Hollywood Undead’s J-Dog talks to LRI about outsider perceptions, his magazine,latest album and more
Hollywood Undead are one of those bands who absolutely work as hard as they party. The guys are currently out on the road supporting their latest album “Notes From The Underground” and growing their following city by city, gig by gig. The album itself proves the band’s work ethic, a well crafted collection of songs which are fun but thought provoking, the music alternating between moody and heavy yet always very hooky. The band are just getting heated up and should be out on the road and in your faces all spring and summer (dates below) and we recently had the pleasure to chat with J-Dog about all of this and more, read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: There are a lot of moods covered on your latest album “Notes From The Underground”, everything from more fun stuff like “Pigskin” to a pretty serious track like “Lion”. Is it pretty natural for you guys to end up with a collection as varied as this?
J-Dog: Yeah, just because there are so many of us in this band, people tend to write different types of songs for the most part. Charlie Scene writes a lot of party songs and Johnny tends to come up with a lot of the more serious songs. By the time we’re done writing, we try to find a happy medium because there’s always such a difference in all the songs. At that point we literally sit down and are like “Ok, we don’t want it to be too dark or too party” or whatever and we try to pick some of the other songs in order to balance it out a little. It’s also due to what we listen to, it’s everything from Black Sabbath to old and new rap, anything really. Charlie just listens to country which is kind of strange. Literally, it’s all over the place and if you were to go through all of our iPods they would all be completely different from each other.
LRI: You have a production and writing credit on one of the pretty intense tracks, “Outside”. Was there anything in particular that moved you to come up with that song?
J-Dog: That kind of came about in a weird way. That was the first song that I produced for the band and it happened after my uncle died. Obviously, you’re gonna be upset when one of your family members dies and I was just sitting there in my room with an acoustic guitar and was just kind of in shock. My mom was dealing with all of this stuff and I really just felt in shock and sat there with the guitar and my mind somewhere else completely. I was just playing this completely random shit and came up with that guitar riff and was like “Whoa that’s pretty awesome” and then I put a drum beat under it and it literally just happened like that. It was never intended to come out like that it just did.
LRI: It sounds so simple but I like the fact that there are so many styles covered but they all are pretty universally catchy. It’s not self-indulgent or heavy for the sake of being heavy.
J-Dog: Yeah, I mean we all like different styles of music but we always try to make our shit catchy and hooky cause that’s the kind of stuff that we like. We also like to have more than one hook or more than one musical change within the songs. It’s not like we’re just walking in blindly focused on one thing and we do that on purpose.
LRI: Do you ever catch people by surprise who see your look and are expecting some really heavy “Cookie Monster” type vocalist or straight gangster rap or something but are just totally unprepared with how melodic the music really is?
J-Dog: Yeah, that happens to us all the TIME. Literally, after hearing the record or seeing a show for the first time some people will be like “Holy shit, I had no idea that you guys are the way you are, I thought you were either a thrashcore band or old school Limp Bizkit” and they are just shocked (laughs). It does surprise some people when they are finally exposed to the music because people generally like to assume and they usually assume the wrong thing when it comes to us.
Legendary Rock Interviews: I will just admit I am probably one of those people man. I know you guys have a pretty big fanbase and had always heard of you but never really “heard” you until this latest album. I really like it though and want to hear more.
J-Dog: I really don’t blame you to be honest! If I wasn’t in this band I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to us if I just looked at an article or something about us. I would be like “What the fuck is this shit? A bunch of white boys rappin with masks on” but once you hear it and hear where we’re coming at musically people tend to think different.
LRI: This felt like a pretty long wait for your fans. I know you released “Dead Bite” to them as a free download. Was that mostly due to the album release being pushed back?
J-Dog: That was one of those songs that just stood out that maybe the longtime fans who dig our band would appreciate hearing that. I know it was kind of early to be putting it out there but at the same time I think going too long without releasing new music in this day and age is a bad idea, people will forget about you so fast. You have the internet shoving shit at you so much that it’s important to stay on top of your game. I think that was the right choice to make.
LRI: Speaking of the internet…do you have any particular way of dealing with the people who talk shit or try and instigate or insult on the web or social media?
J-Dog: Not really, once the record’s done and we’re playing dates I try not to pay attention to any of it, good or bad. I don’t really sit around and worry too much about whether people like or hate us because you know that the people who say they hate your shit are also taking the time to sit there and try and piss you off so (laughs). To me, once the record is done and we are out there I don’t give a fuck what anybody says. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t.
LRI: You guys released two different covers, one red, one black of “Notes From The Underground”. There’s also almost an album’s worth of extra material on the unabridged version!
