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Escape The Fate - Phone Interview

27 Sep 2016 // An interview by Matt Henry


Escape the Fate will be visiting our shores again and Matt was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to Craig Mabbitt before they arrive. This was what he had to say:

Hi Craig, Matt here from muzic.net.nz. Thanks so much for taking our call.

Yep, how are you doing?

I'm doing well, thanks. It seems like Escape the Fate enjoy playing in New Zealand, it would be your third time playing here. Have you found any particular locations that you are fond of? Any New Zealand destination you would like to visit?

I'm really hoping that we can try get there a day early so that we can go check out Hobbiton. Every time we have played it’s been an in and out kind of thing. I've heard so many good things and I’d like to take the opportunity to go check out New Zealand and not just the venue.

So your past experiences have just been a one day thing? Was that arranged by the organisers or were you just so busy on tour that you couldn't actually spend a day here?

Yeah, it's just normally the way things are organised and the way stuff is booked. You know, we have a show in Australia the very next day. You have to play the show, get on a plane and go. Haha.

Playing in New Zealand for the first time, did you have any expectations of what you might find with the culture, people or audience? Did they live up to those expectations?

It did, it surpassed my expectations. I feel like crowds in New Zealand and Australia are kind of similar to crowds in South America I would say. They are just so appreciative of music out there, live music and having bands come over. I don't feel like it’s as over saturated as a lot of other places so it doesn't happen too often. So you can just feel the appreciation that you are there from the fans which is great.

I know you are playing in Mexico. How would you compare New Zealand to Mexico?

What makes a great crowd is the people that are there to have as we are there to have with them. I have never gone to a concert and wanted to be in a bad mood or not have fun. New Zealand has always been very, very great like that. Last time we were there was WestFest but the time we were there before that, I had a really hard time. I don't know what was wrong with me. I think I got into my own head. I had to be rushed into the emergency room after the show. The crowd was very supportive. I could barely stand, if felt like I had vertigo and I felt like I was going to pass out but the crowd was so happy that I was up on that stage and they were singing along with us and it made it a very memorable experience.

I was at WestFest last year and it was my first opportunity to see you guys live. I noticed you stood on stage left the whole show watching other bands performing. Are you normally that open at shows to stand out in the open to let everyone see you?

You know, I always like to take opportunities when we are playing festivals to go check out bands that I haven't gotten the chance to see. We are usually so busy on tour we don't get to see what some of our peers that are out there doing what we are doing. So I love getting the chance to come check out some of these other bands.

Before we get into talking about the new material for Escape the Fate, I have a few questions about some of the stuff you are currently doing with The Dead Rabbitts. It seems clear that you certainly have a love for that style of music. One can tell from your past projects you were involved with. Do you miss being a part of any of them?

I do, I just miss that style of music, it’s where I came from, It’s what I originally loved. I love making all types of music but artistically I think I just need that outlet to get it out of me and Dead Rabbitts is my thing. My Dead Rabbitts before Dead Rabbitts was The Word Alive and those guys are very talented guys but obviously they didn't want to be on the sidelines, they wanted to be a full-time touring band so it didn't work out between us so now they are out there killing it and doing their thing. So I decided to start something else and make sure that everybody knew "Like hey, Escape the Fate’s my thing but I'm starting this and if you want to play with me on stage, cool if you can’t, if you don't have the time to do that, cool, it’s fine, whatever". I'm actually working on a new full length right now and I'm just doing the entire album with Kevin from Escape The Fate, he's producing it and he's helping me write the music. I'm just out here in California and I'm at his apartment and everyday we get up and I go and sing and record. I'm sure his neighbours probably hate us by now. Haha.

Being in both The Dead Rabbitts and Escape the Fate who have a much larger following, how do you compare to two experiences live? I've read that you like "seeing the walls sweat at a venue", do you get that feeling with The Dead Rabbitts? Also, since New Zealand has a smaller population, do you get that same feeling?

