Alternative rockers Escape The Fate have been back in the studio and have just released Chemical Warfare (our review here), their COVID-induced effort and equally their seventh studio album. The band have had quite the musical journey as they’ve crossed genres, released sequel tracks and been sucked into one of the most renowned heavy music drama stories with the departure of Ronnie Radke of Falling in Reverse.
These days it’s less about fighting a war that’s theirs, and more of focus on evolving their musical style and staying on top of their game. Formed in Las Vegas, Escape The Fate have risen to fame with a mixture of sounds, styles and eras. Their latest effort Chemical Warfare — has had a bit of excitement in the lead up (read our full review here). ‘Walk On’ was included in the Sno Babies soundtrack and ‘Invincible’ on ‘The Retaliators’ soundtrack, not to mention additional singles like ‘Not My Problem’ featuring no other than blink-182’s Travis Barker — more on that later.
In the midst of the highly-looked-forward-to album release week, we jumped on Zoom with multi-instrumentalist Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft who plays lead and rhythm guitar, keyboards and backing vocals in the band. With a very relaxed attitude, Thrasher shared some anecdotes about the new album, leading with a zinger from the start when asked how it’s all feeling in the ETF camp.
“Dude we’re just super pumped, I haven’t talked to the guys in like a year but we’re all super excited,” he says waiting a few seconds for my reaction before looking down and laughing at his antics. We had a great time talking about the writing and recording process, collaborations and his role in producing the record.
“I’m super stoked on how [the singles] have done, and we just had another music video come out on Friday.” Escape The Fate dropped a music video for ‘Lightning Strike’ on release day, adding to the growing amount of marketing collateral. “It’s one of my favourite songs on the album,” Thrasher mentions. “It’s trippy and super programmed, so I’m excited for the fans to listen to it, and I’m excited to listen to the album on Spotify all the way through again.”
It’s no secret that the band’s sound has evolved over the years, and of course they still get some same old ‘WhErE’s Da HeAvY’ comments that their peers A Day To Remember and Bring Me The Horizon commonly receive, but Thrasher is confused by them for good reason, as he reflects on the earlier releases to now.
“I mean sure, there’s songs like ‘The Guillotine’ on This War Is Ours, and it’s kind of heavy with screaming and stuff, but we’ve always had songs like ‘Ashley’ and ‘Something’,” he says factually and with pride. “There’s almost like a Backstreet Boys sounding ballad on that album, so we’ve always been a band that’s done super soft records.
“We’ve always done pop punk records, but we’ve had heavy guitar songs so that’s like the metal side of the band, but we’ve had everything in between so it’s more like we’re blending different genres, and on the record it’s just a new perspective from us.”
Fortunately, with tracks on the new record like ‘Not My Problem’ with Travis Barker you get a bit of everything – which was apparently a really fun song to collaborate on. “It was incredible, he came in, redid all the drums for the song and added some totally iconic crazy parts,” the guitarist recalls excitedly. “He totally switched up the vibe and did all the opposite parts that I thought he was gonna do, and all for the better.”
Who would’ve thought Machine Gun Kelly’s good mate would’ve fit so much in last year and even this year?! But Barker wasn’t the only busy bee drawing up a COVID canvas. The ETF boys worked on Chemical Warfare very carefully.
“We started writing the record like ‘pre-pandemic’, and I actually wrote the record twice,” the rock and roller mentions informatively. “I wrote like another version of the record that I thought was gonna be sad.” Thrasher alludes to coming out of a break-up and gravitating towards a more depressive sound – “and a lot of industrial vibes.”
Industrial vibes? Escape The Fate? Told you these guys were eclectic. “That stuff will probably eventually come out through another project or something in the future, but I got in the studio with Craig [Mabbit; Vocalist] and I was in a better headspace, so it had a different vibe [to before], and a different energy.” The band fed on each other’s energy, possibly as a way of coping with the world’s shitstorm at the time.
“We ended up writing more up-tempo and upbeat songs and we basically did a whole other record in a very short time – we would do like a song a day.” Thrasher was invigorated and spent all night working on each day’s progress on his own. “I would just stay in the studio all night working on the production, playing guitar and bass, background vocals and all, running back and forth from the computer and microphone.
This isn’t the first record Thrasher’s been producing either. “I’ve been heavily involved in the last three Escape albums – Hate Me, I Am Human and this one now too,” but that was off the record. “This is kind of the first official one so it’s good that we’re able to get the recognition this time. It’s so great to get that blessing from the label and everyone involved, it’s super dope.”
Check out Chemical Warfare, suss out the production, singles from movie soundtracks, features from some massive musicians and ultimately the next chapter for Escape The Fate.
Interview by Ricky Aarons @rickysaul90
Chemical Warfare is out now, check it out here
Escape The Fate – Chemical Warfare tracklisting
1. Lightning Strike
2. Invincible (feat. Lindsey Stirling)
4. Chemical Warfare
5. Erase You
6. Not My Problem (feat. Travis Barker)
7. Burn the Bridges
9. Hand Grenade
10. Ashes (Broken World)
11. My Gravity
12. Walk On
13. Around the Sun (Deluxe Edition)
14. Shut Up and Listen (Deluxe Edition)
15. Over It (Deluxe Edition)