By Nikki Russian
Escape The Fate are heading to New Zealand in October to tour their 2015 record Hate Me. Frontman and vocalist Craig Mabbitt is out in California at the time of interview, working on a record for his side-project, The Dead Rabbitts.
After a US tour and a break for Christmas, Escape The Fate will be back in the studio, ready for their next record.
“I have to say – there’s gonna be some similarities to Hate Me,” Craig says. “There’s songs that we wrote for that record [that weren’t released] that we’re re-listening to [now] and we’re like ‘oh man, we should’ve put this on there!’, but we couldn’t release an album with 20 fricken songs.”
Since the release of 2008’s This War Is Ours, each record features a mix of music styles, but there is more to their bad-boy Las Vegas rockers image. Craig’s vocal ability to sing a ballad converses with his screams and growls.
“We’ve always been a pretty diverse band. We love all different styles of music, and we love playing different styles of music – so we don’t wanna be pigeonholed into just one genre.”
“I would say listen to ‘Just A Memory’, ‘Remember Every Scar’, and ‘Let Me Be’, and you can see how diverse and how different the band can be. All the others songs [off Hate Me] are really just in between those three.”
While some bands draw inspiration from precedents or whatever’s topping the charts at the time, Craig prefers to cut himself off from influences. “I try my best not to listen to music when I’m writing. I do have the tendency to have something get stuck in my head, and then I’ll end up just using that in a song and I’m like ‘oh, shit!(laughs) Crap, crap, crap!’ So I do try to not listen to any music other than whatever’s on the radio.”
“I [also] enjoy writing with other people, because it’s so interesting to have somebody sit down with you,listening to the song [that you came up with], and they might think of something completely different, like a melody that’s really outside of the box that wasn’t anything like in your head. I really enjoy seeing how other people interpret music.”
Escape The Fate have always channelled a fair amount of gusto and emotion through screaming, but as musicians grow and change, vocalists often trade their trademark growls for a drastic change of sound. Is it a possibility that the band will tone it down? “With Escape The Fate, quite possibly,” Craig reveals.
“We really love writing the songs that people can sing along to, and now that I have a different outlet with my group The Dead Rabbitts – which is definitely heavier and I definitely want it to continue getting heavier – I think that opens up the door for Escape The Fate to really start writing really good songs that you can connect to, instead of just shredding through it the whole time.”
“I know a lot of fans might be turned off by that. But at the end of the day, good music is good music, and we just wanna continue to make great records.”
The band’s seen multiple members depart the group over the years, with Robert Ortiz (drums) being the only founding member still hitting. The challenges of keeping afloat within the music industry can prove difficult to maintain motivation, but hardship is often the driving force behind any artist’s inspiration.
“The inspiration behind every single one of our albums has always been what’s happening in our lives at the time,” Craig says. “We’ve never really been a band that makes something up and tells a story out of nowhere – it all comes from stuff that is happening in our personal lives. We put ourselves into every record that we make.”
“I owe a lot of credit to this band still being around to our fanbase,” Craig says. “There’s been a lot of times when I’ve been in a dark place and I’m back stage wondering where I am – ‘what the hell am I doing? Why am I even here?’”
“And they [the fans] start chanting the band name, and you go out there and you’re singing those songs that you poured your heart and soul into – and people are pouring their heart and soul to you – singing along with you, and it really makes you remember why you wanted to play music in the first place, and I realise how lucky I am.”
Since leaving Blessthefall in 2008 for Escape The Fate and enduring ridicule for taking over that platform, how has Craig been faring over the years? “I’ve definitely got some thick skin over the years, that’s for sure. I started off so young – I was 17 when I was working on my first record with Blessthefall, [I was] bright-eyed and I didn’t even really understand the way that the world worked. I think I was just a little naïve back then.”
“I didn’t really know how to act, I didn’t really know what to do, and then when I joined Escape The Fate, people were questioning my image and wondering who the heck I was… which kinda made me wonder who the heck I was.”
“I got a lot of hate just because I wasn’t the original singer,” Craig says. “It made it difficult for me to focus on what I was doing – to focus on my band, focus on my music, and focus on my family. I was just so focused on trying to prove people wrong.”
“I feel like just within the past four or five years I’ve really started settling down and being comfortable with where I am and my music and my band. [I’ve] stopped worrying about people judging me or thinking I’m this or that. You’ve just gotta get up there and do your thing,and not worry about any of that.”
Escape The Fate
Saturday October 1st: Kings Arms, Auckland
Tickets via Ticketmaster