Hollywood Undead. Love ’em or loathe ’em, they’re a name that’s familiar to most. They’re a divisive band for a reason – with nu metal stylings, clean vocals, and a distinctive rap rock feeling, their sound can be enough to create a flurry of either excitement or unbridled hatred online. Their music isn’t easily categorized, and each song they write has a very different feeling and style. Talking to a band at a high point in their career is always interesting, and for Hollywood Undead with the anticipation of their upcoming album Five, Robin sat down with Johnny 3 Tears to talk shop:
DIAG: So tell me who you are and what you do?
Johnny 3 Tears: My name is Johnny Three Tears and I do vocals in the band Hollywood Undead.
DIAG: Where does the name Hollywood Undead come from?
J3T: Uhh, well Hollywood is obviously where we grew up and we kinda thought of the name, like any band trying to think of a name, it was a pain in the ass, and we used to.. When we were kids, you know, we didn’t know what they were at the time, and there was a lot of crackheads and prositutes and stuff in the area, which there still is, thankfully. We used to call them the ‘undead’ because we didn’t know why they were up all night, or what methamphetamine could do to someone yet. We used to call them the undead because it seemed like they never slept and then when we were thinking about the band name, we came to Hollywood Undead, so there you go.
DIAG: Fair enough, and what would you say are some of your biggest influences?
J3T: Hmm, biggest influences, I’d have to put Trent Reznor up there, I’d have to put Creedence Clearwater Revival, specifically John Fogerty.
DIAG: Oh shit, some CCR.
J3T: Yeah, CCR is my favourite band of all time. I love them. You know it’s funny, a lot of people don’t understand – we aren’t old yet, so a lot of people don’t get why we don’t listen to more modern music, and it’s like if you listen to CCR and then go listen to something now – it’s horrible. It’s like these new musicians haven’t touched on that level of quality yet, and in so long. I mean, I like bands from the ’90s too, like Nirvana, and Alice in Chains. They’re probably my favourite. I love the Deftones, I love the Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan. Tupac. There’s not a lot out nowadays that I’m really into, so I still have to go back to the old catalog.
DIAG: Oh I totally hear that. Me too. You have a new album called 5ive coming out on October 27, can you tell us about making it and what’s new on it?
J3T: Well making it, like any other record, you’re in the studio, stuff like that, we’re one of those bands, where we always write. The second we are done with one record we are onto the next one. We never really stop writing, so the process is really interesting. With Five we purposefully scrapped all the material we did before we started the process so the record would have more of a flow to it, you know? I guess sometimes our records can sound a bit disjointed and it’s because our songs are written at different times during different timelines that are far apart. A lot of things can change in a year, or two years. We did a lot of things in the studio and we wrote this from scratch so we have never done that really. We had to really be on the top of our game. It was challenging for us, but I think it was great, because it has a lot of symmetry about it, I think. With all of our records we try to push our own boundaries to some degree, but you never wanna do it so much that your listeners are like – “what the fuck is this?”, so you have to keep both of those things in check. Stay inspired creatively and not go completely off the deep end so. For us, well.. I’ve been listening to this one more. I don’t usually listen to our records until about three months after recording them, because it’s painful to listen to after god knows how many times through mixing and mastering and all that stuff. But I mean, I love it. I think it’s my favourite record up to this point. I think it’s a great record and also has something new.
DIAG: It’s a good one, I was listening to it this morning while rocking some coffee. So your new single California Dreaming is really catchy with a good sing along vibe, was that intentional to create a song with that type of vibe?
J3T: You know it’s funny, because I was listening to a lot of Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the time. We’ve never been a “ohh ahh” band with heavy harmonies and stuff, but the Red Hot Chilli Peppers use them pretty much on every track with abandon and it’s everywhere, and I know, we had been sitting there and I had been listening to the Chilli Peppers on the drive up to the studio and I was like, “Let’s get some harmonies going” and we had already written the chorus to the one song and there was none of that element to it. You know, we messed around for the day adding it to it, and finally I said, “You know let’s go all the way and add a choir” so we added a bunch of little kids and you know the funny part, we had three of them cancel. We sent them the chorus and they said, “oh okay, that’s not so bad”, but then when they heard the rest of the song, they said, “there’s no way we are gonna have kids singing on this song” simply due to the subject matter in the rest of the verses. It was hard but we finally found some kids willing to be a part of it. I mean, it’s not exactly made for eight year olds but whatever, so yeah we kinda built that song that way.
DIAG: Love it. Charlie Scene co-directed the video for “Whatever It Takes”, can you tell us more about that and what it was like to be involved?
J3T: We’ve always come up and always written our own treatments for our videos. Which, it’s not like it’s super challenging. It’s not like writing a movie. We always kinda try to come up with our own ideas with what we envision and really, who better to write that than the people who came up with the song? We have directors we work with who are really good about bringing about our vision and making it higher quality – mostly because we are idiots and don’t know what the hell we are doing. So we have been privileged to work with some guys who are always willing to work with us, and it’s fun man, and I mean, shooting a video is kind of interesting – you’re trying to interpret music into a visual so that’s why videos usually have nothing to do with the lyrics. I don’t know if you have noticed but like.. what does what’s happening in the video have to do with any of the lyrics? It’s kind of cool because you get to interpret it completely different. You don’t have to follow what the song says, you can film whatever you want in a music video and that’s what’s fun about it.
