Las Vegas’ own Escape The Fate have enjoyed the emo scene fame for over ten years since the release of their inception back in 2005, and were one of the forerunning acts in the whole MySpace generation. There have been plenty of tribulations and hardships in their time since then, and they’ve also got five albums under their belt, with a sixth shortly on the way.
The band finished a three-month tour with I Prevail at the end of 2017, and were straight back on the road this year to bring their latest European tour to their eager fans.
Whilst back on over on UK shores to promote their soon-to-be-released sixth record, ‘I Am Human’, we caught up with drummer Robert Ortiz, and guitarists Kevin ‘Thrasher’ Gruft and TJ Bell over a lovely spicy Indian curry in Nottingham, ahead of the final show of the European stint.
DP!: Hi guys! Thanks for chatting to us on the final date of the European tour. You guys played London last night too. How has the tour been?
T: We’ve introduced four new songs! It was insane, the first show we played was in Ireland and just hearing the fans sing along to one of the new songs – like the very second it started – was like an incredible feeling.
DP!: So, the new songs go back to your roots as a band, don’t they?
R: Oh my god, it’s insane that you say that. I literally had a debate with a fan for like twenty minutes who was saying our music was different and changing. I tend to agree with you more, though. I feel like we’ve started to hone in a bit more. We don’t care to experiment necessarily like, “Yo, let’s try to doing this, let’s do more electronics, etc.” It’s just whatever the song we’re working on that day just kinda works.
DP!: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your recording process is collaborative, and that it’s not just one person thinking of the ideas and writing the songs. How has the process been for the new album?
R: It’s different for each song. Some songs are collaborative, and we even sometimes write with different people outside of the band too. Thrasher wrote a couple songs with what’s his name from Thirty Seconds To Mars.
T: Yeah, I wrote a song with Steve, the bass player from Thirty Seconds To Mars. It’s called ‘Four Letter Word’… we have a lot of numbers in our songs.
DP!: Do you find that to be quite a chaotic way to work?
R: No. Well, our producer did, but we don’t! Again, it depends on the song. Sometimes you need to escape into yourself and write something that’s just you. The rest of the band may be like “What the fuck is he doing? He’s not working on anything,” but then you finally bring it out and it’s cool because you just want to keep flowing, and you wanna go and dive in and not listen to other people, you know? It’s still the band though. It’s not like I want to take this to a side-project; I want these guys to help me finish this, but let me get it almost there. Sometimes we just all get together and experiment and mess with sounds and things, and lyrics too. All of that.
T: There’s a lot of arguments in the band that can arise, for sure. The first day that we hit the studio I had like fifteen tracks, and everyone has to listen to them. Then it’s like, I want everyone to like them, but sometimes they don’t like everything you do. It was a continuous process. Even when the record was done the label had requested two more songs, so we ended up doing that ourselves.
DP!: Do the label have much input on what you guys do creatively?
R: They have input after the record’s done. So, it will be done, and they’ll then be like, “We think this song is a smash,” but it might be a song that we want to release a bit later, y’know?
T: ‘Empire’ is the only time that they’ve seemed to want to have an input and, truthfully, it was an argument about the mix. As Allen Kovac, the owner of our label said, “I don’t give a fuck what you guys do, you do you.” He actually believes in our music, loves what we do, and puts his money where his mouth is. But, at the same time, that one song is very electronic based, and he felt that it had more life outside of the usual rock direction. He felt that with a different type of mix it could appeal to this almost electronic/EDM genre and he could get it onto Spotify playlists over there, so he was really pushing for this one mix that was really heavy with electronics. That’s the only time out of the last three records that we’ve done with them where they’ve had any type of input into the music.
R: We argue a lot with them. We fight on direction of promotion and that kind of thing, but to their credit they’ve never – besides that one instance – got involved in what we do creatively, and I think it shows. The record is very personal. This is the most raw record that we’ve ever had and our fans just get it, more than they have with past records. On the first date we were like, “Alright, here’s a new song,” and we expected people to stand still and watch, but they were fucking singing. When I heard it over my in-ear headphones that mute everything – I heard them screaming those lyrics over my muting headphones – and I was like, “Alright, these guys were right. That song’s badass.”
DP!: Speaking of previous records, your last album ‘Hate Me’ was about addressing all of the negativity that you’ve received in the past. Do you feel like you’ve addressed that now and can overcome it, or does it still affect you as a band?
T: I think ‘Hate Me’ served that purpose, and we decided to do our own thing and change things around a bit. On this record, for me personally, I cared a lot less about critics and I wasn’t thinking about writing a song that I thought all these people will love. I mean, obviously that’s your goal, you want to reach as many people as you can, but I feel like I was just trusting myself and my gut more than anything. If you take the equation out of what other people think of you, I think you write a more sincere song.
B: One of our fans described the song ‘Hate Me’ as a coming of age song where we transform, and we finally just accepted that no matter what we do, there’s gonna be some kind of backlash. That’s why we said if we can’t get you to not hate us, then fuck it, hate me.
DP!: You recently toured with I Prevail too. How was that?
T: It was a really long tour to be honest, let’s just get that out the way first! It was about three months long, but it was a great tour. Those guys were just really cool. I was actually a fan of them when the record came out. It was great, it felt like a tour we really belonged on.
DP!: How did their fans react to you guys?
R: They loved it! I feel like it re-ignited us, because most of their fans do tend to be younger – they’re a younger band. We were worried that we’d be the old guys, but it wasn’t like that at all. Their fans just got into it, and there were a couple shows that might not have been the best shows ever, but for the most part we left the stage every night just going “Damn dude, that was fucking sick!” It showed us that we’re not just this legacy band from the 2000s emo scene. We’re beyond that now, we’ve survived. We’ve got this new energy to us but still maintain our identity.
DP!: It’s been a busy year for you already! Do you have anything else planned for 2018?
R: More touring, and we’ll definitely be celebrating a milestone in the band’s career, but we can’t really say anymore at the moment.
TJ: I would like to travel a bit more because there are a lot of countries that bands don’t get to go and see. We’re finally getting to go to South Africa this August, though.
DP!: Do you get to explore much while on tour?
K: Yeah, that’s part of the payment. TJ this time, he’s hit every landmark dude.
TJ: Yeah, in every city as soon as I wake up, I basically go out and explore. In Paris, in one day I went to Jim Morrison’s grave, the Catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, then I had an awesome dinner and some escargot with Robert. I did it all.
DP!: That sounds fun! Thanks for taking the time out to talk to DEAD PRESS! I hope that we didn’t disturb your dinner too much!
R: Not at all. We’re having a nice dinnertime conversation.
The band’s sixth full-length album, ‘I Am Human’, is out on March 30th 2018 through Better Noise Records/Eleven Seven Music.
Interview by Nikki Bruce (@nikki29000)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989. | Aspiring freelance pizza eater.