POZ Interview: Escape The Fate

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 20, 2013

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PropertyOfZack had the chance to chat with Craig Mabbitt of Escape The Fate a week or so ago for an in-depth interview. We discussed the reasons for the band’s delay in releasing new material, what it was like to in many ways start fresh, regrouping with a new label, touring plans, and much more. Pre-order the band’s album here and check out the interview below!

Escape The Fate just released “Ungrateful” as a first track and music video for the new record. This is coming after months of buildup. How was the fan reaction to the first song?
It’s been more than months. But the response so far has been nothing but positive and that really makes me happy. For this first video… We always release one of our heavier tracks from our albums for street tracks to our fans; they always seem to like those the most. We’ve never done a music video to any of the street tracks. So to do a heavy song that actually has such a positive message and then to do the video that has even a deeper message; and to see the fans reacting so positively, is a great feeling. I couldn’t be happier about it. 

Does that give you a greater hope for the record as well?
You know what? It’s given me a way greater hope. It’s also made me nervous because they’re reacting to this track and video so much, that I just want to make sense that everything else is up to par. 

I guess it was a long time. You guys started recording spring of last year?
We started recording earlier than even that. We started recording… well we went in the studio with Feldmann; John Feldmann, the guy that did our This War Is Ours album. It was before our spring co-headlining tour that we did with… I think it was in 2010 still. It might have been 2011. That was the last real tour we’d done. And we started recording before that tour. That was our last tour we had done; I think we went to South America and played two festivals in 2012, but we haven’t really done anything or released anything since 2010. So now it’s 2013. You can’t take that much of a break in the entertainment industry. People will think you fell off. So seeing the reactions of our fans still being there is great. 

What was the holdup in terms of getting things going? Getting off of Interscope and finding a new home?
It started in 2010 when we released our self-titled album on Interscope. As soon as we released it, our manager was nowhere to be found. I guess he met some girl in London, got married, whatever… his personal life. I don’t really mind it, but it was that timing. You know, when you’re supposed to be back home working on a band’s record but you’re busy with a woman. At the same time, we released the record and we had a bunch of awesome tours to do: for instance, we had Bullet For My Valentine in Europe where we had a five thousand cap venue every single night. So I was ecstatic; but right before the tour, our manager decided that it was best for our bass player to go to rehab. So we obviously supported that decision. We cancelled the tour. Obviously our label was upset now because they were trying to work this new band and we cancelled our first big tour that they offered us so that our bass player could go to rehab. Rehab didn’t help. It got to the point where our guitarist didn’t want to tour because he didn’t want to be on the road with our bass player. So now you’re stuck with just me and our drummer. And we were doing the biggest tour we’d ever done in the states which was The Uproar Festival with Avenged [Sevenfold] and Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet For My Valentine, and then us opening for the main stage. It literally was just me, my drummer, a fill-in guitarist, a fill-in bassist, and we had just released the self-titled album. So everybody was like, “What the fuck is going on with these guys?” Shortly after that we were like, “We’ve got to start working on a new record.” Who’s going to be in the band? Who’s going to be on the record? We start working on it; we decided we’re going to get new management. Interscope at that point had already fired their whole rock department. So at first I was kind of bummed like, “Man they dropped our band.” But then I find out that they just fired the whole rock department. So that made me feel a little bit better, because it wasn’t just us. But we completely did an overhaul: New business management, new management, new label, new everything. It took a while to do that. Once I got all of our mixes back that we had worked on back when I was previously talking about, we were just unhappy with half of the record. That’s when we started working with other producers. Then we decided to just do this on our own. We finished the last half of our record and we were satisfied with it; went in to the mixing process and now we’re finally doing photos, videos, so it finally feels like the ball’s rolling again. 

Did you guys wind up re-doing the whole record or just the second half on your own?
We ended up just doing mainly the second half. But now it feels like we have so many b-side tracks, some of the tracks are different countries’ exclusive tracks, we had so many songs tracked, that the bulk of the record we ended up just doing ourselves. It was mixed by our friend Josh Wilbur who recently did the Lamb Of God record. That’s the most recent thing I think he’s done. Yeah, I mean we’re satisfied with it. It’s been a long process. It got to the point where the band was falling apart. We had to get back and be like, “Is this really what we want to do?” And we still all felt the same passion we felt when we were kids playing instruments. Even though we’d traveled around the world, and played for our fans, we don’t want to stop now. We want it to be a career and we want it to last. 

So we know you have been through some lineup changes. What is the current lineup for the band?
Yeah we went through a lot of changes. The biggest change we have right now is a different bass player. We have our original guitarist, original drummer, our rhythm guitarist that we have now wasn’t the original guitarist back in 2005, but he has been playing on stage with us since 2005, selling the merchandise and everything. That’s our lead guitarist’s brother. Our bass player didn’t want him to play on stage or be an official member of the band, so after all that happened, I’m the one that made the call, “You know what dude? Why don’t you just be in the band? Who really cares at the end of the day?” We’re not Green Day with the random guy in the back that nobody needs to know because he’s not in Green Day. You know? Who really gives a shit? It’s cool to see the comradery between the brothers. It’s cool to see them happier because I have a little brother. If I was in a band with him I could see the turmoil, like, “I’m in the band, you’re not, and shut up, your opinion doesn’t matter.” It could get kind of hectic every now and then. So it’s cool to see their camaraderie on stage and in the videos. It’s really awesome. 

