Hollywood Undead is set to release their highly anticipated third album, Notes from the Underground, on January 8th. On the very same day, the band will be launching ‘The Underground Tour’ at the Key Club in Hollywood, CA. The tour will consist of a short string of shows throughout the month of January where the group will specifically be playing at small clubs across North America for their most dedicated fans. Johnny 3 Tears recently sat down with Alternative Addiction to discuss the new record, the band’s experience working with Slipknot’s M. Shawn Crahan for the “We Are” music video, and what went into the creation of group’s new masks for 2013.
Hollywood Undead first debuted in 2008 with Swan Songs which has sold more than 900,000 copies since its release and then followed with American Tragedy which spawned the popular singles “Hear Me Now,” “Been to Hell,” “Coming Back Down,” “Comin’ in Hot,” and “My Town.” Now it looks as though 2013 could be the band’s biggest year yet and the hope is Notes from the Underground can take Hollywood Undead to an even high level. And based upon the success of the previous two records, the group made the easy decision to collaborate again with longtime producers Griffin Boice and Danny Lohner for the new disc.
“When you work with a new producer it can always go either way and going through that period where you find out whether you work well together or not is a pain in the ass. So once you have people that you know you work well with that are down to push the envelope in the same way that you want to, you stick with them. So it was kind of an automatic thing that we were going to work with those dudes (Boice & Lohner). If we started writing bad songs together then we’d obviously go a different route but once you have something good, you don’t want to lose it.”
Similar to its predecessors, Notes from the Underground provides plenty of new material for listeners; while the standard release offers up eleven tracks, diehard fans of the group should be sure to purchase the deluxe edition which includes an additional four songs. But Johnny also hinted that more tracks could be made available by this group this year. The band actually recorded and mixed 26 songs but due to the label’s restrictions, the guys were unable to include more than 15 songs on the album. Though this was the case, Johnny was confident they’d find a way to eventually release the bonus material to the public.
“We always write way more than we need and there’s always a fight over what goes on the record. We have a bunch of extra material and in fact, we had to cut this one shorter because that’s what they want these days; there are restrictions as to how much you can do. So a big problem we had was agreeing on what songs would make the final cut. We always have a surplus but we’ll find a way to get all the songs out there.”
Prior to January 8th, Hollywood Undead released three songs from the new record – “Dead Bite,” “Up in Smoke,” and of course, the lead single, “We Are.” To direct the music video for “We Are,” the band sought out percussionist M. Shawn Crahan, who is most widely regarded for co-founding the Grammy Award winning heavy metal band, Slipknot. Though Hollywood Undead and Crahan did not have a previous relationship, the band reached out to the drummer after hearing he had co-directed past Slipknot videos. Sure enough, Crahan was excited to work with the group and on December 10th, the video debuted on Hollywood Undead’s Vevo account.
“It was a pleasure working with him. Normally we work with directors who strictly do music videos which is great but to have someone behind the camera who knows what it’s like to be on the other side of it was really cool. We were certainly given a lot more freedom as far as what we thought and he actually listened to us; he wanted to make us happy and feel comfortable. Usually it’s just another job for a director but for him you could tell he was passionate about it and we worked really well together. I hope we get to do it again with him.”
While “We Are” may be garnering the most attention from listeners and for good reason, a must-listen from the album is the heavy hitting track, “From the Ground.” Though the group has been noted in the past for incorporating a wide variety of influences into their music, “From the Ground” marks new territory for the band. The song is not only the heaviest Hollywood Undead track to date, but is also a brilliant blend of metal and melody.
“We write a lot of different kind of stuff but for that one we wanted to do just a brutal f*cking metal track. So that was kind of the intention we had when we wrote that song. But I think one thing that metal lacks in general is melody so it was kind of like writing a metal song but incorporating the melody that we do with any other song. It was a bit of an experiment but by the end of it we really liked the song and we felt a lot of our fans would like it too so we put it on the record.”
As most fans have already noticed, Hollywood Undead have again changed their masks for Notes from the Underground, something the band does for each of their new albums. To make the masks, the band collaborated with make-up artist, Jerry Constantine, who also works in special effects and costume design. In addition to designing the Hollywood Undead masks, Constantine has been credited for his work in several movies including G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra (specialty costumer), The Watchmen (special effects makeup), and Shallow Hal (special makeup effects artist).
“Everybody has their own thought process for how they want to do it. We have this guy named Jerry Constantine who does a lot of horror movie props and we hit him up about designing them with us because obviously I don’t know how to make a mask. But he’s really cool and lets us be hands on; we’d go to his studio and first we’d draw it up, and then we had to do the face molds and all that stuff. Everybody’s pretty specific in why they want what they do but it’s kind of a different process for everyone...the visual aspect is a big part of our band and we want that to evolve along with the music.”
Though Hollywood Undead was certainly capable of launching a long headlining U.S. tour with supporting acts, the band instead decided upon a much different route to promote the new LP. Between January 8th and January 23rd, the guys will be playing 11 small shows spanning between the United States and Canada; and for a group that first started in the clubs, Johnny noted it was important for the band to get back to their roots and re-connect with the fans that were there when it all first began.
“We wanted to get back to those roots; it’s the same way we started touring. There’s something about those intimate shows where you’re practically inside the crowd yourself. I think a lot of bands sort of lose touch with that experience and things can become diluted when you move away from that. There’s a feeling and involvement you get when you’re at small clubs and you can lose that at the bigger venues. We wanted to go back to that and recapture that with the kids that have been there since the beginning. It’s a short tour but it’s going to be a lot fun getting to do that again because it’s been so long.”
Fans may also be curious to know as to what repercussions have occurred following the alleged incident involving former Hollywood Undead member, Aron Erlichman (Deuce), and current members, Dylan Alvarez (Funny Man) and Jorel Decker (J-Dog), which took place last year. Though details are limited, Erlichman has alleged that Alvarez and Decker attacked him outside of a nightclub on May 25th, 2012 in Hollywood, CA. Because of a pending lawsuit filed by Erlichman, Hollywood Undead members have been instructed not to comment on the matter, though it has been noted that Hollywood Undead deny the majority of the claims.
The Underground Tour will conclude on January 23rd in Toronto, ON; to purchase tickets for the tour visit the band’s website - http://www.hollywoodundead.com/ (please note that both the New York and Minnesota shows are sold out). The band has also decided upon “Another Way Out” as the album’s second single but it is not clear when the song will be released to radio.