For Escape the Fate, the notion of excess was long a part of the band's composition. Be it the music on record, the performance onstage, or the presentation in esthetic that became integral to the band's identity, the idea was always aligned with a 'go big or go home' ethos.
For better or for worse, it's an ideology that has paid off in spades. Since 2006's Dying Is Your Latest Fashion, the band solidified a rabid cult of supporters that would propel them to become a fixture in the world of alternative music - embracing the band's subsequent five LPs in a way that saw each hit the Billboard charts and add to Escape the Fate's legacy as prominent outliers. Exceeding the shelf-life of any scene, Escape The Fate boasted a catalog that was as big as their persona and in doing so, became veterans of the category without even realizing it.
Currently prepping for the release of their seventh studio album in a career that isn't far from the two decade mark, Escape the Fate find themselves still motivated to assert themselves artistically, however, maturing on personal level that is permeating in the music. Specifically for vocalist Craig Mabbitt, Chemical Warfare, serves as the first record in his tenure that he has dove into sober. Armed with a new focus, a renewed sense of self, and the same drive to dominate their respective space, the album's singles like "Walk On," "Invincible," and the Travis Barker-aided "Not My Problem" present the evolution of ETF both as artists and as human beings.
Set for an April 16th release on Better Noise Music, Craig Mabbitt shared the creative headspace that prompted such personal record for the band's seventh. He weighed in on the band's continued working relationship with producer John Feldmann, guitarist Kevin Thrasher's evolving role as a producer in his own right, and what legacy looks like for a band that has transitioned from living fast and loud, to a collective that has evolved and endured with the same big strides.
You have mentioned that this particular album, Chemical Warfare, explores themes of resilience and perseverance over adversity - what inspired the band to go this direction when writing these songs?
Mabbitt - Well for me personally it came from coming to terms with my addiction, I had reached the end of the line within myself and I hope this album can inspire at the very least one person to find the strength in themselves to get out of the gutter.
How difficult it is to evolve as artists and still meet the kind of fan expectations that come with a brand seven albums deep?
Mabbitt - Fan expectations can turn into warped personal expectations and you can kind of lose yourself in that and forget why you started writing music in the first place. It’s either gonna be different and they’ll love it or hate it or it’ll be the same and they’ll love it or hate it but as the artist do YOU like it? Are you proud of that work personally? That’s what’s most important.
Escape the Fate has a long history with John Feldmann - how has that relationship evolved and what keeps going back to that well?
Mabbitt - No one has ever pushed me harder in the studio while also making me feel like I DESERVE to be there as well. I fuckin love Feldy and his work and that relationship has evolved tremendously over the years. He’s family and a major inspiration/helping hand behind my sobriety.
Songs like “Walk On,” and “Not My Problem” seem to convey the message of turning a page. Are these more metaphors or is the sentiment coming from a real place?
Mabbitt - They are coming from a real place but I’ve always changed a single lyric here and there to make it more of a metaphor and less about me personally, for example something as simple as saying “you” instead of “I”
With Thrasher taking on more of the production responsibilities, how has that impacted the songwriting process and the studio sessions?
Mabbitt - It impacts it in a positive way and enables the band and Thrasher to feel more invested into the album as a whole.
Ungrateful, Hate Me, and I Am Human all debuted at either 1 or 2 on the Billboard Hard Rock charts - does that streak of success create pressure to repeat it?
Mabbitt - I think it definitely does whether we want it to or not, we are eternally grateful to still have the opportunity to create music but it’s hard not to think “how long will this last for us?”
The collaborations on this album are pretty diverse - Travis Barker to violinist Lindsey Stirling. Were these random or did you guys have a plan in mind with these moves?
Mabbitt - No specific plan but more fans of their work and when the opportunity presented itself we couldn’t pass it up! I love what they brought to the album.
ETF is regarded as a genre-defining kind of band. At this stage in your career, are you thinking about the kind of legacy you want to leave behind and if so, what do you hope fans take away from your body of work?
Mabbitt - Sounds cliche to say but I hope they can take inspiration and strength from us to either get through the rough times life can throw our way, be the soundtrack linked to awesome memories or to show that if we can do it so can YOU.
Where does Chemical Warfare rank in the catalog of ETF? What about it resonates with your old school fans and reaches a new generation of fans?
Mabbitt - Chemical Warfare in my opinion is a very defining album for us as a band, there’s elements of the classic ETF of old but it’s expanding on a lot, we tried so many new things and I love the end result.
ETF is not far away from being two decades in. Not many bands can exist for that long. What do you attribute to the longevity of the brand?
Mabbitt - Simple... The Fans.
Chemical Warfare from Escape the Fate arrives April 16th on Better Noise Music. Pre-order the album - HERE