INTERVIEW: Everything "I Am Human", The Creative Process & More With Escape The Fate's Robert Ortiz
ETF: No, thank YOU for taking the time to listen to me and whatever it is I have to say about my band.
SM: First of all, how are you?
ETF: Excellent, because the tour is going very well. Every show has been pretty awesome, except for a couple of places where we've never been so it was new and a little awkward but I think we won some new fans over and I think they will back. We’ve been focused on staying full of energy and making sure we are in the best condition to get our music out.
SM: You’ve performed quite a few times in this venue and you’re back in the Max. Excited?!
ETF: It feels good, but it’s nerve wrecking because the band has had some ups and downs.
SM: You recently wrapped up a tour with I Prevail, what was that like and have you picked up some new tricks?
ETF: They are a great excited young band, I had heard of them 3 months before and I was like “why are so many people into them, what is going on?” but it is easy to see why they are growing so fast. They put on a great show and when I look at them I get a little sad because they remind me of when our band was young and we didn't take any advantage of the opportunities like they are. They are doing everything right, they're businessmen, they know how to put on a huge show and bring great bands and make it an actual event. We gained a lot of fans because of them.
SM: It seems that you guys are appealing to all kinds of crowds, is this something you do on purpose?
ETF: I just think that the touring varies just like our music does, we are a diverse band. You wanna be in front of the right audience but it is about being in front of the best available audience. We fit in anywhere, but we’re not gonna fit in anywhere perfectly.
SM: Is it also something you keep in the back of your mind when you create music?
ETF: When we are in the studio, I come in one day with a pop punk song, the next day with and acoustic song, the next day with a thrash metal song. The title of the album ‘I Am Human’ is the best description because if you open up anyone’s phone and look at the last 5 songs they listened to, it’s probably gonna be so diverse, everyone listens to so many different things and for us it’s the same way. It depends on how you’re feeling, some days you’re sad and you write songs about that, the next day I miss my kids and I wanna let them know through a song that I am away from them FOR them, because I need to feed them. Other days I just wanna hear some crazy double bass and let out violent feelings and anger and I write a song about them. It changes every day, every song is unique and is its own journey.
ETF: Again, it is diverse, the one thing that is revolving, we do touch on every single bit of emotion that you have. There are songs about drinking and partying and to excess but it is part of life. There are things with our families and relationships, some real issues there that we needed to get out so there are songs about putting all that together. Every song is a piece of what makes you a human being and the song ‘I Am Human’ is the center point. The album is pretty much about being straight forward, no bullshit. It was hard to write some of those songs and relive them. This record was therapy.
SM: What about the artwork?
ETF: More of the same thing, everything is about balancing the heart and the mind, things that you should do and should not do and taking chances against your better judgement, you never know when you should follow your heart, your heart is selfish and it wants things and is never satisfied. You should actually never follow your heart, it will take you off the path. Your mind really represents that sort of that thing that keeps you in line and makes you do what you’re supposed to do, but your heart makes you experience things and have those adventures and meet people and not play it safe so that balance is what the album is about and the artwork is about and life is about.
SM: I saw on your FB page that the album has been delayed a few days ago but the album is already done right?
ETF: The album has been done for a long f*cking time, that is label stuff. We found out just like you guys. The label invests a lot of money into us so we have to take their opinion. We’ve had the fortune of having labels that don’t get involved in the music, that is ours. When it comes to the strategy of promoting the music and how were gonna deliver it and how its gonna have the most impact, they believe it might be the better strategy. Hopefully it doesn’t piss off too many fans, because that was never our decision! If it was my choice, it would have been released as soon as possible.
SM: Given the fact that it was actually completed 8 months ago, have you already been back at it, writing some new songs?
ETF: Yeah, that’s one thing now that doesn’t stop. I’ve fallen in love with writing, I write a lot of lyrics and I have continued doing that and Thrasher is always creating riffs and is always creating, we love doing it.
ETF: We did win the contest to open for them and we did get the record deal, but we were already in a bidding war with other labels and we were in the process with Epitaph, but to put it on top, MCR chose us to open for them, so then we could ask for more money, because even My Chem liked us, haha. It was the cherry on top and it was absolutely awesome.
I wasn’t a fan of MCR at the time, so I didn’t appreciate the band I got to open for enough at that time. A year of two later they came out with ‘The Black Parade’ and I listen to it every week and it is one of my favourite albums ever and I wish I’d known back then that they were gonna put at that amazing record, do an amazing tour and then that they were gonna be gone forever.
SM: What advice do you have for bands who are just starting their music journey?
ETF: Damn, that is a tough one. In terms of the actual business side of things, I can’t tell you, because the music industry is always changing, so how I promoted it back then is very different than how you promote it now. I don’t even know how I’d get a fan to a show now. Does a record label matter now? I don’t know. What I do know is that you f*cking work your ass off and you absolutely must be obsessed. There is nothing else. At the time, my wife (then my girlfriend), she knew she was second. She is not anymore but back then she knew it, I was gonna live that dream. If you wanna be successful, there is no other way, no shortcuts, if your guitar player pisses you off, suck it up and work as a team. You never achieve your goals, don’t ever be satisfied. So be obsessed and never be satisfied.