Wednesday 13

by Greg Prato

For the past 20 years or so, the "shock rock" headlines have been primarily hogged by the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. But that's not to say that there haven't been other fellow acts that also carefully studied their vintage bootleg Alice Cooper and Kiss VHS tapes early on - such as Wednesday 13.

Although best known as the singer of the Murderdolls (which also featured Slipknot member Joey Jordison), Wednesday 13 has also been a member of a variety of other acts (Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, Bourbon Crow, etc.), and his main focus nowadays seems to be his solo career, as he issued his fifth solo set, The Dixie Dead, earlier this year.

The gentleman who forgoes eyebrows chatted with Songfacts about the stories behind his songs, his hot and cold relationship with Mr. Jordison, and his preferred horror flicks.
Greg Prato (Songfacts): Let's start by talking about your latest album, The Dixie Dead.

Wednesday 13: It just came out this past February and I've been touring pretty much nonstop on it. It's my fifth solo release since 2005. And the way I've been talking about this record, I feel like it's one of my best things I've recorded and put out, because I'm really confident with where I am at my phase and at my level in the band now. It has taken us like ten years to figure out; we've gone through a million different members and now I've had this solid lineup for four years, minus our bass player who came in late in the game. I feel like I've finally gotten confident with what I do. And this last record, it was really easy to record because I did most of it in my apartment where I'm actually talking to you from right now. So it was really convenient to actually wake up in the morning and not have to worry about driving across town and then going to a studio and then driving back. I could just walk in the back of my place here, turn the recorder on and "Let's start doing this thing." So it was a comfort level, as well, which I think brought a great vibe to the record when I go back and listen to it.

For me, it wasn't a hard record to make. I really got to concentrate on it without stressing out and pulling my hair out, which I had done on other releases. This was no rush on it, and again, I just think I've had a more confident approach to it.

Songfacts: What are some of your favorite songs on the album?

Wednesday 13: Usually, immediately after a record comes out, I'm already going, "Oh, I hate this song, why did I record that one? I don't want to play that one." But on our live tour for this, we have a hard time trying to figure out what songs to not play off the record, because we like everything on it. So for me, my favorites are the opening track, the "Bloodsucker" song; "Hail Ming" is another great song that's just cool to play live, "Get Your Grave On," "Curse the Living." The reason I guess I'm picking these songs is because I have seen them in the live setting. In my mind when I was writing the songs prior to anyone ever hearing them in a live setting, I just had to imagine, "Oh, my God, this is definitely going to work live." So to now be able to go out and play these songs and get a reaction, it was exactly what I expected, and even more so on some of these songs.

Songfacts: For people that may just be discovering your music now, if you just want to talk about some of the other projects that you've been included in over the years.

Wednesday 13: I have a 20 year history of recording music that's available to the public that you can buy on CD. My whole claim to fame or what I was first known from was my band, Murderdolls. But prior to that I had a band called the Frankenstein Drag Queens, and a lot of that material from that band, which went over for a six year period, a lot of those songs ended up on the Murderdolls album - kind of chopped up and reproduced, so to speak. So when that record came out I was playing with Joey Jordison of Slipknot, and that gave us notoriety immediately.

But it also opened people up to my catalog of songs. I had six albums available prior to Murderdolls, so when Murderdolls took its hiatus and when Joey went back to record with Slipknot, I had offered to do a solo album with Roadrunner Records. I released my first album in 2005 and I released five solo albums up till now, but also including DVDs and EPs and stuff in between. So I've pretty much released an album a year, if not two, consistently for about ten years. So I have a ton of material out there and there's no really slowing down right now. I'm already ready to start writing for the next album and get in the studio and start getting more stuff out.

So I'm excited about making music now and some new things. I got really confident in the past several years and now I'm ready to go full throttle with it.

Songfacts: How did you and Joey Jordison originally cross paths?

