December 22, 2010, by Annie Zaleski .
Last week, former Escape The Fate vocalist RONNIE RADKE got out of prison, after spending nearly two-and-a-half-years there. In January 2008, the 27-year-old was convicted of battery with substantial bodily harm for his role in a high-profile May 2006 fight in his hometown of Las Vegas that left 18-year-old Michael Cook dead. Radke originally avoided jail time, but after violating terms of his probation, he was sent to prison in August 2008.
La semaine dernière, l'ex chanteur du groupe Escape The Fate, Ronnie Radke est sorti de prison après y avoir été incarcéré pendant environ 2ans et demi. En janvier 2008 le jeune homme a été condamné pour coups et blessures agravés sur Michael Cook en mai 2006 dans sa ville natale de Las Vegas.
Radke ne devait pas aller en prison mais suite à une violation de sa liberté conditionnel il fut incarcéré en août 2008.
While incarcerated, Radke started a new band, From Behind These Walls, which is now known as FALLING IN REVERSE.
The band are planning to leave next week for Orlando, Florida, to record their debut with producer Elvis Baskette. Earlier this week, Radke opened up exclusively to Altpress about FIR's forthcoming music, what jail was like, being sober, how he's changed and how he feels toward toward Escape The Fate and his replacement, Craig Mabbitt.
Durant son incarcération, Radke a fondé un nouveau groupe, From Behind These Walls, qui porte à présent le nom de Falling In Reverse.
Le groupe à l'intention de se rendre en Floride, à Orlando pour enregistrer son premier album avec le producteur Elvis Baskette.En début de semaine, Radke à révélé en exclusivité à Altpress quelques informations sur FIR.
La prison lui a entre autre permis de se sevrer (alcool/tabac/drogue). Radke nous explique ici en quoi il a changé, son opinion sur ETF ainsi que sur son remplaçant, Craig Mabbitt.
How was your first weekend free?
It was a lot of anxiety. I can't be around too many people, and I'm nervous and shaky. Today was a lot easier. I went to the mall for the first time, and there were people trying to film me to put on YouTube. I ducked and I covered my face. Getting back to reality, you know?
Comment s'est passé votre premier week-end en liberté ?
C'était très stressant. Je ne supporte pas d'être entouré de trop de gens, je suis nerveux et instable. Aujourd'hui c'était plus simple. Je suis allé au centre commercial pour la première fois, les gens essayaient de me filmer pour ensuite poster les vidéos sur youtube. Je les ai évité et couvert mon visage. C'est un retour à la réalité, vous voyez ?
It is. I'm the same person, but a lot has changed, though. [I'm] sober now and sticking to it. All I want to do is work—work on my record and my career. That's the main focus.
Ça l'est. Je suis toujours le même, mais beaucoup de chose ont changé malgré tout. A présent je suis sobre et je compte le rester. Tout ce que je désire est travailler, travailler sur mon album et ma carrière. C'est le principal.
So far, what's the biggest change for you being out of prison?
The biggest change is trying to adapt to my surroundings. It's harder for me, because I'm more famous than before I went to prison. Like, way more. I didn't realize how famous I got since I went to prison. I got fan letters, but I didn't realize it blew up like that. I get out, and everywhere I go, it seems like people know either about it or are a big fan. I don't know, I got a lot more eyes on me than a normal prisoner would, right? It's hard to get used to, but I'm doing it, though. I'm doing pretty good.
What are you doing to make things easier for yourself?
Trying to stay busy. I'll force myself to do things I don't want to do. Like, “Let's go to Walmart” or, “All right, dude, I don't want to do this, but we have to.” If I don't do it now, it's going to get worse. So I'm gonna walk into the Walmart, right? The little things like holding money? It's so foreign to me now. It's crazy to hold money or drink out of a water bottle. I'll [turn on the sink and] walk away forgetting that I have to turn it off because in prison, the sinks turn off by themselves. It's just crazy. Eating food? Oh, my God. It's like an orgasm in my mouth, eating food that's not prison food.
Describe people what it's like [being in prison]. Did you have your phone?
No way, no way. It's so locked down. It's, like, the worst thing that could ever happen to anybody, besides living in a third-world country. When your freedom's taken away from you, a lot of people don't really think about it. But when it happens to you, it changes everything forever. I'll never be the same. I have a lot more respect for myself and people around me. I'm not disrespectful, I try to be polite. I'm more polite than I used to be. Inside prison, there's a lot of stuff you have to follow, or you can literally get killed over stuff so stupid—for bumping into somebody and not saying sorry.