Yes, Yes. I definitely do and those are the shows I was so used to going to when I was younger. It was a really hot one and people don't care and they’re just having a good time. The party doesn't stop and you go outside and you’re like "Oh my God, it’s so freaking hot in there, that was so much fun though, I was singing along". I just love that, there is nothing like it, that's when you’re really, really involved with the fans that are there to see you and you get lost in the music.

Asking Alexandria were to play here a few months back but last minute due to the airlines keeping their gear and wanting to charge them extra to make it through international customs on a connection flight caused them to completely miss out. Have you ever experienced something like that totally threw the tour off?

Oh yeah, you run into things sometimes that are completely out of your control and you sometimes wonder “why is this even happening?”. That's actually funny because we just did a festival with Asking Alexandria not too far back and their drummer, his flight was delayed and so for almost the entire show they had just their drum tech play drums for them and their drummer was in a cab on the way from the airport while they were on stage. He actually made it before the set ended and just ran out on stage and sat down on his drum set and rocked it. Sometimes things just happen that restrict you but the show must go on you know.

I followed on your Twitter account and saw the kid who staged dive off a flight case at a Bless the Fall gig and slipped as he jumped. It was noticeably funny because of the added editing. What would be the craziest thing that has happened to yourself or a fan throughout your experiences performing live?

I think the craziest thing… I mean, there's been a lot of crazy shit that's happened to me but I guess I dislocated my knee cap. I didn't really know what I did to it but I had to leave for a tour the very next day so I bought a cane from the drug store and I was walking around with the cane because I couldn't really put any weight on my knee. I didn't even have time to see a doctor yet because I had to fly to Florida to play a show. So I limp out on stage with this cane and I'm like "God, I hope I have time tomorrow to go to a doctors office and check this out". My dumb ass goes up there and I go to put up my leg up on the Ego-Rizer while I'm singing, completely not thinking that I’m now putting all my weight on this knee that hurts and it snapped back into place right on stage. I completely collapse to the floor and it just *makes cracking sound* snapped back. I finally got to go to the doctor a few days later and I said "what the heck is wrong with my knee?" and they said "well, you have a lot of swelling but it looks like you dislocated your knee cap but it’s back where its supposed to be right now. So it’s just a lot of swelling so you'll need to give it time to heal". I thought I had injured it more but i guess it snapped back into place right on stage. Everybody telling me pretty much get put under while they snap your bones back into place but it just happening in front of a crowd.

Really an amazing story for the fans. Now covers, Escape The Fate has done some covers. You guys have done a Justin Bieber track and I know you guys did a Santana song, which was a sensual smooth tribute to the original. Well done by the way. My question is, do you think covering pop songs could be considered a gateway to get people who mostly only listen to pop, listen to a cover of their favourite pop song done by a metal band?

Yeah, I think it does. To be honest, I think covering songs is a great outlet for somebody to play a really good track and have them hear you do it. And they’re like "Oh my God, this is a really good cover and it sounds pretty good, what do their songs sound like?" and I think a perfect example of that would be a group called Steel Panther. Steel Panther used to be known as Metal Skool out here in California but every Monday night I would go and see them play and they would just play cover songs from like, the ‘70s and ‘80s and they were great at it and they dressed up like it. I remember being at the first show that they were like "For the first time tonight we’re going to play you one of our own original songs" and was like "Oh my God, no way!". Then a year later, they were doing their own record with their own songs and I fucking love them and they’re killing it now. But that's a great example you know. They started off just playing covers and they were so good at doing that, people just eventually fell in love with them.

In 2013, you released the song Ungrateful that has a powerful message to stop bullying, especially stopping the cycle of bullying. This is more a personal thank you from myself than a question I guess. I feel as much as what can be said about the video has been done but I am grateful and pleased that there are bands like yours that touch on the core of problems people are dealing with each day. Releasing a song like that also makes one feel less alone in such a struggle, that there are others who can relate with the pain and emotional turmoil. It’s really been great that you guys have been doing that.

Yes, of coarse, of coarse. That song really, really speaks to me because that's definitely something that I dealt with in every way. I got bullied in school when I was younger, I got bullied at home by my dad so you know it’s nice to be able to open up and talk about it because some people are just too scared. Some kids are out there and are too scared to speak up and do anything about it just like I was. But it does get better and I think that's the message that we try convey like "Hey, this is something that even I went though but look what I’m doing now, don't think that it’s always going to be bad".