Wednesday 13: It wasn't like a prior friendship or anything at all. He had a guy that he was playing with at the time, that had actually had copies of my band Frankenstein Drag Queens. And I guess he gave Jordison copies of it over the years, and he used to take it out on tour and was listening to it and he's like, "All right, well, when I get done with Slipknot, I'm going to approach this guy about working together on this project." And that's pretty much what it was. It was just a phone call.

We learned to become friends just by being on tour and being in our band together, but it was only for a year when we toured, so it really wasn't any prior friendship sort of thing. He called me up on the phone, "You want to come and make a record?" kind of deal. The first I got the phone call, I was like, "Who's pranking me?"

Songfacts: How would you compare the songwriting with your solo band to songwriting with the Murderdolls?

Wednesday 13: It's definitely a different thing. I mean, Murderdolls, the last record we did was in 2010 and the recording process and the songwriting that he and I do together is really unique. I've never had that with anyone else. But at the same time, it's shared ideas where we really are just songwriters and we both agree on the stuff. Whereas Wednesday 13 material, for the bulk of it over the years, prior up to this last album, I was the head guy and I called all the shots. I really didn't have to bounce it off of anyone because I would have my guys play their part and sort of leave. So I was the "Dr. Frankenstein" in the studio, I could do whatever I wanted with it. I was the guy to ask that answered the question, pretty much.

But I'm really into my band now, we've just been together for so long. So on this last record I definitely took input from our guitar player, Roman Surman. He could take guitar riffs that I have and just do different things for them. So this record's definitely been more of a band effort. But still, the difference is Murderdolls is a really shared idea at the end of the day. We both have to agree on it, whereas Wednesday 13, at the end of the day I get to call the shots.

Songfacts: Who were some of your favorite songwriters as far as rock bands go?

Wednesday 13: For me, I've always mentioned Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper and the Ramones and the Sex Pistols were three bands that I could list as far as lyrically. When I first started writing songs, I loved the snideness of the Sex Pistols. When I heard the word "fuck" and I saw them the first time, I was like, "Whoa." That used to be crazy. And I was like, "Alright. Well, if I ever get in a band one day, I'm just going to say it as many times as I can, because that would be more over the top."

And the Ramones, as well. I loved how they used to rhyme stuff. They were these really fucked up kind of nursery rhymes, almost. That's really how I started writing songs in the first place - lyrically it came from that.

And then the music, it was everything from punk rock, which I would really say the Sex Pistols were musically at first where I started off. But also, in the early '90s, I was listening to bands like Pantera and White Zombie. I was never a "heavy metal guy" so to speak - they always called me the "glam guy" in school. But I still like metal to a certain extent. So I like Metallica, I like Anthrax, I like Slayer, I like that kind of stuff. Over the years I've somehow blended in everything from the Sex Pistols from Slayer riffs into what I do now. And somehow, it still comes out sounding like Wednesday 13.

Songfacts: And as far as when you sit down to write songs, do you usually write them on guitar or have you written songs all different ways?

Wednesday 13: These days, I have an acoustic guitar right beside me in my little room I hang out in all the time. If I get a melody in my head or something, I'll pick up my guitar and I'll usually write it on guitar first. And every once in a while I'll have my keyboard out, and I'll get kind of a melody with that. But it usually goes back to the guitar.

I write everything acoustic first, and if it sounds good to me that way, then it's worth taking to the next step, which is plugging guitars in and things like that. So really over the years I've relied on writing stuff acoustically.

Songfacts: Listening to your solo material, it reminded me a little of D Generation. Were you a fan of them?

Wednesday 13: I was not. Actually, I'm not even familiar with their stuff.

Songfacts: Okay. Because it seems like they probably shared a lot of the same influences as you, so maybe that's why it sounds a little similar?

