Personality…streaming numbers…bums on seats; no matter which metric you choose to dissect Ronnie Radke’s career, probability will state you’re going to arrive at the same conclusion each time: He’s the real deal.
Whether on stage, in the studio, or in his gaming chair, Radke is a force majeure. Love him or hate him, the result doesn’t change. You simply can’t look away.
The Scene’s Own Boy who built a reputation around Kamehameha choruses, high octane live shows, and authentic notoriety has added a new feather to his cap: a Gold status record with 2011’s The Drug In Me Is You, proving something fans didn’t need unit numbers to know; Radke has the Midas touch.
Following the release of victory lap single ‘The Drug In Me Is Reimagined’, Blunt Magazine spoke with the Falling In Reverse frontman for an Australian exclusive interview.
“I just thought about that song last second”, Radke admits of the haunting, icy rework of the erstwhile party, and album’s namesake. “Then after it was done I was like, “Wait, this is fucking awesome.”
When laid delicately atop cascading keys, composed by pianist Sean Rooney, ‘The Drug In Me Is Reimagined’ has taken on a new life, revealing its soul; its true intent and ultimately laid bare the lyrical prowess of Radke. “I forgot about how crazy the lyrics are”, he recalls. “I wrote them in prison!”
“It was just an idea to make a very poppy, fun song, but the lyrics were going to be super dark. Then when I went to record it, I showed it to my girlfriend and she started crying. I was like, “Oh shit, this is real.”
The spectacle wouldn’t be complete without a visual stimulant to accompany the reworked jam. The official video for ‘The Drug In Me Is Reimagined’ saw Radke enlist ‘Popular Monster’ director Jensen Knowles. “Me and him have some type of crazy synergy that I’ve never had with another director before”, Radke says of their working relationship.
“Other directors would be like, ‘That’s going to be too much money or that’s not going to work.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, we can make that work.’ And he makes it work. He makes it look great.”
In the 10 years since the release of The Drug In Me Is You, Radke has also reimagined his approach to creating.
Rather than going quiet for 2+ years crafting a 12-track album, Radke and Co. now opt to spend 6 months whittling away at a single, creating a focal point for the waning attention spans of audiences.
“I’m not the first to do singles. I got it from rappers and pop artists. They’ll drop a single every now and then out of nowhere”, Radke explains.
“But for rock and metal and all that stuff, nobody’s doing singles, not like I’ve been doing it. I feel like that’s the next move. People are going to start doing it, and it was like a Hail Mary chance I was taking to see what would happen, and it worked. It’s gotten my band bigger.”
For Radke, the Hail Mary moment came after the release of their 2017 record Coming Home. “In the grand scheme of things it didn’t do that well”, he admits.
“So, I was like, “Fuck that. I need to do something absolutely incredible, I need to do a 180 and do something completely different.” A journey that led to the aforementioned single-based release model.
“It’s worked for me a lot…It’s worked very well”, Radke says.
The 50 million Youtube streams accumulated by Falling In Reverse’s four previous singles – ‘Losing My Mind’, ‘Drugs’, ‘Popular Monster’ and ‘The Drug In Me Is Reimagined’ more than validate his claims.
“One thing that really just frustrates me…” Radke continues, “I’m an easy target. I’ve been hated on. I think at this point it’s undeniable…I feel like I don’t get the credit I deserve for trying to do things that are a little riskier [than other artists].”
“I remember telling my label that’s what I wanted to do, and they were scared! They wanted albums.”
Radke doesn’t just take his cues internally, but externally, explaining that as a student of his craft, he doesn’t just study successful discussions by his peers but also their missteps. “I’ve seen bands go from the smallest ever and then just surpass me by fucking double in ticket sales and merch sales and then all of the sudden in the next year, just completely disappear and nobody cares.
“And I’m like, ‘Why is this happening?'”
“I think that for the most part you’ve got to focus. I feel like artists nowadays, some of them are spreading themselves too thin, like, “Look at me. I’m a porn star. Now I paint. Now I sell clothes.” I just feel like you’ve got to keep it tight.”
Recently, Radke has found a side hustle in video game streaming. Fans can not only watch him navigate the maps of Call Of Duty, they can damn well squad up with him. “I think it’s incredible”, Radke surmises of this heightened level of interaction with fans.
“It’s like a way for me to show the world that I’m not like this crazy evil person that’s out there to really do harm. I love video games. I wrote a song called ‘The Guillotine’ with Escape the Fate; It’s about Halo 2.”
The success of his modus operandi is clear. 2020 Radke is focused, determined and above all else, busy. Those who have followed his career know it was a long road to get to this point. So, where does this put Radke mentally?
“I’m happier”, he said, “but I’m not the happiest person of all time.”
“I have to thank my upbringing for writing those kinds of songs that can relate to other people. It’s like a tight rope you walk. As an artist, you don’t want to stay sad, but you don’t want to be too happy. That’s what makes the great songs. It’s like a balancing act…”
Radke credits relatable art not to happiness, but rather, “the pursuit of happiness.”
“I’m enjoying life a little bit better especially having some big ass songs and stuff right now. I’m very appreciative of it.” Radke points to previous single Popular Monster as an example: “It made me like, cloud nine happy.”
“When I recorded that, my voice was so low – that’s how I really felt. I didn’t feel like making a song when when I was in the studio. My producer had said, ‘this sounds incredible.” I was like, ‘No, man, this does not sound incredible. I sound tired. I don’t feel good. I don’t like this.’ He sent it to me, and I was like, ‘Holy shit. This does sound incredible.’
“I released the song and it blew up, and that made me happy… Releasing a song about depression and anxiety made me happy, which is the most ironic thing in the world.”
Armed with the confidence in his own decision making as an artist – and backed by his team – Radke seems excited by the future, itching to get back into writing. “We should drop another single, and the next one’s going to be absolutely insane”, he says.
“I’ve got some ideas”, he continues, one of which is a song dedicated to Australia as a thank you for our hospitality, but ultimately the possibilities are endless. “I’ll spend six months on the fucking song if I have to until I know in my heart that people are going to be like, ‘Holy shit.’
“I don’t know what it is yet, but it’s going to be absolutely mind blowing. It has to be nowadays.”
“…You can’t do anything less than that.”