Wow. That's frightening. People don't realize that you can't mess up there. It's a lot of pressure.
I did pretty good for a long time. As you go through the prison experience, it gets easier to do the things...I don't know, it's hard to explain. It's so violent, right? It's full of hatred. There's so much hatred in prison. It's Nazi skinheads, Black Panthers, bloods, crips... Where do I stand in all that? I never joined any of those gangs or anything because I don't believe in that stuff, but it seems like there's no love. It's literally all hatred, all the time.
What did you do to protect yourself?
I did a lot of push-ups. I got some muscles now—a little bit of muscle. I had to protect myself a couple of times. One misconception [about prison] is [that people get raped]. People don't get raped in prison anymore. And if they do, it doesn't happen really often. That was a plus. That's only in the movies. That's one thing people don't know.
Were you allowed to have visitors?
Yeah. I had to choose my visitors. The only person I chose to come visit me was my friend Nason [Schoeffler, bassist in Falling in Reverse]. There were a lot of people that wanted to come visit me, but I didn't want to. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I wanted to start new. I just wanted to have a new life. I don't want to deal with all the drama anymore, I want to save it for the record.
That makes sense. There are a lot of people around you in the past who didn't have your best interests at heart and were bad influences. To get clean and stay clean, you almost have to cut people out.
It's almost impossible when the dudes in your old band were doing drugs with you. When the ball drops, when everything starts crumbling, there's only one person to blame after that. That's when you figure out who your real friends are, if you know what I'm saying. It's like all of a sudden, it's all my fault. [Escape The Fate bassist] Max Green used to help me get drugs. He used to help me steal money. He used to drive me around 'cause I never had a license, so he was the one that was driving the van. We'd stop at places and we'd sell our merch to get drugs. And it was him driving. [A representative for Green, who is currently in rehab, declined to comment at this time. —ed.]
I remember Brett Gurewitz from Epitaph Records—I had just got out of jail for these traffic tickets, and he's like, “You gotta go to rehab.” And he's like, “Max, I'm trusting you to pick him up and take him straight to rehab.” [Green was] like, “Yeah, man, I got it.” No one knew Max was a drug addict then. He kept it on the down-low. Right when I got out, Max was like, “We gotta go to rehab. But do you want to stop at the drug dealer's house first?” I was like, “Yeah.” Seven days later, I finally went to rehab.
When was that?
That was the only time I ever went to rehab, it was before [2006's] Dying Is Your Latest Fashion came out. I always thought [Green] was a good friend, and I didn't know what a good friend was. I don't think a friend would do that to you, and then stab you in the back. Not to mention, I've known [the members of Escape The Fate] for so long, then [they talked] all this shit while I was in prison for something I didn't do. I really didn't do it. Everybody knows it. You can read the discovery—the legal part, what really happened—and you can see that I didn't do it. I'm the only one that went to prison. I didn't shoot anybody. I didn't punch anybody. I was what they call the face of everything.
Have you talked to Green lately? When's the last time you've talked to him?
He's never written me one letter, no. All [Escape The Fate] do is talk shit about me.
So you haven't talked to anyone in the band?
No, they've never written me any letters. Not even one.
Do you miss them?
No. Well, at first, when I first went in, it was so fresh, I would miss them. Then it just started getting like, “Oh, he got caught with heroin.” They'd start making up lies. “He's addicted to heroin, in prison. He got caught with heroin. Fuck him. Go suck his dick,” to, like, 13-year-old children while onstage. They're telling these kids, you know, “Fuck the old singer. He just got caught with heroin, he's going to be in there for a long-ass time. This next song's called 'Situations,'” and then go sing my song. It's just like, I don't know. I don't want to talk to [Green]. We're not friends. We'll never be friends after that. How could you be friends with somebody that would do that to you? Plus for knowing you for so long, too. That's, like, heartless, you know?
How did you hear about this stuff in prison?
Nason would just tell me everything that was going on. I didn't believe most of what Nason said when it came to, like, how bad the Escape The Fate records are now and how shitty of a singer Craig [Mabbitt] is and how Auto-Tuned his voice is. I went on the [ETF] Facebook, and almost every comment is like a “Fuck you.” I have such loyal fans, man. I didn't realize that it was like this. I thought I would just fade out. I didn't realize how big it's going to be.
Any interview that was done with you or that other people did about you, the comment response was insane. Why do you think that is?