Wednesday 13: I will check that out, though. It's the craziest thing, and this sounds stupid now, but back in '96 when I was doing my Frankenstein Drag Queen band, I started getting reviews in Flipside magazine and Maximumrocknroll, and people would be, "Oh, these guys obviously like the Misfits." I've never ever listened to the Misfits, but all my songs are about horror movies. Then when I finally checked the Misfits out, I was like, "Wow, okay. I get it now." So without hearing this, I will check this out. If you heard that, I'd be curious to hear.

Songfacts: Probably their first album [1994's self-titled] I think is the one that I think sounds somewhat similar.

Wednesday 13: I'll check it out. And another band, as well, as far as the Wendy O. Williams stuff, was Jane County. They were another punk band I was really into, which to me was almost like the Rocky Horror Picture Show meets the Sex Pistols. It's another band that was a really big influence back in the day.

Songfacts: Did Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics influence you, as well?

Wednesday 13: Yeah. The lyrics were juvenile. Take a song like, "Monkey Suit": "in the monkey suit, you just look like a monkey."

I was a big cartoon fan and liked any band that had that sense of humor. The Plasmatics and the Ramones had it. So I'm sure I've incorporated that into my lyrics somehow. People ask me, "What do you listen to now?" And I go, "I listen to all my favorite stuff from back then, all the bands I've been talking about."

Songfacts: And something else about the Plasmatics and Wendy O. Williams: to the best of my knowledge, they were one of the first bands to merge metal and punk. I guess it was them and also Motörhead.

Wednesday 13: Yeah. I can't think of anyone before that, that would be the two that I would say.

Songfacts: What are some of your favorite horror movies, and if you want to make a correlation between some of the songs you've written that may have been directly influenced by horror movies.

Wednesday 13: The thing with horror movies and what I remember as a kid are my first memories of ever sitting in front of a television back in 1979 or '80. I was born in '76, so I remember sitting in front of those big brown TVs with the big wood paneling around them, and this TV just looked gigantic to me. My parents would always put on Bugs Bunny or The Munsters would seem to be on all the time. The Munsters stayed in rotation, it was on a lot. The Addams Family used to come on all the time. So to me it was sort of the same thing, and you could still go to the toy store and buy G.I. Joes, or right beside them they had the Remco Frankenstein, Creature of the Black Lagoon. I would buy them all - get them together - and I'd make G.I. Joe fight Dracula.

So since childhood, I've always liked horror movies and I've incorporated it into everything that I like. So when I started hearing bands like Alice Cooper, it was horror. Not all of his stuff, but a majority. He had Welcome to My Nightmare, the Constrictor album cover, so it was combining horror with music. But again, it was never anybody that did it the way that I wanted to do it. In my mind I wanted to just go full horror.

So when I finally started doing my bands, like Frankenstein Drag Queens, Murderdolls, and my solo stuff, on every record there's at least two or three or four songs that are directly about movies. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre on my Skeletons record, which is called "All American Massacre." On the new album we have a song called "Carol Anne" which is from the little girl from Poltergeist. So there's something from everything. And most of the songs I've written, I didn't write about anything just for the hell of it. Most of my songs I wrote up because they're childhood memories to me.

When I put up my posters over the years, I always incorporated the movies. We had the name of our band or whatever, but I would always use a picture of Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi or something like that. So I always tied that horror thing in whether it made sense or not - I just kind of made it make sense.

Songfacts: And I understand you are a fan of KISS. It seems like people always focus on the make-up and the stage show, but I've always thought that they were very underrated songwriters, especially the stuff they wrote early on in the '70s.

Wednesday 13: Oh, absolutely. And I'm a KISS fanatic. I just got home from my tour yesterday and a friend of mind just mailed me all of the KISS Destroyer costumes. So I'll probably be hanging out in an Ace Frehley costume in about two hours just to see what it looks like!

But yeah, when I was a kid I grew up listening to KISS and I loved it. I remember when KISS did the Unplugged thing in, what was it, '93?

Songfacts: I think it was '95.

