July 29, 2013 Interview: Robert Ortiz of Escape The Fate – The story of a band on a mission
Escape The Fate are a band which has traveled a long hard road. The band weathered the change of original vocalist Ronnie Radke leaving in 2008. With a new vocalist in Craig Mabbit the guys released their 3rd full length album self-titled Escape The Fate in 2010. Off the success of the record the band found themselves on North America’s premiere hard rock festival Uproar in 2011. One would think all was right in the world of Escape The Fate but sometimes things are not that easy. Struggling to find their identity original guitarist Bryan “Monte” Money and drummer Robert Ortiz were determined to find the right formula to keep Escape The Fate going. At the edge and ready to give up the band pulled together and earlier this year released possibly their strongest album to date Ungrateful. Recently we sat down with drummer Robert Ortiz to talk about the story of Escape The Fate, their past, present and launching themselves into the future.
Crypticrock.com- Escape The Fate has gone through a few changes since your debut album Dying Is Your Latest Fashion (2006). Tell me what inspired you to alternate the band’s approach to writing?
Robert Ortiz- Well, we had to (laughs). There was no other way. When we started out it was a lot more of being like a garage band jamming and rocking out. We progressed and there is no formula for our writing. Our approach right now is everybody brings their ideas. Monte is at the forefront of everything. He’s always thinking ahead and making riffs. We go from there and we do a lot of experimenting. Craig’s been with us for a very long time. Monte and Craig are the many guys who do the writing. Not much has changed since Craig came into the picture 7 years ago.
Crypticrock.com- Now yourself and Monte are the band’s only original members since your inception in 2004, how difficult was it for the band to change members and especially vocalists?
Robert Ortiz- That was a long time ago but it did suck at that particular time. It was actually a lot easier than it would be now because at that point we really didn’t have anything to lose. I quit, Monte quit and I went back and started working a job. We just said fuck that, he’s not the only person in the band so if the rest of us want to keep going we’ll keep going and that’s what we did. We brought in Craig and at first it wasn’t an immediate click, it was different. We were still kind of in the grieving process of everything that was going on at that time. We were still dealing with the whole mess of everything and we weren’t ready emotionally to commit to this new guy who had a new way of listening to music and approaching it. It was hard at first but we kept rolling with the punches, eventually it became like a band, playing good music, and became fun.
Crypticrock.com- Do you feel after all the changes and now that the dust has settled that Escape The Fate has found chemistry and stability with this line-up?
Robert Ortiz- No (laughs). It’s not stable at all. Monte is a crazy person, who knows whose next. It’s never stable man, it’s a rock band. That’s why rock bands hardly ever last and the few that do are headlining festivals in Europe. Everyone has different personalities and not everyone is at the same place in their life. That is why when a rock record happens it’s a special thing because it’s like planets are aligning and things have to happen for a record and sound to work. The difference with us is we just continue to persevere. I’m a crazy person myself. I’m insane because I keep doing this and expect myself to be happy. I’m never going to be happy doing this because it’s hard work and stressful, but the end goal is there and that’s why we keep going. That’s why we do this is to play rock music for a lot of people.
Crypticrock.com- With the change in sound and style do find that fans of the band’s first sound turn their back on the band now or are they open to the change?
Robert Ortiz- I don’t know. I feel like at this point Escape The Fate has had 3 different eras now. The first one, those fans sort of came along for the ride into the 2nd era. They looked at the beginning of the band as all one in the same. With our old singer out doing his own thing they kind of differentiate it. It’s this weird thing our fans love to hate us. Years later I think the fans say just fuck it, it’s good music so we’re going to listen it. That is why our focus right now is on what we are doing right now. Let’s face it we’ve never written a fucking hit. So why keep on focusing on trying to please our old fans when my goal is ultimately to try and make a song that pleases everybody, while not worry about pleasing anybody (laugh). That is how I feel, I feel we just keep going. Some fans come along for the ride, some fans have turned their back. Some fans with this record in particular who turned their back on us in the past turned back around and like us again. That’s really amazing because that means we did something right for this record and that’s something I’m really proud of.
Crypticrock.com- The band’s newest album Ungrateful was released in May. It’s possibly the band’s strongest albums to date. What was the writing and recording process for this album?