Josh Balz from Motionless In White did something special on his birthday for World Suicide Prevention Day and I know you are aware of it as I noticed it on your Twitter and it's obviously a great gesture from his behalf to help support and make a difference to a worthy cause. I mean, it had a great message, hope for the day, donating money to a worthy cause with funds going 100% to the foundation. But I must be honest, I was sad noticing that the fund raiser only managed to make $1,135. Don't get me wrong, every bit helps, but I feel like, dammit, are people so selfish? So unaware of things happening around them? That they could not take the time to support this? Personally, I feel people are ridiculously selfish and self-absorbed and that it is becoming worse. Do you have any opinions on this?

I think what Josh is doing is fantastic, he's always been a great guy. If anyone is a fan of him, they are lucky to be a fan of him because he has always been that way. We have TJ in our band and TJ grew up playing in Motionless in White with Josh and has nothing but good stories to say about that guy and he's been a nice guy for a very, very long time. Honestly, if I get stopped on the corner and somebody needs some money and I have the money on me, I always give. I’m always like "Here, here, here". And something like this where if you follow him on his Instagram or you’re a fan of his band or you follow him on Twitter then clearly you support the guy. Now it’s this guys birthday, right? And he's just asking you to donate money to a really good cause, any amount. I mean, if every single one of his followers donated 50 cents, every single one of his followers just donated a damn quarter or just a dollar which is nothing, just donate a freaking dollar, he would raise so much money for this great cause. And it’s like, if you’re going to support somebody and they are going to do something this great it really is ridiculous that you can’t take some time out your day and just give just a little. I guarantee you all those people could find 50 cents or find a dollar in their couch, in their rooms, in their pockets, in their backpacks, there is change everywhere. Scrounge it up and just give a dollar to this guy for his birthday so he can do something good.

Yeah, exactly. Escape the Fate seem to keep going from strength to strength, each album evolves and brings to it new elements and unexpected turns in the songs not heard on the older albums. Not many bands seem to keep that kind of momentum. In some ways, do you think the music writing can benefit from having new members join who can give new insight in the writing process? As some people get the impression that losing a member is a bad thing but shouldn't those fans really see it as a positive if it’s actually healthier for the band and fresher material is written in the process of growth?

Yeah, exactly. We try to do that with every album, we try to grow, we try new material, we try different things because you should be able to, you’re the artist and you should be able to experiment and try different things. We have been lucky and fortunate enough to have people support that.

Now I’m a huge fan of Tom DeLonge from Blink-182. When I saw the music video for Girl at the Rock Show, I knew I wanted to play guitar from that day on. Who would you say inspired you musically? How did you figure out you wanted to be a singer?

I was inspired by music at a very, very young age. I was in march band, I played saxophone. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of ‘50s style music. I’m not sure why but I loved ‘50s style music and that's what made me want to get into a band because you know, let’s say the solos, like the guitar solos in rock music, solos in ‘50s music was the saxophone and trumpet. I really wanted to play the saxophone because I wanted to solo and those were like the rock bands to me because that was the music I was into. Then I really got into Aerosmith and in my opinion, I feel like Steven Taylor’s the first guy to scream in rock music you know. *screams like Steven Taylor* Like, come on, he's the first guy to really do it. Then I've always been really into hip hop so Linkin Park came out and I was a huge Linkin Park fan and that was my very first concert ever. I left that concert, my ears were bleeding because I was up at the front and I had never seen live music before so there was blood literally coming out my ears from how loud it was and I told myself "I have to do this". That's when I set out to accomplish it and I've been lucky enough to say that I have.

Before we go, I’d just like to ask you one more question… Can you tell me your funniest joke?

My funniest joke… Ah man, I’m just not good at jokes at all. I’m more of the guy on YouTube videos that make people laugh. Haha.

Thanks so much for this interview, thank you for your time. I’m looking very forward to seeing you play here and have a safe flight over.

Thank you so much man.

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