Not only did we get a chance to see The Hollywood Undead rock the stage at The Louder Than Life festival this year, we managed to get a minutes with Johnny 3 Tears. He gives us his thoughts of their distinct style, record label obstacles in the past and even talk about his Teddy Bear named Bubbles.
UG: The band formed in 2005 and you guys spent a year working on the debut album “Swan Songs”. After that it took two more years to find a record label that wouldn’t censor your music…
UG: What was that time period like? It must have been rough!
J3T: Yeah, it sucked man! We were actually on a label…we were with Interscope. The irony is we’re with Interscope now. (Laughter) But we were on Interscope, and they wanted to change the record around and we weren’t into that. They didn’t want to let us go and they found one their sub-labels to release…..It took a couple of years, but yeah it sucked man. When you have a done record and you want to put it out and do what you have to do….you just aren’t able to, so we sat on it for a while. In a way it was good because we wrote some more songs during that time that ended up being really good tracks, so I’m not pissed. We were on A&M for years and years then we just actually moved back to Interscope who wouldn’t release the first one. I don’t know how all that works… record labels… what are you gonna do?
UG: You guys have a very distinct look with the signature masks and apparel…
J3T: Six gay guys with masks… it’s very distinct!
UG: Six guys and masks…
J3T: Six gay guys from west Hollywood just putting on masks you know?
UG: What was the inspiration behind that?
J3T: Well… when we started Hollywood undead there was certainly a visual aspect that we want to represent as far as the band went. We had been in rock bands together before, so we purposely wanted to go outside the box to make the band… we kind of crossed all the boards with it. We are really into graffiti art and stuff so it kind of gave us an opportunity to visually do things with the band. Not just musically, but represent it differently and do something artistic with that. So that was kind of the inspiration behind that.
UG: Awesome… Well it definitely catches the eye!
J3T: It’s worked in our favor and it’s messed us up too. When we have tried to cross over into pop radio and stuff, they see guys in masks and they’re like “God no.. we aren’t touching this!” They won’t even listen to it! It’s worked against us and it’s worked for us, but we always liked doing it so we just stick with it.
UG: In 2011, with the third studio album “Notes from the Underground” you guys stated that the label gave you full creative control. How different was it to record that album as opposed to some of the others?
J3T: Well we have always had full creative control, but I think mainly though is that they will try and make you do certain things like put this song on, not put that song on… do this and do that. They will say this is the single or that isn’t the single. On “Notes” we kind of ran the gamut on what we wanted to do. It’s different in the sense that you don’t have to give songs to people that don’t know what they are supposed to be like and listen to their judgement.
J3T: This is my boy J! (As J-Dog jokingly passes by)
J-Dog: I’m gay!
J3T: That’s my gay friend you know? I call him my boyfriend I guess.
UG: Now that album was also one of the most anticipated albums of that year. What kind of pressure does that create? Is there pressure?
J3T: No, I mean that’s where I’m most at home is writing music and stuff. That’s what I love doing so I’ve never…. It’s makes me excited that people want to hear it, so it’s better than it not being anticipated and no one giving a shit.
UG: That’s true
J3T: That’s when I will get nervous
UG: We were talking about your art direction. The “Day of the Dead” has a very interesting video…
UG: Like the whole televangelist thing…
J3T: Yeah.. don’t ask me buddy. Just kidding! Honestly that video didn’t come out the way we wanted to be straight forward. But you know, you have editors and guys doing their things that we aren’t involved in. I like the video for what it was, but the video that we released more recently “Gravity” I liked a lot more actually. Much better video… the guy who did “Day of the Dead”, no one should hire him. I don’t know his name, but don’t hire him.
J3T: He’s a dip shit. He’s an asshole. He’s not gay!
UG: Your guys performance… I don’t want to say over the top in a bad way, but it’s very energetic and very active. Do you ever struggle with keeping that energy up?
J3T: No, that’s what cocaine’s for. If I’m ever a little tired…Boom! Just do a fat line and I’m good to go!
UG: So that’s the preshow ritual….
J3T: During the show, preshow, after show… no I’m just kidding. You know honestly if you’re playing to a good crowd… We have played like twelve thirteen hundred shows now. You play a lot! Obviously doing the same thing day in and day out can get tiring, but if you are playing to a good group of people the energy is definitely reciprocated. I still enjoy it! You know if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t do it. So as long as I’m doing it…and the cocaine helps.
UG: With festivals like this the crowd is very energetic…
J3T: They are all drunk, they don’t know what’s going on!
UG: Do you have a favorite venue or city to play?
