Sin City’s very own Escape The Fate have evolved from humble post-hardcore beginnings to mainstream friendly rock, and now to a more metal influenced sound with latest album, ‘Ungrateful’. The band is bringing back their catalogue to Soundwave 2015. Killyourstereo.com chatted with drummer and only original member, Robert Ortiz, about again being a part of the national touring festival.
I take it you’re feeling pretty excited about being back on Soundwave for the second time?
I’m feeling fucking fantastic about it! Straight up, it’s the best tour, best festival, best country to play in man. Our manager brought it up that maybe we shouldn’t do it so we can focus on the new record, and we just said “Fuck you! We’re gonna play this thing”. Not only haven’t we been there in a while, but we haven’t been there to play anything from ‘Ungrateful’ and we haven’t been back to play Soundwave, so I’m very excited about it!
With next year’s Soundwave being your third time back to Australia, tell me what your past experiences touring over here have been like?
Well I’m gonna tell you this: I loved both times equally. The Robert these days is a very chill guy, he likes to focus on the show, get some work done, and just chill the fuck out. Before that, I was what they called Robert ‘The Tank’, and a lot of those experiences I can’t remember. But it was fun and I’m excited. Australia was straight up the most fun I’ve had. As a musician, playing Soundwave was one of the highlights of my career, with playing alongside so many other great artists and just to play in front of those massive audiences. I’ll never forget walking onto those stages and just seeing oceans of people. We actually played an unreleased song at the time called ‘Bad Blood’, a fresh song that no one had really heard and people were so stoked about it. I mean, we all remember that! That’s how crazy it was! Being on that stage, with the band being that strong, the time was just unbelievable!”
With ‘Ungrateful’ being out for well over a year, will fans be able to see some of the older songs present in the set lists?
Of course man. We’re doing a festival tour in the States right now and we’re focusing on a lot of ‘Ungrateful’ but we have a couple of old ones. But when we head out your way, it’d be an injustice to the fans to not play some of their older favourites. We had a day off recently with this tour and we played a headline show, cause we don’t like to take days off. It was amazing to see the reactions for some of the older songs and the impact it had on people’s lives. It was so great to see the fans who have been around for several years who are adults now come back to your show. They wanna re-live their high school youth, and now there’s younger, 12 year old fans who are just getting into this music, so there’s a great mix in there now. I’ll definitely be pushing the rest of the band to play some older material, for sure.
How was the Bury The Hatchet tour with Falling In Reverse after patching things up with Ronnie? I know a lot of people were very excited to see something like that come about after all those years.
Honestly, that is such a fragile entity man. It’s a fragile group of people. Like when Thrice said on a song of theirs, it’s ‘Like hydrogen split on fault lines’ – at some point that shit is just going to explode. But it was an amazing experience though. It was something really special. I took a step back from focusing on the task at the end and put myself in the fan perspective and saying to myself, ‘Holy shit, you’re the guy playing drums to this moment right now’. I don’t know if we’ll ever do it again but it was special and I really enjoyed it. Hanging out with Ronnie was a really fun time too but it was also the success that ‘Dying is your Latest Fashion’ should have had. It never got its moment in the sun, even though it was such an impactful album, but we finally got to give it the tour that it deserved.
Taking a step back to last year, with the deluxe release of ‘Ungrateful’, a live set filmed at The Roxy Theater was included in it, are there any plans to release another live DVD or a compete doco in the future?
We’ve thrown around the idea, but I don’t know. There’s no immediate plan to do that. Right now it’s more about focusing on a new record and just shift gears and start back from the ground up again.
I’m sure you get this question a lot, but how does it feel to be the only remaining original member of the band?
Honestly, I do think about it from time to time. Like, a girl the other night, she came up to me and said that she’s a big fan of the band but a fan of me in particular and I’m like, ‘Why me? I’m just a mediocre drummer’. But she told me that she’s been there since the beginning and she’s been a fan since then and that I’m definitely a big part of her life. I’m very grateful for that. I don’t really look at it in any other way. To me, it’s about rolling with the punches. I just focus on the future as we’ve had such a historic past. Those older songs are very important to people and I understand that, but my perspective is that we’re still a band and which ever cast of characters are around me at that time, is where it will all go. Craig [Mabbit, vocals] and I have been at each other’s sides for eight years now. Ronnie and I, we were together for two years even though I grew up with the kid. So it is more of Craig’s band now, but I’m happy to be apart of it.
Did Escape The Fate’s future ever seem bleak or in doubt with a lot of the lineup changes over this year?
Again, I try not to focus on the lineup changes. But it did, for sure. Personally, I thought that the Bury The Hatchet tour was going to be our last. Afterwards, we just figured that let’s just keep it going. Let’s face it, Escape The Fate has never been a massive act. We’re not fucking AC/DC. You’re always a song or a hit away from truly transcending a genre, to truly shine. But we have never really hit that moment. We have a legion of fans who love us, who have been frustrated with us, and they’ll stick with us. If we give them something good, they’ll enjoy it. If we give them something that sucks, they’ll hate it and want us to make something that doesn’t suck [laughs].
That’s a good outlook to have on it man. I don’t think a lot of other people would want to see you guys go anytime soon.
Yeah, to me it’s just about keep trying at it. If it works it works, if it doesn’t, well…fuck! [laughs]. At this point, it’s not time to thrown in the towel.
Finally, can we expect that you’ll be rocking those signature aviator glasses when you’re down here?
Oh, of course man. I’m pretty excited to be playing on the same tour as Slash, and obviously I hear nearly every single day that I look like the guy, I’m not retarded. But when I got those sunnies, as you Australians sometimes call them, I was actually trying to look like Micheal Jacks0n. I saw them in a tribute show for him, and I said ‘I have to get a pair of those’, and I’ve been rocking them ever since. You probably wouldn’t recognise me if I wasn’t wearing them.
(laughs) Yeah, probably not man. Thanks for your time Robert, and hopefully I’ll catch you guys at Soundwave next year.
No problems man, I appreciate you taking the time too.
Escape the Fate play Soundwave 2015. Further information here.
‘Ungrateful’ is out now.