By Jay Oakley
I'm sitting here with Wednesday 13 of Wednesday 13, Murderdolls, Frankenstein Drag Queens and also tonight, Bourbon Crow.
Thank you so much for taking some time, brother.
So far, how's the tour going?
Good. I think we're half way through it now. We started on January 5th and it's been cool, man. It's such a laid back tour for me. The tours with the full band are a lot of work, the costumes and the makeup alone. Just getting into that and getting out of it's probably three hours and then the show's an hour and a half of my day. Where as this, more or less, it's a stripped down, storytellers, acoustic thing where I can be just stripped down about it. It's an intimate setting, it's almost like a live meet and greet. It's as if I was just playing in my apartment, in my bedroom and sitting around watching me tell stories and play these songs. That's, kind of, the vibe I tried to create on it and so far it's been working out. The fans love it, I have people tell me every night that they've seen me, I don't know how many times, but this is the coolest because it was such an intimate setting and you bet to hear stories because I cover everything from Frankenstein Drag Queens to Murderdolls to my releases and then I tell stories where I wrote certain songs and certain rock and roll adventures that are really dumb stories. Every night I tell different stories and I take questions from the fans so yeah, it's such an interactive thing. I think if you're a fan of what I do then I don't see how you could be disappointed in it. We play some of the songs acoustic and it's cool to see how some of these songs actually translate acoustically. People don't realize that that's how I write a lot of the stuff. I always write on acoustic guitar sitting in my bedroom or whatever and that's where it starts off so it's, kind of, cool to go back and hear them in that original form.
Is there any song that you've come across while you've done these acoustic shows that you tested out and found out, "Wow, that worked great!"?
Yeah, all the ones that we do were ones that worked out great. We had a long set list and you know immediately what certain songs will be like. Like, "Get Your Grave On" does not work acoustic. [Laughs] But, then you have songs like "God Is A Lie" or "I Walked With A Zombie" and they are fine. They're the same when you play them, they have the same vibe, you can sing along to it. There's certain song, of course, they're not going to work. You can't do "Hail Ming" acoustic because it's not going to sound good. [Laughs] But yeah, there's certain songs that I thought sounded good to myself and then we'd play them live and the fans love it. Like, our version of "Summertime Suicide" we do live is, I think, super cool acoustic. It's got a whole other vibe to it.
So, you did put out an acoustic album, Undead Unplugged, back in 2014 so into the third year now. Was putting out that acoustic album the brainchild for doing an acoustic tour or was it always something you were playing with?
I've had the idea for years. I basically got this idea from the artist Butch Walker. I've been a big fan of his work with his older bands for years and I saw a video of him at one of his concerts and he basically did an acoustic show where he just stripped everything down and me, as a fan, watching it I was like, "Fuck, dude! That's cool! I wish some other of my favorite bands would do that." and I couldn't find anybody else doing that and was like, "Fuck, what if I did that for my fans? Do something cool." So, the idea stemmed from that. I took 2014 off from doing the full band touring because I was really, kind of, burnt out on a lot of things. That was the only thing I did that year was put out that acoustic record and we did one UK tour. But, the UK tour went over so well so know in between all of my full band tours I can work these small tours in and do things and it's cool because the fans love it. We still have a ton of people come out to see us all over the place and in England at our last London show we had five hundred people at an acoustic show which was pretty crazy. So yeah, it's a unique thing and for me, from a fan point of view I think this is the ultimate thing.
Absolutely. Of course, you also have Bourbon Crow tonight and you're now three albums in on Bourbon Crow. Is this the first tour that that has Bourbon Crow and Wednesday 13 on the same bill?
It's the first one we've done but it definitely won't be the last. We tried to tour in 2009 with Bourbon Crow and we had a lot of shows get cancelled but we played a handful of dates and they went over really well. After that, I got busy with Murderdolls and then the Wednesday band came back again and I started doing that full time and then Rayen (Belchere,) who's my partner in Bourbon Crow, he got busy with his stuff so, when it became time to do the last Bourbon Crow record I was like, "Alright man, I've got a busy touring schedule but I'm going to, somehow, figure a way to work in Bourbon Crow into doing a tour." So, when it became time to do this acoustic run I was like, "Well, why don't I do a Bourbon Crow set and Rayen can be a part and do a two bands in one, sort of, deal." So, that's how it's turned out. The cool thing about Bourbon Crow is that over the years it's definitely creeped through the grapevine through people and they hear about it and it's cool because the fans liked it. I remember when I first put it out I thought it might be career suicide with a so called "country" thing out but I don't really call it a country project. It's literally a southern, drinking project so that's what it is.
