Escape the Fate focuses on the huge
Ronnie Radke's eyes get wide, like he has just seen a ghost. Sitting outside a Starbucks on a recent Monday afternoon, he seems like caffeine incarnate, a shock of energy, jumping to his feet as he explains how good it feels to be, well, him.
"You know what I love the most, dude? When you walk up and everybody goes (makes loud gasping sound)," the Escape the Fate frontman says of the reception he has been getting at his band's gigs of late. "It's the greatest. You don't understand how good that feels."
And with that, Radke lets out a long, loud madman's laugh that startles the blond girl sitting across the way, whom Radke had attempted to make time with earlier.
She gets up and leaves.
"Sorry," Radke says, surrounded by his four bandmates.
All clad in black, tattoos of spider webs and pirate ships smothering their arms and necks, the group looks like a cadre of punk rock undertakers, covered in more ink than the Sunday New York Times.
Their sound is just as animated, a blend of scorched throat screams, squealing solos and big, stadium rock hooks. The band's a blend of dirt-beneath-the-fingernails punk abandon and image-centric, arena rock ambition.
"You look at M?tley Cr?e, and you go, 'I can't be them, but damn, I wanna be,' " Radke says. "We're trying to bring that style back, the reverbed drums, the bandannas."
"Everything huge," bassist Max Green adds. "I'm gonna stuff a cucumber down my pants."
"No, not your pants, your spandex, bro," Radke corrects. "And you're gonna have wrestling boots on, dude. I'll wear high heels."
ETF's flamboyance helped them land a deal with Los Angeles' Epitaph Records, the punk powerhouse that broke the Offspring, Rancid and Matchbook Romance, among others.
"I've never come across a new group with more potential to be huge than these guys," says Epitaph owner Brett Gurewitz.
And Gurewitz's putting his money where his mouth is. Epitaph more than doubled the initial $30,000 budget for recording ETF's debut when the band lobbied to work with producer Michael Baskette, who has recorded such big names as Incubus, Stone Temple Pilots and Iggy Pop, and who commands a higher fee.
ETF's debut EP, "There Is No Sympathy for the Dead," comes out in May, followed by a full-length album in September.
The band, which will play the House of Blues on Thursday, offers a taste of its debut in the Starbucks parking lot, blasting the album from guitarist Omar Espinosa's Toyota. A young kid with short red hair and braces spots the band.
"I want to be just like you, seriously," he tells Radke, who gets out of the car and thanks the kid as his parents wait a few feet away.
It's a small moment, but one that tends to preface big things.