Wednesday 13: I guess those years are kind of squeezed in together. So '93 or '95, I remember seeing the Unplugged thing. I loved that album, and I remember hearing those songs and how good they sang. I think they recorded, what, three sessions of that and that was it.

KISS could always use that as a resumé and go, "You know what? Fuck you guys. We know how to play and we are good musicians. And it wasn't just about music." They're good songs. Because you hear them in the original form. Which is why I always try to write stuff acoustically, because if it sounds good like that, it's going to sound better when you turn it up.

Songfacts: Let's talk about some of your songs. Let's start with "I Walked with a Zombie."

Wednesday 13: That one feels like my oldie, my old one. But as far as the memory of that whole record, a lot of that stuff was written over a two year period. I saw the movie I Walked with a Zombie, and I saw it several times. But I was reading about it in a book, and I was just looking through this book and I was playing guitar. Somehow I just started singing what I was reading, and it just turned into that song. It turned out to be so catchy, and I did a demo of it immediately. I went, "Whoa, this is like super horror pop punk," or whatever you want to call it.

Most of my songs come quick and sudden, and they usually make me smile. I'll go, "Whoa, that's a good one." That was one that I knew right away would be a catchy one live and it ended up being our first video.

Songfacts: And what about the writing of the Murderdolls song "Nowhere"?

Wednesday 13: "Nowhere" actually is a really funny song in just how it all came about. Originally "Nowhere" was written in 2003 and was going to be on my first solo album. It was actually called "Brand New Hell" at first. That's how it was written on the demo and I wrote the lyrics and everything. And that song, honestly, didn't change at all from the demo form and how it ended up on that Murderdolls record. I had so many songs and Joey had listened through them all. That demo came up and that was a song I didn't think he would even like. It was about how I got a bad taste in my mouth from the business side when that first Murderdolls album ended. I wrote it about the whole system and how it works in the music business, or it did at that time.

And then ironically, the Murderdolls, that was our last single and video, and after that pretty much we stopped, as well. And that video had us running off a cliff in a car. So every time I see that it all makes sense. It's not like a depressing song or anything, it's one of my favorite songs I've ever written. But it's just got a weird sentimental vibe to me now when I listen to it, because it's almost like I wrote it and it was like I was predicting what was going to happen.

Songfacts: And what about the song "Dead in Hollywood"?

Wednesday 13: That was a song that was weird for me to get used to at first because it was originally called "Hooray for Horrorwood," which was on my Frankenstein Drag Queen album many years before that. And then when Joey and I started working with Murderdolls, he took all the verses and then he wanted to change the chorus to "Dead in Hollywood" because he had another riff. So it's kind of weird, when I first heard it, because I was so used to playing it the original way, and it was very confusing in a live setting, because when I was doing these shows for the first time and playing in front of these giant audiences, it rained sometimes and I was all over the place. When I would get to the chorus I would sometimes think about the original song and mess the words up and sing something that didn't even make sense to the newer fans. But in my head, I thought I was singing it right. So I just had to sort of re-learn songs and change words around. It was kind of difficult at first before I knew how to do what I was doing.

Songfacts: And the last question I have -- is there any chance of the Murderdolls getting back together at some point in the future?

Wednesday 13: You know, honestly, over the past couple of years I've said, "Oh, yeah, I think it'll happen," but in all honesty, it didn't end well with me and Joey on this last run, and the last time I talked to him was like two years ago. So it's one of those things where at this time I would say no, there's no way it's going to happen. But that's the way I felt the last record, too, and then we ended up making a new album. So it's not anything I think is going to happen anytime soon. No one wants to hear about their favorite bands not getting along, but that's the case.

July 11, 2013
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Comments: 1

  • RonGreat info, Wednesday 13, talented individual, Dixie Dead is a great album, along with the rest. Murderdolls sometime in the future would be great, waiting for you to come back around to Phoenix again. GREAT LIVE SHOW!
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