The second part of our long discussion with Falling In Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke.
In recent days Falling In Reverse have been adding European tour dates and further teasing the possibility of a debut UK show. With all the internet clamour surrounding their plans it seemed like a good time to revisit the piece we wrote last summer when Editor Ryan Bird flew to Los Angeles to spend a day at home with Ronnie Radke.
Read part one of the piece right here and scroll down for the second leg of our interview.
Does moving forward become more difficult when so many people refuse to look anywhere other than back?
“It really does, but that is the burden that I have to carry because of mistakes that I made. I was never a stable person and I made mistakes, but I have to carry that until the time comes that people decide it's not such a big deal anymore. It can be difficult trying to become a better person when you're constantly scrutinised, however. Look at Justin Bieber – that kid has got more dislikes than he has likes on videos that have got nearly a billion views on YouTube. He's 19 years-old and he can't be a kid because he's not allowed, and I'm on his side because I understand. He can't walk out of his house and live like a regular teenager, because he can't go anywhere without having someone shove a camera in his face while saying vulgar things in order to get a better, more emotional shot, because it makes them more money if they get that reaction. He becomes the bad guy because he reacts like any fucking 19 year old kid would in that situation, and ultimately it's just another example of the media twisting things for their own good. The media can be a very manipulative thing, and that's something I'm still trying to learn. I need to learn those same lessons.”
Does your scrutiny follow you into the streets? Obviously it's there to be seen online, but does it follow you into the real world?
“I get recognised every single day, but I'm getting better at keeping it to a minimum because I'm starting to go to places that are full of people who aren't going to know who I am. I've learned some pretty helpful lessons in terms of where not to go over the last few months; particularly the mall. Good Lord, do not go to the mall! That is an accident waiting to happen. The funny thing is, though, that I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that not once has anybody ever come up to me and said anything negative. Not. Once. It's so weird to me, because so many people say bad things that surely I must've crossed paths with them, just once. Surely one of those people somewhere has seen me and had the opportunity to say the things that they say on the internet to my face. I guess that maybe those are the same kids who ask for autographs.”
You mentioned that bands as well as the public seem keen to get in on the insults. Surely at least one of them has confronted you in some way?
“Again, not one of them has ever said anything to my face, and believe me they've had the chance. There's a band who are on Warped Tour right now who were talking a lot of shit about me online, but when I saw them face to face a while back not one of them had anything to say for themselves. There was a whole band of people standing in front of just me – no friends, no band mates, nothing – and not a single one of them had anything to say. That's what I think Twitter does – it turns you into a superhuman warrior. Why can't you say that to my face? Why can't people say what they really feel? I guess that people don't have the balls, or maybe they simply don't know the truth. Maybe they would know if they would just ask first.”
That said, there are things you've done that have been wrong, and you have made mistakes. Are there any particular instances you'd like to bring up of your own accord?
“I think the main thing that I do regret is the incident involving the microphone stand, and I apologise profusely for that. I went to jail for that, dude. I got treated like a criminal who intentionally tried to injure little kids, but that's not my thing and you can bet that I'll never do it again. I couldn't even apologise publicly because my lawyers advised me that I couldn't as it was now a legal issue that needed to be resolved – I wanted to apologise and I couldn't. It was a stupid move on my part, but the unfortunate thing is that it happened and somebody was very unlucky in terms of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was no intent. I mean, how many bands do you see who throw shit into the crowd, right down to a drum stick, and nothing happens? Have you ever been to a Dillinger Escape Plan show? Holy crap – that shit is intense! Things happen in the heat of the moment when the adrenaline is pumping, but I learned that there are consequences to those actions.”
One thing that a lot of people don't know or consider is that you do a lot of work with charities, particularly involving children with terminal illness. Does it frustrate you that those things never get mentioned?
“I don't want people to know about that stuff – why would I want people to think that I'm a good person?! It's just one of those things, man. People will see and hear what they want and leave the rest, but the kids who are terminal are closest to my heart. I don't cry – ever – but aside from the birth of my child the only thing that ever brings me to tears are those kids who aren't going to live to see adulthood. Just last night I played a show and I brought a girl with cystic fibrosis up onstage to sing a song with me, and things like that are what warm my heart. Those are the things that can change lives, not only in the case of the children but in the case of everybody around them. That's all that I care about, because the meaning of life is happiness. If you're a child and you're about to die, and I can make you happier than you've ever been in your life, then you better believe that I'm going to try my hardest to do that. Throughout all of the bullshit, that's my main goal.”
Would it be fair to say that despite your frustrations regarding certain aspects of your life, you're not somebody who is looking for sympathy?
“I don't want sympathy from anybody – I don't need sympathy from anybody. When it comes to the situation with the mic stands then I have regret and I wish that people knew the full facts before judging me, but as for everything else out there? Fuck 'em. Make up lies about me all you want, judge me and talk shit on me all you want – you're just making me more famous. I don't want sympathy from anybody. I just want people to understand and to get their facts straight.”
You're actually a pretty cocksure guy at heart. How much of that is legitimate and how much of it is typical showmanship swagger?
