|Hollywood Undead: Johnny 3 Tears|
Photos By Cody Carnes
Shockwave: Thanks for talking with me today. How are you?
J3T: I'm good, just hanging out getting some sun actually. It's nice and sunny out. I'm living the dream, dude.
You and I are both from L.A., it is nice out today. Hollywood Undead will be returning to the underground to play small clubs for your die-hard fans on 'The Underground Tour' that commences in Los Angeles on the record's release day. You're an L.A. band, so what are your thoughts on the music scene here today?
I hate the scene on Sunset. I haven't played the clubs since I was a teenager. We used to play at the Whiskey and the Roxy. We used to do the pay to play stuff out there, but most people don't want to spend as much on parking as they do a ticket. What you run into, too, is the times we play L.A., we will play the Wiltern, so it is big enough where I can get people in. I can't even count how many people have asked me for tickets. I'll be like, "Dude, it is a 700 seater club. I can probably get two people in." Everybody is from L.A., so everybody wants to get their moms and girlfriends in and stuff.
I've noticed that a lot of bands don't come through here anymore either. It's just a lot of local bands playing the clubs.
Right, L.A. is avoided. It really is true. You'd think we would come through here all the time, especially because we are an L.A.-based band, but we only come through here once every three tours. The only reason why we are doing this one is because we are already here, so we might as well do a show. L.A. is not a live music city, and if it was, it was before my recollection. When I used to go to shows, I would go to the Palace, which is now the Avalon. My brother works there and is actually the stage hand there. I asked him what happened, and he said it is all deejays now. That's all they have. They don't have live bands there like they used to. It is very rare. Back when I was a kid, every night was some punk band or this or that. I would go there a lot, especially because, if you are not 21, you can't drink and you need something to do. He said that now every night is a different deejay, and that is what the scene has turned into, I guess.
In San Diego it seems to be the same way, from what I've heard.
They can pay these deejays less than they have to pay a band, and they can charge $50 for these tickets. It's crazy. There's always politics and stuff, though. It's a shame, though, it really is.
The last time I saw you play was at the NAMM show. That's how long ago it was.
Oh yeah! I remember that. At The Grove, right?
I remember that show, dude. I had a good time, and we got the job done.
On January 8th, you will release your third studio album titled, Notes From the Underground. The album was originally set for a Summer 2012 release. What happened?
It was kind of our fault, I guess. We were having trouble mixing and stuff like that. We are really picky, I guess. It just kept getting pushed. We took a while because we wanted it to be perfect. That's the only reason why. Eventually they were saying that this isn't coming out until next year because they weren't going to release it in November or December. We can't compete with the Beyonces of the world. It worked out pretty good. I'm not upset about it or anything.
Every song is built differently. When I write songs, it is just like everybody else. I grab my acoustic guitar and start. A lot of the things that make Hollywood Undead are added later throughout the process. We do the bones of it, we layer it and keep coming back to it throughout the whole process. It actually is very similar to the way another band writes. We just happen to add elements that other bands don't, I suppose. Everybody writes their own stuff. There are guys who kind of build the song and then other people come on. At the end of the day everybody has a say. It is really important to keep everybody happy. We really try to make an effort to keep everybody as involved as possible. You just add everything together.
How does the writing process work in the band since all of you are vocalists? Do all of you write lyrics, or do you just write lyrics for songs that you will be on?
The music you create is a mixture of genres, which is what makes your music unique. What style of music do you typically like to listen to?
I listen to everything, but I listen to bands. I'm a band guy. I like a lot of '90s hip-hop. Deftones are probably one of my favorite bands, and the Beatles. I go up and down the whole spectrum. If the band is good, I don't care if they are pop or metal. If it's good, it's good. That's the way I look at it.
How would you describe the album? Would you say it is closer to the likes of Swan Songs or that of American Tragedy? Or would you say it is a mix?
It's close to both in a sense that it's a Hollywood Undead record, but I feel, personally, that it's totally different. We have definitely progressed in certain areas. Our goal is to keep the things there that people like about the band to begin with. I'm always trying to write different things that we haven't done before, but keeping it to where it is not to far forward for our audience. We have a couple ballads on there, which we kind of experimented with and stuff like that. We want to always keep it fresh.
