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. alt