Being stuck in traffic in Los Angeles, on a rainy day no less, would piss off most anyone, but, even in the face of this annoyance, Craig Mabbitt, frontman for the metal band Escape the Fate, remains the definition of congeniality.
During the course of our conversation in anticipation of his band's performance tonight at the South Side Music Hall, Mabbit happily discussed Escape The Fate's most pop-friendly effort to date, its recently released self-titled album. The band's fourth collection of songs has stirred quite the debate among the band's core fan base for that change in direction.
But Mabbitt is certainly no newcomer to controversy. Ever since he replaced the band's original singer, Ronnie Radkie, back in 2007, Mabbitt has had to endure his share of criticism. And, through it all, the guy has maintained his cool.
Plus, for my money, the new record is by far the best thing the band has made. Escape The Fate's new flirtation with pop and dance elements helps the band overcome some lyrical shortcomings. And, in prepping for this current tour, Mabbitt was open to just about any question other than the band's fractured relations with its former lead singer.
Catch our whole conversation after the jump.
On the recently released, self-titled effort, there seems to be a lot of experimentation going on. Was it an intention of the band to go in some different directions?
Yes, it was intentional. We've been working on going some different ways for a while now. As soon as we finished the last record, we started throwing around different ideas. We recently met with our lawyer to sign some papers and that guy showed me some cool stuff on his phone. That guy is always introducing me to new stuff. We're excited to be pushing the envelope a little bit, not to be afraid of whether or not people will like it.
So you were not afraid of alienating old fans?
No, because I think that everything that happened with the band through the last record cycle, the member changes and us being rushed to go into the studio, and being rushed to put everything together and not thinking the record was going to do anything, we finally accepted the fact that if we love it and if we're confident in it and we're making ourselves happy, then people will follow no matter what it sounds like.
On several blogs associated with Escape the Fate, there are still fans complaining about [former singer] Ronnie Radkie not being in the band. Does that bother you?
No. It bothered me at first, but I could care less these days.
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Does the band still play songs off all three albums, including the debut that featured Rankie?
We play songs from all the albums. I think the only old song we play off the first album is "Situations," and everything else is from the other two.
Is the band still on good terms with Radkie?
You've never crossed paths with him or his new band [Falling in Reverse]?
What about the guys from your old band, Blessedthefall? Are you still friends with those guys?
Yes. I still get along with those dudes. I talk to them all the time, actually.
How hard was the decision to leave them and join Escape the Fate?
It wasn't too difficult. I kind of left them, took a little time off. When I came back, they didn't want me back in the band. I joined Escape the Fate, went into the studio and the rest is kind of history. I guess you could say that.
What different elements did you bring to Escape the Fate that they did not have previously?
I don't know what I brought. I kind of brought myself and I wasn't going to change what I wanted to do. I wasn't going to try and sound like anybody else. The guys liked that. I think I brought an element of saving grace, if you will. Escape the Fate had broken up. They decided to get back together if I would join. The band would not even exist anymore unless I joined.
The band's genre is often listed as post-hardcore or metalcore. What the hell do those two terms mean?
I have no idea, man. I have no idea who started these genres. Honestly, people put whatever they want and then they put "core" and then they call it a style of music. There is absolutely no sense to it.
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So, you guys just consider yourself a rock band?
Actually, we are pop, rock and metal. We try to put all of that in the music.
Do you listen to a lot of pop music?
Yes, I listed to everything. I just like music in general. There is definitely some Lady Gaga on my iPod. One of my favorite pieces of music is the Moonlight Sonata.
Whose idea was it to bring in some elements of dance music into the mix?
The band's goal was always to be the biggest band in rock. I think that's any band's goal. Back in the '70s and '80s, you would like a style of music and then you played that style of music. That's all you really knew. You did not have the resources to listen to many different kinds of music. But these days, people don't even buy CDs. There is so much crap being fed into kids' ears -- music that we grew up listening to. We shouldn't limit ourselves to just one thing if we grew up listening to so many types of music. We are going to be a mixture of everything. We can fuse it all into one thing, and that one thing is called Escape the Fate. There are just so many bands that are cookie cutter, that all sound the same. These bands never make it and their careers last for about a year and a half. I mean, it's sad really. We don't want to be that band. We don't want to limit ourselves.