"When I revisit it now, I realise that we made the perfect album for right now before we even knew it"
Escape The Fate are preparing to release their new album 'Chemical Warfare' on April 16 via Better Noise Music.
Chock full of infectious hooks, arena-beckoning choruses and plenty of heavy turns, it's a very modern and meticulous collection of songs from a band that continues to reinvent and reinvigorate itself at every opportunity.
We caught up with vocalist Craig Mabbitt to talk about the album's creation and how his relationship with the songs and, ultimately, the band has developed over the course of the last couple of years...
What did this album look like at the very beginning of the process of making it? How did that adapt over time?
“It started a year prior to us going into the studio with Feldy. We started throwing some things together just between us. Thrasher [Kevin Gruft] came in with a bunch of demos, I came in with a bunch of demos, Robert [Ortiz] sent some ideas in, TJ [Bell] sent some ideas in. When we entered the studio on the first day, we just scrapped everything and started from scratch again. That first day was when we ended up writing ‘Invincible’. Going in and starting fresh was actually awesome because there was so much stuff going on in all of our lives throughout the previous yet that it was just nice to sit down and start again together.”
It’s one thing to completely scrap everything, but then to write a song such as rousing as ‘Invincible’ off the bat is another. It must almost cement that idea that you’re always better off together…
“You’ve always got to remember that there will always be that bummed out feeling when something you’ve worked on is put to the side for you to then work on something new. You can’t ever get married to an idea because the moment you do that you’re restricting yourself. You’ve stopped yourself from have the opportunity to come up with a great song as we did with ‘Invincible’.
“We finished the album pretty quickly because of that. We were in the studio every day for weeks, and every day we came in and we wrote a new song. Every new day was exciting because you were going in thinking, ‘Man, what are we going to write today’ because you were still buzzing off what you had created the day prior. And then it was over before we knew it.”
How did it feel have John Feldmann by your side in such a way once more to bounce those ideas off?
“For me personally, it felt like I was getting back to my roots. My first record with the band was ‘This War Is Ours’ and we did that with Feldy and we hadn’t had the opportunity to go back in with him and work on something front to back since then. So it felt like I was back home.”
So within making all of these songs, when did it become ‘Chemical Warfare’?
“So when we got to the end of the process, we knew we then had to sift through what would actually make it to the record. The ones that do end up making it are always the ones that are still stuck in your head. The actual song ‘Chemical Warfare’ actually came towards the end of the process and it’s a song that always resonated with me due to it being so strongly about my addiction and my struggles. This album was the first album in my career that I didn’t finish tracking vocals and then hop on my phone to try and find the closest bar. I was staying at the studio and focusing on the music. That’s where ‘Chemical Warfare’ came from and what it means to me lyrically. We decided from there that was what we should name the album as well. From there everything else just came together naturally. Everybody was on the same page.”
To have a song such as that to represent so much for you, and for it to then represent the whole album, is really powerful…
“It definitely felt different within the process. It spoke to me and it felt positive and I was excited about it. Though after we finished the album and then went on tour, that’s when COVID happened. I must say that I fell off the wagon, so to speak, on the tour and when I got home. Though I made sure that I focused on it and the songs that we had put together on the album really helped me to find myself again. When the album drops, I’ll be a little over a year sober. In that way, it represents a beautiful chapter of my life and a beautiful chapter within the band’s career.”
How has your perception of the album, if at all, shifted over the course of the time you’ve been waiting to release it?
“I would say that the songs make even more sense to me now after everything that has happened over the past year. I would compare it to how ‘This War Is Ours’ felt when we went out on the ten year anniversary tour. Me and Robert would sit in the green room and say, ‘It’s so weird how these songs are speaking to us more now than they did when we were making the album’. That’s how I feel about ‘Chemical Warfare’. When I revisit it now, I realise that we made the perfect album for right now before we even knew it.”
With Lindsey Stirling being on ‘Invincible’ and Travis Barker being on ‘Not My Problem’, how does it feel having such different creative forces be a part of songs that mean so much to you?
“So Robert is a big fan of Lindsey and we actually tried to get her on the last album and the timing just didn’t work out. So this time around we sent her a few tracks and she was really into ‘Invincible’. She just came in and laid it down and it turned out better than we thought. We played Travis a few tracks as well and he said he was down. When Travis Barker says he wants to play drums on your song you let him play drums on your song. Working with these people has made up remember that we’re a band and we’re still here after all of these years. You can get in your own head sometimes, but when you have these arena-touring artists that are into you and want to play on your songs, it feels good.”
So what does it mean to you to have Escape The Fate be such a huge part of your life right now in comparison to how you felt during previous album cycles?
“It feels different in a way where I feel like I just appreciate it more now. When you’re going through rough patches it’s easy to point the finger at everything else except for yourself. Now with where I am today, I appreciate all of those hardships. If you don’t make those mistakes and go through those rough times, you can change. I wouldn’t trade that for the world because of where I am in my life right now, both mentally and within the band. I’m at a point where I can look forwards.
“The beautiful thing about music is that it reminds you that you’re not alone. As an artist, you’re putting yourself into your music through the songs and the lyrics and you might not know it at the time but you’re not just helping yourself get through something but you’re also helping someone else too. I’ve experienced it just by talking to people about our past records. People can see and hear what you’re going through and they can see that you’ve made it out. That power can then inspire them to do it as well.”