Craig Mabbitt – An Open Mind With A Great Dream (part 1)

Category: ArticlesInterviews

On an almost sunny thursday afternoon, on the 21st of March, I sat down with Craig Mabbitt, the vocalist from Escape The Fate and he shared with me the concepts behind the two new singles ‘Ungrateful’ and ‘You’re Insane’, what his thoughts about the rock scene are, how the band handled tensions in the past, and much more! Curious? Then read further and don’t forget that Part 2 is here (click):

Alexandra: You guys have just released a new video for your single ‘Ungrateful’ promoting the fact that violence is a vicious circle that has taken many lives. Who came up with the idea for the concept, and was the last year’s case of Amanda Todd a trigger for it?

Craig: There wasn’t a certain kid that was a trigger for the video. I actually came up with the concept for it, I started talking about different video ideas and the guys loved the concept, the director really liked it too. He kind of took my idea and made it more visually appealing, not the brutalness of the video, but the way that the scenes float together and how everybody connects. But what triggered it for me was just, i thought of the concept, and my whole life, and people i have read about, and this is something you constantly have to talk about, for it is still an issue.

A: I think most people were so upset because of the kid that dies first, it was so sad!

C: Yeah I know!

A: Your 2nd single of the album is the song ‘You’re Insane’. What can you tell us about this track? Will you do a video for it? Do you have a concept in mind?

C: Yeah we actually have! The video is coming out on April 1st and my daughter is in the video. It’s not as brutal as the one before, but you know, we’re playing in the desert, and the whole concept is this human being that is self destructing and showing that sometimes you have other people relying on you( in this case the person has a child relying on them) . She’s getting all this fame, getting the fortune and starts forgetting what she should care about, which is the same theme that ‘Ungrateful’ is. That’s why Monte (our guitarist) wanted to name it ‘Ungrateful’, because we went through a lot of stuff, Monte did not want to tour anymore. The band was almost broken off.

A: Really? When was that? After Max left?

C: Right before he left because he didnt want to be on the road with Max anymore. And then it was so sad to see Max go. All these things, it could end any time, any day, the band could end tomorrow. Why are we having these weird attitudes? It got a little weird there for a second. We started this album and ended up doing half of it on our own, just in a studio hiring a mixer and an engineer like ‘Let’s just do this all of us’ and it felt like a band again. Not just, ‘We’re a band yeah, here is my guitarist and i just come in the studio to record my vocals’. You know what i mean?

A: Here is my friend and we are doing this together.

C: Yes exactly!

A: What can you tell us about the new album, ‘Ungrateful’ as an overall idea? What are the themes tied to this record? How is it different from your previous albums?

C: This is the thing with me, as i know there are a lot of bands, -for instance i think a good example is Coheed & Cambria– and how their whole name is based around a storyline and every album they do is a continuation of the story. That’s fucking rad! I would love to do a concept album!

A: Black Veil Brides have a concept album out now.

C: Yeah and its so rad it has all those interludes and the whole album floats. I would really love to do that one day! But, for now, I wanna touch on certain themes and there are still many things I want to say and the band wants to say, and we don’t want to just start talking about some conceptual stuff. ‘Ungrateful’ has the violence and the bullying, and ‘You’re Insane’ has the self-destructing angle. The 2nd track ‘Until We Die’ is a track we did when we were on the studio on our own and the chorus is saying that we are not alone, we are still searching for everything, and here we are together and we want to do this until we die. ‘Live fast, die beautiful’ that track is about promiscuous women and not just women that you meet on the road, but you know, women you know generally in life. Things happen between people like, people hang out, you don’t even have to talk that much anymore after you do. I’m talking about specific people that show up and they might not know your name, they just know who you are, and they want that. They don’t necessarily want ‘oh i’m going to make a memory with Craig Craig it was nice hanging out’. Normal human beings with that. But these women are like..’Oh here’s the owner of -give me a big brand name-..’

A: Canon

C: ‘Oh here’s the owner of Canon’ and they’re interested, because of their status. So that’s what the song is about, and also about the fact that I like to ‘Live fast die young’. That’s my favourite quote because we’re only here once and we have to make the best of it!

A: Among the fact that Ungrateful will be out in May, you guys have 2 new members now: Michael Money and TJ Bell. From what I understood, Michael was already sort of an official member from before, but he never performed live on the same stage with you in the past. What was the reason for that? 

