Why Escape the Fate is Touring with Their Formerly Estranged Ex-Vocalist Ronnie Radke
Starting soon and continuing for a little more than a month, Escape the Fate will perform with Falling in Reverse, the band that features Ronnie Radke. Which is surprising, given that the singer was unceremoniously dumped from Escape the Fate back in 2008. Robert Ortiz, drummer for Escape the Fate, sounds pretty convincing as he explains the concept of his band's upcoming tour.
"I think what we are doing is possibly a first," Ortiz says. "It's a tour that I have wanted to do for a long time. I've wanted to play with Ronnie. I wanted to play those songs for the fans. It is a dream of mine. 2016 is the 10-year anniversary of our first album. I've had these ideas in my head how we would go about this. That's why I say we are making history."
This history is a long time coming after some bitter and acrimonious back-and-forth between Radke and his former bandmates over the past five years.
"It's all bad feelings," Radke said in an interview in 2012. "There are not really any original members in that band anymore. All of the original members left. I don't know why they are still playing under that name anymore."
According to Ortiz, the bad blood is behind all parties involved. All it took was a simple phone call.
"It came from Ronnie. He is the one who broke the ice," Ortiz says. "We had gotten everything off our chests. We had said the bad things we were going to say about him. We can't take those back. We have grown up and moved on."
Ortiz says Radke's animosity stems from not being able to properly vent due to a couple years spent in prison. The remaining members of Escape the Fate got their best shots in while Radke was doing time. Ortiz claims that Radke needed extra time to come to terms with being ousted from the band he helped form.
"There was years of pent-up aggression inside him," Ortiz says. "You got to look at it from his point of view. His old band got successful and no small part of that was the [debut] album that he was on. He was a major part of the success that we enjoyed. And he is sitting there watching it all go down. He was in prison and he was pissed. When he got out, we were over it. But he had two years of catching up to do. You're talking years of bad stuff."
Judging by remarks made in 2012 and others made later, Radke needed more than a couple of years to get over it. Even when Falling in Reverse were greeted with rapid success, Radke still sounded like he had an ax to grind. Ortiz says such is understandable.
"He formed a new band," he says. "He had this whole resurgence and he still had things to say, things to get off his chest."
Once Radke released his demons, he made the call. But surprisingly, he didn't call Ortiz.
"Ronnie called [his replacement] Craig [Mabbitt] and said, 'Let's fucking do this,'" Ortiz says. "He said we should do a tour together. He called us and said that he wanted us to know that he had done a lot of thinking and he wanted to let the animosity go." So the aptly named Bury the Hatchet Tour was booked to start in L.A. on January 15, make a quick trip across the United States and end back in California on Valentine's Day.
Ortiz believes both bands are hyped to prove they can coexist for a month.
"This is only going to be a month-long tour," Ortiz says. "Most tours go six to eight weeks. There's been talk about what could happen. It's in the back of my head. We're all big characters. Ronnie is a very big character. We're good. We're all grown up. We are all mature. We've already shed all those growing pains. Those hard feelings of resentment are now gone.
"We're all cool now, but we had a lot of trust issues to work out. It took a long time for the trust to be regained."
But even with those trust issues resolved, will Radke actually sing with Escape the Fate for the first time in six years? Ortiz is optimistically noncommittal.
"That's something people will have to come out and see for themselves," Ortiz says. "That's exactly the draw of the show. We can't give away exactly what is going to happen at the show, but you can guess what's going to happen."
Yet, even with his optimism, Ortiz still has concerns.
"There are still things that we talk about that could be awkward," the drummer says. "I am not worried about anything happening during the tour. There are some issues to work out. I am not going to hide everything. There are some issues to work out, but everyone has to put their guard and their egos down and make things happen for the fans. This is therapeutic for us as well so that we can move on. We can be around each other and not have people wondering if something bad is going to happen."
But even with the excitement of burying the hatchet with Radke, Escape the Fate have had other issues to deal with. Guitarists Monte and Michael Money recently left the band and there have been issues with record labels as well. Ortiz acknowledges the impact these issues have had on the band.
"The changes affect us immensely, but every band has struggles," Ortiz says. "But the difference with this band is that we keep on trying. It was hard losing Monte and Michael. Monte wrote a good share of the music. It was difficult, but at some point you realize something isn't going to work and you have to move on."
Probably the best part of moving on is the return of founding member and bassist Max Green.
"It's really exciting to have Max back," Ortiz says. "It's awesome. He's sober. He still has fun. He is still Max. He's just not on a collision course with life. His energy onstage is incredible. He's better now than he ever was. The lineup now communicates so well. We all have great ideas and great vision. We are all in it together. You got to let your ego down a bit. You have to worry about the tour. We are all focused and driven together. It is exciting to showcase that."
Despite the problems with personnel and labels, Ortiz sounds downright giddy. His friend and former lead singer, Ronnie Radke, is to an extent back on board and the animosity that clouded a half decade of work is finally clearing up.
"It's not a competition anymore," Ortiz says. "It's not Ronnie versus Craig. Fans can now enjoy every aspect of the band. You don't have to choose. It's great. I was in a band with Ronnie for a reason. He is an incredible singer and an incredible lyricist. The whole point of this tour is getting rid of our old demons."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.