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RIP Exclusive: Escape The Fate's Robert Ortiz Talks New Album and 'Out Of The Shadows' Tour

Sabrina Yanez Sep 24, 2023

Classic post-hardcore rock band Escape The Fate is back with their newest album Out Of The Shadows, and an eponymous headlining tour including D.R.U.G.S, Point North, Stitched Up Heart and Garzi. The band has been rejuvenated with a new sound – what they refer to as an EMO, or emo metal opera – and is ready to bring their high energy set to a city near you. If there's one thing to expect from Escape The Fate, it's that they will bring their A game to every show; regardless of the city, venue, or crowd.

A couple weeks ago, I sat down with Robert Ortiz (drums) to chat about the new record and current headlining tour, which you can buy tickets for here.

Your newest record Out Of The Shadows was just released a couple weeks ago today – you guys did it again, really. No skips on this thing, all bangers. What was the inspiration for this album, and what do you want your fans to think about or takeaway from it?

Robert: That's actually insane that you say that. I'm such a harsh critic and you're like "this is awesome!" You know when you're getting yourself ready, and you're looking in the mirror and you're like "oh, I got this fucking zit," you're looking at every little blemish; and then you go out into the world and people don't see that, they just see you as a whole? That's how it is with making music. I'm very particular, I hear little things. I'm just too close to the artwork to judge it objectively. So it isn't until we're completely done and and release it, where I can actually listen to it as it's own art piece separate from myself. I like it more than anything else we've done to be honest. I am our harshest critic – maybe my dad is more harsh, and even my dad is like "it's cool, you have some good stuff." So yeah, I'm stoked with it.

To get to the actual question, what's the inspiration? There's two sides of it. The first half of it is getting back to the office and the necessity of putting out another record. We were doing it amidst the pandemic, when were coming off a weird album that was done mostly in the pandemic. The band, as it always is, is in some kind of turmoil, figuring things out and pivoting into the next phase. Thrasher was going on to do his own thing and we were still doing the first half with him. We were very much in the mindset of like, "okay, we gotta get back in the studio. There's a project that needs to be done and we need to release music." There wasn't much inspiration other than, we're a band and this is what we need to do.

And then somewhere along the way, things flipped and we still got some great stuff – naturally we're gonna find things that work, right? But then we flipped and it was like, all right, now we have a mission. Now we have this thing that we're calling an EMO – an anagram for emo metal opera. What we wanted to do was to take all of the sounds we like, and all the elements, and create something grander, something that had this story to it. A tale of rebirth, of rejuvenation, of being reborn again, of leaving the old self behind and welcoming the new one. We attacked almost every song with all the things that come from that. Lyrically and sonically, we're just a rejuvenated band. We stopped trying to fit in and trying to look at our peers and saying, "what are they doing? We have to try to do what they're doing so that we can be popular like them." It's more of expressing ourselves and just really feeling things, and making sure it was something that resonated with ourselves – and not thinking about what active rock radio wants or what the scene wants. And that's all it was, just us getting together and fucking creating.

The final track on the record is "Cheers To Goodbye" featuring Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills. I'm a big Ice Nine Kills fan so this collaboration was crazy to me. The song really blends both bands' styles – you got that classic hard-rock-post-hardcore sound that Escape The Fate brings, and then those horror-theatrical undertones from Ice Nine Kills. Tell me about what is was like working with Spencer for this song.

Robert: It goes back to what I was saying. You come in and obviously you do have to work, right? You're a band, you gotta get in there and make something. You get in the studio and it's like, "do you guys want to collaborate with anybody?" It's so unnatural, and the collaborations that we have had have been very natural. I've wanted Lindsay Sterling's violin on some sort of recording of ours for years, because I think she blends in with what we do. With him and this particular song, we were just over-the-top theatrical – we almost wanted it even more than it ended up being. We have this spoken word part in the middle, what we call 'the announcer part', and it's this circusy-side-show thing, and we were like "dude we need Spencer for that." It was non-negotiable, this part was his. Luckily, he was like "yeah sure, let's do it!" It went from being a 10-second part to, why not take a shot at one of the verses and then maybe the chorus? He's so overwhelmingly amazing, that it was actually hard to pick because we didn't expect that much out of it. It was so much more than we could've asked for and it sounded so amazing, and it was like, how do you not use it? I think we found the perfect sweet spot, and he really, truly, is incredible. I never actually was in the studio with him when this was happening, the song was already done and he just had to do the parts. But I'm hearing what you hear and it's fucking amazing, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I've never been more proud of a song – it's like watching Avengers Endgame, and the portals open and all the Marvel characters start walking through, like wow. We really went for it with this song – metal riffs, it's a ballad, it's a metal song, it's a crazy opera. We got a guy we weren't sure we could get, and he's on it which makes it even more amazing. That song is what a dream is. Listening to that song, that's success.

Let's talk about the Out Of The Shadows Tour. You guys are currently headlining on the road with D.R.U.G.S., Point North, Stitched Up Heart and Garzi – definitely a crazy lineup. You even hit Blue Ridge Rock Fest last week in Virginia; how was that and in general, how are you finding the tour so far?

Robert: Every tour's a crazy, experienced chapter in your life and this one's no exception. Blue Ridge, unfortunately, the weather destroyed all momentum for that. I was looking forward to it. I didn't get to play it the last time the band played because I had injured my foot, and that would've been one of the first shows coming out of COVID and I couldn't play drums. Suddenly out of nowhere a fucking hurricane comes – it was midnight and my drums were still on the stage, we couldn't go up there to get anything because there was lightning and it was very dangerous. That was a bummer, but it happens and there's nothing you can do about it.

