Escape the Fate’s Craig Mabbitt Talks ‘Hate Me’ Album, Halloween + More
Escape the Fate are set to release their fifth studio album Hate Me on Oct. 30. Loudwire's readers have already voted the disc as the co-Release of the Month for October and the band is equally excited about what they're about to offer.
We had a chance to chat with Escape the Fate frontman Craig Mabbitt, who dished about the making of the Hate Me album, offered more insight on the songs "Just a Memory" and "Remember Every Scar," and shared some info on the band's video for "Alive." In addition, the rocker also discussed the band's plans for Halloween. Check out the chat in full below.
Congrats on being voted as Loudwire's Most Anticipated Release of the Month for October. What does it mean to you to see the fans show their appreciation for what you guys are putting together?
I mean that’s always, that’s a common sense answer right there. That’s always a good damn thing, you know what I mean. You definitely want to enjoy the fruits of your labor and you can’t really do that if people hate what you’re doing. So, you come to expect that. It’s always a nice surprise. It’s always a humbling feeling when people are getting excited and they’re enjoying what you’re doing. But you know as an artist, no matter what you’re doing, music, art itself, designing a video game, architecture, it doesn’t matter, anything in an art form you’re kind of pouring yourself into it and so you’re exposing yourself to all of that. And you have to expect that something you truly care about, you’re pouring your whole heart and soul into, people might hate it, you know you kind of get over that people might just not like it. And you just gotta suck it up and keep doing it. And we just like doing it for ourselves. This is what we enjoy doing, is creating music. And so when people connects with it as much as we do it is always a great feeling.
The fans are into the album, but from what I'm reading, it seems like there's more excitement from the band, as well. Can you talk about that?
We’ve been through it all. I know it is very cliché to say that. I was just telling the last interviewer, we were talking about video games a little bit, and I just went out last night and picked up the new Rock Band and right on the box of it it’s like, “Start a band, take over the world.” And I was playing it last night and you can make these decisions and it’s like “Do you want to get a manager or do you want to tough it out and go in a van and make more fans?” Like if you go with the manager route, you’re going to make more money but if you go on a sh--ty van you’re going to make more fans. And I'm like, “Alright, I’ll go on a s--ty van because that’s what I did in real life.” It’s funny how cliché it is but you know that’s what happened and we did it that way. And we’ve connected with our fans in a very positive way.
We’ve been through everything that would usually break up a band and we’ve stuck it out. We’re still here and our fans are still there. There’s not a greater feeling in the world than that. And so, going into it we are just so happy that we saw the opportunity to be here and do this because it’s very rare that you get this. And we’re just trying to live it up. And the fact that our fans have been there supporting us through it all and they’re still here now, to make them excited and please them is obviously what everybody’s goal is when you’re creating something like that.
I'm sure the makers of Rock Band would love to hear that I absolutely enjoy the game. That’s what you like to hear, you like to hear that people are enjoying all your hard work that you put into it. And we enjoy it and that’s a good thing about it too. It’s not like it’s a record we hate and the fans are like, “This is amazing, it’s the best record you’ve ever done!” Because if that were the case, we’d be like “S--t! We hate this record. Looks like we got to write records we hate if we want to please our fans because that seems to be what they like.” It’s just all positivity. So it’s really good.
You've now had Thrasher and TJ with you for a few years. Can you talk about them being around a little bit before the making of this record and what it meant to have a full band mindset and more stability going into this disc?
This is some good advice for anybody in life that goes through anything like that, you can't pussyfoot. You can't get cold feet about stuff, because if you do nothing is going to happen. That's been this band's problem since the self-titled release in 2010. Right after we released that, the member in the band who was a huge drug addict, it all came crashing down on us when he passed out onstage and we had to send him home to rehab. It never was about in our mind, maybe we should continue on because he's never gonna give up this lifestyle, drugs. He's going to drag us down with him, we were too scared.
