by Natalie Perez
What are the ingredients to making a solid upbeat rock n’ roll band with some heavy metal flare to spice it up? Well it’s quite simple, you take about an average of 3-5 members in this case we need five, James Vegas (vocals), Marti Rubels (guitars), Bagel (guitars), Shep (bass), and Corey (drums). By mixing these ingredients altogether thoroughly well you end up with an Orlando, Florida specialty known as Modern Day Escape.
With that said, Modern Day Escape has been around for a solid four year run, having released a self-titled EP in 08 with a follow-up full length release just a year later, House of Rats, the band has made a name for themselves and will not take no for an answer. The band caught up with me backstage to discuss the band’s forthcoming, album inscription, touring plans, the whole nine yards of what there is to know about Modern Day Escape.
1. First let’s just get the basics down and introduce yourself to an audience who may not have heard of your band yet. How did Modern Day Escape begin and what was the motivation for creating this project?
James Vegas: I sing for the band and I would say the band started in 2006 with a bunch of random ragged-tagged homeless kids wanting to do something with their lives.
Bagel: We were all friends before the band even got started. I had moved from California and met with James, Bagel and Shep and we all had started a couple of different bands which later on would become Modern Day Escape. Marti Rubels and Corey Texas are our two latest members to join the band because our former drummer (who’s here supporting us tonight) had to leave due to family issues etc.
Marti Rubels: We formed because we liked a lot of different types of music and all wanted to write what sounded good to us. I myself didn’t even know how to play a guitar before joining me I just liked to party. To sum it up, we all just clicked and didn’t have any instrumental training what so ever. We treat, act, and care about one another just like brothers.
Corey: What’s up?
2. What about the tour you were just a part of, how did that go?
James Vegas: One of the best tours we’ve ever been on.
Marti Rubels: With I Am Ghost that was awesome. It went from like business talk to like “hey we like the music” to just partying every other night it was crazy but lots of fun to. Then it turned into snow ball fights after the first time I saw snow now that was cool. Their fans and our fans got along great and today is the last day of the tour but it was great overall.
Bagel: A lot of man-love going around. (Laughs) Also one of the best tours we’ve ever been on.
Shep: I’ve been a fan of I Am Ghost for years and now I’m in a band and get to tour alongside them is just unbelievable.
3. Your new album “House of Rats” is out, tell me about its production and how it compares to your self-titled EP.
James Vegas: Hmmm I’d have to say we spent 10 days straight recording the album because we were pressed on time. For me it was a hard process because I was ill whilst recording it. It was recorded at Chin Music Studios in Cleveland, Ohio and it was intense recording the EP let alone the full length especially since it was at a friend’s house in their living room that was different. Now that being compared to a full production, with the writing, mastering, and all the little touch-ups it was a big jump for us as a whole.
Marti Rubels: It was a big jump for us the difference in sound from both of our releases is priceless. There was eeriness to our EP that was written within during our darker days, containing a lot of anger and emotion we had to get out. A lot of our fans are like “That’s cool but it’s startling”. On the next album we plan to return to our roots and create something that’s more us.
4. What can be expected from listening to this album? Did you try anything new?
Shep: We tried a lot of new stuff. When we write, we don’t focus on the genres or the direction we just mess around until we all agree on something. The music takes us and we’re learning from our instruments. We’ve been through a lot.
Marti Rubels: We played a place called Retro in Fresno and the owner came up after our set and said “I really enjoyed your set because it was different.” We’ve been through a lot as well, when we first came out to California we were homeless for three months having some of us being held by knife point by gang members to sleeping under a park bench because some hobo was trying to steal our phones to buy some coke or whatever. It’s been hard for us as a band but we’ve managed to get through all of the tough times and move on. Also thought I would throw this out there, every time we go out on tour somebody close to me dies I don’t know why but I guess it’s the Polish curse I have inherited.
5. How does it feel to be a part of the Standby Records family?
James Vegas: Great.
Shep: We have a very tight relationship with the owner Neil.
Marti Rubels: If at any time we’re not working hard he will screw us over. He’s like “If you don’t work hard why anyone would work that hard for you?” A lot of bands think that the labels will do all the work that’s not how it works. Neil is like our big red uncle. Best of all we have Black Veil Brides and Vanilla Ice are a part of the label and we’ve become great friends with those guys. Standby Records is one of those labels that start from the ground up. Like you’ll hear about these other bands way back when that are in this situation but are now making it big. We’re grateful to have what we have.
Shep: I’d like to give a shout out to BIG RED.
6. What are some of your favorite songs to perform live?
James Vegas: “Maybe Holding Hands Wasn’t Such a Good Idea”.
Marti Rubels: “Let’s Get Sweaty,” just anything with a lot of energy.
Shep: “A Creature Among Us”.
Corey: Let’s Get Sweaty.
7. What was it like writing your first full length debut? Is there any progress for a follow-up?
Shep: We definitely want to return to the studio sometime in the winter and will be releasing another single and music video during that time as well. We’re also writing and working on our next second epic full length release.
James Vegas: Basically we wrote House of Rats in a flash. We lied to our label at the time, because they told us “We will sign you if you have ten songs ready to go.” So we said “Sure we do.” So we had only like 1-2 songs done and we power wrote for a month straight and then went and recorded the album so it was intense that’s why it came out so raw.
