Craig Mabbitt & Robert Ortiz

Escape the Fate

Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ – 2/17/2020

 

WillToRock’s Tara Lakatos caught up with Escape The Fate’s singer, Craig Mabbitt and Drummer, Robert Ortiz. 

They discussed switching up Producers for their latest album, If haters are really gonna hate, and Craig ponders whether Robert is really condescending…

 

Tara:

You are coming up to the end of tour cycle for “I Am Human” and you’re in the studio recording your next album how’s that going for you guys?

Craig:

It’s going really good. We’re scheduled to go back in March, to wrap it up. I already have the art and the album title; I just need to convince the rest of the guys.

Tara:

You are working with John Feldman again as producer, after work with Howard Benson for last two albums.  Does switching up the producers help you keep things fresh in the studio?

Craig:

I mean, in my experience going in with a producer, a new producer for the first time, it’s always you know, a little weird. First you got to get a feel for each other. Going back with John has just been exciting for me personally because he was a part of, really molding the sound of escape the fate with me.   We did our, “This War is Ours” album when I first joined the band with John, so he was very instrumental in helping us find what Escape the Fate was going to be with me as the singer. And so it feels really good.

Tara:

What type of vibe, can we expect from the album?  I Am Human”, was a very melodic album, without the hardcore vocals and sounds of the past.  On previous albums you’ve had both a mix of metal and melodic songs. And, you know, a lot of punk influences mixed. So do you have any ideas how this album is going to go?

Craig:

All I know for sure is that when I listen to it. I can tell it’s us, but it’s definitely going to sound different than any of our previous albums for sure.

Tara:

Social media for better or worse has made it easier for fans to be vocal about what they like and dislike. Many bands get trashed for staying with their familiar sound; people say that they aren’t growing.  On the other side bands change it up and their sound is much different and fans don’t like it.  They say that you don’t sound like you anymore.  Does this play into your direction at all with new material?  Do you ever have a moment where you say, fans are going to hate this but I’m going to do it anyway?

Craig:

You know, we’ve come to realize, Robert especially, it doesn’t matter, if somebody wants to hate on you they’re gonna they’re gonna hate. If you make it sound exactly the same they’re gonna say you sound the same, if you make sound different, this is too different.  You shouldn’t read into anything anybody says online, on social media whatsoever just. Sometimes it’s someone’s hobby to just go on there and bash anything and everything.  

Tara:

I like to hear a band, like you said, be recognizable but I like to see growth with each album.  It shows that you’re growing as an individual and as a band; it makes the experience better for fans.  

Craig:

In my opinion, there’s two genres, sh*t I like and sh*t I don’t like. So a good song is going to be a good song, and if a fan hates it but we gain 100 more, so be it. 

Tara:

For me, your style, your vocals are so versatile. You could do that hardcore screaming and then you have “If Only” from your latest album, it’s super slow acoustic.   Your vocals are honestly sort of delicate, because they are the complete opposite of what you started from with this roar and then you’ve got this beautiful, insane voice. 

Craig:

Thank you.  I’m used to Robert telling me I have an imperfect voice, but a beautiful insane one is a very nice thing.  

Tara:

Imperfect makes it better. 

Craig:

That’s what he tries to say but he, Robert, if you know him, he’s always got this condescending tone to everything.

Robert:

I don’t know, that’s just how I come off. I like that aspect of it, to me, I might say imperfection but what I really mean to say is unique.   That’s what I like about what Craig does, like you’re saying we weave in and out of different styles and somehow it always sounds like us. And we’re always fighting about what exactly “us” is. But at the end of the day it’s that voice that makes it us.   You know because we were going to experiment and try sh*t and sometimes it sounds like things we’ve done before. Sometimes it sounds like nothing we’ve done before. With that weird, unique voice, imperfect or however you want to phrase it brings it back around.

Tara:

Okay, so you spent the last year touring your 10th anniversary of “This War is Ours”. How was that to perform that album in its entirety for the fans?

Craig:

That was an amazing experience.  Just to look at and be like, wow, we did it and we’ve been doing it for this long, it’s crazy. Weirdly enough, Robert and I both discussed, hey the lyrics of the songs make more sense to us today than they even did back then, so it was awesome to revisit it. It was really cool to bring back some older songs and even our set on this tour, still very heavily from “This War is Ours” because we’re still hot off of that run.  A lot of the songs just reacted in a really awesome way, so even our set tonight is going to be very, “This War Ours” heavy but, yeah, it was a great experience.

Tara:

You’re only about a week into this tour. How’s it going so far? I saw that you guys are playing video games with Ronnie Radke (Falling in Reverse), is that something that you guys enjoy doing in your downtime?

Craig:

I definitely enjoy playing video games in my downtime; I’m always playing video games, like straight up 24/7.

