I made my way to the Best Buy Theater in New York City early because it was a Saturday and it is situated in my least favourite part of New York City... Times Square. When I finally managed to get from Bryant Park to the venue I had about five minutes to spare before my scheduled interview with Craig Mabbitt, lead singer of Escape The Fate, a band that has had a rocky past few years with all sorts of shake-ups including being dropped from their major label Interscope and more recently losing members of their band right before they started their current tour. This is a past that Escape the Fate are determined to shake off however, plowing forward stronger than ever before offering fans what seems like a new sense of identity, strength and camaraderie.
My interview was scheduled to take place in the bandís dressing room but with delays in getting my passes and security having all sorts of delays with letting the press down to the dressing room area it was all running behind. I was the first person scheduled to talk to Craig Mabbitt tonight and as such we actually conducted this interview while walking and talking for the most part, which actually made for a really unique interview that not only discusses the bandís new album and the current lineup changes but also focuses more on being a "getting to know" Craig Mabbitt chat where we discuss tattoo artists, Disney songs, Breaking Bad, Alexisonfire and the US government shutdown amongst other things!
Not your usual run-of-the-mill interview, this is me and Craig Mabbitt, walking, talking and shooting the shit for 15 minutes.
Craig Mabbitt: Wow man, those are some killer shoes!
AltSounds: Thanks man, much appreciated. Youíre gonna have to bear with me because Iím still feeling rough and hungover after last nightís shenanigans.
Craig Mabbitt: You and me both!
AltSounds: Well weíve prepared a ton of questions here. I wanna know about the current state of the band and your latest album etc. but I also hope to find out more about you as a person and what youíre into.
Craig Mabbitt: Letís do it!
AltSounds: Cool! Well you guys just released your fourth studio album ďUngratefulĒ in May, whatís the fan reception to it been like?
Craig Mabbitt: The fan reception had been awesome! Completely amazing. Iím glad we went a little harder with this one because, now that the fans are reacting well we can go harder and harder and harder!
AltSounds: Nice! That was actually one of my other questions. What sparked that heavier side of you to come out?
Craig Mabbitt: Well I mean I came from a heavier band and kept hearing their records, and just the genre of music that I enjoy is just heavier. So I love doing the Rock Ďn Roll thing but I like doing the heavy thing as well. So far, every record has had that one heavy song and the rest has been a little more poppy. So I want an album of true rock and heavy.
AltSounds: A whole album of heavy and one poppier track instead right? Reverse the roles a bit!
Craig Mabbitt: Exactly!
AltSounds: So whatís the story behind the album name?
Craig Mabbitt: Itís actually a funny story, our guitar player wanted to call it ďUngratefulĒ because he was ungrateful about cancelling tours on us, cancelling signings, not wanting to do photo shoots, not wanting to meet fans, just all that stuff. Heís like ďYou know what? Iíve been really ungrateful and Iím really proud of this record, letís name it ďUngratefulĒ and weíll have a good tour cycle, and a good record cycle off of this.Ē We were trying to tour in something other than a tour bus to save money on this one and so he said he wasnít going to do the tour [laughs]. So now heís not even with the band anymore. So thatís a poignant name!
AltSounds: For me, I think itís awesome that you guys still did the tour because I know the announcement was made fairly close to it. How did you guys pull it off?
Craig Mabbitt: Well we toured in a minivan for the first week. We had a guitar tech that was hired and he played at first for us and Monteís like ďYeah Iím gonna sit him down and teach him the songs,Ē but our guitar tech shows up and he doesnít even know the song that we end the set with! So we couldnít even play that song for like the first week on the road. So we canít even play our set list!
AltSounds: So are you guys learning now whilst being on the road?!
Craig Mabbitt: Well like I said, he was ungrateful about tours in the past, so he cancelled on us and said he didnít feel like touring when we toured at Uproar with Avenged Sevenfold. So the guys we hired for that tour who Iíve known for a while, Kevin Thrasher, who used to be in a band called LoveHateHero, he filled in for Uproar so obviously it was the right call. Luckily Kevin still came to our aid because thatís a whole long story. Monte cancelled, we brought Kevin in and Kevin obviously was a hired gun, then when Monte came back he refused to pay Kevin. Like I mean the band refused to pay him because Monte was calling the shots! So for him to still wanna come out and help his friends, you know, we appreciate it.
AltSounds: Yeah thatís definitely cool of him. So is this the fixed lineup now or is this just for this tour?
