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Wednesday 13 - Interview

  by Peter Allison

published: 19 / 3 / 2009

Wednesday 13 - Interview


At a show in Nottingham, glam rock punk star Wednesday 13 speaks to Peter Allison about his surprisingly downbeat new album 'Skeletons', horror films and hats

Wednesday 13 is exhausted. Following a huge tour of Japan, he has embarked upon a tour of the UK, the second show of which was held at Nottingham Rock City and - an indication of how highly these shows were anticipated - at which fans were already gathering outside the doors four hours before they were scheduled to open. Most famous for his horror inspired glam-punk music, Wednesday 13's latest 'Skeletons' album was far more serious and darker in tone than his previous work, exploring his inner demons and ongoing fight with depression. Released at the same time on iTunes and more recently on CD was 'Bloodwork', his first EP, combining re-recordings, acoustic versions and a cover of a Tom Perry and the Heartbreakers classic 'Working On A Dream'. Wednesday 13 first began playing guitar with Psycho Opera in 1992, and later Maniac Spider Trash, before forming Frankenstein’s Drag Queens in 1995. Following the Drag Queens' break-up in 2001, Wednesday 13 joined the Murderdolls (called the Rejects at the time), the band he is perhaps most famous initially as their bassist, and then after a year becoming their vocalist. Following their last show in January 2004, the Murderdolls went into indefinite hiatus, and Wednesday 13 began his solo career in which he has continued to prove his unique brand of horror themed tongue-in-cheek glam punk is undeniably catchy. Wednesday 13 has always played a lot of shows, averaging four tours a year and for which generally brings props for them to the stage. These are not on the scale of Rammstein’s pyrotechnics or Marilyn Manson’s stage burnings, where such visual spectacles can often eclipse the music; instead Wednesday 13’s prop add a visual element, such as having a zombie shuffling on stage for 'I Walked with a Zombie'… While many other artists have used science-fiction and horror movies as sources of inspiration for their music (Rob Zombie, most notably with 'More Human Than Human', to name but one), Wednesday 13's aims are usually more satirical. Although his lyrics have negative connotations, they are delivered with such an irrepressibly enthusiastic manner, that you cannot help but bounce along. Despite his light hearted lyrics, this does not in any way imply Wednesday 13 is any less than professional, for I managed to catch him at Rock City, shortly after he had spent over an hour performing a rigorous sound check. PB : You are just at the start of your European tour, so I have to ask how is it going so far ? W13 : Good, good. This is only the second day in the UK, but we have been touring for a while. We went from America to Japan, and from Japan to here. So we’re all pretty burned out, and trying to stay alive. PB : While Alice Cooper and 'The Addams Family' were influences, what motivated you to become a musician ? W13 : I don't know. It was one of those things, where I basically went from playing with GI Joes while watching Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper, and Motley Crue on TV and thinking, “That looks cool” to it appealing more to me than being a policeman or a fireman, or anything like that. I don’t think I ever really said in my head, “This is what I want to do”. It just happened. I really, really, really loved music as a kid, and now that’s my life. I cannot imagine not playing music. PB : Horror movies are an obvious source of inspiration for you. What do you make of horror movies at present, compared to those when you started out? W13 : I saw the new 'Friday the 13th', and thought that was cool. I thought 'The Strangers' was pretty cool which came out recently as well. I mean a lot of the remakes are either hit or miss; they’re terrible or good. I don’t like everything, but I try to give it a shot if I can, if it entertains me. PB : With a career spanning seventeen years, what do you think of bands at present ? How do you feel the music scene has changed during your career ? W13 : I’ve been doing this on a professional level, where I did not have a day job any more, from the time of the Murderdolls. The Murderdolls came in the fall of nu metal, and that was kind of our punching bag. We wanted to be the band that came and said “fuck all that”, and I think we did pretty well on doing all that, and in the UK it really worked out. We were the only band that came out which had an image, and Marilyn Manson had taken a break right before that, so when we came out we picked up a lot of his fans. But we definitely had more of a rock and roll punk vibe going on. So I saw the nu metal thing fall through, and now I’ve seen the rise of the emos and primos. Metal has really made a comeback. But I can’t really name anyone right off that I listen to which is new or current. I’ve met a lot of these guys, and they’re friends of mine. I remember Lamb of God wanting to open for the Murderdolls when we were touring the UK, and we were like, “They’re too heavy”. But now they’re a fucking huge band. I’m friends with those guys too. But I can’t predict what will happen, as I’m just an old rock 'n' roll guy, and I like my old music. PB : You are obviously friends with a lot of bands. Are there any artists and musicians you’d like to work with ? W13 : You know, I have been really fortunate to play with a lot of my favourite bands. I just came back from Japan with Hanoi Rocks, and that was really, really cool. Not only did I get to play with them, but as a fan to listen to them play a two hour set every night, and got to know the guys: me, Mike (Monroe) and Andy (Christie) are really good friends now. Between shows we were hanging out and talking and saying, “Hey, y’know, we should do something together, either touring again, or another project”. It is the same thing with Alice Cooper. Over the years I have been able to get to know him, and become friends with him. So working with any of my heroes would be great. Like Hanoi Rocks or Motley Crue, and Alice Cooper would be a dream come true. Five years ago I would have said that was completely impossible and never, but now it would just be a phonecall and, if the schedules worked out, it would be pretty easy to do that with a lot of those guys. PB : So what do you do when not being a musician? W13 : Well, in the past couple of years, that is all I have done, and I never had time for anything else. Now I am just enjoying the time, and kind of getting into other peoples' projects. So I am finding different ways. I also like so many different types of music. I have my own southern rock band, Bourbon Crew, and there is another project I am working on as well that I may end