On a cold and rainy day in Manchester, we found Las Vegas rockers Escape The Fate ready to play a show to a sold out Club Academy, where scores of kids lined the block for hours despite the biting weather. Inside, we caught up with drummer Robert Ortiz, bassist Thomas ‘TJ’ Bell and Kevin ‘Thrasher’ Gruft and talked their new album ‘Hate Me’, the upcoming show and songwriting.
‘Hate Me’ is your fifth album, and you’ve been a band for a while, what have you done to make this one different?
TJ: We did this record collectively as a team and we all worked are asses off. We were over at Kevin’s house everyday like two months before we actually hit the studio with Howard Benson.
Robert: I think a big difference was having Howard Benson come in, we were already working with him before we signed on to do the record, but having him as a producer, what he did was he pushed us to just continue to write until we felt we had enough great songs and the right songs as well. So it wasn’t like let’s build up an album, let’s have 12-14 songs and we’ll record them. It was like we had to keep recording until we knew we had what we wanted and what we needed.
And who writes the songs? All of you?
Robert: Everyone lends a hand, in every song someone contributes but there’s also like certain songs people will take more liberties with. One person might do the whole fucking song, the next song someone else might do the whole song, the next might be completely collective.
TJ: Howard Benson helped nudge us in the right direction, he didn’t really help us write the songs, and he just said “I think you can make that part better.”
The album titles seem to follow a story, is the album concept or does it just have a big story behind it?
Kevin: The album is a reflection of our lives, it’s almost an autobiography of events and challenges that we’ve gone through and overcome.
TJ: That were still going through!
Kevin: I think we just poured our hearts into every song, every lyric we went through, made sure we were saying exactly what we wanted to say. Some of the songs like ‘Just A Memory’ for example was just more angst, more aggression. Music is our outlet, it always has been for years and years and it’s always been the outlet to express ourselves and other feelings we have and I think that’s what this album does. That’s why it kind of tells a story at the same time because everyone has ups and downs and we put that all out there.
Robert: Basically what he’s saying is that ‘Hate Me’ is just us being comfortable with our own selves now and each song on the album represented that in different ways.
What was the idea behind the album artwork?
Robert: Well you see, Craig has this idea one day of Terror cards and having some of your future being told and it’s like your destiny. “Escape The Fate” it’s predetermined, but when you’re trying to escape something that’s predetermined it’s very difficult but that particular card (used for the album artwork) is like what the wheel of death right?
Kevin: Fortune. Also known as the wheel of death.
Robert: But you just see there’s knives being thrown and as a magic trick you’re supposed to be able to avoid getting hit but if you look, our beautiful lady is getting hit by them. But she’s not getting killed because she’s undead. So it’s saying that you can throw sticks and stones and everything but we will endure, go ahead and hate us were going to be fine y’know?
Your music videos are very theatrical, the one you released for Alive recently brings the concept of the album artwork into it also.
TJ: Craig came up with the concept of that. He’s over there if you want to ask him!
Robert: Well, it kind of went along the same lines as the album artwork, which is featured in the video. Kevin is on the wheel. It’s the same sort of thing, every time you think you’re going to kill Escape The Fate, every time you think someone’s going to die it’s just an illusion because we all end up surviving, we end up on top. We are really the ones behind it all.
Do you think you’ve all matured as songwriters?
TJ: We’re always maturing and always growing.
Kevin: We’re not necessarily maturing in like, because that to me is very cliché of bands who are like “oh we’re maturing on this next record” but really they’re selling out and it watery and bullshit pop. I think our stuff is like yes we’re getting better at our craft but at the same time I think we’re just getting better at song writing and storytelling.
Robert: I also think there is a point of us not having limitations on what we do. A song like ‘Let Me Be’ dude that song when we first encountered it, it’s like okay we loved it automatically, and we’re putting this on the record. In times past it would have been a little bit more difficult to comprehend the fact that this is a pure love song and how’s that going to work on a fucking rock record.
TJ: But it’s a good fucking song!
Robert: As long as we love it, as long as it’s saying what we want it to say who cares.
Now that the album has had some time to sit in and this is the first time you’ve been to the UK since its release are you planning on a new album core based setlist or a general mix?
Kevin: Yes and No, it is a mix we’re definitely trying to play as many new songs as possible, I think on this tour even we’re going to continue to put new songs into the set and develop our set as we go along. We’ve just done one music video, the other one is going to be done when we get back to the states but we have a couple more songs that were going to push through to radio and we’d like to incorporate those songs into the set too. Really excited to see the fans reaction. We’re playing ‘Live For Today’ tonight and we haven’t seen people rock out yet to it.
TJ: We haven’t seen a reaction so we’re not sure what to expect.
Kevin: We’re all really excited and pumped on it, we love playing new material.
Any chance of you hitting the festival circuit this year?
Robert: We were just discussing that right before you walked in! We are not at liberty to discuss that just yet, however I will say that there is talk so look out on all our possible internet searches.
Kevin: Wink wink. Nudge nudge.
‘Hate Me’ is available on iTunes now and Escape The Fate final UK dates are:
30 Jan – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
16 Feb – London – Electric Ballroom
Featured image by Kelly Hamilton