Craig Mabbitt: I think so. Our drummer Robert is still on the fence about Kevin being permanent which I think weíre going to completely convince him otherwise because the four of us just get along. Itís so genuine too. Iím not going out and meeting fans or going to the bar and having drinks by myself, Iím going with my posse, my band now you know what I mean?
AltSounds: I feel like that is as important to a band as much as the skill of the player right?
Craig Mabbitt: Exactly! The morale of the band is way, way up. Robertís a little more to himself. Heís having more trouble finding a balance.
AltSounds: So could that go one of two ways?
Craig Mabbitt: I donít think so because Robert is not wishy washy when it comes to being dedicated to the band and the music. No matter what, he might complain about stuff but if thereís a tour, if thereís a show, heís there. Heís the one guy that has played every single show that Escape The Fate has played. I came in later. Max, the original founder and bass player is now back on bass. Monte didnít want to tour with Max. So Max is back now Monteís gone, TJ our new bass player moved over to rhythm guitar.
AltSounds: Haha. Sounds a bit like being in high school, being in Escape the Fate then? Quite a lot of drama by the sounds of it?
Craig Mabbitt: [Laughs]. Only sometimes!
AltSounds: You guys released your self titled album on Interscope after leaving Epitaph. Youíve since left Interscope and moved over to Eleven Seven Music. What happened there?
Craig Mabbitt: What happened wasÖ we were on Epitaph, we had one more record with them and I LOVED that label and wanted to stay on it. Monte again was calling the shots and we all ended up going with him. Interscope just showed us dollar signs and so Monte, whose last name is funnily enough Money, wanted to chase the money.
AltSounds: Monte Money! Thatís quite an apt name then?
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah exactly! He saw dollar signs. We went with Interscope and then Interscope, out of the blue, decided to drop all their rock bands. One of the rock bands to get dropped other than us was Papa Roach. We had done a tour with Papa Roach. They got picked up by Eleven Seven Music and it just felt like a good Rock label that new how to work Rock. So we signed with Eleven Seven Music.
AltSounds: So how is that relationship? Are you guys digging Eleven Seven Music and what they are doing for you guys?
Craig Mabbitt: I do dig Eleven Seven Music! Itís like, you never know what would have happened if we would have decided to stay on Epitaph and not even made the move to Interscope.
AltSounds: Do you regret the decision to leave Epitaph?
Craig Mabbitt: I donít know! Life takes you on all these winding paths and at the end of the day you can be having a horrible life like me the past two years when it comes to the band and my career. Itís been a horrible past two years but, I see the exit of this tunnel now and it looks super bright. Itís like, would I have gotten to this point any other way?
AltSounds: True that. Sometimes youíve gotta go through some shit, to get to the next chapter.
Craig Mabbitt: Exactly.
AltSounds: Well, that just got a bit heavy, letís lighten it up a bit is it? Iím gonna focus on you as an individual more so now. One thing I want to know, and I never see this in any interviews and itís of a real interest to me personally. You guys are a heavily tattooed band and I am becoming a bit of a tattoo connoisseur, Iím always researching the best new artists and trying to find amazing new underground tattoo artists much like I do with bands. Who primarily does your work, and who could you recommend our readers to from a tattoo perspective?
Craig Mabbitt: The majority of my work that is visible was done by Oliver Peck. He was on Warped Tour in an RV so I used to pop over to his RV and get some stuff done. Another guy thatís been doing a lot of my stuff, his nameís Todd Ring, he works out of Phoenix, AZ which is where Iím from. He does some great work. And then this guy named Vic Back, heís done most of the artwork on the bass player of The Used and is based out of Salt Lake City, UT and heís done some of my favorite ones. The one thing about my tattoos though is that I always over think and, like you Iím always looking up people. For this arm, because itís still plain and because I over think shit too much, I think Iím just gonna find an artist I like and decide that this is the sleeve I want, draw it up and come back and get it all done. Like this arm was just a piece here, a piece there and they're all slightly different styles. And then at the end of it all you try and find an artist to fill in the blanks and fit it all together somehow!
AltSounds: Iím also a big lover of fashion as you can see by my awesome Leopard print shoes that you already commented on! What about your threads? Where do you shop a lot for clothes?
Craig Mabbitt: It depends because Iím so into suits. I just wanna go out and get a fucking suit. I love that, just the whole 50ís look with the suspenders. I love that dressed up greaser type of look but it just would not work for the band. So itís like, when Iím home Iím usually just lounging about the house in gym shorts and then when Iím on the road, like for instance here in New York thereís a place called Trash and Vaudeville that have a bunch of cool shit.
