Shortly after the release of their fifth studio album ‘V’ (five), Hollywood Undead embarked on a european tour kicking off at the 02 Academy, Glasgow. It was here that Allan Maxwell had a chance to chat with one of the main players in Hollywood Undead, Mr Johnny Three Tears. Here’s how the chat went.
Photo: Allan Maxwell
‘Welcome back to the Glasgow once again. Seems like every time you play here theres a buzz about you guys.
Oh thank you! Yeah, we love it here. The crowds are always up for a good time.
Last time you were here was the Day Of The Dead tour back in 2015.
Damn man, time flies Huh? I didn’t think it was as long ago.
Congratulations on ‘V’ (five), your latest album has now been certified as platinum.
Yeah man, happened a long time ago. Thank you bro. It’s good that people are still buying our records.
So, you’re on your fifth studio album, 10 years since you released ‘Swan Songs’ and you’re still going strong. That’s an achievement in its self.
Depressing huh? I’m just surprised I’m still not dead bro.
Is there any significance with the title ‘V’? With it being the fifth album, and now being a five piece since Da Kurlzz left the band?
No, there is significance but it’s not that. It’s got nothing to do with him. Honestly, it’s just once of those things, but it’s so long and boring that I won’t waste your time with it.
There’s more of an aggressive feel on this album compared to the previous ones.
On this record?
Yeah. I feel that the overall sound, and lyrics have more aggression.
I thought it was pussier, but Dude that’s a good thing.
‘California Dreaming’ is an amazing song for the first single. It just comes and blows up in your face letting people know you’re back.
Yeah that one is definitely a lot heavier, it’s got that heavy riff and stuff.
Absolutely loved the video as well.
Yeah yeah I should bring you to meet the guy (Brian Cox) who directed it he’s here. He’s been down on his luck because some people have been telling him his latest video sucks. (Johnny leans over to me to whisper) But it does suck…
I haven’t seen it yet.
Don’t, you don’t wanna bother.
So who is the writer in the band? Is it a collective effort or does one person take the lead?
No we do it as a group and stuff, I mean there are guys who probably do a little more than others, but everybody’s involved. I’ve always found that the more opinions you have, and if they’re wrong the better. Because either a bad opinion will make you more certain you’re right and if they’re right then it’s good that you have someone else to help so… We definitely try to keep it as group orientated as possible. Everyone has their own tastes. We got hip-hop, rock, metal, hell we even got country in there.
The variation in styles on the songs on each album is vast. Is that something that happens because you all have different musical tastes, or is it something that you try?
No it’s not something we try. I think that when you’re in a band, there are lots of bands who like other kinds of bands, but they’re not in a band where they can do that. So we’ve always kind of kept, you know, Hollywood Undead has always been about complete freedom of those things. It doesn’t matter what it is, so I think that whatever we’re interested in doing we just do as opposed to like, you know? If you’re in a rock band and you want to do a country song, you can’t just do that, because you’re in a rock band and you’re like “oh I can’t just do that”. The good thing, and the bad thing about being in Hollywood Undead is that we do, so it limits us in our output because there’s a lot of people like “what the fuck?” But for us it’s nice because when we go into the studio there’s no such thing as “hey we can or we can’t do this” we will do anything, we would try. If you heard the stuff we’ve done that hasn’t come out because we get super experimental and stuff, you’d be like “what the fuck are these guys thinking?” So the stuff that makes it, is actually the most mainstream but I don’t know because it’s nice and you can listen to anything. Think of anything and it’s a possibility at least that it can make a song, or a record out of these things. I think that’s the cool part about being in Hollywood Undead.
Is that another reason why you started your own label?
Well no no, with the label thing, was more just… out of… The record industry is like as corrupt as any legal industry as can get so you know, it’s just you get sick and tired of just dealing with all these people. They’re pieces of shit. They’re liars and you know, they can get away with really rotten stuff because they’ve got good lawyers and we we’re tired of being part of it. Not only being abused by them but also our fanbase being abused to gouge them for money. Finally we got to a point where we fulfilled our contract and there was no way we’re going to do that again because you know, most bands wait for a long time to get out of their first deal and we did, so that is why we did that. It’s harder i’ll tell you that because you have to manage everything yourself, but I think it’s worth it because everything goes the way we want. We pick the record. You don’t have someone saying “hey do this, hey do that” so there are definitely advantages to it.
The live energy is something that comes through on your records. Is it something you purposely try for when writing? It just sounds as though it is written to be performed live, rather than to sound great on record like so many bands do.
