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Escape The Fate’s Craig Mabbitt: “It Kind Of Felt Like We Lost [The] Magic Of Writing Music…”

Lizzie Cooper-Smith
Lizzie Cooper-Smith 19 January 2018 at 17.30

Here's everything you need to know about new album 'I Am Human'.

YOU’VE SPOKEN RECENTLY ABOUT REDISCOVERING AND REDEFINING ESCAPE THE FATE’S IDENTITY ON YOUR NEW ALBUM, ‘I AM HUMAN’. WHAT DROVE THAT DECISION?
Says Craig Mabbitt (vocals):I think what drove that decision is just having a lot of time to ourselves, going to different places that we had never been. We kind of forgot what that experience felt like for a while. We kind of just got in this groove and this sort of, I don’t know, schedule, where we kind of all just did our own thing and did the tour, same thing every day. Going to places that we had never been to before really just lit a fire under us a little bit, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re still doing this, it’s been 10 years and we’re still out here, we’re still playing to new fans in places we’ve never been to before and we’re so grateful’. It kind of made us all go into our back catalogue and listen to all of our old stuff."

"It made us realise, ‘What are we doing in the studio writing this song? What are we doing in the studio writing that song? What happened to us just sitting around with an acoustic guitar and just writing stuff that we like?’ And so that’s kind of what we did. It didn’t feel like it was a job job, but it definitely felt like “Okay, here we go, we’re going in the studio, we have to write this song, we have to write that song.” It kind of felt like we lost the lustre of the magic of writing music to begin with. It was like, there’s deadline here, there’s deadline there, we have to get this song finished so that we can do this video, radio needs this song, and we kind of lost sight of why we got into in the first place, and we kind of rediscovered that this time around. It was a great thing.”

WAS THERE A PARTICULAR MOMENT WHEN YOU REALISED YOU WEREN’T HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU WERE DOING PREVIOUSLY?

“I think there was just so much stuff going on with the band – which is kind of cliché to say because there’s always been stuff going on with this damn band! The last album was the first album that we had Thrasher (Kevin Gruft) playing and recording on, and so we already know each other, we’ve already written together but it was kind of like, ‘Okay, how do we write songs that are still Escape the Fate but have your own style in it?’ So it was kind of a learning curve. It was also our first time working with Howard Benson."

"So, working on a record again with the same people and also the same producer meant that initial ‘Hi, how are you, nice to meet you’ awkwardness wasn’t there. The first day in the studio we just got straight to work, and we had so much material already going into the studio this time around that it was a much easier process... but for some reason it took a lot longer this time around because we were just so adamant about liking everything that we were doing.”




DID YOU FEEL THAT YOU ALMOST NEEDED TO GIVE THE BAND A FRESH COAT OF PAINT?
"Yeah, I would agree with that, that’s a good way to put it. The funny thing is, do you know what influenced me a lot for this record? Damn Emo Nites. Have you seen those Emo Nites that are going on everywhere? I’ve had the privilege for the past year and a half DJing and attending and just guesting at these nights. And I’m like damn! You know I sit there and it’s almost like going to a movie. You kind of forget like, ‘Oh my god here’s another sequel’, or here’s another remade movie, or here’s another this, here’s another that, but then sometimes you see a movie that you’re like, ‘Why don’t they make movies like this anymore?’ You know you watch an old movie that you love and you’re like, ‘Why don’t they make movies like this anymore?’ Being at those nights, I got that sort of feeling with music. I’m like, ‘Man, why did we stop writing songs like this?’ Then I’d go on our iTunes and our Spotify – being a musician these days you have to look at all those things, it’s kind of impossible not to look at those things to kind of judge how things are going – so I go on there and I’m like… people still love our track ‘Ashley’ and people still love our track this, like why did we stop writing feelgood, poppy songs like this? Did we think we got too old to do it? We started questioning ourselves."

"Like, do you think New Found Glory gives a shit about playing ‘My Friends Over You’? Hell no they don’t! So we kind of went in the studio with that mindset too, it’s like, man I miss writing songs like this – this just makes me feel good. You want to put this on the radio in your car and just have a good time with your friends. We definitely weren’t scared this time around – it was, ‘Who cares what somebody thinks about this track or that track? Let’s just write what we like, if it feels good, if we’re banging our heads to it, we’re singing along within the first 30 seconds, then we need to be working on this song’."