up doing later this summer, but it will be pretty different. PB : The Murderdolls are the band you are most famous for. Are the Murderdolls still going? W13 : Yeah, I was on the phone to Joey (Jordison, guitar-Ed) before this tour started, and he’s definitely interested in doing in another record. It just depends on when he gets time away from Slipknot. So that is another possibility too, and we’ll see what happens. He’s up for it, I’m up for it, and so we’ll see what happens. PB : I loved your song 'American Werewolves in London'. Is there a tour story behind the song ? W13 : Yeah, just listen to the lyrics, and it’ll all make sense. PB : So it was about you, and what you were doing in London? W13 : Yeah, we love that part of the UK, and our London adventures have been nothing short of insane. So that’s a song about all our times we have had down there in London with different band members in different situations, and the things that came up. It is pretty much a real story. It has nothing to do with the movie whatsoever. PB : Your latest album, 'Skeletons' was a more serious and personal album than your previous releases, especially compared to 'Fang Bang'. Is this the new Wednesday 13? W13 : That was a complete accident. Every record I have ever done, I’ve never thought about it. When I write songs: I write songs with whatever title I come up with. When I write a bulk of songs, I think, “Okay, this is what I want to record”. But for 'Skeletons', not every song was personal, but a couple of tracks have to deal with personal stuff. So that was a cool thing to do for fans to see that I am not just the guy who sings about graveyards and zombies every five seconds. It was therapeutic to do a few songs like 'Skeletons' and 'My Demise', as I had had a weird year. But as for continuing in that direction, it won’t ever be like that again. As far as I can say, the next record will definitely be not like that. I do not know what it will be like, but it won’t be like that. I’m happy with all my records, and the way 'Skeletons' turned out, but now I’ve found other outlets to get out my personal stuff. But the Wednesday stuff is definitely more my tongue in cheek, fun stuff. So I’m going to keep it that way from now PB : What is the story behind the recently released 'Bloodworks' EP ? Given the collection of songs, it seems as if it was designed to bridge/introduce the new album, 'Skeletons'? W13 : When I recorded 'Skeletons', I recorded all the songs at the same time, and when I was piecing 'Skeletons' together into a track order, some songs didn’t really fit. So I just broke it apart and made an EP out of it. But that was really cool, as the year before I did not get to release a record, whereas last year I got to put out a full length, an EP, and a live DVD. I was able to get it all back as I was free from a label, and did not have anyone telling me what I could and could not do. It was my year of freedom, to say “Fuck you” to the labels and do whatever I wanted. PB : Your live DVD 'F*** It, We’ll Do It Live' is unusual, as other bands live DVDs tend to be a patchwork of different concerts while yours is one continuous concert from start to finish. W13 : Yeah, we have footage from all these shows, and could do that. I won’t say easily, but we could piece one together. We just don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on it, but maybe in the future we will do a full length DVD with footage from different concerts, and behind the scenes stuff. But this was something that we did in a really cool venue in which we played, and which had a really cool audience. PB : With nearly twenty tours in five years, I have noticed that you do tour a fair bit though, far more than usual ? W13: {shakes head, surprised) I had no idea; I really had no idea… PB : You have made a concerted effort for your concerts to be that “little bit more”, with props and stage hands walking on as zombies. It looks aamazing , but what inspired you to do that ? W13 : Thank you. I think the show we have been doing as of lately is toned down compared to what I have done in the past. We are not using as many props as we used to. We just go out, and put on the most energetic show we can, and of course do the band visuals, make up, clothes, and stuff like that. I think it was the same thing that got me into music in the first place. Seeing all these guys that looked over the top and larger than life, like Kiss and Alice, and all the bands like that. They had an image that just stuck out in my mind. Walking on stage in a pair of blue jeans for a rock 'n' roll show is not my idea of a rock 'n' roll show. But it works for some people. Look at AC/DC who I love, and for them that is their look and so it works for a band like that. But for me, it goes the other way. PB : Speaking of visuals, where DO you buy your hats, as they are certainly not what you would normally find ? W13 : Unfortunately, most of my hats that you’ve seen in shows, and videos, and stuff, they’ve all been stolen. My favourite ones have been stolen. Actually, I lost one in Australia on what was the 'Walk With the Zombie' video. Somebody between the encores stole in from backstage. Then I had another really cool hat, that I got as a gift in Japan, and someone stole it in the UK. I think it was my bus driver. But he got fired. PB : We’ll watch out on E-Bay for you. W13 : It ain't on there. I’ve checked. But as for other hats, I usually find hats that look pretty normal, and then I take them home and shape them, and add things to them, so you can never tell what they looked like when I first got them. PB : Having a wife and daughter, how do you manage touring with having a family? W13 : It has been pretty difficult. But it is also the thing that pays the bills back home. So it’s tough, and there have definitely been some hard times, but they all seem to work themselves out. PB : What is – for you – indispensable when touring? W13 : I don’t know… And that’s a good question at this point in the tour, because I am so fucking burned out. I’m pretty exhausted, but I guess looking out at the audience and seeing the fans reactions to the songs. The material I play in the show includes everything from all my records, inlcuding Frankenstein Drag Queens and the Murderdolls. It is like last night when I was playing a song by the Drag Queens, and looking out, seeing people sing along to it, and thinking I wrote this song when I was 21, back in 1996, and people are still reacting to it. I guess that is what keeps me going, seeing the impact I have made upon people with the imagery, and the fans giving back makes it seem all worthwhile, even though I may feel like a piece of shit during the day. PB : Wednesday 13, thank you.

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Wednesday 13 - Interview

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