Did the birth of Bourbon Crow come out of you and Rayen talking when he was still in Wednesday 13?
Yeah! He was Kid Kid, on my Transylvania 90210 record, and we live like forty-five minutes apart from each other. We met each other in 1994, '95 and we've been friends for years but when we were touring together, that last year of touring and we were hanging out after the shows and we were always talking about where we grew up from and we'd put on old Waylon Jennings records and just listen to stuff like that and then we'd have our acoustic guitars out and start coming up with some of these songs and we thought, "Hey, we should make a drinking project." We were always drinking and coming up with these funny songs and that's where it started. Then, we went and did the first album (Highway To Hangovers) and that was in 2005 and here we are, three albums later and all those years and still only have done a handful of shows. [Laughs] We're trying to make it a little different now so where people go, "Aw cool, I finally saw Bourbon Crow do a set!" So yeah, it's something I want to keep doing and the hardest part is finding the time to do it so luckily I was able to work it in for the States and we're taking it to the UK and also Australia in March.
I've got to through in something really quick for me because it's part of my scene and I've been a fan of you for years. Gunfire 76, I thought it was awesome. It has that glam metal feel and I grew up in that LA glam scene of Mötley Crüe and Poison, that's my world so talk about that project. Were you looking to branch out, were you just playing with ideas? Do tell?
It's no secret that I've always told my musical influences. I was a huge hair metal fan, I still am, but when I was doing the Wednesday stuff in 2008, I was really getting burnt out and I wasn't as focused as I have been these days. I was getting, kind of, burnt out on it and I remember one of the last tours we did, which was one of the coolest tours I've ever done, we get to do the farewell Hanoi Rocks tour in Japan. So, we did two weeks with Hanoi Rocks and I remember I wasn't really happy with the band. Not with the guys or anything like that per say, we just weren't playing the way I wanted to play and I wasn't happy with myself as the front guy and a guitarist, I wanted to just be the front guy because I was, kind of, sick of playing guitar. So, on that tour with Hanoi Rocks, I would sit everyday on the side of the stage and watch them play. They played two hours every night and I was just completely into it. Michael Monroe's one of my rock and roll heroes and he's one of the greatest front men of all time and I dare anyone to challenge him because he's a fucking maniac. I watched him every night and I was like, "Man, it'd be really cool to do a project that's a little more rock and roll and so much of whatever people call what I do." [Laughs] Something a little more stripped back and rock and roll. I didn't want to do hair metal but I wanted to do something that was still dirty, rock and roll and that sort of spirit.
So, I came back from that tour and I started working on ideas for songs and then I met up with this dude, Todd Youth who helped co-write that record with me (Casualties & Tragedies) and he was in this band called The Chelsea Smiles and he played guitar for D Generation and played for Danzig for a while. We started working on those songs together, we did a tour together, I put Wednesday 13 on hiatus, in the middle of 2009 I started doing Gunfire 76 and that was going to be full time for a while and then Murderdolls came in and stopped it. So, I went and did that but Gunfire was meant to be a project to go on for a while. If it does happen again and we all still talk about it because we're all still friends and our drummer Rob (Hammersmith) who was in the band, he's in Skid Row now so he's been really busy. We're still all great friends and talked and I'm trying to figure out where we can do a week of dates somewhere, sometime. I don't know when and eventually we'll put out maybe not a full record but we'll do an EP or some songs for iTunes or something because it'd be cool to get together because that band really is what turned into Wednesday 13 after that. The Gunfire guys went and joined Murderdolls and then Murderdolls stopped and we kept going as our band. It was a great record, I wouldn't want to play those songs in the Wednesday 13 set because it's so different and that's why I like it. It's such a different project. So, I actually get to shed my skin when I get into that band and do a whole different thing.
It's cool to have different outlets. Like, Bourbon Crow is the same way. I don't have to be in my whole Wednesday 13 getup and I can just do that so it's just cool to have different projects and things because there is different sides to my personality and that's why I do the different music that I do, to show those sides. Sometimes it gets confusing because people go, "You're not supposed to look like that!" Well, what the fuck am I supposed to look like?
Well Wednesday, for what it's worth, speaking for Baltimore, we do a festival every year called M3 and it's literally a glam, 80s, LA music festival. So, if you find yourself with a schedule gap in late April, early May because that's always when it is every year, you could always try to get on that.
I've heard of it. That's a good idea. Actually, it's be cool for us to get on one of those hair metal, Monsters Of Rock cruises because that would definitely fit in there, for sure.
Absolutely. Where did the Gunfire come from in the band name. You've been using 76 in your music for years in all bodies of Wednesday 13 work.
