s your opinion about bands like those two? I can’t see any effort/talent in their music. I don’t want to look like a hater, but their lame lyrics, their boring performances, their simplicity and their attitude makes me dislike them. I don’t have any feelings inside while listening to their songs… Bands like Muse, Radiohead, TESF, Iron Maiden, Rage Against The Machine or Minor Threat are totally opposite. While listening to them I experience very deep feelings.

    And about bands’ beliefs – that’s one of the most important ingredients in music! To dislike band about their opinion is just dumb. It makes band different and original! It creates meaningful songs. If you have no beliefs, you don’t have what to say in songs and you’re automatically singing about ‘nothing’ – lame and boring stuff.

    Anyway, that’s just my thoughts. Thank You, Jesse, for this article and for your music. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688633223 Chadwick Shawn Jones

    My favourite quote from one of Jesse Records would be “Seperation from the faceless majority, step on the outside. Look on the inside”

    In my views (Might not be the intention Jesse wrote it for. Thus, making Music the more interesting lyrics wise) Is that.

    Part ways with those who follow the views of higher power, higher governing entities by making your own views, decisions based on what you believe. (whether right or wrong)

    Step outside of the confusion. Take a look at what we’ve evolved from (or where evolution has taken you/us)

    This applies directly(or indirectly, given your view on the statement above) to what Jesse has written about.

    Youtube – A mass community of users, whether music orientated, viral-video orientated or just browsing for something. These users consist of habit (Since humans are creatures of Habit). The habit of these users becomes completely oblivious to them, but to others it seems like plain ignorance.

    The habit involves having a right to free speech. Regardless whether used right or wrong. For e.g.

    I could go to my favourite Youtube video and comment saying “This is absolutely amazing”. Someone might not think the same I do. However, he/she has the need to point it out and writes something along the lines of “This is sh*t. Worst thing ever. Can’t believe they call this a video”. This starts conflict between users i.e. myself trying to defend the video and the user(s) who want to trash it.

    Evolution is all about evolving from one thing to another. Something better/worse, something more/less. I believe that the mass publication of Youtube, Facebook and other social networking websites in general, have a negative influence on the concept of Evolution. Trapped in a tangent of dissapproval.

    It’s only until people realise a problem exists, will people finally be able to evolve. Reiterating the statement above of Jesse’s work: Seperation from the faceless majority; step on the outside, look on the inside.
    This is continued with “tear, tear it apart. A prisoner only in your own mind”

    That couldn’t be more true, and sums up everything I’ve said. Everything Jesse has mentioned and is pretty well a revelation.

    Sure. Not everyone will agree with Jesse. Not everyone will agree with me. That’s just life. However, in closing. Freedom to speech & opinion should never be taken to extremes when it can influence the community in a negative way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.chaffins Steve Chaffins

    Mr Leach,

    I’m not sure if you read these comments, but I’ll plant mine here.

    I’d like to start out by pointing out that you’ve answered your own questions. In my opinion, bands are hating because 9/10 bands are born and/or bred through the internet. 8 out of those 9 feel they are entitled, that they have done more work than all of the other bands despite them falling in category.

    I myself have only been part of the heavy scene for about 10 years, which sad to say was after the convergence of the genres. What seemingly was a mutual understanding had already become a competition of some kind between cliques.

    You know the old sayin’…. haters gonna hate, trolls gonna troll.

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  • Headcheck

    Thank you everyone for your words on this subject. It is nice to read intelligent thoughts & reflections. -Jesse-

  • Sanrabb

    Jesse Leach, perhaps you should shut the fuck up. Come to one of our shows in your stupid faggot fedora and button down shirt and start telling us how it is in person.

  • Ed

    Amen Jessie!!! I understand if you don’t like the band but keep it to yourself or don’t watch the video or read the article. It seems like the music scene, especially metal, is full of purists who are upset that someone mixed their metal with hardcore. It’s the new for, of prejudice. I’ve gone to so many hardcore shows and get shit because I look like a metal dude, or I got to a metal show wearing a hardcore shirt and get shit for it. Mixing genres can only improve and create new ideas. No one wants to hear the same song played by seventy different bands. So quit the hatin’ and show some love.

  • Chris

    Jesse, I’m a huge fan of all the music you have created.  I think that most intelligent lovers of music pay little to no mind of the comments that irresponsible and immature little children made on an internet webpage.  It is this very reason that people hold almost no value in the information provided on the internet.  It’s plagued with people you speak of.  I know that many metal fans see some hate from others for their musical preference in daily life and if they’ve put up with that and are still fans then I assure you no internet comment will stand in the way of them checking out a new band that may quickly become a favorite.  Metal fans by nature are rebellious and typically go against the grain.  Have you ever observed other bands that gained a little too much popularity by the mainstream or pop-culture fanbase which ultimately caused a turning point toward downfall in their career?  The very reason that most people DON’T like metal is why many of us DO like metal.  I understand your frustrations, but I assure you they do not warrant any thought.  You do what you are passionate about and you do it well.  Keep it up.  We are all struggling in some manner in these tough times, and music such as yours keeps many of us in the right mindset to make it through our daily hardships.  I hope I was able to put your mind at some ease.

    Chris