Robert Ortiz- Fucking hell man (laughs). At the end of the last record I officially kicked out my bass player because he’s a drug addict. I just saw him the other day for the first time since then which is nearly 2 years now. I had a good sit down with him and had closure on the whole experience. When we started this record I recently had just said to him your fucking done man, I love you but you have to go, you’re going to fucking die. It wasn’t like I hated him or anything it was just he was going to fucking die and needed to get off drugs. I had to deal with all this drama. At that point Monte, which is the band’s main song writer, said he had enough of it. He said he didn’t even want to tour anymore, he was over it. We were doing the Uproar tour, the biggest tour of our career. We played with my favorite band Avenged Sevenfold, it was a dream tour for me. Monte wasn’t on it, my fucking right hand man is not there. I had to kick Max out basically half way through the tour. I felt like shit my band is done, I thought my band was broken up. I thought that was it, I have to find another gig or another job. We had to pull everything together for this record. We had to really ask ourselves is this what we want to do? Do we really want to play music? Is this what we want to do with our lives? Because if we do we need each other. That is what we did, we got back together and we went through hell.
We went in the studio with John Feldmann and did these songs and they were clicking and sounded great. Everything was sounding good but not what we wanted it to be. It was like we had to search for who we were again and we had to look for what exactly we wanted to do. We didn’t know if we wanted to play heavier shit or focus more on the pop stuff. We started jamming again and had every approach. At the end of it we scrapped about half the record we did with Feldmann and kept the best songs we did from there and made a whole new set of songs. No fucking gimmicks, no bullshit, no frills, no fancy producing. We just made songs that mattered to us. That is why the new album is a lot stronger, it’s our hardest album, cohesive and sounds like one band. We went through different producers and a year and a half of stress and hell. To have and hear the new record is awesome and I enjoy playing it every night. We are excited, we fight over which songs we play every night.
Crypticrock.com- That is cool man it sounds like a hard road but it paid off because you came out with a great album. You are currently on tour with Hollywood Undead and 3 Pill Morning. That is an interesting mix of bands. How is the tour going?
Robert Ortiz- It’s been pretty good. The fans have responded. It feels like our first tour again. I’ve noticed the fans that stand there and nodded their heads by the end their in a mosh pit and it’s madness by the last song. It feels like we’re winning fans over. Hollywood Undead are our friends but they are a lot different than us. It’s a weird blend but sometimes the fans get us and sometimes they don’t. That’s a problem we’ve always faced, finding a niche and finding somewhere we really belong. It’s almost as if we belong everywhere but don’t exactly belong somewhere. The shows have been good and I’m having fun. I can’t wait to continue the tour.
Crypticrock.com- It’s a good mix of bands and they are all different. You mentioned the Uproar festival in 2011. When you look back on that tour now do you feel it opened a lot of doors for the band in terms of a broader audience?
Robert Ortiz- Yes and no because I was trying to keep my band together. It was an opportunity blow per say. We kind of came out of the warped tour scene so that’s always been our home base. That is where our fans gravitate toward us. Then doing something like Uproar festival, 1 1/2 -2 years later I’m talking to fans that found us on radio and on the Uproar festival. It helps, like I said we try to fit in everywhere and not try to fit in anything at the same time.
Crypticrock.com- It’s difficult to fit in a genre. Now being on the road and touring has to be weighing on your mind and body. What has the band learned over the years on how to approach touring and how to keep yourselves healthy?
Robert Ortiz- For me personally I’m a gym rat. I notice when you meet people on tour there are two kinds of people, the guys who go to the gym and the guys who go to the bars. I used to be the guy who went to the bar, I’d try to go to the gym but I’d always end up at the bar (laughs). It weighs on you man. Right now trying to live a healthy life style is still unhealthy because you don’t sleep good, your hours are all shot and it’s hard to find good food. Little things like that just go a long way to create havoc on your body. If you do it for a week and rest it’s cool but if you do it for months on end your body just wears on you. I try my hardest to stay healthy, I go to the gym and try to eat well. The best thing I’ve learned though is not to stress too much about it because you’ll drive yourself crazy. Just have fun, do what you can and enjoy the ride because it will just drive you insane if you try and live a normal life on the road. The best thing to do is kind of accept it and do the best you can to keep in normal.
CrypticRock.com- That has to be very tough. We talked about some bands earlier. I’d like to know what some of your musical influences are?
Robert Ortiz- I listen to everything. I grew up on the classic metal bands. The big four of thrash metal, Metallica and Slayer. That’s my bread and butter. Gun N Roses, all kinds of rock and metal. Lately as we’ve progressed we listen to so much stuff like top 40, country and all this weird shit that somehow finds its way into our music. I guess we take melody from top 40. I also like Mexican music. I like everything.
CrypticRock.com- It’s very good to be open and not box yourself in. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Robert Ortiz- I am all about zombies man. I have all of George A Romero’s movies. I have every version of the VHS and DVDs. All of them, Night of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead, Land Of The Dead. I used to collect so many of them, mostly zombie films. I actually like Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, I thought that was just brutal. Zombie movies are where I go to though.