So when the Interscope thing happened were you really thinking about ending Escape The Fate? 
I’ve never thought about stopping. I’m not the original singer, but how many bands have the original singer these days? Or original members in general? The biggest bands in the world, people have died off and they replaced them. I’ve never thought of stopping. This is what I’ve worked everything for. It’s why I missed my daughter’s first steps. My love for music; I want to get out there and I want to share my music for people. It’s a beautiful cycle. We’re about to go out on tour with Papa Roach, who’s been a band now for 20 years. I talk on the phone with Jacoby a lot. To be a band that’s been around that long that’s still killin’ it and being so humble to give me support, I’ll play our headliner shows and a kid comes up to me and he’s got high hopes and dreams and is like, “I want to be on tour with you one day.” I’m like, “You know what man? You will be.” It’s a beautiful cycle with music. I’ve spent a lot of time reading the stupid fact things on Twitter. I just recently read one that said 80% of people can escape and find harmony by listening to music. That’s definitely how I feel. As long as we’re still on there to listen, it’s worth it. 

What’s the current label situation with you guys? We know you recently signed, but not many people know the label. 
Yeah I know, it’s interesting because it has some of the biggest rock bands on their label. They’ve got Motley Crüe. Papa Roach went to Eleven Seven because they got dropped at the same time we did. And their revenue went up as soon as they went to Eleven Seven. So they really know how to work their rock bands. Allen Kovac, the leader of the label, was explaining to us… I had almost forgot that Motley Crüe wasn’t doing anything in the late nineties and early 2000s. But Eleven Seven helped them get back to “Motley Crüe” status. It might not be back where they were in 1987, and I still watch the Tommy Lee drum solo in Tacoma, Washington. That was the year I was born, it was fuckin’ awesome. It’s cool to see them doing well again. So I have a lot of faith in the label and I’m really excited to be working with them on this album. 

Is it nice to be at a home where they understand the music you’re pumping out? Instead of focusing on rap or pop? 
That. And on top of that, you’ve got to remember, we came from Epitaph. Which I never wanted to leave Epitaph in general. I love Epitaph as a label. But you get with all those little labels and it kind of gets lost in translation. A lot of bands come and a lot of bands go when it comes to that scene. Somebody’s the flavor of the week and then they’re not doing so well because the label’s not pushing them anymore because there’s someone new and fresh. So to be a part of a label that has these legendary rock bands that have been around for years and years, Papa Roach is still doing it after 20 years. You know what? This is the perfect fit for us. If we end up being the biggest rock band in the world, which I’m sure that’s every musician’s dream, then fuck yeah! But at least we’re on a label that knows how to work the artist and make a career out of it. Because that’s what we want to do. We want to make music for the rest of our lives. We want to progress, we want to grow and we want to continue to share it with generation after generation. I want my daughter to turn 21 and come to my show to share a drink with me. That would be the best. Hopefully I’m still playing shows by then. 

Is this Papa Roach tour a great way to start this new cycle? 
I think I’m on the wall with that. Because I love Papa Roach, and I’d love to tour with them, but I also have a hard time letting go of where we came from, which is my biggest thing. It kind of sucks. I come from the Warped Tour scene and I’m like, “We can’t alienate our fans.” I’m 25 years old. I know most of our fan base. And with our new label… I know our fans are 15-24. I don’t know how many 15-24 year olds are huge fans of Papa Roach. So I’m like, should we head out on the road with a band that’s killing it with Warped Tour? Like Alternative Press kind of stuff? What should we do? But I’m excited to go on the road in general, because we’ve had so much time off. We’ve toured with Papa Roach in the past, and it was great. They were humble; they were a nice band to be on the road with. That’s the main thing. On top of that, we walk out on stage and their fans are super supportive. It’s not like we’re opening up for Guns & Roses. I’m sure any band that opens for them walks out and gets booed. Or if you play a Slipknot show… It’s a good crowd. They’re good people to be out on the road with. I really have no complaints about it. I’m excited. 

In terms of you not wanting to abandon where you came from. What do you think you’ll do to keep that fan base? Would you headline with a band this summer that is more from that genre?
Yeah definitely. I’ve already been talking to my label and my management about it. “We’ve got to go headline in the fall.” I definitely want to touch those areas because I don’t want the fans that have stuck with us… How many bands, after a three year hiatus still have their fan base there to support them? I love playing smaller venues where you can’t breathe because the energy is so intense. I would much rather play shows like that the rest of my life, than play a show where I can’t see a face. Where our biggest fan is five hundred feet away from us. It’s always fun to do that, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to keep playing those types of shows, but the connection and energy that you feel from those smaller, underplays is just unmatched. 

So you view 2013 as the year to regain some footing you may have lost?
Yeah. 2013 is our year to make our stand up, like, “Hey, guess what? We’re still here.” And to kind of get back to the hype that we had upon signing to Interscope and stuff like that, working on our new record. Then everything kind of fell apart on our end. Nobody’s fault, but it’s still stressful; in the entertainment industry, especially, and the music business, everyone is relying on so many people. How do you rely on that many people? I’m on and off with the next girlfriend. I can’t rely on one person, how can I rely on everyone in my band? Everyone in my crew? Everyone in my label? My lawyer? My manager? There’s so many people involved and you’ve really got to have everyone on the same page to make it work. And when it works, it’s a beautiful thing. I feel really strongly about everyone they have with us right now. I couldn’t be more excited. 

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