Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead Talks Philly, Inspiration and More

We recently sat down with Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead after their incredible show last week! The band and their passionate die-hard Undead Army turned the intimate Underground Arts setting into a full-on party as the band began their tour in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. Lancaster natives, From Ashes to New, kick-started the show with the same fervent energy and is certainly a band to keep tabs on.

Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead. Photo by Samantha Sweeney

Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead. Photo by Samantha Sweeney

Rock On Philly:  To start off, in honor of Friday the 13th that has just passed, we’re going to start off with something fun: Shoot, Marry, or Kill: Bride of Frankenstein, Jason, Leatherface. Go.

Johnny 3 Tears: It’s easier because you’re a girl! Uh, shoot Jason, and kill Leatherface. I’ll stick with the Bride to get married.

ROP: Now, to the album! So, Day of the Dead as a concept.  What brought you to this being both your first track and the title of your album? 

J3T: On our last record, about 4-5 months after we finished the album our label A&M [Octone], went under. There was nothing we could do without them. We barely toured, and the album [Notes from the Underground] didn’t get the representation we wanted. So, this kind of like a comeback. We were fired up and pissed off about our last record, [so this was] a return to form, a re-representation of Hollywood Undead so to speak. And when you’re in a band, there are a lot of reasons that push you not to be in one, and this reminded us why we are in a band. We worked really hard. The label knew they were going under and everything was good – a giant company knows months before they go under that they’re going under. They knew and we felt really deceived. Not the first time this kind of stuff that happened, and this made us question, ‘Do we want to continue?’ [So], we took a break. And that’s when you remember why you make music at that point – purely based on the passion, forced to think why you were with them – kind of like a fight with your girlfriend. We didn’t have a label at that point, so we kind of recorded this one guerrilla-style.

Does the Mexican holiday el Dia de los Muertos have any particular influence?

J3T: I can see why people would think that, coming from L.A., [but there was] no influence, never – [it] never was the intention.

ROP:  After listening to Day of the Dead, your sound has evolved since your previous albums and you’re going into some uncharted territory. Now, there are so many influences at work that it is hard to just pick one! Were there any artists/sounds were you being most influenced by when getting down the sounds you wanted to produce? 

J3T: I don’t listen to music when we’re recording. Things can get stuck in your head, so I abstain from music when we’re writing. [You] don’t want to accidentally write a hook that’s someone’s else’s. Our music taste is very eclectic and when we write music, we mix things that we feel good about.  We try to push the envelope so the band can have music that sounds like us, that we have fun doing, and that is no-holds barred. We write about 30-40 songs per album, and [some of it gets really] whacky that we can never put out. We’re always going to try to push the envelope in that way; always have to change and keep things interesting.

ROP: Where Notes from the Underground was a bit more rock (and a raw, emotional rollercoaster!) Day of the Dead seems to be a more of the gangster rap side of Hollywood Undead, specifically in “Guzzle Guzzle,” what influenced that shift?

J3T: We try to write the best songs that we feel good about and what is relevant to our mindset at the time. “Guzzle Guzzle” is the product of what happens at 6am when you’re [intoxicated] in the studio. It’s a lot darker and we made a late schedule 12am-8am – we did it kind of on purpose.  When you’re there in the studio [anything can happen].  Like the song “Medicine” on Notes from the Underground, it was kind of outside the box and I had always wanted to write a 1950’s Doo-Wop-style in honor of my grandfather and that’s what came from it. Sometimes, you have to dig to find songs inside and those are the results of those things.

ROP: Partying is a big part your lyrics and that’s really evident on this album in particular. It doesn’t sound like the house parties necessarily in your earlier songs. On the tracks “Party By Myself” and “Live Forever,” it’s a bit more club-sounding than we’re used to seeing from you — what prompted that shift?

J3T: “Party By Myself” is a really dark song when no one wants to go out with you. It’s a concept from Trent Reznor which is taking a happy song, a party song that’s not happy.  It’s [just] one of those things. “Live Forever” is meant to be uplifting – you want people to feel good sometimes, [and] the common denominator that we so much more in-common than we give ourselves credit for. Also, we try to make the songs more of an experience and that comes into play as well. “Live Forever” is meant to be live.

ROP: Did you guys collaborate with any new people on this album?

J3T: No, just we don’t collab with other artists unless it’s someone like Trent Reznor.  We’re a pretty self-contained band.

ROP: You guys have gone through a few personnel changes in the past couple years.  How has that made you stronger as a band/team with those members gone?

J3T: Honestly don’t even think about it anymore because it was like four years ago that anyone left. People move in different directions and we wanted to go in different directions. Sometimes, artistically you think two different things. You get passionate about it and you have to people on board that you have to leave those things out or it just doesn’t work.

ROP: Your tour started in this great City of Brotherly love! Was there anything special about Philly that you guys particularly enjoy or made you want to start it all here?

J3T: We wanted to do a show for the core fanbase that’s here and it’s definitely a connection.  When you’re in a smaller venue [like Underground Arts], it’s kind of fun being there right up close and personal and [makes the show] much more personal.  It’s the only hour of the day I enjoy myself.  We were supposed to go the TLA–what is it–the Theatre of Living-whatever–and it just a last-minute change. We all grew up skateboarding, and Love Park was in a lot of the skate videos we watched. It’s such a cool, historical city that’s underrated. Glad we actually played there. Just didn’t work out with the TLA. An acoustic set would be fun [at Underground Arts] there, too.

ROP: You guys have a lot of interaction with fans at your shows, and the interaction seems to be both sides (band/fan). Where does that energy come from?

J3T: Playing shows can get very boring soon. And, we [have] played over 2000 shows. If you don’t try to make it fun and try to enjoy yourself, it’s not worth it. A lot of people want to do want I do, and I used to think ‘Well, I’m better at it’ when I was [younger and arrogant], but now I have learned to appreciate that I am able to do it every day. And that part of the appreciation and you owe it to the people that pay to see you and make it fun for yourself and thus make it fun for everybody else.

ROP: What’s next in the world of the Undead?

J3T: Just touring. It’s a cycle: record a record then tour. This big US one, Europe for six weeks…basically, just a lot of touring. It can become really routine after a while. When you play shows with people and especially a band’s been in a band for 10 years. It’s kind of sad when you think, “Ugh ten years!” and you’re still together. I think we’re all really reinvigorated and excited to see what happens.

Be sure to pick up Day of the Dead when it drops March 31st or pre-order here!

See all the photos below at the Underground Arts show!

Photography by Jason Melcher, except where noted

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead Talks Philly, Inspiration and More | Fast News

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