25 mentions of murder. 16 mentions of suicide. 23 mentions of self-loathing. 2 mentions of school shootings. 1 song title threatening the president. 5 dudes. 1 album. An endless amount of morbid fun.
If you’re unfamiliar with Leathermouth, the Jersey band was what your worst nightmares are made of. Fronted by Frank Iero, the guitarist of now defunct My Chemical Romance, Leathermouth spent a hot three years shredding faces in New Jersey basements and beyond, eventually branching out to the Skate and Surf Festival. It’s been 6 years since the band has played together, and I haven’t been able to shut up about it since.
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But the story of Leathermouth is a bit out of sorts. Iero was originally supposed to sign the band to his own label, Skeleton Crew. That was until the original frontman couldn’t write any lyrics to go with the music and bailed. It was at this point where Iero stepped in and took control. This would be the first time he would contribute lead vocals and lyrics since leading his former band Pencey Prep in the early 2000s.
When I think about this band, gruesome images come to mind. Bleeding in a dirty bathroom, marked to hell with graffiti and shit. A school shooting, complete with ski masks and grenade launchers. Acts of terror in foreign lands. Missing limbs and decapitated heads. Jack the Ripper. Some I can’t put into words with good conscious. I’ll stop here.
Frankly, we all need a little mindless violence now and then. It releases some of that pent up aggression we experience every day. It’s the little things that add up, like walking behind someone slow and you suddenly feel like pushing them. Leathermouth brought those feelings to life, spit on them, and rubbed them into your favorite shirt. Leathermouth was a band that cared very little about being polite. They bared only the rawest emotions and left nothing up to the imagination.
They were obsessed with the concept of death and I fucking loved it. I loved every second of their lone record, XO, which clocks up to only 24 minutes of violence and brutality. They were the reason why I fell in love with more modern hardcore. The hardcore that was a little less political and a little more personal. Of course, the politics were still there, but they were more drenched in desperation.
Instrumentally, they were relentless. Heavy and dark, the guitar riffs would drip through your ears like blood. Often complete with time changes and breakdowns, the drumming was really the backbone of Leathermouth. God bless James Dewees. He was put through some hell on XO.
Lyrically they were out for bloodshed. Iero has a habit of writing from his corroded heart with lyrics that are blunt and loaded with the barest of the emotions. Leathermouth was likely his most organic bout with lyric writing. Hearing someone scream, “The NYPD ain’t got shit on me” was strangely inspiring the first time I heard “Catch Me If You Can”, and it still inspires me today.
Leathermouth managed to make me feel less alone. I’m comforted in the knowledge that there is someone else out there who has the capacity to feel as distraught as I do every now and then. Maybe that’s a selfish notion, but I think that’s the point. How would we be able to enjoy anything if we didn’t relate to it a little bit? I’ve fallen asleep to this album at night and woken up to it in the morning. I’ve showered to this album. I’ve played it loud in my apartment to piss off my neighbors (and it worked).
I’ve been hoping, wishing, and praying for a follow up record since XO hit my ears. My biggest regret is that I never got to see the band live – if I could go back in time and see every show in the tri-state area, I would. My final demand is for Epitaph to finally release XO on vinyl. I would buy two copies (one to play, and another to frame and hang on my wall). I know I’m not alone here.
I miss Leathermouth because they gave me a reason to be angry. They reminded me that it was okay to be pissed off at anything and everything. That the world wasn’t fair, and sometimes it was our own fault. Sometimes you don’t need a reason for rage.