L.A. rock/rap/dance group Hollywood Undead are a hard entity to get a handle on.
Their constant mixing of genres and interplay of the serious and the comedic have gained them a lot of negative publicity but they have also managed to attract the attention of a large fanbase who were looking for variety rather than the typical music that is being shoved down their throats on the radio.
Hollywood Undead recently released their sophomore album, American Tragedy, which sold over 70,000 copies in its first week and landed them at the 4th spot on the Billboard 200 charts.
The album features a bit more rock than their debut Swan Songs but continues to throw in hip hop, pop and dance elements as well.
The album’s lyrics are a bit more dark and personal but somehow manage to keep the party vibe that the band is known for.
To promote the album Hollywood Undead is out headlining their Revolt Tour which also features New Medicine, Drive A and 10 Years.
On Saturday the tour made a stop in Detroit at Saint Andrews Hall and after their early afternoon sound check I sat down with rapper/guitarist Jordon Terrell a.k.a. Charlie Scene:
Q: How’s it going?
A: We’re getting ready to rock Detroit!
Q: And it’s a sold out show. Has that been happening a lot on this tour?
A: Umm, no not most of them but there has been a good amount of sell outs.
Q: We were surprised about how many people are already lined up outside!
A: Yeah, it’s pretty hardcore to stand outside for that long.
Q: So the tour has been going well so far?
A: Yeah, it’s been going good. The crowds have been good and it’s been fun.
Q: You were out on the Nightmare After Christmas Tour with Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold right before this. Do you plan to continue to stay out on the road?
A: We have like three days off and then we go to Europe for two weeks and then we’re back for a few weeks before we will be going out for a month with All That Remains.
Q: You’re playing some of the festivals in Europe?
A: Yeah we’re doing Download Festival and Rock am Ring and Rock im Park.
Q: You enjoy playing those?
A: Yeah those are awesome. It’s a lot different and it’s with a lot of big bands so we get to check out some cool bands. System of a Down I think is headlining at Download so we get to check them out. Yeah, it will be cool!
Q: For this tour did you get to select the other bands or did it just come together?
A: It was something that came together. Usually we get to choose our bands but on this one we didn’t for some reason. Yeah I don’t know why. I think someone has been lying to me! (laughs)
Q: It’s a interesting mix of bands though. I’ve seen Drive A perform but not the other bands.
A: Yeah they are both really good. New Medicine is awesome and 10 Years is a really good band and also really cool guys too.
Q: When you were out with Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold did you get to hang out with them?
A: Yeah we did. They are all really cool. It had been awhile since we’d toured with a band that wasn’t a bunch of a**holes. It’s usually the bands that are smaller than our band that are like that. The bigger bands are usually super nice and supportive. It’s like the young bands who are coming up are the ones with the egos. They’re idiots! They’re just ruining it for themselves.
Q: Is there someone you want to try to tour with?
A: The bands that I like I don’t think we could tour with. I don’t think we’ll do a tour with Zac Brown Band but who knows!
Q: So you will be touring in July with All That Remains?
A: Yeah. They’re good and they draw a crowd. They’re one of those bands who are pretty bad ass.
Q: For this tour are you doing a lot ot songs off of the new album?
A: We do I think as of now five songs off the new record and then nine from the old one. It’s the first tour after the record has been released so we just added five but for our next U.S. tour we will be adding a couple of more.
Q: The record has been doing well. You’ve seen a good reaction to it?
A: Yeah definitely and especially now that it’s been out for a month. Now it’s getting to where the whole crowd knows every single word to the songs. That wouldn’t happen if the album sucked, you know? Then they wouldn’t want to know the words!
Q: How is this record different from your first one?
A: We had to change it a little bit but we didn’t want to change too much. We wanted to still make music that we liked and we actually like this one more than Swan Songs. I mean we didn’t want this to be Swan Songs part 2; the same exact record. That record only did so well and we had to change and adapt and grow as a band to take it up another level.
Q: I like the juxtaposition of the dark material and lyrics with the party vibe atmosphere.
A: Yeah well I’m usually in charge of the party tracks. I like the party songs and the other guys in the band are a little bit more depressed than me so they like the darker stuff.
Q: How do you feel about the critics who criticize you because they can’t get a handle on your sound? Is there a sound that you try to go for?