A couple of my favorite songs on the record are "From the Ground" and "We Are."
"From the Ground" is a good example of what we were doing. It is almost straight up metal. You've got to try new stuff and hope people understand it. If it's not interesting for the band to write, then the songs are going to suck, so we have to keep things new so that we stay engaged.
The record was produced by Griffin Boice, Sam & Sluggo, and Danny Lohner. I noticed you have used these guys on previous records. Is that because they have a true understanding of what you want?
Yeah, the whole process of meeting a new producer and working with them is a pain in the ass. Once you find one that has an understanding and that you can work well together with, we try to keep them in the family. Those guys are buddies of mine. We have been working with Danny off and on since 2006. I know him well enough to be able to tell him what I want. We can kind of read each other's minds and can go in directions a lot easier. The reason why we use different guys is so that we don't get complacent. This way, you can keep it fresh and keep pushing the envelope. Once we found those three dudes, we found that working with them is best for us. Hopefully, we will have a long relationship with all of them.
Do they contribute to the songwriting?
We come in with the songs written. Inadvertently, sometimes they will have ideas, but I shut that shit down right away. I say "Listen Boy! I don't pay you to write! I don't pay you to think!" (Laughs) No, we try to get the songs as close to being done as possible before we get in there, but it happens; never with that purpose though. Griffin thinks he is another member of the band. He is always trying to chime in, pissing me off a little bit. (Laughs)
Were there any collaborations with guest artists on the record?
We didn't do anything like that. We thought about doing it, but to get the right guy, like guys we would consider doing it with, would be way too much money. We would love the idea of doing something with Snoop. We grew up listening to him and everything, but we can't afford that kind of stuff. We would spend half our recording budget on one dude, so it's like, forget that. That's not to say that we won't in the future. It would have to fall into place in the right way. You don't want to force that kind of stuff. If it ever happens, it will be an organic kind of thing.
Maybe you can have the Deftones collaborate at some point.
Oh dude! That would be cool. We just played a show in Sacramento with them, and I was all star stuck. Being on the road, you meet famous people, but it is much different when it is someone you idolize. I grew up idolizing that dude. They are nice guys, and that makes it a lot better. There's the opposite of that, too. I haven't had the experience, so much, but I know friends of mine have. They love these guys, go meet them, and they turn out to be pricks. It totally ruins it for them. Some of these guys take themselves entirely too seriously. More often than not, they are awesome dudes. We played with Korn, and Jonathan Davis was another dude that, when I was growing up, was the shit back then. They still are, but you know what I mean. He was nice as hell. He gave one of the guys in our band one of his Adidas track suits that he wears. He was just cool as hell and so down to Earth.
You made a video for the single "We Are." The video was directed by Slipknot's M. Shawn Crahan (aka clown). At the beginning of the behind-the-scenes video, it was stated that it was filmed at the most haunted place in Hollywood. Where is that?
It was some hospital called Linda Vista Hospital that has been on Ghost Hunters. It was spooky. They had the morgue freezers, incubators and all kinds of weird shit. I'm a pussy when it comes to that shit, so I wouldn't walk around down there unless I had like nine people with me. It's strange because it's right in L.A. It is right next to downtown in one of the older neighborhoods. I've been around there a million times, and I never knew that place was even there because it has been closed. It was pretty weird, but it was cool.
Did anything weird happen while you were there?
I got really drunk; that was pretty weird. (Laughs) I was with this girl who was a friend of my friend's girlfriend, and she is way into the, I don't know, sixth dimension? She would come to a door and say, "I won't go past this door." I would say, "Why?" and she said, "It has bad energy." There are a lot of places I didn't go see because of that girl.
How was it working with M. Shawn Crahan?
It was awesome. Maybe it is because of his past experience that he got the visual aspects of our band. He is a band guy first, so he understands where the band is coming from. A lot of times when you do a music video, the video director is just doing his job and has the "whatever you say" attitude towards you. He really made an effort to make us comfortable. If we had suggestions, he would listen to us. That was a new experience, as far as making a video. The whole experience was awesome. Normally it is a major headache making a video, and this one was a breeze. We were super happy with the product, and hopefully we can do it again with him.
Okay, well I'm going to let you go. Thanks for the interview, and I will see you at the Key Club.
Okay, nice talking to you.