Claudio Zelaya/Contributing Writer
On Jan. 25 Las Vegas band Escape the Fate stopped by Revolution Live while on their Bury The Hatchet Tour. In this sit down, FIUSM spoke with bassist, Max Green. We discussed the feeling of being out on tour with former singer, Ronnie Radke, how he enjoyed the Florida scene, plans on a new album, and whether he thought the cape crusader would beat the man of iron. However, the main issue for today was illegal downloading and how it affects the music industry and the artists directly. Escape the Fate is touring in support of their latest album, “Ungrateful” which came out spring of 2013.
Four out of 5 digitally downloaded songs are illegal. Do you see the availability of music as a good or bad thing for the artist, the fans, or the industry in general?
Max Green: It’s funny that I’m doing this interview today ‘cause just yesterday Craig and I were watching this thing on TV about Korn. Korn has been around for a really long time. Well, recently they were doing an album and they decided to do it independently and the guy that signed them didn’t have a lot of faith in the band. It was like, “You’ll be lucky if you sell 30,000 records.” I’m just like thinking to myself when I heard this guy say this to Korn I’m like, “Wow, that’s so crazy saying this to a band like Korn.” You’re going to be lucky if you sell 30 – or 80,000 I think it was for Korn. This is to a band who is multi-platinum. That just goes to show how things have changed from ten years ago to now. How it’s like a band like Korn, multi-platinum, over a period of albums, over a decade or more, how people are saying to them now, “Oh you’ll be lucky to sell 80,000 records.” But, also, I think that has a lot to do with how hard a band works these days. I think a lot has to do with being a road dog. Going out there and owning and going above and beyond with things. It’s almost like having a double edge sword. It’s like the more you give away relates to how many songs you sell, rather, how it used to be like just putting your album out there, doing your thing, staying mysterious. Nowadays, it’s completely flipped around so it’s almost like the more oversaturated you become as a band and the more you put yourself out there then the more record sales you come to get from fans, the more fans you come to get. I think illegal downloading separates the men from the boys in the band world, in my opinion, nowadays.
Do you think Escape the Fate, or your friends who are in bands, can break the dry spell of hitting the platinum status, or a gold record?
Max Green: Yeah, I do. It’s because of bands like Green Day, Foo Fighters, and stuff like that and bands like Muse or 30 Seconds to Mars that are still achieving these things and that makes it feel like it’s not as much of a fairy tale pipe dream as you would think it would. Especially, I would say, for a band in our position. We’ve been around for a minute. We’ve got a lot of albums out. It’s all about how hard you want to work for it and how much time you want to put in to get to that level. I’ve noticed in the time that when I was in the band before my departure to now coming back how the band has grown. It just goes to show that, in their last album, the crowd and the fans have grown immensely. So it’s just like putting in your time. Just like with any job. You want to be president of a company? You want to make the millions or make the big bucks? You got to put in your time. You get promoted and stuff like that. So it’s like every album is a like promotion and you gain more and more.
Does the fact that people can get music so easily these days put any pressure on you? For instance, no it’s no longer about selling and instead the show. If you put on a bad show, these kids won’t come back to see you because they can listen to you anytime they want.
Max Green: No not really. I mean, everyone has a bad show. I’ve watched an interview that Green Day did where Billy Joel was talking about how you have horrible shows that makes you want to quit music or whatever, but it all comes with the territory and, especially, since kids can look anything up online. I feel like they don’t walk away from a bad show going, “Aw this band sucks.” Kids are more understanding of what they can walk away from a show and go, “Oh my god. That was so killer, amazing. I’m definitely going to go back,” or they could go, “Oh, you know what? I saw them before. This time wasn’t very good,” but they’re going to come back again because they know if you’re a solid band, you’re going to bring it and that’s one of the things I’ve always liked about this band is that I’ve always felt like we’ve been a solid band and brought it and that was part of our success in the beginning.
Under the law, it says if you’re caught, for every song you downloaded illegally it’s a $750 fine. A lot of kids would have million dollar debts if they’re caught. Do you think this is too harsh or appropriate for what they’re doing?
Max Green: I watch a lot of documentaries and I watched this documentary called “Sound City” by Dave Grohl and he had a lot of people come in like Trent Reznor. He actually said, “Isn’t it funny how some kid, or some fan, whoever, can steal one of your songs and that’s something you dedicated a year or more of your life to creating, this piece of art, this emotion that you drew from inside. You sat in a room with pen to paper, pouring out your emotions and getting the music to back that and collaborate and to take this person on a ride, to make them inspired to feel a certain emotion. When they hear a song, it brings them back to a moment of their life that a kid can either steal for free or buy for less than a cup of coffee.” That’s crazy and how much money it takes to put into making an album. Also, we are in the age of the home studio, but that stuff isn’t cheap either. How could you put a price on someone’s time and dedication to learning a craft?Do I think $750 dollars is too much? Absolutely not. There’s no way in hell that every kid who’s going to download a song or steal a song or file share a song – they’re going to get caught. I mean, it is what it is, but either way the music is here for you. It’s a piece of us. It’s why we do what we do. It’s what separates us from normal 9-5 human beings because we can’t survive in that world. We survive in this world.
In 2012, the Annual Music Study said that illegal downloading decreased 26 percent because of apps like Spotify and SoundCloud. Do you think these streaming apps are a good alternative? Do you support streaming apps like Spotify that only charge $10 a month?
Max Green:I think any alternative at this point is a good alternative. Just to see the amount of money that can be made and split. Bands really don’t make as much money as you think they do. That’s when it comes down to really putting your time. Illegal downloading just makes your favorite band work three times as hard to be able to be there for you. I think apps like Spotify are cool because the artist does see a little of that. It’s a nice a way because, like you said, illegal downloading went down 26 percent because of that. I mean, I use Spotify, so it’s cool.
Do you use Spotify? Do you think it’s worth it to charge $10 a month to dive into wonderland of music?
Max Green: I think it’s cool. What I’ll do, since I don’t download, I go on Youtube to like watch my favorite band’s videos and then I go like buy the album and stuff like that, but I always make sure I pay for it whenever I want it on one of my personal devices.
If you had it your way, would you have people only buy CD’s? Would that be your end all be all to how music is distributed?
Max Green: I mean, it really helps with bands, especially, like any band in its first five years of touring if people bought CD’s and stuff like that. I mean, nowadays, like you can buy singles and stuff like that and a lot of bands I know like All American Rejects, when we were on Interscope and they were on Interscope at the same time, one of the big things about that band was they weren’t selling albums, they were selling singles, but they were doing well enough selling their singles that it didn’t affect them as much as it would by someone just not buying an album and just like downloading stuff. They’ve been around for a while and some people are buying their singles. They’re still buying something. Yeah, in a perfect world I would like Napster to have never existed. That would be great. I mean, forever people have been dubbing tapes and stuff like that. But, yeah, I would love if, in a perfect world, if Napster was never created or it was banned because of everything it has started. It’ll never be stopped, but hopefully it can be slowed down or there could be a leveled playing field at some point. Some kind of meeting ground.
Escape the Fate is touring in support of their latest album, “Ungrateful” which came out spring of 2013.