DIAG: So you’ve got some tour dates coming up to support your album in Western Canada, what can our readers look forward to at a Hollywood Undead show?
J3T: We always.. Well, we keep our show so its a lot of fun. We have a lot of down tempo and sad music but we don’t play it live. You know? I love listening to that kind of music, I love driving to it, and relaxing to it, but I don’t think it has a place at shows so we like to keep our shows very uptempo. We play more uptempo material that is going to get the place going and our goal when people leave is for someone to leave and say “I had a lot of fun”. People forget that and shows become tear fests and stuff. I’m sure if you like that or whatever, it’s cool, but that’s not us. We wanna have fun and we want our audience to have fun and that’s really what it’s all about to me, and I think that’s been forgotten in music and now it’s about distractions and lights and fires. I’m kind of old school when it comes to shows.
DIAG: So you’ve kind of answered this one already but it bears repeating – what are some bands you are currently listening to, or what’s on your stereo right now?
J3T: I’ve been listening to a lot of the Allman Brothers, and you know Greg just passed recently. You know how that happens where you’re listening to a band and then you don’t listen to them for a while and someone in the band passes and you’re like “Oh I haven’t listened to the Allman Brothers in a long time”, and it sucks that that’s the way it works, it takes someone passing away, but I’ve been listening to a lot of them, kinda celebrating their music and stuff. They’re the ultimate jam band, and you know, the guitarist, he writes stories with an instrument. I’ve been listening to a lot of them. I’ve been listening to the new Nothing More record, that’s a new band that I like. Mainly I’ve been sticking to my guns, like I said before. I’ve been keeping it old school.
DIAG: So, what’s some advice you would give to someone just starting out in the music industry?
J3T: You know, you really have to want to do it for music, because the days of people, at least in the rock world.. well maybe if you’re Taylor Swift, hey good for you, but.. um, the days of selling ten million records and buying Ferraris like they did back in the 1980s, those days are over. I think now, if your goal is anything other than musical goals, and your goals are materialistic, to just drop it because you’re probably not gonna stick with it. It’s gonna be too hard, because the rewards just aren’t there. But I think if you care about music and care about the message you’re sending then if you stick with it, you can absolutely do anything you want as long as your purpose is clear and your goals are the right ones.
DIAG: Aw, that’s really good to hear. So the next little bit I have for you is our lightning round. It’s kind of like word assosciation. I’m going to give you two words and you pick the one that you prefer, okay?
J3T: Uh, okay.
DIAG: Daffodils or daisies?
Puppies or kitties?
DIAG: Coffee or tea?
DIAG: Whiskey or beer?
DIAG: Tits or ass?
J3T: Uh, ass.
DIAG: Digital or analog?
DIAG: Liquor or whores?
DIAG: Metalcore or nu metal?
DIAG: Death metal or black metal?
J3T: Death metal.
DIAG: Haunted house movie or slasher movie?
DIAG: Candy Corn or Candy bars?
J3T: Candy bars.
DIAG: So, because we are called Drunk in a Graveyard, our website focuses on metal, horror movies and getting fucked up drunk, so with that in mind what’s your favourite horror movie and the intoxicant of choice you would pair with it?
J3T: Ohhhhh, what is my favourite horror? Oh, I like so many different movies and I like them all for different reasons, you know? It’s not like a universal. The one that frightens me the most is probably the most famous one – The Shining. It creeps me out the most, but you know, it’s not the movie I would wanna get drunk to. There’s this one movie called Event Horizon..
DIAG: Totally! With Sam Neill.
J3T: Yeah, Sam Neill, yeah some people don’t know it. There’s a red haired lady in it, and I forget her name, but that movie scared the hell out of me. I suppose it’s more actiony, so I suppose it would be more fun to drink to, so I would choose that one, and I would drink Jim Beam with it, because that’s my favourite liquor.
DIAG: Oh shit, that’s a good answer. No one has chosen Event Horizon yet. That’s a good one.
J3T: Oh my god, when they were eating each other and shit, that really disturbed me. I had a lot of trouble with that one, even for a few days after.
DIAG: Oh yeah when they’re eating and raping each other or whatever they’re doing when they go to Hell.
J3T: It’s just the visual was so nuts that I was like… shit you can say something like that but when you see it, it’s just something else. I love horror movies but I’m a complete wuss with them, like I have trouble sleeping after and the whole thing But I still love them. Even that one.
Hollywood Undead’s new album “Five” aka “V” is out October 27th 2017. Preorder the album on iTunes or other places you buy your music. And for the record – buy the fucking album. Don’t download. This one is good.
You can find Hollywood Undead online:
You can find Johnny 3 Tears:
The Hollywood Undead are touring Western Canada:
Drunk in a Graveyard would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Johnny for taking the time out of what is no doubt a very busy schedule to speak with us, and for putting up with our particular brand of buffoonery.
We would also like to thank Sarah for setting it all up. Your support and belief in us is appreciated.
You can find the oldblackgoat on twitter dreaming about California, crackheads, and searching for pumpkin spice rolling papers.