As far as everything else, we're going back to some places that we haven't played in a long, long time. It's cool to be back there, to see the Twitch buddies out there in the world. All of the other bands – I don't normally feel this way because I'm pretty open about being an old soul musically, I tend to like more classic metal bands and things like that. But these bands are all fucking incredible, Point North is one of my new favorite bands, they're fucking outstanding. It's really cool, and honestly it's weird sometimes because it's like, "how are we headlining this thing?" But for us, we have more production that we've ever brought out and our crew is working so hard, busting ass, because we have a lot of stuff. The show is very thought out, it's our album. We came out on this tour going, "I don't care if I bring money home. If I go broke, I don't care because I put on a show." There's always ways to make money, but I don't wanna die thinking we didn't really go for it. That's our mentality, and our crew's taken on the same approach. And sure, there's some shows where you wish more people were there, it happens. And then there's others where it's like "how are this many people here for us?" It's been a really crazy rollercoaster, honestly.

I know we're already about half-way through the tour, but what were you most looking forward to coming into it?

Robert: Honestly, I just wanted to feel the reception of the new stuff. Honestly, I'm blown away by the bands' staying power. I know that we're not the biggest band in the world – I'm not gonna make anyone believe that because, it's just not true. But we do have a sort of cult-following fan base and you know, to see the next generation of fans, I feel like we missed one somewhere along the way and we have this new crop. And I'm not talking about the literal next generation, there's fans that know newer music of ours over any of the old stuff. When we played Australia last year we were doing an anniversary tour, and I found that when we played the new songs the reactions for that were much more than for the thing that was marketed, which was the anniversary for our self titled album. It was kinda surprising. We just played all the big festivals out there in Europe – the new songs were what was going off. Like wow, we have this new generation of fans. So far it's been really awesome, and I'm actually very surprised at the reception. And it is hard because – you're a fan, you go to shows, you wanna go hear your favorite songs. That hasn't been the case, it's really cool. We open with a brand new song, it's not a single, and people are listening but I don't see anyone bored. I remember Denver and Salt Lake in particular, where people were fucking head banging to a song they'd never heard because the album came out that night. It was like, what the fuck? That's been the thing, it's like can we continue doing this? Is it worth doing this? And so far it's yes, we just gotta keep going.

Escape The Fate has been a band for almost 20 years and have toured for equally as long – I'd love to get your perspective as an experienced musician on the touring industry before and after COVID. What are some challenges, if any, that you've had to navigate coming into this post-COVID touring industry that we're all experiencing?

Robert: I don't know honestly, maybe in the first portion of last year it was still very weird because we were going to different countries, and different countries had different mandates. It was really challenging, and everyone was trying to figure it out so you can't be mad at anyone, no one really knew. Now it's more back in rhythm. The experience of having Twitch – and I know this isn't the case for everyone, but for our band because we've always been pretty close to a lot of fans, it's a fine line between fan and friend. There's people that used to listen to us in high school, or even younger, but they were too young to go to the shows, that are now able to go. I don't know, COVID was a weird time but it just feels more in rhythm with how it used to be. You just go and play shows, but now you're more interactive because you're connected online and you put names to faces. It's just different and you're more personally connected, and so that's pretty cool. That maybe was a by-product of the pandemic because we were all streaming, but also has nothing to do with it, I don't know.

I feel like it all kind of connects when you look at it overall, so yeah that's totally valid. I feel like with social media, because that's all that we were doing when there was nothing else to do, it's just helped form more personal relationships with, in your case, with fans.

Robert: Yeah, and that is a really cool thing because sometimes fans do turn into friends. And for me, I do have certain barriers where I feel comfortable to a point of you being my friend, but I still have to have my own private life. But there are fans that become friends, and they're always wanting to help out and a lot of that is because of the time we spent online during COVID. So it's really cool, but yeah now it's like we're back in rhythm, and shows are just rock shows now.

To wrap things up, aside from the Out Of The Shadows Tour, does Escape The Fate have anymore shows planned as of right now? For the rest of the year, or anything in the works for next year?

Robert: We're starting to discuss next year – for now this will be the wrap up of the year. An opportunity may come up or whatever but right now we don't have any formal plans for the rest of 2023. We're talking about 2024, and possibly going overseas to Europe, but that's not set in stone just yet. We definitely wanna keep going and have new music. Even though this just dropped literally last week, for us we've been sitting on it for a while. It's time to get onto the next wave of music, and we're at a creative point where everything's clicking and you have to jump on that train and ride the wave as much as you can before it disappears. We're in the mindset of making new music, and when you do that, then you gotta go out there and show people the new music. 2024 is gonna be interesting, but for 2023 this is it. This is the tour, so you gotta come or you're gonna miss out.

Be sure to catch the Out Of The Shadows Tour on it's remaining dates, featuring Escape The Fate, D.R.U.G.S., Point North, Stitched Up Heart and Garzi:

September 24 - San Antonio, TX

September 26 - Tempe, AZ

September 27 - Los Angeles, CA

September 29 - Riverside, CA

September 30 - Las Vegas, NV

October 1 - San Francisco, CA

October 3 - Seattle, WA

October 5 - Portland, OR

October 7 - Sacramento, CA (Aftershock Festival)

Keep up with Escape The Fate