Since leaving Blessthefall, it seems like you’ve always had to have some sort of heavy music outlet.
Oh, yeah. I love it. I progressively still want to get heavier and heavier. It’s just what I need. Artist’s have to do something because they’ve got to get it out of them. I love the smaller venues, packed full of energy, and it’s just breakdowns the whole fucking time, and the walls are sweating—I love that shit, man. I’ve always wanted to do it since the moment I wasn’t in Blessthefall anymore and they didn’t want me back. Then they wanted me back, but I had already joined Escape The Fate and didn’t want to piss off everybody in ETF. At that point, that’s when I started the Word Alive, but they didn’t want to be a side project. At the end of the day, I finally did [Dead Rabbitts]. A label got on board—Tragic Hero. It was really tough to get a label to hop onboard, because throughout the past, a lot of artists in well-known bands have gotten their side projects signed. The labels would put time, attention and money into that project and then the project would go nowhere—the guys would just want to focus on their respective [main] bands.
Having Escape The Fate, my own family problems and having a kid at home, I was like, “Man, I need a label to hop onboard. I don’t think I can get the ball rolling completely solo.” So it was a little difficult, because, obviously, a lot of labels are standoffish. But I got it cleared from Escape’s label; they were like, “Yeah, you can do whatever the fuck you want with that project.” Tragic Hero hopped on board, and as soon as they did, that’s when I flew out to Wade to record these songs.
So Eleven Seven, Escape The Fate’s label, didn’t want to do the project with you?
They had their interests, and they were like, “We’ll take a look at it.” But when they say things like that, it’s always going to be on the backburner for them. I figured the best course of action, since I want to take Dead Rabbitts seriously, is get a completely separate team working with the Dead Rabbits, where that band are their main focus. If it was all the same people, obviously Escape The Fate are going to be top priority for them at the end of the day.
Some of my buddies in Alesana used to be on Tragic Hero. It pretty much fell into place because I called Escape The Fate’s old manager. I said, “If you’re interested, why don’t you manage this project?” He said, “Cool. Well, I’m managing A Skylit Drive right now and they’re on Tragic Hero. Show me some songs.” So I did, and everybody loved them. To save myself from another Word Alive situation, I went ahead and signed the deal myself, so I completely control the band, and nobody can replace me if they feel like it.
Kind of similar to what Craig Owens did with Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows?
Yeah. It’s not because I don’t trust the guys; I love all the guys, especially Alex [Torres, guitarist]. Alex and I have a really, really long history together. He came and tried out for Blessthefall, and it came down to him or Eric [Lambert], who’s still in Blessthefall right now. Obviously, TJ [Bell, bassist] is in Dead Rabbitts as well, and we’re in Escape The Fate together. What happened with the Word Alive was they wanted to go full-force with it; they had a record deal, and I was in the middle of a tour with Escape The Fate. Epitaph was trying to promote This War Is Ours; they said they were interested in the Word Alive, but [wanted] wait it out. TWA got impatient, and I got home from that tour, and my girlfriend says, “Hey, go check out your band’s Myspace.” I go on the Word Alive’s Myspace page and it’s like: new photo, new singer announcement, signed to Fearless Records. And I’m like, “What?! Well, I guess it’s not my band anymore!”
I think you dumped some unreleased tracks from TWA that night.
Yeah. I was like, “Fuck this, man! It was my band. What are these guys doing?” [Laughs.] Obviously, everything’s water under the bridge. I get it; they wanted to go for it. There’s no hate anymore. I love those guys, and I actually really love all of their albums so far. I just feel like everything happens for a reason, and at the end of the day, everybody ends up where they’re suppose to be. That even goes back to the Bury The Hatchet tour. Me and the guys were talking about it. We were like, “Everything happens for a reason, because I don’t think Escape The Fate would’ve ever agreed to play rap songs.”
Did Andrew Wade produce the most recent Dead Rabbitts EP, Edge Of Reality?
No. Edge Of Reality was all done with Caleb Shomo. He produced all of that. I flew out to his house in Columbus. The full-length that’s coming out is pretty much all of the Wade songs I just did, and some songs from Edge Of Reality will be on the album as well. [Recording with Caleb] was an awesome experience. Escape The Fate did their first headliner with me as the singer, and Attack Attack! were opening that tour. Caleb was just this little 15-year-old kid playing the keyboards. When I went to his house, he was two records deep as the lead vocalist for Attack Attack!, already working on his Beartooth stuff and then showing me his CLASS stuff, which is his electro project. I’m really impressed with how much he’s grown as an artist. I’m so jealous of how talented that dude is—he was only 19. I’m just like, “You’re so fucking awesome, dude.”
How was it working with Andrew Wade?
It was awesome. He’s just a really down-to-earth, humble guy, and I love working with people like that. He didn’t change much, and he liked every song. Working with him was really easy.