Back in 2006, Ronnie Radke was on top of the world. He was the lead singer of Escape the Fate, a post-hardcore band that had just released its debut album, Dying Is Your Latest Fashion. A fateful turn of events in Las Vegas led to Radke being charged with battery, and his refusal to report to his parole officer, along with a lengthy history with illegal narcotics, resulted in a two-year prison stint.
While in prison, Radke began forming a new band, making contacts with various musicians on the outside. Falling in Reverse, released their debut album, The Drug In Me Is You, last year on Epitaph Records.
Speaking from El Paso during a day off from tour, Radke talked about coming to grips with getting kicked out of Escape the Fate and the joy of a good burger after getting out of prison.
Is The Drug In Me Is You a musical autobiography? I would say for sure, yeah. I wrote all of the songs in jail. I wrote about my past, present and future.
Do you have a back stock of songs from your time in prison? Yes, I have a lot more songs.They will be on the next record. We will start recording that at the end of this year.
Does any movie or television show get close to the reality of prison? Well, maybe the reality shows like Lockup. But a lot of stuff is fabricated. In there, it's serious.There were some dangerous times in there. I was in there two-and-a-half years.
Were there times where you thought your life was in danger? Yes, of course. I had to defend myself a couple of times.
The new album sold 18,000 units in one week. Did that make it a pleasant return to music? I was so relieved. I could not believe it. I was so stoked when the album sold so well. It was amazing.
The video for "I'm Not a Vampire" got a million views in three days on YouTube. The video was on the cover of YouTube. All of our videos have gotten a lot of views. It is amazing.
Are you on your third bassist? No, there have only been two. Actually, I would say there has only been one, as the first guy [Nason Schoeffler] couldn't really play. He was more like a friend who lied about playing bass. I don't know why. I was in jail and he told me he could play. Then I got out and found out that he couldn't, so I had to find another bass player.
There have been seven ex-members of your band. Are you difficult to work with? No, I'm not. It's just that I was in prison and all these people were saying that they were part of the band. I didn't have any control over it. When I got out, things changed. It was my fucking band and those people couldn't say anything anymore. I was out. While I was in prison, I had no control over that. I couldn't do anything. A lot of people were speaking for me.
What's the first thing you did when you got out of prison? I went to Jack in the Box. I got a burger. And it tasted really good, too.
How soon did you get back to music? Immediately. It was a month after I got out that I got into a recording studio.
To produce the album, you chose Michael Baskette, the same guy who produced the first Escape the Fate record. He is a friend that I've known for a very long time and we had a special chemistry.
Do you ever have any contact with any of your former bandmates in Escape the Fate? No, I cut all ties with them. It's all bad feelings. There's not really any original band members in that band anymore. All of the original members left and it's all new members. I don't know why they are still playing under that name anymore. Clearly, there is not one original member left in that band.
Do you still perform the songs from the first Escape the Fate album? Yes, I do a few of those songs every night.
And didn't you go online and chastise people for making fun of Craig Mabbitt, the guy who replaced you? Yeah, but then after I did that, he said thanks and then went online and bashed me. I got tired of trying to be the nice guy.
What is your advice for younger people who might want to form bands? Stay away from those who would hang around you and drink and do drugs. Drugs are not the answer, because you have to remain focused. There is a lot to be had within music, but you have to stay focused. You don't have to live the partying lifestyle. No one should do drugs thinking that they will make a great record. That's not the way to go, for sure.
Are you completely clean? Yes, I don't do anything. I don't even smoke cigarettes. I run the rules on the tour and there's a lot of stuff that isn't allowed on the bus.