YOUR LAST ALBUM WAS CALLED ‘HATE ME’, WHICH YOU’VE SAID BEFORE WAS BASED AROUND NEGATIVITY YOU’VE RECEIVED OVER THE YEARS. HOW DID IT FEEL TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THAT AND USE IT AS FUEL?
“It felt really good, I think it would feel really good for anybody. I think that our fans that have stuck with us over the course of a decade now could really feel that too, I think it was kind of a badge of honour for them as well. It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re going to hate on this band or you’re going to hate on me for still listening to this band’. I don’t know when that became the cool thing to do. I’ve seen people talk about that so much, I’ve talked to people at shows because I feel like our band… we’re in a very special place, we can tour with a lot of different people."

"For instance, in 2017, we toured with Hellyeah and Five Finger Death Punch, both our labelmates, but then we can also do Warped Tour. We get an opportunity to tour with these bands that generally draw an older crowd. I’ll talk to fans at those shows, and I don’t know why it’s such a common thing, like, ‘Ah man yeah, I miss you guys, I used to listen to you guys, I just kind of outgrew it’. And I’m like, ‘What the hell do you mean you outgrew it?! I haven’t outgrown it, I’m still out here making these songs!’ So it’s a very interesting thing, and I think the fans that have stuck around for this long really understood what we were saying and what we were talking about as well."




YOU ALL SEEM TO BE RE-ENERGISED AND MORE POSITIVE THAN YOU’VE BEEN FOR A WHILE...
"I think it’s because we finally at the end of the day feel like we all have the same end goal in mind. There’s really no hidden agendas. That’s very difficult, I’ve always been envious of groups that started when they were kids or started in high school or started in the garage and are still the same individuals on stage together today. That just gets rarer and rarer as time goes on, because a band’s a relationship like any relationship is, and if somebody has a different idea or goal in mind, you’re not going to agree at the end of the day. You’re going to end up butting heads and it’s just not going to work. And so that’s what’s kind of what happened to us, and what’s funny is that all the old members ended up wanting to go sing for bands, so I guess they all wanted to be singers. But I think at the end of the day we all understand each other’s roles in the group and we all want to achieve the same things, as opposite as we are as individuals, we all come together and love this band and we want the same things. We just want to play music and share it with the world."

YOU MUST FEEL YOU HAVE MUCH MORE OF A SENSE OF STABILITY NOW AS A BAND?
"Yeah, it definitely feels more stable. I don’t have that fear of turning up to the airport and somebody’s not there!"

DO YOU THINK THAT GIVES YOU MORE ROOM TO BE A BIT MORE ADVENTUROUS WITH YOUR MUSIC NOW?
"I think so. I think if there’s so much stuff going on, or so much turmoil going on in your business, which obviously the band would be my business, and there’s turmoil going on in your personal life, you spend most of your time trying to stay sane instead of spending your time actually being able to be creative. So my coping mechanism is, I’m a big video gamer, so if there’s too much random stuff going on and I’m not keeping myself busy, I’m just vegging out on a video game to just keep myself sane. But it feels really good that things have died down and there’s not that much drama anymore. We can actually focus our energy on the creative things, which is what we’re here to do."



YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN SO MANY DIFFERENT PROJECTS NOW AND HAVE BECOME A REAL VETERAN OF THE SCENE. HOW HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED FROM WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
"
I’d say it’s changed very drastically, and in a positive way too. I think that’s an important message for people to hear and to take away from is that every day that you’re alive is a new day to become a better person than you were the day before. And if anybody looks at the history of this band, there was a time when we were doing a music video for ‘10 Miles Wide’ where it was featured on the front of Playboy and it was a bunch of topless women in the video, and it was just hair metal, Mötley Crüe sort of stuff, and I could never imagine a band doing that today and it going over very well. And I can’t imagine that we’re that same band, that I was involved in something like that, maybe it has a lot to do with age and experience, or maybe it has something to do with me having a daughter that’s getting older. I’m not sure, but it’s been a long journey and we went from things like that to what we’re doing today and I think it’s beautiful."

YOU MUST HAVE DEVELOPED A LOT OF RESILIENCE OVER THE YEARS GIVEN THE HISTORY OF THE BAND?
"Oh yeah. There’s still people today that can be very judgmental, but that’s not going to change any time soon, with how people react to things, and everybody’s got an opinion, and the Internet being such a huge voice for people who might not feel like they have one. You’re able to hop online and have the biggest voice in the chat room, so to speak, but all you can do is just focus on yourself and better yourself, and that’s what people will end up flocking to and end up respecting."

Escape The Fate's new album 'I Am Human' is out February 16 via Better Noise.

They'll tour the UK later this month, with Palisades and Set To Stun. Those dates are:

JANUARY 

20 - GLASGOW Garage
21 - MANCHESTER Academy II
22 - BRISTOL Thekla

FEBRUARY

09 - LONDON Koko
10 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms

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