TJ has been around since the self-titled record, helping us out, filling in, positive attitude. We knew he was the right guy for the job, it took us a while to finally do it because we were pussyfootting around too much. Finally, TJ was official. He did the Ungrateful album, the rest is history. Kevin, same thing. Kevin has been filling in for us since that self-titled album as well. Any of our core fans will know exactly who it is. It's no news to them that he is finally in the band because people were expecting it since he was filling in since that self-titled album. He filled in for us the entire Ungrateful album cycle and then now finally, we got to sit in a room and write music together. Everything just felt right. Me and Rob are the two guys that have gone all through that together. We just looked at each other like, "Man, why didn't we do this sooner? What a waste. Everybody is so much happier."
You've gone on record talking about this disc being probably the best thing the band has done to date. What about the process of recording this led you to that assessment of the album?
It's a very, very collective effort. Everybody had their hands in it that was in the band. It wasn't a "hey here's the song, learn it, we're going out on tour soon" or "this is the first single, hope you like it." Everybody had a say about every part of every song and so once you get an entire band that's that involved in the record, everyone will be more involved in the record once you are doing the setup, once you're performing the songs live. Everyone is going to be more connected to a record that they had a helping hand in. So, I think that has a lot to do with why the band is so excited about this one. It's such a band effort.
I've seen the band a few times over the years, very energetic. I know you've got a pretty good catalog at this point. When you're putting together this album, do you take the live set into consideration, at all?
We do. We don't want to get rid of any songs in the setlist, it'll bum everyone out. As a fan, if I went to see a band and they didn't play one of my favorite songs, I'd be f--king bummed out too. We don't want to take songs out that might bum anybody out. We're playing a lot of brand new songs. We've been going online and asking the fans what they want to hear. Songs we haven't really played before, ever. Songs we used to play years ago that we haven't played in a couple of years. So it's going to be a nice, eclectic mix for this set on this tour.
What did he bring to the process like working with acclaimed producer Howard Benson?
An amazing track record. Then, the way he works with the band is very very humbling. We worked with a lot of producers and going with someone like Howard Benson, you're kind of walking in with your tail between your legs. HIs approach is, "Look, you're in my studio for a reason, because I want to work with you. I'm not here to change anything. I'm just here to tell you if it's good or not and if you really think it's good, that's what we're going to do. I'm here to make you the best that you can be and the best that you want to be." We had just never been approached like that before. So, once you're pouring your heart and soul into something like your music, and you have a big producer like that that's telling you that, you know what? That sounds great. You don't need to hear anything else. It's just great.
It's so easy to be in the studio with him, because he also likes you to get your record finished pretty much completely done and demoed out before you even step foot in the studio because why do you want to waste your time in the studio arguing over parts? Do that before you get into the studio. You want to get in the studio and have fun so that it can really show in your performance, and that's what we did. We got into the studio and had a lot of fun working with Howard.
"Just a Memory" is the first song that a lot of us heard. Talk a little bit about that track.
That song came from our drummer, Robert. The barebones of it. He's like, "Hey guys just emailed you a song. Craig, I know you like the heavy stuff and this one is a real good headbanger." So, immediately I'm like, "Holy crap, Robert sent me a song? How is this going to sound?" I was real nervous opening up that mail attachment to take my first listen of it. As soon as it kicked in, I was like, "Yeah, I dig this." First run through I already had a chorus in mind. Kevin worked on it a little bit, I showed the guys the chorus. They loved it. Lyrically, it just made sense to us. Leaving all the bulls--t behind, let's just move forward from it. Kevin laid down some licks, solos, leads and it just got better and better. We just consistently stayed very excited about that track so that's why we wanted to release that one first.
"Remember Every Scar" is a very impactful song. Talk about that track, as well.
It's along the lines of "Just a Memory." You gotta sometimes forget about all the bad, but you can't necessarily forget about everything that the bad in life brings you. How are you ever going to grow or become tougher, wiser? You have to remember what those bad things taught you because that's what molds you into the person that you are. I'm trying to explain it without using the lyrics from the song. [laughs] It was a little iffy for me, when I started sitting down and writing songs and lyrics I have a hard time feeling if I'm being too cheesy. So just saying the word "heartbreak" to me was like, "Uh, I feel cheesy about this." But it came together really well. I think what I was trying to say got said and what I was trying to explain got explained. That's one of my favorites.
