Drugs, jail and tragedy: Escape the Fate co-founder and bassist Max Green speaks out
Thu, Jun 26, 2008 (midnight)
Photo: Jacob Kepler
It’s been kind of crazy for Escape the Fate co-founder Max Green lately. The 24-year-old bassist has only been back in town for a couple of days and he’s already been swept up by the storm that is Ronnie Radke, his once best friend.
Radke, who was apprehended by the US Marshals Service June 16, now sits inside of the Clark County Detention center awaiting his own fate and his sentencing for violating his probation, which could land the 24-year-old behind bars for up to four years.
But the storm centering around Radke and his band isn’t something new to Green, he’s been dealing with it since the former vocalist was involved in a May 2006 fight that left 18-year-old Micheal Cook dead. Since then, legal issues, drugs abuse and worst of all, incompatibility with the other members of the group forced Green to kick out his best friend from the group in January. Green speaks out about his friend, the band and what it means all to the fans of one of Vegas’ most popular bands.
LVW: So what’s going on with you guys and where are you at as a band right now?
Max Green: Right now we just got done recording the album in Los Angeles, (and I’m) getting ready to go back to L.A. and listen to all the mixes and get the order and track listings down. It just like, finally we’re back and we’ve been through a lot shit over the years. Losing a guitar player, walking out on the first week of the tour … and (guitarist) Bryan Money and (drummer) Robert Ortiz had also quit. They were done. Omar Espinosa (rhythm guitar) had walked out because of Ronnie and Brian and Robert had decided to quit before Hawthorn Heights because of Ronnie as well. And everyone thinks that with what’s going with Ronnie right now is because of us, because we’re being assholes. You know … when we were in Florida and Omar had just quit the band, we had a band meeting at this juice place and this homeless man came up to us and was like ‘hey are you guys in a band,” and we started to tell him kind of what was going on and he was like “Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch, one bad apple can spoil the bunch,” and ever since then, literally that homeless guys words rang in my head and when all this shit was going down with Ronnie and all the guys were quitting the band, I was like ‘Dude, I cannot let one bad apple spoil the bunch.’ I mean it was literally no Escape the Fate or Escape the Fate with a new singer and I put in way too much work into this band I care too much about my band mates and I care too much about the fans, dude. … So it was either quit or try to make shit work, and that’s what we did.
With what’s going on with Ronnie (and his legal troubles), how has that galvanized the fans and how they now see your band?
It’s really weird because it’s almost like a war has started, Max verses. Ronnie and Escape the Fate and who’s going to come out on top. It’s really weird because there’s a lot of the fans who have been fans of the band for a while and they see what’s going on. But it’s like they take our side or they take Ronnie’s side or the band’s side or a little bit of both. When all the shit talking is going it’s weird. Ronnie and I have literally been best friends (since) high school … we were in bands together ever since … and that’s how it’s been for eight or nine years.
With all of the stuff that’s gone on with Radke, where is your relationship now after you kind of forced him to leave the band?
When we forced him to leave the band, like at first it (started) when I walked into my house and saw some pretty gnarly shit going on with him … we had an offer on the Take Action Tour to co-headline, we had a conference call with the owners, our management, our booking agent, our label and us all on the phone together and they decided not to put us on the tour just because of Ronnie’s history. The same thing happened with the (Alternative Press) tour, we couldn’t do that because of problems with our singer; he had burned so many bridges. So after he was kicked out of the band, I told him ‘Listen man, I want you in this band. You and I had started this … and put this band together, so let’s finish it together.' I mean, I’m not a saint, I did a lot of drugs with Ronnie, but when it came time to shape up or ship out, I chose my path and he chose his. It’s fucking sad though man because … the Ronnie today and the Ronnie I met were two completely different people and fucking I love him, I love Ronnie to death. We’ve been homeless together, we’ve been everything together, I just wish that we could have gotten through his problems together. You know, drugs fuck with people’s lives. They cloud your thinking; they cloud your head so you don’t really know who to trust and who not to trust. If Ronnie wasn’t on drugs, I’m sure he would have chosen a different route. I mean, I wouldn’t change anything now, I mean we have Craig Mabbit (the band’s new singer) and after seeing the album we created with him, there’s no way in hell that I’d have it any other way. Ronnie in his prime was a really good singer, maybe not the best vocalist ever bit he had character and attitude. A lot of people would relate to David Lee Roth or Mick Jagger, but now, his voice, he just fucked himself from all of the shit he’s put in his body.