AltSounds: That store has been around for so long man and Jimmy Webb the owner / shopkeeper is a bit of a local celebrity because of his store. Itís one of the go-to places in NYC for alternative type fashion.
Craig Mabbitt: When you're on the road, taking your shirt off and getting sweaty because you just wanna jump around on stage. Maybe you grab your black pants from Hot Topic and then friends clothing companies for some t-shirts or whatever. Iím getting more and more into fashion the older that I get though because Iím going out more when Iím home, Iím getting ready to have my second kid, so I just wanna be fly you know?!
AltSounds: Fuck yeah dude! Thereís nothing wrong with wanting to look fly dude. Nothing better than looking good. When is your second kid due?
Craig Mabbitt: The due date is October 28th.
AltSounds: Do you know if itís a boy or a girl yet?
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah itís a boy. I just wanna buy miniature versions of all my outfits.
AltSounds: Haha I would do that too, a mini me! Changing gears again here. Whatís youíre take on the whole government shutdown?
Craig Mabbitt: You know what, theyíre gonna do their thingÖ
AltSounds: Well Iíve been reading that poor people and the elderly and now struggling to eat, meals on wheels has stopped for many people and that the military death payments for families serving has been stopped due to it all. Itís kind of fucked up right?
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah itís fucked up. But I mean, you know what I feel like I hear something fucked up every week these days. The older I get, the more I watch the news and the more fucked up shit I hear and I just donít even wanna be involved anymore. Fuck this, I don't wanna hear about this stuff! You know thereís bombings and there was an elementary school that was recently shot up in this year and then you read another story about two police officers that had a new taser gun and walked into a kindergarten classroom and shot the kids because they were bored. Like these cops are here to protect people and to hear a story about a school getting shot up and the cops come to their aid and then on the other hand thereís that other story about the cops doing the shootings and itís like...what the hell is wrong with the world?
AltSounds: Thatís why I avoid the news man. Literally I do not look at news sites, I donít buy a newspaperÖ
Craig Mabbitt: I avoid it. I don't think thereís been one US President, of late that Iíve really believed in everything that they were saying. Itís always 50/50 on the recent Presidents as far as my train of thought goes.
AltSounds: I just canít believe that the government has just shut down! Iím from the UK and as far as I am aware that shit has never happened. The government is shutdown! What? What do you do now?
Craig Mabbitt: It doesnít make any sense. Like why canít you get it right America? I love my country, I was born and raised here, I support the troops - all that good stuff but, now that I have travelled around everywhere you see how easily other countries deal with it. Like for some reason America has this bad Medicare problem but other countries have just gotten it right. Not only that but the economy in other countries is way high. Itís like Americaís money is worth shit! You know? I go to Australia and hear that the Prime Minister recently, to boost the economy, just gave everybody a little extra money...a little spending money.
AltSounds: I actually just read that the Swiss government are considering passing something where they give every single citizen a base salary of $2,800 so everyone is on a level playing field. Thatís a pretty interesting concept.
Craig Mabbitt: Thatís amazing! Because how are your community and your people going to thrive if youíre restricting them from being able to? Work together! Crazy.
AltSounds: Sorry man I didnít mean to go deep on that, I was literally just writing the questions up and figured it would be interesting to get your take on it all. Well I think thatís my time up right? Maybe I can sneak in a couple more questions while Paul is looking for the room for you to do your next interviews in! Letís keep it simple. Music. What bands are you into? Something you can recommend that is new, that you found and that you love?
Craig Mabbitt: Iíve been listening to the new Bring Me The Horizon record a lot. Iíve been listening to the new A Day To Remember which is fucking awesome! My friend is in this band Attila, they just came out with a new record and a lot of people are like ďfuck thatĒ but I just think itís awesome. Theyíre like a party band and they donít give a fuck. Itís like, middle finger to the world! Everybody these days has their panties in a bunch when it comes to music so itís cool to see people going out there going ďfucking get me drunk and fuck youĒ which is awesome. Oh and the new Blessthefall record is really fucking good too. Itís real good.
AltSounds: Whatís your guilty pleasure music, like the one thing you donít want anyone to know you actually listen to? Like if it came on youíd be like ďoh shit, no-one was supposed to hear thatĒ!
Craig Mabbitt: I have guilty pleasures that are songs from guilty pleasure artists but I havenít gotten into the entire record. Like Gogol Bordello, ďStart Wearing PurpleĒ. I love that song.
AltSounds: Well theyíre kind of raucous though. Kind of like ďfuck youĒ too.
Craig Mabbitt: I think thatís why I like it a lot. But I have other people hear it and theyíre like ďwhat the fuck is thisĒ?