J-Dog: Yeah, that’s not really our choice either, I’d rather just put it all out in one package and keep it all in one place but the way places like “Best Buy” are is, they want you to give them an exclusive track that only they have because they want people to buy it from them, iTunes is the same way. I wish it were just all together but I understand that distributors and the retail places are important and it’s hard for them to make any money these days with downloads and everything.
LRI: The lead video “We Are” was directed by M. Shawn Crahan a.k.a. Clown from Slipknot. Did you have fun working with him and do you ever see yourself delving into all these other projects and arts like he does?
J-Dog: For me, I don’t really get too involved with the videos and things, I just sort of sit back and let whomever’s doing it do it but the video for “We Are” was awesome. That was probably the most fun we’ve ever had on a video shoot, we did it at this old, old mental hospital and we were just basically hanging out with our friends and partying. For me, it was a fuckin blast. I don’t necessarily like dancin around and being in front of the camera but it was still fun. It was great working with M. Shawn. I definitely wanna get into doing other stuff but as far as like making videos or producing other bands I don’t think I wanna do that. I have a hard enough time producing for my own band. I really dig doing my magazine on the side though, it’s called Hollywood Land. It’s for Hollywood and about Hollywood and I just love doing it, it’s so much fun for me to write and create a magazine. It’s just another creative outlet. I don’t make any money off of it but it’s just fun to do.
LRI: Yeah….I can relate (laughs).
J-Dog: Right, right. You know how hard it can be, writing it, creating it, transcribing interviews and doing photos. I do all the layout myself and then we distribute it. It’s a lot of fuckin work but it’s fun. Advertising is the hardest fuckin part but hopefully that will pick up as more people find out about us, who knows.
LRI: I would have to think that building these successes and actually selling albums and filling venues had to feel like one giant, extending middle finger to everyone who ever told you that you couldn’t do it, shouldn’t do it or wouldn’t do it.
J-Dog: Dude, that’s the whole reason I do this shit, I fuckin hate everybody (laughs). No but for real, there have always been and still are people who I know who are like “Wow, are you still doing your band?” and shit like that to me and it’s like “What the fuck do you mean? Yeah, I’m still doing it. We just sold 300,000 records and played this bigass tour” (laughs). I don’t know if they’re jealous or what but it never fails, there are people who will come up to me and say that.
LRI: I think sometimes people think you are either a millionaire on MTV cribs or you are eating ramen out of a dirty van while playing dive bars. They seem to forget that if a band has good management and a loyal fanbase they can make a living and do well for themselves.
J-Dog: Right, we have those people who totally have it wrong and think that we’re millionaires and shit, trust me, nothing could be farther from the truth. I wouldn’t even be considered “wealthy” but at the same time, we are out here having a fuckin blast and making progress and that to me is success.
LRI: Continued good luck on the tour, before I let you go we had a reader question from a fan in Roscoe, Illinois, Caleb White. Caleb wants to know how you came up with your original mask and when you first started singing.
J-dog: Cool, well…We all came up with our own masks and on my original mask, like putting the money on it, I was kind of thinking it kind of represented “Put your money where your mouth is”. I thought that visually, it looked pretty cool with the bleeding eyes and money. A lot of people live and die by the money and money makes the world go round. I’ve always kept that as part of my mask since then and I still have that mask along with all of my masks. As for singing, I don’t really consider myself a singer but I started writing music when I was 16 or 17 and started vocally doing shit like Hollywood Undead when I was like 20 or 21.
To check out J-dog’s magazine online visit:
Hollywood Undead Tour Dates 2013
|Thu 03/21/13||Guelph, ON||Guelph Concert Theatre|
|Mon 04/15/13||Baton Rouge, LA||Varsity Theatre|
|Fri 04/19/13||San Antonio, TX||Back Stage Live|
|Appearing at “KTBZ Buzzfest”|
|Sat 04/20/13||The Woodlands, TX||The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion|
|Tue 04/23/13||Austin, TX||Emo’s|
|Thu 04/25/13||Albuquerque, NM||Sunshine Theatre|
|Fri 04/26/13||Tucson, AZ||Pima County Fairgrounds|
|Wed 05/01/13||Panama City, FL||Club Lavela|
|Fri 05/03/13||Chattanooga, TN||Track 29|
|Appearing at “Carolina Rebellion”|
|Sun 05/05/13||Concord, NC||Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Thu 05/09/13||Madison, WI||Orpheum Theater|
|Appearing at “Pointfest”|
|Sun 05/12/13||Maryland Heights, MO||Verizon Wireless Amph. St. Louis|
|Tue 05/14/13||La Crosse, WI||La Crosse Center Arena|
|Tue 05/21/13||Clifton Park, NY||Upstate Concert Hall|
|Wed 05/22/13||Stroudsburg, PA||Sherman Theater|
|Sat 05/25/13||Louisville, KY||Expo Five|