Jesse Leach, German Brats, Belgian Frites (part II)
I don’t know how other band-dudes’ relationships with their managers are, but I’d relate mine to that of a sibling’s bond. I look up to Justin and trust Justin like one would their older brother. Never have I been professionally steered in any direction other than the right one by him, and through his constant knowledge of food spots in his old haunts – I can certainly profess that J was one of the people responsible for putting me on the path that would lead to my food-fanaticism. Arcangel (his real last name mind you) lived in N.Y.C. when I first met him back in 2002 (initially only assigned to become Trivium’s entertainment lawyer, he later became co-manager and eventually sole-manager in 07/08), and he always seemed to have a vast array of knowledge of insanely impressive food spots. It seemed that every time we’d hang out for “band meetings” or what-have-you… we’d always be eating well. I wanted that spider-sense.
Flash forward years into the future where my mental-collection of “where to eat” and “where to drink” began to be somewhat of an impressive itemization where Justin and my wife Ashley mentioned to me that maybe I ought to start photographing on my phone-camera and writing about my experiences of where I get to eat. That’s where it all began. People knew me already for being ravenously into food – but now with a legit semi-professional site (the one at that specific time) – I found a new passion. Seeing this passion flourish, Arcangel suggested that I check out “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain – and the rest was history.
Justin picked me up the morning of the “Trespass America” tour press conference to take me to the L.A. Farmer’s Market. I think he mentioned that he had just seen it on Entourage and tried it a few days before and knew I would dig it. We did a couple laps around the spot, but the one that really caught my eye was Singapore’s Banana Leaf – a rustic, humble Southeast Asian food stand. It’s advertisement read that it did Malaysian, Singaporean, and… (!) Indonesian. I’ve only toured Indonesia once – but I fell in love with their food. A mixture of Asian and Indian, similarities to Polynesian, and something more – a keen emphasis on spice as well. On that Indo-tour back a few years ago, I was taught how to eat like the Indonesians at a street food-style restaurant: one leg up on the chair while you sit, that sides’ arm laying across the inside so you can pick up the food with your hand for direct depositing into your gullet. Fun stuff if ya ask me.
I went for the Mee Goreng: pan-fried noodles with two satay sticks of chicken and a fried egg on top. A spicy sauce and lime slices accompanied – scallions on top. Wonderful. Spicy, hearty, not greasy… the kind of pan-fried fill-you-up food that you want. I always want pan fried noodles or rice… and if you do too… find yourself a legit Indo-restaurant. The guy behind the counter at Singapore’s was from Jakarta – so I busted out my “terima-kasih” after the meal, and we were on our way.
From the Market, it was on to the press conference. We showed up just in time for what I thought sounded like: “Ok. So that’s when we have you escorted on stage by military personnel with guns who will remove your prisoner-hood, release your cuffs and you will be introduced.” What?
So I had no idea that I would be getting the all-inclusive prisoner treatment of everything-but-water-boarding this morning. I was taken aback to say the least. When I eventually bumped into Jesse from Killswitch Engage and saw that he was cool with it – I felt a little more comfortable with what was about to go down. I’ve toured with Jesse before – back when he sang with Seemless; we even have a song we did together: “Blood And Flames” on the Roadrunner United album. You’d think with those two things that we would have hung out before… but I guess our stars hadn’t quite aligned to be buddies back then.
Now – with Jesse – he is one of my favorite vocalists and lyricists on Earth. His performance on Alive Or Just Breathing was a game changer for me. He brought the sing/ scream trade off to a new, modern level on that record. Never had the metal world heard such an intense black and white contrast of brutal screaming and passionate singing come out of one singer.
Alive Or Just Breathing musically and lyrically could be quoted easily as defining that generation of metal. KSE had influenced countless acts of varying genre with that album; the effects of that very CD are apparent today and will be for the years to come. Leach delivered a signature lyrical style on the album: lyrics with a passionate spiritual-positivity and motivation – while still being unafraid to tackle the dark-side as well. Jesse’s recent return to Killswitch Engage was a sigh of relief for the metal world as far as I’m concerned. Metal needed Jesse back.