C: He performed live on the same stage but he never got recognition whatsoever. I would thank him all the time! However, certain people they did not want to fill the fans with too much info like ‘Here’s the new singer, and another new guy’ because he joined when i joined too. And I don’t know why people thought that way because, this time around, i was like ‘you know who gives a shit?’ This is our band, and this is his little brother(Monte’s brother), not some random guy we were hiring, i grew up with him, and he also helps Monte write the music, he goes on stage and plays the music also, but when the band has a signing and an interview he has to leave. So this was my idea, and Monte loved it: ‘You know man, let’s make him an official member.’ And now you see them playing back to back, and there is definitely a difference there. I mean, who wants to be in the shadow all the time? You want to share the spotlight especially with your own flesh and blood.

A: How about TJ? How did you guys find him?

C: TJ filled in with us the whole year that we were trying to keep Max in the band. Robert and Monte were done with it, they did not want to deal with it anymore, which is completely understandable since they have been dealing with this for way longer than i did because it was an ongoing thing from the beginning. But i did not want that to happen i remember telling them ‘If Max goes, I go too’ . I still love Max.

A: So are you still good friends?

C: Yeah, i mean if i see him, there’s nothing negative to say just that ‘i hope you’re better and I’m sorry we’re not brothers on tour anymore’ although we still are brothers in life. It just was a long time coming. We paid for him to go to rehab, and cancelled a tour. We paid for a counselor to help him out, we cancelled numerous tours, we got a fill in for Monte because we still wanted to bring Max back but Monte wasn’t ready. I said ‘ I know Max I know he can do it, he is better now.’

A: Didn’t he have an accident on stage? 

C: We cancelled a tour, he went to rehab, got out of rehab, he came on tour and it all lasted about a week for him. So we’re doing these interviews, there was a full 2 page article in the Kerrang! Magazine ‘Rehab saved my life’, all this promo, and a week into our headlining tour in the US, he shows up 5 minutes before we went on stage, you could tell he was on something, and the last half of the last song he dropped. Completely passed out from whatever he was on.

A: Did you take him to the hospital?

C: No, he immediately woke up he was like ‘Get me back on stage’. We did not allow him. ‘You just got off rehab and you obviously can’t be on stage. Get your shit together!’ That’s when we sent him home. And the tour we were playing on, Motionless In White were with us and TJ played guitar for that band and he filled in on bass for us for that tour. He also filled in on bass with us in Australia, because he ditched his band to come to Australia with us, they said ‘You’re not in our band anymore.’ So i felt so bad for TJ but when Uproar Festival came about, it’s like ‘TJ, we think Max got his shit together so we are going to take him back for now, thanks for helping us out!’

A: That’s terrible!

C: Yeah but Max was not kicked out yet so he came back. Again, lasted about two weeks on the tour, he can’t get into Canada, tells us a day before ‘sorry i can’t cross the border, something about a warrant thing in LA i need to take care of”, so we’re like okay, fly back and take care of that tomorrow.  The next day we call him to find out if he took care of the paper and he didn’t. I sent him this big paragraph I was like ‘What the fuck dude seriously? I’m at the end of my rope, convincing them to keep you in the band. Get your shit together, and come back! I don’t want to play on stage without you.’ And he blew up a bit ‘Don’t talk shit to me! I’m trying to get it done.’ I told him I’m just trying to make sure it’s all good. ‘Not only for me, but this band is everything to you, it’s your pride and joy’. I remember me and Robert had a long talk to him that night and then suddenly, he just never came. He just went MIA (missing in action), and then we have a day off in LA and about 4 shows left. And now we have already been on the road for a month, opening for Avenged Sevenfold, with a new record, with me and Robert, and a fill in guitar player and a fill in bass player. Nobody knew who the band was, it was so embarrassing. And he showed up with the suitcase that night just like ‘What’s up guys im back!’ and Robert was like ‘Get the fuck out of here man. Please just leave!’ And i remember talking to him ‘I’m sorry dude, I love you, but the show must go on’

A: On a lighter tone now, where can fans see you in 2013? 

C: We’re doing the US with Papa Roach, Download, Rock Am Ring, Rock in Park. We have a bunch of other touring dates with Papa Roach. I know we’re going to Ireland for the first time. I’m trying to get us to go down in Spain then some dates in Sweden. Then we’re going back to Australia. And after we’re going to Japan, for some festival out there. I’m trying to convince everybody about the Philippines (because we have many requests from there) and South America. It’s like get back on the ball, let people know we’re not gone.

Part 2 is here (click)

Escape The Fate – Ungrateful (click to watch video)