With one member fresh out of rehab for Oxy, and their former singer Ronnie Radke fresh out of prison for accessory to murder or some shit, the kids in Escape The Fate seem like pretty legit fuckups. I figured they were like most other bands who dress like Guns N Roses, doing their best to do cool, self-destructive shit to numb the pain of their dysfunctional upbringing and just because that’s the rock-n-roll thing to do. And maybe they are, I don’t know, because I was more interested in talking to vocalist Craig Mabbitt about a touchy subject that few others are willing to: being an imperfect, human Christian living the rock and roll lifestyle. As anybody who’s spent time hanging out with Rise/Solid State/etc bands knows, the goody two-shoes, teetotaller image that most project is totally fake- they bang groupies, get wasted and say the f-word just like everybody else in a band, but are rarely willing to publicly acknowledge it because they’re afraid their fans will abandon them if they know the truth. I was really stoked that Craig, a veteran of the breakdowns4christ band Blessthefall, was the first person I’ve encountered who would talk about this phenomenon openly.
Also, check out their new album. I don’t know what it’s called or what label it’s on, but I downloaded it the other day and it’s pretty cool– sounds like a better version of late 90s industrial/hard rock ala Linkin Park, Orgy, Marilyn Manson, and Powerman 5000 (a style that’s long overdue for a revival IMO). (srs)
The debut single from the new ETF record is pretty sweet- the main riff is like if you took “Crazy Train” and rearranged the notes just enough so that you didn’t have to pay royalties on it, only if it was played by Crazy Town. Before you get too angry, remember that these kids were born in like 1988 so it’s entirely possibly they never listened to Ozzy (not sure if srs)
I guess the first thing I was wondering is, do you guys ever regret having one of those gay, generic “VERB the NOUN” names?
Yeah, I mean, look at our name: Escape The Fate, and my old band was Blessthefall! [laughs]
Oh, you were in Blessthefall?
Yeah, that’s my first band. I was just on the first record.
Well, you guys at least mixed it up a little by not putting a space in there, just making it all one word.
That’s why we did it. When we first named the band, we were like “Dude should make it all one word so it’s not the three word thing.” [laughs] We used to get so pissed when magazines or whatever would put the name as three words, we were like “Noooo!”
So was Blessthefall actually a Christian band, or just kind of in that scene?
Well, our manager at the time didn’t really want us to be labelled as a Christian band, because he thought we would be held back from certain opportunities, and that people would look closer at us, and judge us more harshly. I’m a Christian, and the influences I had at the time- and back then I was getting kicked out of my church for dating the pastor’s daughter [laughs]- all this stuff was happening, and I started thinking religion was a lie, and my outlet was this band that I joined. I was definitely writing a lot about religion, my relationship with God, and how I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore. Today I have my own relationship, and I haven’t been back to church since, but I know God is watching over me or whatever, and I think as long as you’re a good Christian no matter what your beliefs, you’ll go to a good place.
Baby needs an Escape The Fate onesie!
Sure– I mean, going to church doesn’t make you a good Christian, and you can still be a good Christian even if you never go to church.
That’s actually why me and the band had a falling out. They were being looked at and judged, I liked hanging out with the fans, and we broke up in Europe because I liked hanging out with fans and having drinks at the bar, because I was actually old enough to drink over there. They said I wasn’t Christian because I was drinking, and I was like “I don’t need anybody judging me, I have my own beliefs, but I don’t need to express them.” I feel like if you’re a good person, but you like to say fuck, and you’re hanging out with girls and having some drinks, that you can still go to heaven as long as you’re not worshipping another idol, or kill people. [laughs]
The Maine are perhaps the best example of supposedly-Christian, “closested party animal” bands (runner up: Forever The Sickest Kids’ singer Johnathan Cook). Must suck to be 24, in a huge band, surrounded by booze and underage groupies that you can’t eff without going to prison
I’ve interviewed a lot of bigger Christian bands who are kind of undercover party animals, but they’ll never talk to me about it. I think a lot of them start out really young, and they’re super gung-ho about being really vocal Christians, and as they get older they realize maybe there’s more to being Christian than they thought, and they start partying like anybody else in a band. But because they started out so gung-ho, they feel like they have to hide it, and they’re living this big lie. What would you say to someone who’s in that situation?
That’s exactly where I came from. People used to be like, “Looks like the little Christian boy ain’t that Christian anymore.” When I joined Escape The Fate, people assumed I wasn’t Christian anymore. When we toured with Underoath, Tim said “You guys might be cool people, I like you as people, but I just don’t like what you guys do, I think you play music for the wrong reasons.” That just kind of blew my mind, because isn’t playing music the reason?! You know?? So, there’s definitely people who are still like gung-ho and have those super strong beliefs, and they don’t like to party, and that’s awesome. But everyone has their own path in life, so if you find yourself partying or whatever, don’t think you’re a bad person.
The guys in ETF love to kick it with the fans
My friend [Johnny Franck] just quit Attack Attack!, and I just saw a video of him leaving the band because he felt like he was on the wrong path. I never really knew he was like that, but if that’s what he feels like he has to do, then more power to him. I just feel like, as long as you’re doing what you want to do, you can’t let anybody else define you.
If you’re gonna party, and someone going to say you’re not Christian because of that, don’t lie about it and be in the closet. Either don’t do it, and have that [squeaky clean] personality and get praise for not doing anything [like partying], or do what you want to do, have the same beliefs, and don’t let anyone give you shit for it as long as you’re a good person.
I believe in God, and I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong that’s going to keep me from going to heaven. And if someone doesn’t have the same beliefs as me, like if they’re Buddhist or something, as long as they’re a good person then I believe they’ll go there too.
Craig’s old band, Blessthefall (yes, I know he didn’t sing on this record). They’re one of the better mosh4christ bands, and one of Shawnyouwillhate‘s favorites despite that he’s a Jew- I applaud his open-minded, nondenominational perspective on breakdowns!
On that note, it seems like Escape The Fate party pretty hard. Was that a big change for you, coming from Blessthefall?
Actually, here’s what everybody doesn’t know: everybody thinks we’re like a huge party band, and when I joined that’s what I was expecting, so I was kind of excited, but actually nobody really parties. Robert has never really partied, just kind of keeps to himself. Monty is a super big health freak, he’s always trying to find a Whole Foods– although he kind of started to party with me on the last tour, which I was really happy about. Max parties, but his definition of “partying” is a little different. [Max is fresh out of rehab for Oxycontin addiction] My partying is, I’ll get fucking hammered, hang out with a bunch of people and do something stupid like teepee a house, or maybe pack the house and play beer pong or whatever, those are my kind of parties. Me and Max are really the only ones, and now maybe Monty– I haven’t seen too many people party as hard as he did on the last tour, that was pretty impressive.
A lot of people end up regretting their tattoos, but I’m sure we can all agree that this one has a deep, timeless message that she will appreciate for the rest of her life!
I feel like it would be really valuable for kids to hear from someone who’s honest about it.
Exactly. And trust me– there’s plenty of Christian bands who are supposedly goody two-shoes that have also partied on the Escape The Fate bus! [laughs] I just feel like them hanging out and doing stuff with us, and then lying to themselves, lying to the people around them, is worse than anything I’m doing. I feel like being out in the open is way more righteous than lying about your righteousness.
Totally. I would love to see someone say “Hey, I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect– here’s what I do, and if you want to judge me for it, so be it.”
That’s why I really respected John for what he did, like in the video he said “I don’t think I’m on the right path, I don’t like what I’ve been doing, and I wanna go home and fix my relationship with God.” That’s rad, I respect him for it, and I think everybody should respect him for it.