I think it's just the reality of... I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I'm honest with everything I do. I would never not be honest in my lyrics and in my songwriting. When that was gone [from Escape The Fate], they're looking at each other, like, “Well, what do we do now? We'll just let the producer write everything.” When a producer writes everything, it's not really from the heart anymore. It's not from [the band's] heart, at least. You can't take a singer out of a band that's already established and put another singer in and dress him up the exact same way and try to pull the veil over these fans' eyes. It doesn't work like that. Kids can see through that, I believe.
What was drug rehab like in jail? Was it different than regular drug rehab?
The whole prison experience was drug rehab. That was another reason I got so angry that they were saying I got caught with heroin. If I would have got caught with heroin, I would still be in prison. I'd be in there for another four years, you know? Obviously it's not true. Drug rehab... I don't know. It's not all love or anything, it's still like rehab on the outside. You live and you learn in there. Exercising every day started slowly getting the chemicals in my brain back to normal to where I'm like, “I don't even want to look at a pill or even think about going and getting anything.” I'm so strong now, it's ridiculous.
In an October 2008 interview, you said you had an album's worth of songs and were going out to record with Omar [Espinosa, ex-ETF]. Is that similar to what is happening now? Is it some of the same songs?
It's not Omar. It's the same producer [Elvis Baskette] who did Dying Is Your Latest Fashion. Back then, I was supposed to go record with Omar. And I'm glad I didn't, cause I don't think I would have been at my prime, and my lyrics are so beyond anything I've ever written. People don't even know. My lyrics are freaking ridiculous now.
In what way?
The metaphors, how the words are formed together. You're already professional at what you do, right? And someone sticks you in solitary confinement. For two-and-a-half years, every single day you come up with new ways to do things, and you have no outside influence by any type of other music—cause there's no other music. It's just you and yourself and all you have to do is write, write, write, write, literally for two-and-a-half years. I came up with some of the most genius things... I don't think anybody's even going to come close to this for a long time.
How many songs did you end up writing?
About 25 songs that are done, and 30 miscellaneous.
What are the themes you're coming up with?
A lot about my mother, a couple songs about prison, about getting out of prison and going to jail for something I didn't do, and how corrupt Vegas is. Songs about Max and Craig and what big douchebags they are now. It's a lot about... just real stuff, you know? I've had a really hard life, so I don't really write songs about love.
You haven't had room for that, in a way.
Yeah. I only write how I feel. And I'm not going to lie to myself and try to write songs on how much I love somebody. I do have love, but... there will be a lot of songs about just what I've been through. What I'm going through and what I'm going to do.
How did Falling In Reverse come together?
The band came together because of Nason. I was like, “I'm going to give up singing, man. I'm just going to work a job.” I remember Nason looked at me—I was coming down off of pills—and he's like, “Dude. You can't do anything else, man. You were born for this.” I'll never forget that. That was right when I was wanted on the news, I was at his house. The [U.S. Marshals] came and got me the next day. I was like, “Hey, Nason, do you want to be in my band?” And he's like, “Yeah, dude.” A month later, he just started a MySpace page and started building and building and building. We changed the name From Behind These Walls to Falling in Reverse, because Falling in Reverse means so much more, right?
It just started building and building. Then he met a guy named Jacky [Vincent]. He has a degree in music and there's nobody in this industry, in our genres of music, that's better than him. He is seriously the best. [Search for him on] YouTube. He's like a Steve Vai. He's that good. And he's 21 years old. He's like [Avenged Sevenfold guitarist] Synyster Gates, he's really good. Then we got this guy named Derek [Jones], he played in the Agony Scene. He also played in this band called A Smile From The Trenches. We've been going through drummers. A couple drummers didn't work out because there were some drugs involved, and I don't want to be around anybody that does drugs. We're just going to have somebody fill in for the drums on the album. We'll find a drummer, though. We're supposed to drive [on] the 27th to go record this album.
With Elvis Baskette, right?
Yeah, we were going to fly, but I can't get my ID.
Is that because you have a felony?
No, no, no. It's because they kicked me out of prison, and then they took my prison ID and I don't have a birth certificate, blah blah blah. I gotta wait for this. Elvis wants me to come out as soon as possible, so I said, “Fuck it, we'll just drive.” We're going to be out there for three months. He wanted to rent a rental car and fly me, and I said, “Instead of that, we'll just drive and use the van, so it saves you thousands of dollars.”
What do you like about Elvis as a producer? Why was he the right choice?
