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Interview:
Onetime rivals Falling In Reverse and Escape The Fate bury the hatchet with current tour
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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After a half-decade of rancor and rivalry, the hard rock groups Falling In Reverse and Escape The Fate have decided to very publicly bury the hatchet.

Somewhat literally.

The appropriately named Bury The Hatchet Tour pairs the two bands on a welcome peacemaking mission, settling a feud of sorts that dates back to 2008. That's when ETF fired original singer Ronnie Radke -- who had already started FIR in 2006 -- after he was sentenced to jail for violating parole on a battery conviction (Radke was in prison until December of 2010). The bad blood made for titillating press as the two groups took shots at each other in interviews.

But last year, Radke says, "I just woke up one day and thought what better, therapeutic way to forgive somebody and get over something than to tour with them. So I made the call, and they agreed and jumped on board.

"They came over to my house and we went from there, worked out the logistics and everything."

ETF drummer Robert Ortiz says that he and bassist Max Green, who co-founded the group with Radke and replaced him with former Blessthefall singer Craig Mabbitt, were surprised to hear from their former bandmate.

"We sort of figured this kind of thing would never happen, that we'll always hate each other," Ortiz, 26, says. "Ronnie and myself and Max go back to when were kids, and basically your best friends are the ones that can hurt you the most."

Nevertheless, the ETF camp was open to Radke's offer to tour. "I think I had kind of moved past it," Ortiz says of the conflict. "I didn't hate him. I wasn't rooting against him and didn't want him to fail. I just wanted him to do his own thing and not worry about me.

"But Ronnie still had something inside him he needed to get off his chest, and we all finally said, 'We're over it. Let's be civil again. Let's be friends again.' We finally all put down our guards, removed the barriers we had built for each other and put our egos aside, which was really hard, and said, 'Let's go for it.' "

After "some exciting back and forth" about what to do during the tour, the two bands are joining forces at the end of FIR's set for renditions of ETF's "Not Good Enough For Truth in Cliche" and "Situations." It's a welcome moment of closure and will allow both bands to go back to their own paths once the tour wraps on Valentine's Day in California.

After what Ortiz calls "a rebuilding year" in 2013 -- with the addition of two new guitarists and Green's return after a year-long hiatus, as well as changing record companies -- ETF is looking forward 2014 "with a lot of hope," according to the drummer. The group wants to keep promoting its well-received fourth album, "Ungrateful," which has sold more than a million copies worldwide even though ETF was hampered by those behind-the-scenes machinations.

"We spent a lot of time rebranding ourselves and restructuring everything from our personal issues to business and financial issues -- everything that goes on behind the scenes that I don't want our fans to know about," Ortiz says. "All they should know about is what we create in terms of our art. Obviously we keep striving for something more and something greater; that's always been the way this band has operated.

"There's always been turmoil, always been road blocks, and you've just got to work past them. So what next year is going to be all about is going after the throne we thought we should have already. We want to make sure we really show people what's there. We have a lot to look forward to."

FIR, meanwhile, plans to stay on the road to support its second album, 2013's "Fashionably Late," which debuted in the Top 5 of Billboard's Rock Alternative Hard Rock and Independent Albums charts. The set courted controversy by reaching beyond its hardcore roots to included rap, dubstep, heavy metal and even country styles, but Radke says he and the group are having the last laugh over its haters.

"When it first came out people were so shocked and offended," notes Radke, 30, who also released a rap mixtape in late 2013. "We got such a backlash from people for doing something different; I even questions myself for a little bit. But looking out now, all the songs people would talk crap about are our highest-selling songs.

"People just hate something that's different when it first comes out. I takes them a little while to get used to it. I expected some of that, but I got thicker skin because of it, too."

And, Radke adds, it's also emboldened FIR to push even further on its next release. "Oh, our new songs are ridiculous, even crazier," he says. "Musically, musicians will be stoked. Some of these songs are very musical and advance, and musicians will respect that aspect of it."

The Bury The Hatchet Tour, with Falling In Reverse, Escape The Fate, Chelsea Grin and Survive This! stops Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $19.99 in advance, $23 day of show. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.



Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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