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My Prog Hero: Jesse Leach

Killswitch Engage’s frontman on his love of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson.

“When I was growing up, my dad used to play me all the Rush, Yes and Pink Floyd albums. I didn’t know anything about the prog movement back then – I was more of a punk and hardcore kind of guy – but if something has the right feeling, then I like it, it doesn’t matter what genre it belongs to. I mean Pink Floyd’s Money is a perfect example of hearing a song and loving it without realising how genius it is.

I think I first heard Porcupine Tree around 2002, when In Absentia came out, and I must have listened to it for about a year solid. All the different time signatures and the jazz influences made me go back and really pay attention to my dad’s record collection. Steven Wilson is a genius. Opeth’s Blackwater Park is another of my favourites. I love his production and have total respect for him.

The Sound Of Muzak is my favourite Porcupine Tree song, it’s from In Absentia. When I first heard the lyrics, they just blew my mind; they’re about how the music industry crushes your ideas and your creativity and it really struck a chord with me. That song changed the way that I write. I think Steven Wilson’s lyrics are generally really poetic and they help you to escape from what’s going on around you. I like music that I can feel; I’m definitely more into that side of things than focusing on the technicalities of it.

I’ve seen Porcupine Tree a couple of times live but my favourite show was when Opeth did an acoustic opening set for them – that was just incredible and I had goosebumps all the way through. I’ve never met Steven Wilson though – I wouldn’t even know what to say to him if I did! I’d probably just embarrass myself and come across like a complete fan boy. I feel the same way about Mikael Åkerfeldt. We were actually on the same boat at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards earlier in the year and I didn’t say a word to him the whole time!”

Killswitch Engage’s Disarm The Descent is out now via Roadrunner. See killswitchengage.com for more info.

Natasha Scharf
Natasha Scharf

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.