After a seven year split, Brisbane punk-rockers Speedlab made their triumphant return to music with …
Escape The Fate became Emo mainstays when, after à turbulent few years, they introduced frontman Craig Mabbitt and dropped the darkly poppy masterpiece This War Is Ours in 2008.
Australia was the first country that the band toured after releasing the now legendary record, so it makes perfect sense that the first shows celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the release should occur back on our shores.
We caught up with Craig on the eve of the band’s departure to reminisce on that first tour, as well as how the songs have aged over time.
HYSTERIA: Hi Craig! Where are we catching you at the moment?
CRAIG: I’m just in LA having some down time at the moment. We just finished a tour and we fly out to you guys on Friday, so we only have a few days off.
How does that lifestyle hold up for you now, especially this far in?
You just have to remind yourself that your grateful to do it. Things get increasingly difficult when you get older and start families, which is tough because in the beginning you don’t notice how much time your gone. But at the end of the day, how many people can say that they’ve been able to tour the world for 12 years?
How did your children being a part of your life change the way you approached touring and music as a source of provision?
I always said that if I can’t be there physically, I have to be able to be there financially. That’s able to be the case now, and I can have the summer off this year. My daughter loves coming out to the shows when she can. She and I went crowd surfing together at our show with Papa Roach which was special. I remember growing up, my parents told me that cliche of “You can do what you want to do”, but I got the chance to live it so I can really encourage my girls to accomplish what they want to do.
Speaking of memories, the tour you have coming up doing This War Is Our front-to-back would have lots of nostalgia attached to it. What memories do those songs bring back for you personally?
Probably some of the craziest times in my life. It was a difficult transition, and it’s great that people love it now, but when that record first came out it received a lot of hate. I had just joined the group, so it’s really cool to think how far we’ve come and that the album is turning 10 years old after so many years of doubting ourselves and thinking “Are people gonna like this or not?” We’ve had some great opportunities and been able to take our kids to some crazy places off the back off that album. Australia is a place that I’ve always wanted to take my daughter, but she’s still in school so she can’t come out for this run.
When you revisit them, which of these songs still have a ‘spark’, despite not playing for awhile, and which one’s did you feel had aged?
Listening to it now, I’m like “Wow, I have a love for this.” When your in the mix of things you can lose the appreciation of what you’re creating, but when we started playing these songs again I was like “Guys, this is actually a really good record!” I don’t know if it’s because how popular those emo nights have become … I still listen to that music, so these songs still fit into that. It doesn’t matter what kind of song it is; if it’s a good tune, it’s a good tune. So we’re very excited to come out and share those experiences again. My very first tour with the band was in Australia off the back of this record!
To now have the shows sell out and Melbourne add a second date—it’s so awesome because it eradicates all those doubts from 10 years ago.
[ Craig Mabbitt ]
What memories do you have from that run?
I was on crutches which really sucked. I’d just broken my ankle a few weeks before we were scheduled to fly out, so I was crutching around every venue, which made an impression. I was so keen to show people what we were made of, and the band had never left the US before I joined because they weren’t allowed to. It was interesting to come to this new group of guys, and also leaving the country for the first time together. Coming from the States to Australia is a really lengthy trip, especially if you’ve never been out of the country before. I remember going to some black sand beaches, seeing Koalas and Kangaroos—it was so awesome for us. At the time we had just finished the record, so it was really fresh. To now have the shows sell out and Melbourne add a second date—it’s so awesome because it eradicates all those doubts from 10 years ago.
Prepping This War Is Ours has coincided with I Am Human coming out. Did that influence the production of the new record at all, or was the band able to have two seperate headspaces going on?
We just focused on this record, getting the songs prepared and doing some tours. We would go to the venues and set up early before running through a track. There are some songs from the record, like Ashley or This War Is Ours, we play those every night. At the end of the day, we were left with about 5 songs that we weren’t super used to playing them. It’s Just Me & Let It Go, we’ve played those like once in a blue moon. We focused on that on the days off, and then on the last show of the tour with Papa Roach a few days ago, we decided “Ok, we’re ready now.” We wanna celebrate the new stuff as well too, so it’s a good challenge for us.
Timing wise this is right in the middle of that new record cycle, which is curious timing. Does that feel jarring for the band to be juggling those two things?
It feels ok because there are a bunch of fans that have been around for awhile, saying that the new stuff was bringing them back to the This War Is Ours era. So the timing of it all is so funny with the new record turning 10 now.
The band has grown so much since This War Is Ours. What form of the band’s sound have you grown the most attached to over the last 10 years.
I don’t think any of us really know the answer. Like I said, if the song is good then the song is good. We just write whatever comes out of us in the moment. We never wanna pidgeon-hold ourselves and writes the same record all the time. We’re also fans of all those different styles; of things like pop, metal, Post Malone. If we can write those songs, then we will just get out there and write them.
Escape The Fate ‘This War Is Ours’ 10 Year Anniversary Tour with Awaken I Am & Between Kings:
Monday 28th May // Amplifier Bar // Perth
Tuesday 29th May // Fowlers // Adelaide
Wednesday 30th May // Max Watts // Melbourne *SOLD OUT*
Thursday 31st May // Max Watts // Melbourne
Friday 1st June // Manning Bar // Sydney
Saturday 2nd June // Cambridge Hotel // Newcastle
Sunday 3rd June // The Triffid // Brisbane