He's like my best friend. I've known that guy since I was 18 years old. There's a song called “Listen Up” on Falling in Reverse's [MySpace] page. And then “Not Good Enough For Truth in Cliché” off the Dying Is Your Latest Fashionalbum. There's another one called “Make Up” and there's another one called “As You're Falling Down.” That was the four-song demo that Escape The Fate didn't write. I actually wrote that with Elvis. Those songs aren't even original Escape The Fate songs. They were put on the album because they were so good. Brett Gurewitz really liked them, so he put 'em on there. But me and Elvis are like two peas in a pod when it comes to writing songs. The dude's a genius, he really is. I don't know if he's under the radar or anything, but the guy knows what he's doing.
And he works well with vocalists, that's what I always notice about the stuff he does.
He's a vocalist guy. That's why me and him get along so well. One of his favorite bands is Van Halen, and he said I remind him of David Lee Roth. That's like the biggest compliment in the world.
It seems like Nason really stood by you. What did it mean to you that he believed in you?
I was coming out of the prison gates, and the road—I'm getting chills to even think about it—driving down in shackles coming back to be released to the public. It was insane. On the ride, I started crying, tears coming down my face. [It was] the first time I cried in two-and-a-half years. I didn't cry at my sentencing, I didn't cry in prison. It was impossible. I just felt like the weight was been lifted off. And I was thinking of Nason the whole time. Motherfucker stood by me through everything. I've known him almost as long as I've known Max. I've known Max three years longer. For a friend to do that, the loyalty, it's ridiculous.
When did you guys first meet?
I've known him since around 18, 19 years old, when my first demo came out. We weren't best friends hanging out every day, but we were friends, we would hang out.
Musically, what are the new songs sounding like?
I can't even explain them. You know what's crazy? To dress up like '80s hair metal bands, back when I was doing it in 2007, nobody did that, okay? Nobody did that. And if they did, it was not how we were doing it. I get out, and there are bands that look exactly like [Escape The Fate], and it's like, I'm so proud. I feel honored, man. That's so cool. That made me very happy to see that, that people would actually do that.
On Dying Is Your Latest Fashion, it was an accident putting songs like “The Guillotine” with breakdowns. Then the next song on the album is called “Reverse This Curse,” and it's like a Blink-182, poppy song. That was just an accident, I just did that because that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something different. Now everybody's doing that: breakdowns, breakdowns and then poppy songs next, then breakdowns. Nobody was doing that kind of stuff before, it was either breakdowns the whole time, like heavy bands screaming, or pop.
Now everybody's doing the breakdown/poppy thing. I'm trying to keep it 50/50, though, with the breakdowns and the pop. Some of the songs got breakdowns like I would normally do, and most of them are like... dark. Dark chords. Heavy shredding, ridiculous shredding. Double-bass. Jacky makes a lot of guitar players look like amateurs, he's really freaking good, man.
Do you have a label in mind yet?
We have a couple of labels in mind, three or four have hit me up. I might stay with Epitaph, I think that's what I'm going to do. We're still in the midst of figuring everything out. I got some stuff locked in for sure, I'm just not allowed to talk about it.
You're going to be in Orlando for three months. Are you going to record all 25 songs you wrote?
I want to keep that a secret, on the down-low... I can't really say, I can imply that it will be a shocker, right? People are going to be shocked, like, “What?” when they hear what we're doing with the album.
Some secrecy is good, though. So much of your life has been such an open book—having some things for yourself is good.
Just for now, I wanted to keep it on the down-low...okay, I'll just say it. We wanted to do two albums, one really heavy and one all pop songs, and release it on the same day.
Really? That's awesome.
No one does that.
No. Or they'll do one and then do another one four months later, if that does well.
I think kids' heads will explode if that happens, right? [Laughs.]
Why did you guys want to do that, then?
I just came up with the idea. I think my creativity slowly came back and I became a ball of creativity—walking creativity, glowing, producing creativity. You know, I'm 100 percent sober, I'm healthy, I'm cut up a little bit. My mind's right, my creativity's through the roof. The way the songs are sung, [nobody]... is doing it how I'm doing it right now. What we're about to do.
Isn't it weird, that when you're on drugs, you think, “This is great.” And once your mind is clear, you're like, “What was I thinking?”
Exactly. And I believe that Escape The Fate, on their new album, they were rushed into something, and they were forced to write songs quickly. I'll be honest with you, I'm trying to not be biased, but I don't like it. I don't like how they went with it. That's just my opinion, though, and obviously everybody's going to say, “Go figure.” But of all singers, they could have got somebody that's better than Craig, man. I think I'm a much better singer than Craig. For him to act like me and dress like me and even talk [and use] mannerisms, like me is just pathetic. They should have reinvented themselves or changed their name or did something when This War Is Ours came out. That's what I believe.