J3T: In the states I really like Chicago. I love playing L.A. because that’s where I’m from. Florida… Honestly it would be much easier to say I don’t like playing somewhere than I do. Most people are awesome and most want to watch a band and have fun, so I’m cool with everything. There’s places you play and that are like “Dude! I hope we don’t have to come back here!” I won’t name them, but Louisville’s one of them. No I’m just kidding… I’m kidding! No, we love it here. We actually played here on Thanksgiving like ten years ago with this band Kitty. Do you remember Kitty, the all girl band? It’s funny ’cause that’s all I think of when I come here. But I love playing music and as long people want to hear it I can’t complain. so I love it!
UG: On your website you release a lot free music tracks…
UG: How influential do you think that has been to the band’s success?
J3T: I think it helps us and hurts us in the same manner the masks do. It’s great because we write a lot of music that doesn’t get to go on the record, ’cause the record has to be twelve songs and we will write forty songs for it. A lot of the material that we really like and we don’t get to put out. In that sense it helps us and we like it, but you aren’t getting money out of it so the label doesn’t like it as much. It’s a lot of fight and there is a lot of things that I think go on behind the scenes when you see a band that they don’t know about. You know the music business is a dirty business and it’s a bitch sometimes, but for us it’s all about the relationship between the people that care about music. That’s where we try to draw the line and that’s who we are servicing so we like it.. we enjoy it.
UG: Along those same lines, the music industry has definitely changed and not like it used to be. How else are you using technology to keep the fans engaged?
J3T: The only thing I have ever used technology for is to jerk off… to be honest. So I don’t know how it’s used, but I’m sure someone knows what they are doing.
UG: So just show up on stage and hope…
J3T: Yeah just jerk off and go onstage. Technology’s great!
UG: You guys have a lot of horror themed video and imagery…
J3T: It’s scary
UG: I realize that’s intentional…
J3T: I don’t know if it’s intentional. I mean, I don’t like horror movies personally because I get nightmares. But some of the other guys are all into the dark stuff. They’re “Gothic”! You know I don’t like ghosts, zombies, any of it.
J3T: Yeah, I have to sleep with all the lights on and shit. That’s just me though, I have a teddy bear.
UG: Do you?
J3T: Yeah, it’s so cute. Bubbles… Bubbles is the teddy bear’s name.
(This is when I lost my train of thought and started laughing)
UG: You got me thinking about the teddy bear now..
J3T: Yeah! You want to meet bubbles?
UG: That sounds like a ploy, I don’t know….
J3T: I swear! I also have a pillow that is the face of a cat. It’s shaped like a cat and It’s just a big cat face. Her name is Whiskers.
UG: So other than the gay parties…
J3T: And Bubbles and Whiskers…
UG: How do you spend your off time?
J3T: I read a lot. I do a lot of reading and I do as much outdoor stuff… I like to walk and hike and stuff. So if we are in a place like this where there is actual… like after the show I will get a ride somewhere and go into the woods. Kill something and cook it!
UG: That’s awesome!
J3T: Just “Mountain Man” until two in the morning when I have to leave. Bring Bubbles and Whiskers with me to keep me company.
UG: Yeah good times!
J3T: It’s beautiful… it’s the best!
UG: You guys always seem like you stay so busy and I know you are booked up for the month of October and going into November…
J3T: Are we? Fuck!
UG: Sorry to break the news.
J3T: I knew those sons of bitches were lying to me.
UG: What else can the fans expect from the Hollywood Undead?
J3T: Um, well we are going to keep touring for a while. We always write. We are always doing music and stuff and we are hopefully going to put some new music out over Christmas if the label will let us do it. Just keep touring and keep working…doing what we like to do!
UG: Awesome.. Well we won’t keep up anymore of your time.
J3T: Bubbles and Whiskers are starting to miss me, so I have to go!
J3T: Are you wearing contacts?
UG: No actually!
J3T: You have really nice eyes!
J3T: I’m not really gay so…
UG: Thank you very much for your time and we hope you have an awesome show!
We had the privilege of talking with so many bands at The Louder Than Life festival this year, but this interview was obviously the most casual. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I was evident that these are a group of guys that just love playing music and are having the time of their lives. Their stage show only reinforced this impression as they rocked the crowd and had everyone in attendance glued to the stage. Being a fan of their music is one thing, but if you haven’t had a chance to catch them in concert I personally feel that you are missing out on what The Hollywood Undead really has to offer.
For more information on the band visit The Official Site.
To get all the information on The Louder Than Life visit The Official Page.