“A lot of really big, famous singers tend to suffer from having a very low self-esteem and a really big ego. When you insult those people and throw rocks at them, they don't hit the ego, because the ego is too high, but you can bet your ass that they hit their self-esteem which is much lower down. You only have to look at a song like 'Alone' to see that the same principle applies to me, because in the verses I'll talk about how much better I am than somebody, but then in the chorus I'm crying out because I don't want to be on my own. There's a crippling insecurity mixed with this belief that I'm the best, and I think it definitely explains who I am as a person better than anything else ever could. That's why I go to therapy, because I'm trying to learn to balance that out a little bit better, but I think there's certainly a very real confidence underneath it all and I think that's what makes me a great frontman. My confidence is both my biggest downfall and my greatest achievement, and although it's what makes me my money it also creates constant turmoil.”
You're certainly not shy when it comes to bragging about your finances, nor are you averse to wearing expensive clothes. Just how well do you do?
“Erm... well, I just bought a second car and a bigger house, so... I'm doing okay. The thing that people need to remember is that I sing about all of the money and the stuff that I have because I don't do drugs anymore. I can't sing about my drug problems and all that shit because I don't have any, so all that I can do is sing about what I happen to have instead. Why do you think that rappers rap about money and champagne and women? It's because that's what they see every day, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. I wrote 'Champion' for the new record because I've overcome every obstacle that I've ever faced, so I do feel like a champion in that regard, but I also wrote 'Born To Lead' as a way of trying to lift up others. Am I a little cocky at times? Sure, but I'm also someone who wants to be a positive in other people's lives. I'm just as interested in telling other people that they can have what I have as I am letting people know that I have it.”
Is part of the reason for your willingness to discuss what you have due to the fact that for much of your life you had very little? Are those songs a reminder to yourself as much as anyone?
“That is absolutely part of it – 100 per cent. I used to write a lot of songs about tragedy because tragedy was all that I knew, so maybe I don't want to do that anymore if I don't have to. Maybe if I'm happy I'm allowed to speak about that, and maybe it feels good to be able to do that. I've already written the record that you listen to on your way to a funeral – now I've written the album that you listen to on the way to a party. I think it's about time that people stopped taking things so seriously and learned to have a little fun.”
You appear to have gone through a lot of emotional changes in recent times. What have been some of the biggest?
“I think the main thing that's changed about me recently is that I'm not interested in making people think that I'm crazy anymore. I used to constantly feel the need to make people think that I was this larger-than-life character who was always wacky, but that's all gone now, and I think a lot of that has been to do with becoming a father. Even in the last week or two since my daughter was born I've noticed a huge difference in myself. The second that I saw her arrive into the world my whole perspective on everything changed – it was like being reborn. I spent a lot of my life being a womaniser and loving multiple women, and that was because I never had a common respect for them. I never learned how to respect a woman because I never had a mother, and until fairly recently I never had a stable woman in my life, so seeing my baby girl coming out of my fiancee was a big thing for me. It was like everything that I'd been looking for revealed itself in a single moment, to the point where the doctors made me sit down to hold her because I was shaking and crying so hard. It was like breathing for the very first time, and I can't even explain what that was like. It's changed my life in a way that I never thought possible.”
Do you see fatherhood as a chance to set some things right in terms of your own upbringing? Is this a chance for you to right a few wrongs that were bestowed upon you?
“When I first saw my daughter it was a real eye-opener, particularly in terms of trying to understand how my mother could have left me and pushed me away. I will do whatever it takes in order to be there, which is the reason I'm not on Warped Tour this summer, no matter what bullshit reasons people want to put forward for that. I'm also not on drugs – my mother was – but even if that were the case I don't see any way that becoming a father wouldn't have fixed me somehow. I will never be like that and I will always be there, no matter what.”
Do you have any fears about taking a child under your wing and bringing them into the world given your own relationship with certain sections of society? Do you worry about them having to deal with the things that people level at you?
“I would walk away from everything if it continued. If as my daughter got older my reputation or people's reactions to me affected her then I would walk away from absolutely everything in my life necessary to provide her with happiness and stability. I would give up everything that I own in order for it not to affect her, because I know how it feels. I know what it's like to be in that position and it's not fair, but I'm confident that as the people who scrutinise me get older that they'll grow up. I think that things will change. If they don't then I'm quite willing to leave it all behind.”
Do you feel you still have lessons to learn? Are you still searching for certain things?
“I'm still trying to learn how to deal with anger when it comes to immediacy and impulse. If somebody says something to me then I want to learn how to take a deep breath, think about it in my mind and respond accordingly. If you react in an instant then you don't always make the right decisions, so that's the main thing that I'm focusing on right now. I'm doing what I can and I hope that I can continue working towards that.”
What one thing do you hope that people can take away from this interview?
“I suppose that ultimately I just want people to know that, although I sing about being egotistical and I come across as a little arrogant in my songs, I don't live that life outside of my music. I don't treat my friends that way, I don't treat my fans that way, and I certainly don't take that approach outside of my songs, no matter what certain people might think. It's like an alter-ego, but at the same time I can't control that, otherwise what's the point? You can't tell a superhero what he can and can't do because he's not going to listen, but that side of me isn't who I actually am in real life. I'm not this egotistical, tyrannical person that people like to claim I am, and hopefully people will realise that pretty soon. I'm just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary life. I think people will see that.”