[Craig starts clapping and doing a rendition of the songs chorus]
Craig Mabbitt: I really like Die Antwoord.
AltSounds: Yeah man theyíre weird, but cool.
Craig Mabbitt: Thatís why I like them! I like Skrillex. A lot of people are just too focused on one gene but I love to listen to everything. I mean we were driving the tour bus over here into the city and I was listening to a bunch of different Disney songs, from all the Disney movies and singing along too.
AltSounds: Why not right? There you go though, that has to be more of a guilty pleasure than Gogol Bordello and Die Antwoord though. I coaxed it out of you! Which one were you singing along to?
Craig Mabbitt: I was doing the Goofy movie, I was doing Aladdin, I was doing the Lion KingÖ
AltSounds: And you know all the words?
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah! Probably not off the top of my head but while the song is on I definitely do.
AltSounds: Metal cover of a Disney song coming up for Escape The Fate then huh? That would be dope!
Craig Mabbitt: I would LOVE to do that! Iíve always wanted to do ďStand OutĒ from the Goofy movie as a cover. Me and some of the other guys were talking about maybe doing a five song EP of like classic rock songs and releasing it for free. Like ďHere, weíve just covered these songs and if weíre your favorite band and you love this song, hereí something for free for you to listen toĒ.
AltSounds: I really like it when bands do that. Dallas Green (City & Colour) has just released his second covers EP and I think he gives those away for free too.
Craig Mabbitt: Thatís amazing. One of the few songs of his that I listen to and it tears me up every time is ďComing HomeĒ. That song fucking gets me.
AltSounds: Itís haunting. You can hear the emotion in it man.
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah and just everything heís singing you know? [sings] ďIíve seen a Castle in LondonĒ. Me too man!
AltSounds: Iím from Wales so I have to correct you that he sings ďIíve seen a Castle in WalesĒ actually!
Craig Mabbitt: [sings again] ďIíve seen a Palace in London, Iíve seen a castle in WalesĒ
AltSounds: Nicely done! That melody is dope.
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah man and heís got the greatest voice. It sounds so fucking good.
AltSounds: Were you ever into Alexisonfire?
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah. We did a Warped tour with them once.
AltSounds: Yeah? I was so upset when they split up. Theyíre one of my favourite bands of all time, and definitely my favorite in their genre.
Craig Mabbitt: Well I mean if Dallas is still out there doing City & Colour and heís out there being successful, I donít put it underneath them to at some point just be like ďYou know what? I wanna get back out there.Ē You know maybe do these small clubs so that we can all just rock it with Alexis again!
AltSounds: I saw them in 2004 at a small venue in Cardiff called Clwb Ifor Bach. It was just as they had released ďWatch OutĒ. Itís like a one to two hundred person venue and it was amazing. They just brought so much energy to that place.
Craig Mabbitt: Those small clubs are memorable shows man.
AltSounds: Off topic, but are you into Breaking Bad at all? I just finished it and I have to say it is my favourite TV show all time by far.
Craig Mabbitt: OK donít tell me anything because Iím only on Season 3 right now. I started seeing Twitter blowing up. People are like ďIf you donít watch Breaking Bad you suckĒ and Iím like ďIím sorry my life is so exciting that I donít have enough time to watch a fucking TV show!Ē But I wanted to watch it because Iím into TV shows and movies so I went out to Best Buy and got Season 1,2 and 3 and someone on the tour has Season 4 & 5. So Iím halfway through season 3 right now. The episode I just watched was the one where Jesse is there and Walt is in the RV and his brother-in-law is trying to get in the RV and the guy at the RV lot is like ďyou need a warrant for thatĒ. He takes off the duct tape and heís like ďwell these look like bullet holes, thatís probable cause enoughĒ. And Jesseís like ďhow did you know there were bullet holes there before you removed the duct tape bitch?!Ē
AltSounds: Classic man.
Craig Mabbitt: I fucking love that show.
AltSounds: On that note man, Iím gonna let you go as Iíve taken up enough of your time. It was a pleasure. I enjoyed talking to you and itís good to talk about other stuff and find out more about you as an individualÖ
Craig Mabbitt: Yeah I know instead of, ďSo your album, tell me about itís title.Ē
AltSounds: Haha. Yeah. Well I did a bit of that too! But I prefer to find out more about the guy that makes up a part of the band much more.
Craig Mabbitt: Cool, well thanks man! You gonna be around all night?
AltSounds: Yeah man.
Craig Mabbitt: Awesome man, letís hang later then.
AltSounds: Sounds good man.