A: Yeah well it depends on what that critic likes. If it’s like a rock critic or someone who likes a certain kind of music then they’re going to like those kind of songs that are on the record but that’s it. There is such a wide array. It really only works for people who like fun songs and serious songs or heavy songs and lighthearted songs. It’s like that’s the only kind of person who really gets the record. You know a rock guy won’t get it or a hip hop guy or a pop guy. You have to be into all different kinds of music. It’s hard to point to a genre and explain what it is. There’s a little something for everyone.
Q: So you all worked on the album together?
A: Yeah there is three or four writers in the band and each person starts a song and then brings it to the band which is good because if there was only one writer the record would sound one particular way. With three and a half writers there are different styles throughout the band. You get songs that another person wouldn’t have been able to write.
Q: Is there a song that stands out for you on the new record?
A: Yeah “Comin’ In Hot” is my favorite song on the album that I wrote. It’s a party track kind of song.
Q: What stands out in your live set?
A: “Everywhere I Go” is always huge with the crowd and “Comin’ In Hot” now is almost becoming at that point. Those ones, the party songs, I like a lot. People want to dance and jump around and have fun.
Q: Do you change the setlist up?
A: Yeah we have extra songs that we interchange once in awhile. Yeah you’ve gotta keep it fresh.
Q: Do you ever play covers?
A: No, no covers! When a band does a cover it’s usually from a band that was a influence for them. I think it just shows what you are trying to be. I see that all the time. It really takes away from their band.
Q: Can you explain the concept behind your hockey goaltender masks?
A: It came because our music was different from any of the stuff that we were doing before. We were all in other bands together and separately. We were young and just because the music was different we wanted to look different too. We didn’t want took like every other band. If you look through a music magazine like AP Magazine all of the bands look exactly the same with a different name and often play the same type of music too. We wanted to be different and stand out and have them saying who are these guys. It definitely works for us and it allows the fans to be a part of it too. They get to make their own mask and come to the show and feel like they are a part of something.
Q: Are they something that you try to work your shows around?
A: Yeah we changed them a little bit for the new album. We changed them slightly and we only wear them for three songs and then we take them off. We incorporate them a little bit but it’s not to hide our faces or identity or anything.
Q: You have a large and diverse fan base. Do you get a chance to get out and interact with them?
A: Yeah we do a signing pretty much everyday. You know a in-store signing wherever we are. At the end of the show we get out and sign for the people waiting by the tour bus as well.
Q: Do you see a lot of parents bringing their kids out to the shows?
A: Yeah there’s a lot of that. It’s crazy too because of the language in the songs. You see parents and their kids both singing along and it’s weird because we say f*ck and they’re looking at us. But hey I listened to that when I was young and I turned out alright.
Q: What’s your best fan story?
A: I signed a baby the other day. That was weird. I wask kidding too because I was like what do you want me to sign your baby and she was like yes, sign my baby! She put it up on the table and like slid it down to each member to sign. Yeah, we signed a baby!
Q: You talk a lot about the L.A. scene that you grew up in on your songs. Do you still spend a lot of time there?
A: Yeah, definitely. We were all born and raised there and we love it. It’s where all our family and friends are so yeah we’ll stay in L.A.. I can see how it wouldn’t be that cool if you weren’t born there kind of like New York, you know? If you’re born there I think people tend to stay there.
Q: Is there a place you like visiting the most?
A: I like Nashville a lot just because it’s such a music city and I like country music too. There’s a lot of things to do there.
Q: So you get out to see the places you visit?
A: Yeah, we do.
Q: Going anywhere after the show tonight?
A: I don’t know. I have no idea. Our sound guy is from here. He actually used to work in this venue for a long time. So maybe he can show us around. What is around here?
Q: There’s three casinos, lots of bars and clubs, the stadiums…
A: Is it a safe area?
Q: It is as long as you stay around here. Anywhere around the stadiums and up to here is fine.
A: Last night we played Cincinnatti and it was the most ghetto area ever! It was so bad and one of the guys in the band found a bullet. A 22-caliber bullet on the road.
Q: You talked about how it’s hard to describe your music or place it into a certain genre but why should someone who hasn’t heard you come out to your shows?
A: It’s cuz I’m hungry and I’m broke. Buy a t-shirt or just give me $20!
Q: What should people expect from the show tonight and the rest of the tour?
A: They can expect six punks on stage walking out partying, being sad at times, getting back to partying and witchcraft. We have smoke rising up on stage for certain songs. It’s a rock show and a party. A fun experience; a good time. People have a lot of fun at our shows.