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Kevin 'Thrasher' Gruft - Escape The Fate

Kevin 'Thrasher' Gruft - Escape The Fate

Guitarist, Songwriter, Producer, Engineer
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Kevin "Thrasher" Gruft
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Escape The Fate

Producer, songwriter and musician Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft has played in many different bands over the last two decades and is now lead guitarist with rock band Escape the Fate. He produced several tracks from the band's last album in his bespoke LA studio where several Aston microphones now have pride of place.

Escape the Fate, Scott Stapp, Matt McAndrew, Diamante, Set To Stun, Dead Rabbitts, Deuce, Zendaya, Ashley Tisdale, Vigil Of War, Gavin Brown, T-Boz
Kevin "Thrasher" Gruft uses
Spirit
Starlight
Halo
Getting animated with Jimmy Neutron

"For me, music began at a very early age. I was obsessed with Michael Jackson when I was, like, 5, but as far as guitar playing goes, Jimi Hendrix had to be one of my first influences. Seeing him perform at Woodstock on VH-1 was what made me want to get a guitar for the very first time.

Stevie Ray Vaughan influenced my music even more as I connected to him more. I was then obsessed with the guitar and every day for months I begged my parents to get me a guitar for my birthday and, sure enough, on my eighth birthday they got me an electric guitar. My dad is kind of a rocker guy so he was always going to want to get me an electric. It was a three-quarter sized black guitar with a miniature amp. I learned some classic rock tunes on that, and then a year later I upgraded to the full-sized guitar because I was playing every day.

My brother ended up getting a drum set and we would jam together for hours in my parents' basement in New York, where I grew up. Eventually we started a blues band and from that we joined this band that was signed to Epic Records called Grey Star. That band was pretty serious; we were doing rehearsals four or five times a week and we ended up doing [US animated TV show] Jimmy Neutron and they animated the band!

That was my first studio experience and from there I joined a band called LoveHateHero at the age of 17, and that's what made me move from New York to Los Angeles. I immediately started touring, so now I've been touring for about 12 years. I was in LoveHateHero from 2006 to 2010 and then I spent a year in a bunch of signed bands. I auditioned for Slash and was just doing the 'LA guitar player' thing and then in 2011 I joined Escape the Fate."

The last song can be the best

I also had a job at a studio doing engineering and production and that's when I really got into the studio, head first, for the first time. I was engineering at a brand new studio in Hollywood called STRZ Enterprises and we were working with a bunch of pop stars and artists like Zendaya Coleman. She was on Nickelodeon and had done a movie with Zac Efron at the time and she has now done The Greatest Showman. She was in for six or seven months doing pre production on her record. I was the vocal tracking engineer and was writing her songs and trying to figure out what direction she should go into. We also had a lot of other songwriters through there as well.

That studio taught me so much as I had a mentor, Mike Riley, who was the engineer and he would help me out with all my stupid engineering questions – he was patient enough to let me know his thing. I was just figuring things out – being put under pressure, you learn a lot quicker. It's what gave me my formal training before going on to do the Escape records and doing my own thing.

I ended up co-producing the last Escape the Fate album, I Am Human, with Howard Benson, and I completely produced and recorded three songs on the record at my own studio. One of those hit number 13 on Active Rock Radio, a song called Broken Heart. That was a song that I really believed in. I had Craig, the lead singer, lay down his vocals in my home studio. We didn't even think it was going to go on the record by the time it was done, but the label fell in love with it and it ended up being one of the biggest singles from the album. It was one that I just put together really quickly, but sometimes that's the one; the last song you work on at the tail end of a project.

They crushed it

In my studio I'm pretty minimalistic. I have a UAD Apollo 8-quad, and am also running Pro Tools. I have Great River pre amps and Kempers on guitars. I heard of Aston through Romesh Dodangoda and it was the Halo that kind of turned me on to the brand.

One of my tube mics was broken so I sent it back to Telefunken, but I had gotten an Aston Spirit mic that same week, a bigger condenser that I used to record my new project with the singer Matt McAndrew from The Voice. We got some awesome results with that – I love the vocal tone. We did a couple of songs with them and they have a really cool vibe.

I think it sounds incredible, with a real hi-fi sound and it has a nice, clean top end to it – really pleasing to the ear. I was using it on a really good singer who sounds great on everything, but using the mic made it just kind of peak through the mix. We were doing this blend of heavy electronic and rock music and it was definitely a crowded mix, sonically, but I found that the Aston really worked with his vocals to push through the mix with a smoother high end.

I'm just getting a little more creative with the microphones too. I used a pair of Starlights to film some guitar lesson stuff – just a pair as room mics for speaking. They crushed it – it was awesome.

Aston Origin passes the Escape The Fate challenge...

Out-takes

Q: Who are some of your favourite artists?
A:
 It sounds like a simple question but it's the hardest to answer – maybe me, myself and I! I'd have to say Muse is definitely up there; you have to say the Beatles as they are the greatest band ever, you'd also have to put Jimi Hendrix in there and, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Oasis

Q: If you weren't working in music what would you be doing?
A: I'd probably be trying to work in film, movies or the video world – something creative in the arts

Q: What would your fantasy mic be?
A: A microphone that you didn't have to plug in, like a bluetooth microphone but it sounds amazing

Q: What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A: Awesome, creative, clean, Hi-Fi

Q: What is the first song that made you cry?
A: I have no idea! It would probably have to be in my Emo years, a Dashboard Confessional song. I remember when I was 18 leaving New York but still with my high-school girlfriend and there were a couple of lonely nights. I had the album A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar so it would have to have been one of those songs, or probably the whole album!

Credits

Escape the Fate 
Scott Stapp
Matt McAndrew
Diamante
Set To Stun
Dead Rabbitts 
Deuce 
Zendaya
Ashley Tisdale
Vigil Of War
Gavin Brown
T-Boz

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