After the conference… we were hungry. During the time before and in between work at the press conference, Jesse and I started to find out that… “hey – we’re both food-freaks and beer-nerds!” The similarities in taste and what we look for was becoming eery. Only one thing to celebrate that: Meat in tube form, Beer, Frites.
Wurstkusche is a spot Justin and his wife Jessica (food-freak as well) took me and Ashley to a few months back, where – I was to get the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage. When I was eating it… it didn’t seem overly exciting or different… turned out Ash (not an adventurous “creep meat” eater (as she puts it)) ate my rattlesnake sausage (insert pun) and I had had turkey or something. Round two. I was having my rattlesnake and rabbit dammit!
Wurstkusche does German-style brats and sausages, Belgian-style frites and German and Belgian beer. What more could anyone ever need? German and Belgian beer without a doubt in my mind are two of the best beers on earth (alongside Japanese, American craft, and Polish). Meat in tube form? **** yeah. Double-fried Belgian frites? God yes. Many say that the Belgian’s invented the frite… I think it was a past American president whilst in France merely calling it a “French fry” that gave it the name we use today. So if they invented it… they probably perfected it. In all my years of touring – some of the best pommes frites I’ve had are always in the Belgian/ Netherlands-areas – damn good stuff.
Together with Justin and Vaughn (KSE’s management), Jesse and I ordered our feast. I had the Rattlesnake and Rabbit (a play on hunter and prey I gather) and the traditional Bratwurst, a mountain of Belgian frites, and a Schneider Weisse. The Schneider (apparent by it’s “Weisse” monicker) is a Hefeweissen–style brew; light, airy, refreshing… as our old Trivium-crew member Rob (a food-soulmate of mine) would say, a beer you could “skull”. There’s something magical about that style of beer out of the tap… especially when you drink lots of it. The frites were double-fried and insanely good. Crispy, not burnt; salty, not over-salted. Simple and simply served with accompanying dips. There are numerous dips to choose from at WK.
Sauerkraut and onions were the recommended topping for my meats – the bratwurst tasted traditional as if outta Germany, and that succulent rattlesnake? Freaking rad. The right pop on that first puncture-bite, juicy and meaty – I could use about 10 of those right now.
All humans need meat-in-tube-form, fries, and beer. Get it here.
Amidst scarfing and skulling, Jesse and I chatted recipes of things we like to cook at home; spoke of other great spots we’ve eaten and drank; talked about the KSE record in the works and the Trivium record in the works. It was a wonderful feast and chat. We talked of the state of metal in the world today… how in the U.S.A. and the U.K. – it’s not taken as seriously as it is elsewhere in the world; elsewhere in places like Germany, Japan, Scandinavia – it’s not just a genre… it’s a lifestyle. For all of us in KSE and Trivium alike – it’s a lifestyle. We both equally pumped each other up by talking recent songs written and their motivations (good and bad). Jesse had an amazing quote about bands and musicians like us: “We’re working class musicians.” He couldn’t have nailed it more on the head.
Venice Ale House was to be our nightcap before heading to the airport to fly home. Venice Ale House overlooks the beach in all it’s staggering Cali-beauty and even has Kombucha on tap. I love Kombucha. More people should drink it. Rob Suchan (food-soulmmate remember? Also singer/ guitarist/ song-writer of great indie-rock band Koufax) got me into it… it’s fermented tea sometimes infused with fruit. It contains as many (if not more) probiotics as yogurt – so it’s real good for ya. It’s one of the ingredients I try to keep my body stocked with so I can “detox to retox.” It was however… retox time: Stone Ruination IPA. Mmm mmm mmmm American micro-brew IPA. Hoppy, tart, bitter, high in alcohol content – manly. It ain’t for the faint of heart.
The four of us happily through back a few pints as the sun crept below the oceans’ horizon and soon it was time to “Bid Farewell” (get it??).
We shared a ride in Vaughn’s rental to the airport and went our separate ways. Once again. Proof. A great meal can bring people together. I can’t wait to spend that upcoming tour with Jesse. We shall feast my friend… we shall feast.