It sucks and there a very good possibility (with Radke’s recent incarceration) that he’s going away for four years basically, it’s a tragedy but …
It sucks. We tried, I mean, fuck even Craig tried to get him back in the band when he tried out for the band. But we gave him more than enough chances. When he went to rehab the first time, we gave him enough chance and it was like, we tried to get him back, we tried to get him to play Extreme Thing and he was stuck in that hole he dug himself in and he couldn’t get himself out. We were like (to Ronnie) ‘Listen man, cut the B.S.’ He and I lost contact for a while, and a couple of weeks ago, two and a half, maybe three weeks before I came back to Vegas (from Los Angeles), he had texted me on my phone, and I told him ‘dude, if you’re going to start problems, I don’t want to talk to you,’ and we ended up having a good conversation. Prolly the next two days after that, we had good conversations. You know, if just felt good to be friends with Ronnie again. I mean, I don’t have any family here in Las Vegas, I haven’t had any family here in a long time and for the longest time, Ronnie was my closest friend, we were the only family either of us really had. We had each other and a backpack that we put our clothes in together. That was it.
The details around the case has been written a lot about, but despite what the law says and the records say, the fight ultimately involved you, right?
It all started over this girl who wrote me a message saying ‘we’re too good now to keep our old friends. We forget about everyone because we’re so big and I deleted her off my MySpace. I responded “Dude, I have no idea, we don’t know what you’re talking about.’ When we were in Virginia recording, I deleted my MySpace, so when I started it back up, this girl took it the wrong way, wrote a big nasty message, I wrote her back, she wrote me back, Ronnie saw it and from there, you see where it went. It turned into something bigger than it was … the next thing I know, I’m at our guitar player’s house getting ready to jam, and I get a call from Ronnie saying he’s not going to make it an that there’s this shit going down. And we’re like ‘Don’t go, don’t go,’ and the next thing we hear, people are dead and we’re like, ‘what the fuck is going on?’
Ultimately that whole case spelled the downfall of Ronnie in a way, did you know Marcel and Michael Colquitt?
I went to school with Marcel; we jammed a little bit together. I mean the whole thing was horrible; it’s hard to put it on a scale. The whole thing that was shitty as well was we were (on tour) and I get a call from my friend Andy (saying that Marcel) hung himself. My guitar player Brian said that he saw Marcel in the mall two or three days before we left on tour, and he told me to tell you that he was looking for you and he was sorry for everything … that he wished everyone would make peace with everyone. A couple of days later, I found out he hung himself …
Do you think that because of Ronnie’s popularity, he’s become the (scapegoat) or the villain of all of this?
I think that, and this is coming from years of being with that guy and experience, that guys is not one to think before he acts, he’s not, he never has. As long as I’ve known him, he never thinks before he acts. I mean, I think that what happened was unfortunate for (the victims) and was unfortunate for Ronnie, but I believe in karma more than anything in this world, karma is real and karma will come back to ya, and that guy’s done a lot of bad things to a lot of people and ultimately I think (jail) is the best place for him where he’s at right now. I mean for myself, after doing drugs with Ronnie and shit like that and going to N.A. meetings, one of the first things they teach you is you have to be willing that you are your life are uncontrollable and unmanageable … and I really believe where Ronnie’s at and where he’s going is the best place for him, because there’s been plenty of nights where we’ve talked and the things that come out of his mouth scared the shit out of me man, and I’d hate to get a call in the middle of the night or in the morning saying this happened to Ronnie or someone got Ronnie, … and there’s a funeral this Friday. Literally I would lose my fucking mind. I mean, (the fight and the drugs) was his choice, it was his actions and he got was coming to him. Was it fair? To a certain extent, yes. Do I like it? Fuck no. Do I think he needs it? More than anything.