Can you also discuss the single "Alive"?
Again, lyrically it's just a different way of explaining what I'm singing about in "Remember Every Scar." Bruised and broken, but as long as I'm still breathing I'm still alive, still out there. That's pretty much the whole record and that's why I named it Hate Me and that's why I came up with the artwork idea for the album, which I don't know if you know this but it's a tarot card and it's the wheel of fortune. I read about that and what it means, no matter what life throws at you it's pretty much what you're supposed to be going through, it's your path in life, it's your fate so to speak. So reading that, coming up with the idea of writing these songs and having the band named Escape the Fate, I was like, dude all of this makes perfect sense. This is the easiest artwork I've had to come up with. Easiest album title, these songs are coming together great, they mean a lot to me. Everything makes sense. Let's do it. So excited for this, I cannot wait for it to come out.
You co-directed the video for "Alive." Do you want to talk about that experience? Is that something that you see yourself doing more of?
I do see myself doing that more. I enjoy it a lot. I've always been a guy who likes coming up with the concepts of the video. Some of the videos we've done in the past that I actually wrote the concept for were the video for "Ungrateful," "Gorgeous Nightmare" and I think that's it as far as my involvement. I've always been fairly involved but I don't want to give myself too much credit for videos and I just had a few things here and there to say about it. The one's I was really mainly involved in as far as writing the entire treatment, which was "Ungrateful," and "Gorgeous Nightmare" and now this video for "Alive." So to actually be able to be behind the camera, talk about what shots you want to see, what shots you want to get. It was really enjoyable, especially if you are the person in the band and it's something that you want to portray. You obviously want to do something that you want to do, so I had the opportunity to do it. I had a lot of fun with it. I really want to do it more in the future, and hopefully I can. Hopefully people like this video and everyone on our team and behind the scenes likes the video so the next one pops up and I say I want to do it, it's an automatic green light.
I see a show in Poughkeepsie on Halloween. Looks like an amazing lineup. Have you started planning what you're going to do? Are you going to dress up?
We are. We were talking about possibly being Mortal Kombat characters for that show [laughs]. I'm not sure if that's going to actually happen, because every year I'm the guy that's always into Halloween. The past couple of years that we've had Halloween shows I end up at the Halloween shop two hours before stage time trying to buy last minute fake blood and s--t and then yelling at all the guys in the dressing room to put something on for Halloween. I don't know, everybody is just so happy that -- I think it's going to happen this time. Everyone is talking about going to the Halloween shop throughout the whole tour, making sure we find the right costumes and having a real fun and enjoyable time at that show. So, whoever is coming to that show, make sure you bring your cameras because you don't know what you're going to see once we step out onstage.
Do you have a favorite band costume? Yours or another band's?
I know a few years back we all did, and it's cliche, but we did KISS. We even came out with our intro was "Rock n Roll All Night" [laughs]. Everybody just gets more in the mood when stuff like that happens because it is something special that's only going to happen once a year on Halloween. I remember we were on tour with Chiodos years ago and they went up there and, I cannot remember the rest of the guys so you can't quote me on this but I know Craig, the singer, was up there dressed up as the Big Bad Wolf and I think the other guys were all pigs. I thought that was pretty funny, so I'm excited to see what everybody that's going to be on tour and playing a show. I'm excited to see what everybody does. I'd hope now that social media is so popular that we'll be seeing it on Instagram or online. You guys should do a feature! All the bands that play the Halloween show, what did they dress up as? You should do a feature and do all the links. I'd be interested in seeing that.
Our thanks to Escape the Fate's Craig Mabbitt for the interview. The band's 'Hate Me' album is due Oct. 30 and is currently available for pre-order via Amazon and iTunes. And you can catch Escape the Fate on tour at these stops.
Watch Escape the Fate's "Alive" Video