Robert:

That’s his thing, he’s got his console in there and for me, I love to workout. We always park up at a gym. First thing today, I beat up an old friend of mine who’s talking smack and we were boxing. Yeah, I don’t know but honestly because we’re on tour with Ronnie and I mean me personally I grew up with him. So, I’ve been trying to spend as much time with him as possible because these moments are fleeting and now that we’re older and have perspective, we realize how kind of special they are. You know, we may never tour together again you know, we might tour together again and take this to the rest of the world, but you know the moments are fleeting so it’s been fun.  And then just trying to find things to do with he and I, it’s mostly just making fun of each other and seeing who can do the best job at that. When we were in New York, it was like the most hilarious time I’ve ever had. It’s just like we laughed for 20 minutes just making fun of each other, the whole room just taking turns it’s crazy, never seen anything like it I thought I was good at debating but damn.  

Craig:

When the band did a tour called Bury the Hatchet, never would I have told you that we were going to do another tour. To celebrate his (Ronnie) record going gold, and it was going to feel more like a, bury the hatchet tour than that tour. And, you know, the best description is something that I tweeted out today. I literally was watching the show, enjoying the show last night. Crowd surfed up to the stage during a straight up, f**k Craig verse of the song, which is what it was written for, and it was just smiles and high fives and laughs the whole time.  So it’s like, you know, we might have done a tour together called bury the hatchet but it’s like it’s completely buried.

Robert:

Everyone on the tour, down to his bass player and guitar player, were part of our touring group too. And then The Word Alive who’s opening the show, Craig started that band.  It’s like, this weird, giant, dysfunctional family but we’re here functioning now and the show is huge.  Honestly, it feels more celebratory now than it ever has, to me this is the finest tour, if not ever in a long, long time. 

Tara:

You have a bunch of festival dates coming up during the summer. Do you guys like playing festivals or do you enjoy the more intimate shows?

Craig:

I personally enjoy the more intimate shows. But it’s nice that our band is still able to play the big festivals. Sure, I don’t want to be strictly a small venue intimate band, but there’s just something about those packed to the brim walls, you’re sweating, high energy shows, you really can’t compare anything else to it. 

I mean, there’s another special kind of feeling you get, I always remember when we played main stage Download Festival and walked out there and saw that many people screaming, it was just, it was insane.  So I just feel very fortunate that I’m able to enjoy all those different aspects of a live show from the festivals to the intimate ones to the big, big arenas and venues, it’s a blessing.

Robert:

I think, you know, to kind of go back and the first question was you appreciate both.  The big festivals really are about the casual fan, you know that likes your music and enjoys you.  But when they have to make the choice on a Tuesday night and they got to drive somewhere and it’s late and money and all those things, I’d like to go but I don’t know, those shows are your diehard fans, that love you. And so that’s amazing but then the big festivals are everyone who’s like, all right, well I’m going to invest into this one. And so you know it goes both ways there’s a lot to like about both.

Craig:

Then you go down to South America and one night you’re playing a couple thousand people, huge stage and the next night, you pull up to an alleyway.

Literally, and you’re like that can’t be the stage and the guy comes up and goes Yep, that’s it. 

Robert:

And there’s no speakers or monitors and they gotta bring some in, like, okay,

mosquitoes flying around everywhere and that’s it, Rock and Roll. 

Tara:

My last question is, since you guys have hit your 10-year mark and you’re still doing well, how do you in this day and age define success as a musician?

Craig:

How do I define success?  I think I’ve been in a weird place in my own life lately that makes it weird for me to define success when it comes to the band and music in my career. I’ve just been finding that to have a successful life is just to be able to play our music and come home and raise my kids and pay my bills. I’m completely happy with that.  So it’s like finding that understanding and that solace in that I find it very difficult to like sometimes be like, I want to be the biggest band on the planet because I still do, in a sense, but it’s just like, that’s what I find as success if I if I’m happy at home, and I’m still able to go out there and play for fans that still want to hear the music, and I’m able to live my life comfortably. That to me just is successful.

Robert:

Yeah, I mean I agree with that, I think there are two things and especially when you’re in a band, where you have a joint effort a corporation, if you will. There’s a lot of sacrifice in that as an artist, and sometimes something you really think is an excellent piece of art, your buddies don’t get, and they’ll pour their hearts out and have this amazing idea and you don’t get it. So sometimes there’s that common denominator that creates its own thing and it’s hard to define exactly what feels successful about it because when you have your song, maybe no one liked it but it got executed wonderfully. You’re happy as an artist, regardless of if it makes $1 or not. And then there’s also, I remember being in that festival in South America for one of the songs that I didn’t necessarily believe in, but Thrasher really believed in and he’s out there and he’s giving his all and I’m proud of my brother and I’m happy to share his vision with all these people that are in front of me. And so it, success is just, it takes many forms, it’s not one singular thing sometimes it is monetary and say well fuck it you guys like that song and if it makes money I’m fucking good with that. As long as I feed my kids, I’m good. And then sometimes it’s like, oh, yeah, that songs great. And, you know, no matter where it came from you, me, us, different producer, whatever the case may be, but we created a wonderful piece of art, and that I enjoy. That’s success as well, so it takes many forms.

Tara:

Awesome, thank you guys so much.

 

Related Links:

Escape The Fate

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