FRR: Hate Me releases this Friday. This is your first album you’ve recorded with Escape the Fate so you’ve got to be pumped to get this record out. Tell me what this album means to you personally- the album is Hate Me.
Thrasher: Personally it is like the world to me. I mean, every song has a different meaning to it, but what it all relates to is the theme I guess of “hate me” but- above all- fighting, conquering certain battles in your life or even for us like the music industry and personally as a band we’ve gotten stronger since doing this record.
FRR: Each song has its own identity whether it’s “Just A Memory,” “Remember Every Star,” the title track, every song is strong thematically and lyrically. Let’s talk about the title track. Where did that come from?
Thrasher: The title track was one of the first songs we actually wrote together. Craig flew out and stayed at my place for a few weeks and we started immediately getting to work writing for the record and I was experimenting with all sorts of things, I had a bunch of metal tracks, rock tracks, even riffs here and there that eventually would turn in to songs that made it to the record.
But “Hate Me” that track was like more of a hip-hop or electronic thing. I made the entire song on my computer with synths and heavy drums. Craig started singing the chorus “hate me because I live this way, hate me for the things I say” and “I see the tables turning” and immediately when we heard that chorus we were like “Damn, that sums up everything that we’ve been feeling for the last year” everything from the harsh critics to comments about the band’s past so that kind of set the tone for the record. We got that out early and that opened up, so the whole record’s not just focusing on that one that. So that just kind of made sense and when we were discussing album titles that was the first thing that the whole band completely just agreed about.
FRR: I know this is your first record with the band and you toured with the band for a year or two-
Thrasher: Four, on and off, actually.
FRR: Yea. When Monte and the rest of the guys left the band, at what point did you come in? I know you go back a ways with Craig. You did The Dead Rabbitts with Craig for a while-
Thrasher: Yea. Dead Rabbitts came after I was touring with Escape the Fate. Craig and I became friends on a tour called The Black on Black tour, which was my band LoveHateHero, Craig was in blessthefall, and Escape the Fate was like the old version of Escape the Fate, I guess and Craig and I became really good friends.
It was funny because the guitar player had left the band at that time- left Escape the Fate, and Ronnie asked me to be in the band way back when and I was like, I had my loyalty to my band LoveHateHero, I was like “no, man.” Then Craig and I became really good friends at that point.
Flash forward a bit, the band was gearing up to go on the Avenged Sevenfold tour, one of the biggest tours the band has ever done to date and they needed a guitar player and I was the first one they called.
FRR: So it was a natural decision to have you come in and be the full time lead guitar player.
Thrasher: Yea, it was a long time coming, I think. And now the band’s dynamic works so well. We’re still writing new music even though we just completed this record. Craig and I are just kind of sending back and forth voice memos and I’ll send him MP3s and those are either going to turn in to Dead Rabbitts songs like you mentioned or else a sixth studio record in the future. Keep that creativity flowing. We’re just so hyped on this current record so it’s like I just don’t want the momentum to stop, you know?
FRR: It’s a great follow up to Ungrateful. I listened to it from start to finish and it’s crazy- there are so many good songs on this one. I know you’ve done a lot of session work and I know as a session player and writer you’re always writing. How much of the guitar work on Hate Me was some left over song ideas from session work, and how much of it was sit down fresh with Escape the Fate to write this record?
Thrasher: I’d say a very small amount, actually. There’s one song in particular, “Live
Through Today” that was written in full aside from a few lyric a few years ago when I was starting a solo project and I just kind of had that hidden away in the back of my hard drive and when we were getting together songs we wrote upwards of 40 verse/chorus type things- they weren’t like full songs but we did kind of like riff, verse, and a chorus just to see what we wanted to focus on and when we were showing our producer Howard Benson these tracks the last thing I pulled out was “Live Through Today” and he loved it.
Craig actually encouraged me to play it for him and I was kind of not in to showing this producer that’s so massive and a big inspiration to me growing up a song with me signing lead vocals on it and he loved it and we ended up working as a band and finishing the song up, and that’s how that one came together.
FRR: Howard Benson is one of the most prolific producers in all of rock so to sit down and work with him on your first official record with Escape The Fate what was that process like for you as a songwriter and how much did he help the process of this record come along?
Thrasher: I think he helped tremendously with the band. He’s one of those producers that’s so respected in the industry and he only chooses bands that he wants to work with and he only does projects that he really believes he can take to that next level, so it was an honor for him to actually say that to us and in him doing that, and the way he worked with the band, his approach is more empowering band members.
He takes your band in and he’s like, “What’s up guys, this is your fifth record” and the band had all this drama in the past, and it’s kind of like a new band in a way. He kind of just brought us together and was like “you guys fucking rock, you know what you want to do, I’m not going to stand in the way of it, I’m just going to help you achieve the very best that you can do” and I kind of dug that approach. He wasn’t so hands on like there every single day while I’m tracking guitars, but the things he did focus on were the big picture things- keeping everyone focused on the task at hand.
He made us write five more songs before we came to the studio, he’s like “just keep on writing. Write, write, write, write, write so we can have a lot to choose from” and I think Craig vocally they really got along and Craig really respects him as a producer and that went a long way to getting the vocals that Howard got. I think Craig is singing amazing on this record and he did all of his proper four-step harmonies. There’s no outside singers on this record- it’s all coming from the band members, even the gang vocals were just the four of us in a room around one microphone.
FRR: Even his screams are more dynamic on this record. I feel like he really brought the best out of the band on this one.
Thrasher: Yea. His screams are completely dynamic and that also comes from a lot of experience as he’s been touring and even doing the Dead Rabbitts stuff which is a bit heavier. My dynamic is I actually do a lot of shredding and a lot of heavy metal guitar playing but my session work as an engineer and as a producer is more on the top-40 pop side, so I guess that brought a completely different dynamic to the band as well.
FRR: The record releases on the 30th and you guys are gonna be on the road nonstop. There’s got to be something special about having music to play with the band finally that you wrote. It’s got to be even more exciting for you to be hitting the road this time around and play these songs live. How are you feeling going in to this tour?
Thrasher: I’m just trying to prepare the best possible. It is exciting to play these brand new songs. I think the whole band is pumped on it because we’ve kind of had the same set list for the last year and now we’ve got this huge catalog to pull from and this brand new record that we kind of want to play every song on this new record but we can’t really do that yet because it’s not out.
So we’re playing like four songs and those will be the first four songs that are released form the record. We’ve got “Terrible Children,” which comes out in a week or two, “Alive,” which is like a massive radio song for us, “Just A Memory,” and “Remember Every Star.” We’re playing those and then mixing it up with some older stuff as well.
FRR: “Remember Every Star” is probably one of my favorite ones on the record, for sure.
Thrasher: That one we wrote in my old apartment and we had this little melody on this one octave keyboard “hold on to that heartbreak” and kind of playing that and once Craig sung that it gave me instant chills and I was like, “holy shit. I think we have something here!”
FRR: I can’t wait to hear it live- it’s gonna be so good.
Thrasher: Yea, me too!