Alcohol and cocaine… We never write with the stage in mind, but we play the stuff that we know… like we’ve had singles that people would probably think that they wanna hear you know, because it was a single and they know it better. We don’t do it because it doesn’t come across as well. Then we’ll play songs that people would never think we’d play live because it does. So we definitely pick our set with the energy in mind but we don’t write our records with that in mind.
What is your favourite song from the new album?
I really like Renegade. I really like Pray (Put Em In The Dirt) and Broken Record. Those three I really like. Renegades in the set tonight but that’s it. The others didn’t make it.
What’s your favourite city to play in?
In the world? Probably Prague. Prague is just awesome man! It’s crowds, the city its self, it’s just nuts. It’s like a medieval Vegas. It’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong, Glasgow’s my second favourite and is a great live show. I mean European crowds and fans are so much better than the U.S crowds and fans anyway, but Prague, I just love the city. It’s just a weird fucking place. Have you ever been there?
No, unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to.
You can get anything you want, and it’s like old and weird. It’s just such a cool vibe. And then the fans are just nuts. Check it out, check out Prague if you go anywhere. Plus the exchange rate for your money is really good there compared to most of Europe. The dollar is actually worth something there. Here it’s like fuck. Dude, you know yesterday I got a sandwich. A shitty little sandwich and it was like £7 so that was like 11 dollars. I was like fuck man.
I have to ask you as well about the song Bullet as it is one of my sons favourite songs. Who is it that wrote it?
Me and Charlie wrote that one.
It’s the one song off your back catalogue that he is allowed to play in class at school.
Yeah, you know it’s the darkest one, but it doesn’t cuss. Isn’t it weird that people will let you listen to songs about suicide but you can’t say fuck? They don’t care what you’re saying, they just care about how you’re saying it. That to me is just crazy. The idea was to keep it sounding happy.
It’s like how do we approach the subject without being melodramatic. You know? We wanted to come out and say what we were thinking without the typical crap that people say. We thought it was the most accurate representation where everybody’s walking about like everything is cool. Which is what everybody does. You know, everybody’s hiding something. You obviously see that in todays society. I think it’s our own interpretation. Especially in America everyones like full of shit. Everybody’s happy.
When someone asks you how you’re doing, you’re not expected to tell the truth. So there’s a lot of fairness to the whole thing and insincerity. So its kind of our interpretation of the subject, at least in the U.S. obviously people over here and other places feel it too.
I think that although it was written a few years ago now, it’s really relevant to today. Obviously depression and mental illness has been around for years, however it’s becoming more publicised with quite a few high profile names that have recently took their lives because of it.
Yeah, it’s sad that it takes someone famous to do it, but I think a big part of it is that people are not willing to discuss these things up until more recently. if you brought up suicide in the 60’s, the 70’s when society was much more conservative. They’d be like “what?” Now that people are more and more willing to shed light on these things, I think it’s important. Then you have the other problem with people exploiting that, and using it to get attention. It’s obviously an issue that people need to handle. We’ll see what happens. I don’t think that as long as human beings exist, it’s not something that will exist along with it.
I know personally for me, music plays a major part in my own mental health. It can really change your mood and get you out of a low. It’s a big thing that we, as music fans thank you, the musicians for creating the music that help us.
Thank you man. I’ll tell you something that sounds cliche. That’s the kind of stuff that if it helps.. I mean I never thought id be able to say I helped somebody. It was all selfish reasons that I did it.
The lyrics are obviously your way of expressing your feelings, but it’s also a way that shows us, the “normal” people that is doesn’t matter where you are in life. That even if you’re at the top if your game with all the success in the world that these things can affect everyone.
Oh dude, you know, the most unhappy people in the world are the guys with the most money. I’m not kidding. I used to live in Orange County, but an area that was kind of shitty, but its right next to this area called Newport Beach, it’s nice. These people are fucking filthy rich. I mean rich rich. I think it’s the richest community in the U.S. you’d think everyone would be walking around happy. Everybody’s miserable, I think everybody knows money doesn’t buy you happiness, or possessions in that sense. Theres no place you see that more. A lot of times I’m thinking “what do I want in life?” It’s all materialism. I want the car, I want this, I want that. I think it will, but I’ve gotten enough things to look back and know it didn’t. What it is I don’t know, what the hell were supposed to be doing and what were suppose to be looking for I don’t know. I can tell you now it’s certainly not something you can touch or hold.
Well, on that note i’ll not keep you much longer, you’re obviously busy preparing to kick off the tour tonight.
Oh no thank you man, it was my pleasure.’