The Marshals Service said he had been soliciting fans for money. Does this piss you off how did you guys in the band feel about that?
I mean, I have a Paypal button on my page that says ‘donate to keep Maxy-Boy alive fund,” but I don’t go out there to hit of fans for cash. I mean like, when we couldn’t do the Hawthorne Heights tour, I had just gotten a house, I had a house payment and I don’t have a job, and so I was selling merchandise or if I need cash, I’d go sell one of my guitars over MySpace. But when we were at Xtreme Thing, I was hearing stories form fans coming up to me that day saying they saw Ronnie and he looked fucking nuts. He was charging people for autographs, or charging people to take pictures with him. I would also get calls from bands asking what was going on, that they had sent Ronnie $500 to go to whatever say they were in to be in their band. I’d check out their bands and have to say “Dude, Ronnie’s not going to be in your band bro, you just got hustled.” Countless times I’d get messages from people saying ‘Oh, I let Ronnie stay at my house and now my computer is missing,’ or ‘Hey, I just sent Ronnie a couple hundred dollars, now he’s not answering my phone calls.' It really pissed all of us off a lot, like we’re trying to move on, we’re in a tough enough position as it is you know.’ … And when we heard about what he was doing at Xtreme Thing, we were fucking pissed, man… I mean, I take that personally. … Like that and our success comes from our fans and you don’t abuse that. If it weren’t for our fans, I’d be working at a temp agency or a Domino’s; I don’t know what I’d do.
Do you think his money was being used for his drug abuse problems, or for him to live or what?
As long as I’ve known Ronnie, we’ve never had a hard time finding a place to live or finding a couch to crash on for the night, especially with creating the names for himself, Ronnie Radke from Escape the Fate … I can’t tell you 100 percent that every dollar went to drugs, but I can tell for a fact that a majority of that money went to drugs. Maybe some of it went to drugs, maybe some to a new pair of kicks, he always liked buying new shit and buying his drugs. I mean I’m not trying to pin him as some horrible drug addict while I’m not one, cause I was right there with him. I mean, I never got gnarly and hustled fans for money, but I did my fair share of partying, but I want to make that clear. I’m not trying to paint a picture of him as a big drug monster because he and I were right there along with each other.
With everything that’s going on, how has MySpace helped, or hurt you guys with what is going down?
It seems we’ve been under a microscope ever since we started. You know people love to hate and everyone hates to love us at the same time. In a way, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I mean fuck, we couldn’t pay for publicity like this. But as the same time, it’s like we’re trying so hard to get away from this murderer drug, addict label that our band has. I mean there was a stupid rumor that we wrote “No Sympathy for the Dead,” about Michael Cook, but that was ridiculous. I mean we wrote that song in (a) garage years before there was even talk of being on a label. In a way, I guess I can't think of anything good that this whole thing has brought. Sure it’s brought a lot of ears and eyes to our band, but at the same time, it’s not the way I wanted it to be.
When Ronnie gets out of jail, would you and the band we willing to consider a relationship with Ronnie in the band again or have you even thought of that?
Like I said, this is the same ol’ song and dance for us. So many times members have quit because of Ronnie. We’ve literally given that guy so many chances, it’s nothing really new to us … but it’s never been this gnarly, none of us have ever gone to jail. I mean, I was thinking the last couple of nights about going to jail to see him, but not to be an asshole. I mean, I just want to see and tell him I wish things would have been different and that I still love him no matter what and I know who he is on the inside and I just want to tell him to stay safe while he’s in there and when he gets out and wants to say hi, I’ll have a meal with him … But as far as another relationship musically, I don’t see it in the cards.