Marti Rubels: I think it was fun being rushed to write the album. It was so pure and just don’t think about anything and it was just our thing and we were pissed.
8. Where did the idea come for the “Maybe Holding Hands Wasn’t Such A Good Idea”, music video?
Marti Rubels: Laughs
James Vegas: It’s about lust and wanting what you can’t have.
9. You probably get this a lot but you guys sound a lot like Escape the Fate, have you ever considered touring with them, and how about your label mates Black Veil Brides.
James: We would love to. There is some comparison between us and them. When we first started we didn’t even know who they were or what types of music they played either. We are friends with them now and both Max Green and Craig Mabbitt are good friends of mine. Both theirs and our music have grown and gone in their own direction. I really don’t think there is much of a comparison as of right now.
Marti Rubels: That would be an awesome tour. A lot of their old fans have become our fans. It would be cool to bring it altogether to bridge the gap if you will… We’re good friends with all the bands but the management and the business and politics are the blocking point from getting this to happen but we will see what we can do. Great idea though.
10. What does the future hold for Modern Day Escape?
Corey: Maturity since I’ve joined the band just coming together and figuring out our flaws and all of the ups and down and just write some amazing music together.
Marti Rubels: I think a new generation of fans and bands, like A Hero Fake who we’ve gone on tour with, is the future to what is to become of this type of music. Bands that are friends with their fans, like myself I give out my number like water because I like to be friends with everybody. That’s the key to success if you get along with everybody then it will pay off.
11. Your fans of course play a huge role for you guys what has been the most memorable fan experience?
James Vegas: We’ve seen some crazy things like you can’t imagine.
Marti Rubels: I snapped the neck of my guitar on James shoulder and my guitar broke in half. So we’re not a rich band so I needed a new guitar and we kept talking about what we were going to do. In just one night the fans had found out and had a fundraiser and raised enough money for me to buy a brand new Les Paul now that was amazing.
Shep: We give it to our friends because we wouldn’t be here right now. It’s the support that we get from our fans that keeps us going. Like the same thing happened to me, it’s weird when people attack you by wanting to help you. All I can say is “Thank you.”
James: I would say the first kid to ever get our band symbol tattooed on his leg. It was in Orlando Florida maybe 1-2 years ago when Shep just joined the band. He came out of the crowd and we had just gotten off the stage, he was like “Look look look at my leg!” We weren’t even signed at the time and only had like ten people per show, so he was like “Look at my leg” I was like “Cool you got a tattoo I’m hot and tired so leave me alone.” Then I looked again and it said Modern Day Escape and it was the worse tattoo I had ever seen – it looked like a blind person had done it. (Laughs) We call him the golden child, known as Paul, he must have just turned 18 because it was his first tattoo and that was just the coolest thing. Now I’ve seen like 20-40+ tattoos out there and we’ve around for 3- 4 years and to see such dedication like this is unreal.
Marti: Here’s an interesting quote, “It’s a village to raise a kid but it takes the village to raise the band.”
12. You guys are from Orlando, Florida have you experienced all of theme parks it offers?
Shep: I’ve lived in both Florida and California and have never been to a theme park.
Bagel: Marti and I use to work at Hard Rock so we’d get free Universal Studios passes all the time and we’d go and have fun.
James Vegas: Marti’s dad is the head fireworks writer and director so he and Bagel get to go anytime.
Marti Rubels: Mickey Mouse is actually my boyfriend.
13. Did you hear about that new Harry Potter World theme park?
James Vegas: Yes but I’m upset that they took out that tree thing.
Marti Rubels: Let’s get something straight we have a song called “For the Horde,” which means we all play World of Warcraft which means we’re all nerds. I’m currently reading Lord of the Rings and I love Harry Potter so what? I think it’s so cool that you can walk up to the train station and there is a guy there dressed as Hagrid that’s just so cool.
14. Half way through the tour you guys had gotten snowed in, spending time designing your own merch, what has the reaction been?
James Vegas: Good.
Bagel: We sold out twice let us not forget that we had gotten high off spray painting all of those shirts. (Laughs)
Marti Rubels: We didn’t get snowed in we had to stop and make more. Since that night we got brand new stencils, and have gotten so much better at it.
Shep: Like in the first week we sold out of our shirts so we had to do something and we were tired of telling kids we ran out so we designed our own.
15. For the people that don’t know who Modern Day Escape is what should they know?
Bagel: A bunch of gays. (Laughs)
Shep: A lot of people never believe that it’s us when we respond to their messages online. It’s like “Why not?” We do talk and read every message that gets sent to us so come and talk to us we want to hear from you.
Marti Rubels: I have a lot of people tell us that “Oh you like to pretty yourself up and like to wear eyeliner” no that’s not the case I do it because I choose to and I like how my green eyes stand out. I don’t do it because bands do it, some of my favorite bands are Third Eye Blind and Boston I just wear it because I want to feel pretty. (Laughs-high fives Shep to band comment)
James Vegas: What anybody should know is that we’re people just like you and we need friends, we’ll talk to anybody so doesn’t be afraid, to check us out.