Have you talked to Craig before you went to jail?
We were friends. I remember [Blessthefall and Escape The Fate] were on the  Black On Black tour and he came out of the green room at the end of tour crying, saying someone stole, like, his laptop and all of his money. He has to buy diapers for his daughter. I remember, like, the last time I saw him literally before I got into the bus, I pulled out $300 and I said, “Dude here's my last three hundred. Buy your kids some diapers, man.” He gave me a hug. That's the last time I saw him.
It still seems like you have a lot of anger toward him and the band.
Yeah. It's expected. The anger will be directed into the album. There will be no hostility if I ever see them or anything. I'm a better person than that now. But to talk so much shit for two-and-a-half years, knowing I can't defend myself? That's the lowest of lows, man. And then to try to write us and act like we're friends or something—he's like trying to write my [new] band...
Craig was trying to write my band trying to get them to come over to hang out. He was doing that to get to me. They want to break me down and keep breaking me down, but it's never going to happen. Especially with how crappy [Escape The Fate] are now.
Is there anything that could mend the relationship you guys once had?
No. Never. The only thing I could do is forgive. I will forgive everybody for what they did. I'm not perfect; I did some bad stuff, too. But friends are supposed to be there for friends. There's a lot of stuff that Max did and I forgave him for in the past, and he knows it. He knows it. It did some pretty bad stuff to me. I don't expect him to be [like], “Oh, we gotta wait around for him to get out of prison.” But they didn't have to kick me out, talk shit about me, lie and say I get caught with heroin, and stuff like that. They could have been supportive.
That's such a hard situation all around. What strikes me during this conversation is that you sound so confident, I guess. I don't think you've ever lacked for confidence—and you sound very clear and focused in your voice, the way you're talking.
Well, thank you. I've become so much more polite. We went to the mall today, and I got in somebody's way and I'm like, “Oh, I'm sorry.” Or if I bump into somebody, I apologize. I forgot that if people bump into people, and they won't say sorry, that's usually what happens. But in prison, you can't do that. I don't know. It's crazy.
Now that you've been in jail, do you regret having to go there?
I would never change it. I would never change it, because I am such a better person now. I'm so different, so focused and just have newfound respect for life.
Not a lot of people get that second chance. How many stories do you know where people go to jail, and it doesn't change them, they don't learn from it. They get out and continue doing the same old things.
Exactly. Or, like, I heard a lot of stuff like, the reason why prisoners go back to drugs immediately—they don't want to—but the anxiety level of trying to deal with people is so high. It's ridiculous. If I could show you for a glimpse of how I have to deal with people again, it's so ridiculous. People go back because they can't deal with reality.
I've heard that before, and it makes a lot of sense. You're used to rigid schedules, and to be thrown out into chaos, and it's the week of Christmas. So it's even more insane.
Yeah, dude. Oh, my God, I went to the mall, it was crazy.
I don't even want to go near the mall. If you can do that, I think you're well on your way...
I'm scared of girls, I'm kind of bashful. It's crazy. Before I went to prison, I was like, “Whatever. I could have any girl I want.” I wasn't scared of any girls. I could just go up and talk to any girl. Now it's like, I can't talk. I'm, like, embarrassed, I blush a lot.
It's like you're 13 again or something.
Yeah, I'm like a virgin again. I haven't had sex yet, still. I've had a couple offers, and I turned them down. I'll get to it, though, eventually.
What else do you want people to know?
I want to apologize to all of my fans for letting them down. I want to thank all my fans that stood by my side through everything, because two-and-a-half years is a long time. and people forget. I can't believe that they wouldn't forget. And I want to thank all the fans, the 100,000 [letters of] fan mail I got. These fan letters, they'd be like, “Thank you. You saved my life. If it wasn't for you, I would've committed suicide.” It's crazy that my lyrics would actually help somebody to that degree.
That's a lot of pressure.
I feel like I have a lot of pressure to make this album. I know it's going to come out amazing. But it is a lot of pressure.
But it sounds like you have a support system—who know you and have stood by you.
Everybody around me is sober. No one is addicted to drugs. [No] creeps or anything like that. That's the biggest deal for me.
If you go on tour again, it sucks that there are people in the world who would want to see you fail and would want to give you drugs.
My mentality now is, I would want to punch somebody in the face if they offered me drugs right now. That would be so disrespectful; are you kidding me? I feel stronger than I ever have.