Yeah, '76 is the year I was born and I don't know where the Gunfire thing came from. I just wrote some words down and pieced it together. [Laughs] I really don't know where that came from but I know I came up with the name in a hotel room in London because I wrote it down on one of the hotel ledger pads and thought it was cool. I was just writing a bunch of names down and that was the one that, kind of, stuck out.
Pulling it back to Wednesday 13 because now in 2017 you have Condolences coming out. Tell us a little bit about it because it's coming after Monsters of the Universe which was your first concept album. Is Condolences going to be a concept album as well or will it be more of a traditional Wednesday 13 record?
This is a whole different record all together. It's not a concept record but the theme is death. [Laughs] It's a really dark, violent album. I keep telling everybody that it's the heaviest album we've ever done but it's still Wednesday 13. It's not like I'm trying to change my voice and get all metal, I can't do that, but the music has definitely moved up into a more metal sound. But lyrically, I think it's probably back to where the fans like it. The last record, I was experimenting because it was a concept story. It was, basically, all these conspiracy theories I read and I turned them into my own little weirdo story. I love that album by the way, it was such a cool thing to do, a departure and get to do something out of the box like that and that's opened up the door for what we did with this because every record that we make there's no rules with anything. We always try to experiment and do different things but always paying respect to the past. We don't ever lose sight of what it is but with the new album it's taken a whole other form.
What I want to do with the live show is everything is new. I've changed everything up. The logo's different, the album artwork is completely different. It's like nothing we've ever released before and, honestly, this is my favorite thing I've ever recorded. It's the only thing I've spent this long on. We spent three months writing and recording this from scratch. We had a couple of riffs and ideas but didn't have songs before we got together. We just came in with a bag full of riff ideas and we sat down for two weeks and we wrote a song a day and we spent all day writing a song. We would play every version, we would try every drum beat, every single angle of it as we got to detail a song like that. Which is really cool because I've never been able to really do that before. We usually just have demos but we actually got to write the songs. So, that was the first time I even spent that long writing a record and I think it's going to show to people. The band, the players on it like our new (Kyle Castronovo,) he's taken the band to a new level. It's insane, his drumming on it.
I saw you at Canal Club and was like, "Holy Shit!" watching him.
He's the best drummer I've ever played with in my life and him and our guitarist Roman (Surman,) just the way they played on the album is so fucking cool. I'm such a fan of it myself but, right now, I can't say what's going on with the release because I don't have the exact date on it but there's some good stuff in the pipelines and I think I'm going to get exactly what I set out to do awhile ago. People are going to be shocked and people are going to see me a lot more then what they have been. This will be a really, really busy year for us. I have a lot of stuff that I can't announce yet like tour dates and things we're doing but it's fucking awesome and I've only got half the year of that right now. This is going to be a really, really good year for us.
Even without a release date, Wednesday, do we get it this year?
Oh yeah! You're going to have it by June. (Update: June 2nd on Nuclear Blast)
I have two questions to take it in a fun direction. Do we get another Weirdo A Go-Go?
Possibly. Just again, finding the time to do it. What I tell people when they ask me is what I want to do if we revisit it is it won't be a DVD release like that because that was just to much work to put a physical copy out like that so if we do it we're just going to do episodes online. Like a ten minute episode and we could piece the story together like that. We have a ton of ideas and we're a bunch of goofballs and it'd be more fun to focus on an episode like that as opposed to doing it all in one day because we can do more stuff with it.
It's one of those things that I did years ago and I'm not sure why it happened but it happened. But, I love it and for me when I look back at my career and everything I've done I love to go, "Fuck yeah, I did that. I did my own puppet show." I've got this side project that's totally different from this, I've got a fucking drinking project, I've got all these different little things that I feel separates me from the pack of people that I get compared to.
And, it's common knowledge, you've written songs about these topics for years. Have you seen any cool horror movies lately?
Not at all. I'm not saying that anything sucks I just haven't watched anything. I used to watch movies all the time but I barely have enough time to sit down and get through something because I've been so busy lately but I want to see something good. I haven't seen anything in a long time. The only thing I've seen recently that would be considered horror was Stranger Things which was fucking amazing. It's crazy, I've just had so much going on that I don't have time to investigate into horror movie stuff like I used to when I was younger. Again, I still love watching stuff like that and I think the last good thing I've seen over the years was The Strangers. That was really cool, I just like weird concepts and stuff like that. Something I've never seen before or something that's out of the blue that's totally cool like that.
Wednesday, thanks again for taking some time to sit down. Have a great show tonight. Kill it and good luck.
No problem. I appreciate it, buddy. Thank you so much.