Escape the Fate is running away. From what? Singer Ronnie and guitarist Omar both will say failure and irrelevance. And aside from some basic agreements that contemporary rock n? roll is bad, that?s the last time they?ll agree. Theirs is a combustible, but constructive, discord that propels them away from an end that nips at every band?s heels. This, and the gnawing truth that for rock bands, There Is No Sympathy for the Dead and Dying Is Your Latest Fashion.
There Is No Sympathy for the Dead is ETF?s debut EP, and it?s been selling like the proverbial hotcake thanks to its guileless combination of sincerity and intensity. It now runs headlong into the full-length Dying Is Your Latest Fashion, infused with the same manic, intense desire to wake people up.
"I don't wanna come off like an asshole," says outspoken Ronnie. His words (and the respective titles of their EP and new full-length) allude to the crop of pre-fab affected 'scene' bands that are the fashionable product of dead expression. "We?'e gonna be that change in music. I have a vision. I want people to have fun, put their fists in the air."
Ronnie's vision is of himself as a jukebox hero playing to arenas packed with fans?many of them horny groupies that would kill or die for him. And maybe, if they're lucky, he?ll deign to acknowledge them. 'I don't want to blow the mystery away [by letting fans get too close].? He wants to be the faceless waving hand behind the tinted limo window??untouchable.? Omar?s is a more upright fantasy: though as appreciative of randy fans as the next guy, he feels a duty to be appreciative and accessible. ?Rock, dude,? says Ronnie. I want it back. It needs to come back. The music industry now is all about God, it's just not right.'
Whether that?s with sheer volume or words doesn?t matter; the songs on Dying are loud in the literal and abstract. ?Webs I Weave? charges out of the gate like a cross between a rodeo bull and an adrenaline-awakened Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. The guitars are clarion alarm clocks and Ronnie?s voice is earnest and angry, like someone shaking you awake amid a war. Henceforth, Escape the Fate works to keep you awake and attentive, slapping you with the melodic onslaught of ?Chariots,? the conviction of first single ?Situations,? and the full-on metal (talking Maiden guitar riffs and leads, Slayer double-bass drums, Lamb of God?s blood-thickening growls). ?I fought for that song to be on the album,? boasts Ronnie. ?And we?re getting respect for that every show.?
And those aren?t the only bullets in their gun. ?Reverse This Curse? has an irrepressible chorus that screams second single. ?My Apocalypse? incorporates surprising electronic influences as a clever counterpart to the loud-fast guitar-oriented approach. ?The Day I Left The Womb,? in dialing down the volume, betrays ETF?s singer-songwriterly tendencies, as they confront life?s more intense struggles, making bad music seem comparatively minute.
The band recorded in Virginia Beach with Michael ?Elvis? Baskette, who helmed the EP as well as huge albums by Lit, Puddle of Mudd and Saliva. ?He recorded our demo for free,? says Ronnie, ?and helped us get our deal. We knew what he?d bring [to the songs] and we wanted that.? Exactly what Baskette brought was more of this young band?s inherent confidence as they continue a full-tilt sprint away from failure and irrelevance?something Escape the Fate witnesses in their everyday lives: They?re from Las Vegas.
?Nuff said? If not: Elton John, Siegfried and Roy, Wayne Newton, Circus Circus and ((((shudder)))) cover bands. Bad buffets. Showgirls wearing smiles like decals. Hotels that look like toys but smell like stale cigarette smoke, Freon, and the double-whammy of old people and unrequited dreams. It?s Vegas 2035, where plastic acts go to die and young acts are lucky to get a look. This sun-baked Hell on Earth might be home, but it?s not necessarily hospitable. In order to be successful and relevant, they need to escape.
Only they didn?t need to leave town to avoid that dark destiny. Instead, they stayed put and pushed determinedly toward it. Ronnie and Max were in a band and doing well, ?then it just died.? Somebody said, ?We need to escape the fate.?
So Ronnie and Max looked for new bandmates, and hooked up with guitarist Bryan. Omar, new to Vegas after leaving Hollywood and his band Lovehatehero, met Bryan through MySpace. One day Bryan messaged Omar to say he?d met ?two guys that he really liked.? ?It was Ronnie and Max,? Omar recalls. ?It was amazing what they were doing and I couldn?t believe the voice that Ronnie had on him. I knew it was something I couldn?t pass up.? Drummer Robert came in through Ronnie and Max.
It was barely a month before Escape the Fate debuted at the Cheyenne Saloon. With only two weeks notice, the band hit MySpace to promote the show. Their efforts were handsomely rewarded. ?We almost sold out,? Omar beams. ?It was a 21-and-over show, of all things, and there was probably a good 200 people inside.? It wasn?t just a friends-and-family event; Escape the Fate already had fans?the know-all-the-words kind.
Energized, ETF continued to gig. At Gameworks for their first all-ages show (as main support for another Vegas band), Ronnie learned ?everybody was [there] for us.? Omar, incredulous, went down the line asking fans who they came to see. ?Escape the Fate, Escape the Fate, Escape the Fate,? was the answer. Grateful, ETF treated the crowd to their trademark captivating, energetic live show and left everyone gasping. ?[The venue] said they?d not seen a crowd go that crazy since Saosin played there last.?
Before long, Escape the Fate were local heroes?rock stars, often being stopped for autographs. They amassed a very large, very devoted local fan base, selling out smaller venues and drawing thousands to larger shows. The overwhelming crowd response led ETF to airplay on 92.3 KOMP, and the volume of calls necessitated two ETF spins in one show, which a station rep says ?has never happened before.? And in September, Escape the Fate won a contest sponsored by X107.5. The prize was opening for My Chemical Romance. Shortly thereafter, the band was contacted and signed by Epitaph?s Brett Gurewitz, who promptly had them craft the EP.
The release of There Is No Sympathy for the Dead was followed by a well-met and ongoing run on the 2006 Warped Tour, where the band?s profile surged to crazy proportions. ?We?re getting recognized in every city,? Ronnie says, high on the rush of realized dreams. In fact, as he talks to us for this bio?from a Warped Tour stop in LA, his phone is ringing off the hook. ?It?s that girl,? Ronnie says. (She?s from a story not fit for this bio. But you get the point.)
A while back, Ronnie told us: ?It used to be fun. Girls used to come to shows and show their titties. They had big hair and there was stadium reverb on the drums. If that doesn?t come back, I don?t know what I?m gonna do.? Now he says the band is seeing mammaries ?every day, everywhere. It?s just crazy.?
We told him: Hey Ronnie, you and Escape the Fate know better than anybody that if you want it, all you gotta do is go for it. And believe. Remember, there is no sympathy?
?It?s gonna happen,? he replied. ?Watch. I?m not jokin?. We?re gonna be the biggest thing. So huge. I know it.?
And here they are: Escape the Fate is running straight for rock stardom, making rock what it used to be.