NORTH CAROLINA, 1996 – “Somewhere out there, deep in the dark of the night. Creatures crave, blood to feed their appetite. Long, sharp knives, to cut you right down to size. Now close your eyes, so the night can come alive. In dark shadows, lurk strange things”.*
It’s in a place like that WEDNESDAY 13 crept into our lives, submerging us into his vile horror culture with bands like Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 and Murderdolls. He is now here to scare us even more with his seventh solo record ‘Condolences’. We caught up with him on September Wednesday 13th, one week before he kicks off his tour, which will take a stop in Helsinki November 16th.
*All rights belong to Wednesday 13, lyrics from ‘What The Night Brings’ part of ‘Condolences’
Hello Wednesday! First of all thank you so much for making time for us. The fall season is back here kicking in and your tour will set off in one week. How has your summer been?
Wednesday 13 I’ve been so busy this year! This year I’ve had like about four and a half weeks off and that so far has been my summer. Honestly that hasn’t been a summer at all because I’ve been basically preparing for our tour that starts in a week. We have 44 dates coming up on our upcoming tour, which starts next Thursday. At the moment right now I manage the band so there really is no kind of rest for me. I kinda come home, sleep for a couple of days, then get back to work and prepare everything for the tour. But I got an awesome job, I love what I do and I like to stay busy. I like to work, but I don’t really get any time off. So to answer question my summer has been busy!
Not only your summer has been busy for the band, but in general the whole year. You recently released a new album ‘Condolences’. It’s been out for a couple of months now. How were the reactions towards the album?
Wednesday 13 It’s been great! Every time you put a record out, you always hope that your fans are gonna like it. It’s always kinda scary what they’re gonna think, you know. Because especially with what I do… Cause if I played it safe and tried to write the same kinda record all the time and do the same sound every time I don’t think I’d be scared at all. I’d be like: “Ah cool, here’s the next one! Here you go, here’s the next one, I know it’s in the same formula and you’re gonna like it!”. But I change everything up in every record. So it’s just like a gamble every once in a while. So I’m usually like “Man I hope they’re gonna like it!” But anyhow I like to experiment and we try different things you know and you never really know how they’re gonna react to that. So that’s why it’s always kinda scary.
When we put out the first few singles, the reaction from everyone was that they loved it! They started to compare it to the very first album I put out ‘Transylvania’ and were saying the new songs are their favorites. So yeah, the new album is their favorite. Of course there has been a few people who completely hated it, (laughter) but that’s a natural thing. I hear that every now and then, but it’s the same thing: there are fans that grow with the band and there are fans that don’t. I grew with some bands and with some bands I don’t, that’s just a natural thing. I don’t get mad at fans. They just gotta understand that as an artist we gotta keep progressing and for me it’s like doing the same thing all over and over is fucking boring. So I have to keep it fresh and do different things and luckily my fans are really cool and they seem to appreciate the changes I do every time and I think they grow with us, more than they grow apart from us or grow away from us.
You have released in total 7 solo albums. I personally have been following your career for about 10 years now and find the new album kind of heavier, perhaps even darker than the rest of your releases. Is there any specific reason that you went to this direction, or did it come naturally?
Wednesday 13 It’s definitely a natural thing. I mean in the last couple of records we’ve put out, especially the last one we put out, ‘Monsters Of The Universe’, was really heavy, maybe even heavier than this one, or I don’t know, I haven’t listened to it in a while now, I don’t even remember (laughter).
But the music was definitely getting heavier over the last few releases and when we started writing for this record, I knew it was gonna be heavy, but it wasn’t like an intentional thing. I would never ever come in and be like: “Hey guys, let’s write the heaviest record ever, heavy riffs nothing else!”
We just honestly sat down. Ramon and I are friends and have known each for a long time and we just write songs. We try to write the best songs and they just happen to turn out having a heavier edge to them and that’s just a very natural thing. I think that if we would try to make it heavy, it would seem fake and it would not be honest and I can’t stand that. It basically just came in naturally as we wrote the songs.
We were writing this record just a little under a month. We basically took a whole month off and were in the studio each day. We were like “Alright, let’s start the day! We’re gonna eat our cereals, breakfast, pick up our guitar and let’s write a song every day. Plus it has to be a good song, not just a song, but a great song!” And some days we wrote a good song, some days we didn’t write any or we wouldn’t accept anything less than a good song. Every song had to be as good as the next one, so no filler tracks to this record and that was a really cool and very fun way to approach it!
Again, this whole thing we’ve done is just a natural thing. Now that I have this lineup behind me that has been my solid lineup for a few years now, it flows a lot better now than before. Because I’m now not playing all the instruments anymore, so writing the songs gives a little bit more freedom, which I love.
Not only the sound changed during this release. There’s also other elements to the record that have changed. You have a new logo for example, and the cover art of this album is very different from what’s been done for your other releases. It’s darker, more serious. Is there any reason why you changed all of it?
Wednesday 13 Yeah! I mean the whole thing with this record is that this record was really important to us. It wasn’t just like: “Oh hey here’s the next record we’re gonna put out!” We actually took time off to write this thing, which is somehow something we have never done before.
We took three months off to write it. We never took that much time off touring, to write or record something and never spent that much time on it. So for us this record couldn’t just be anything, it had to stand out from the rest of the records so to speak. I’ve been doing this for a while now. You said you’ve been following me for around 10 years, but I have fans who have been following me since my stuff from the nineties you know. I have this long road of stuff I’ve done and I always change it up every once in a while.
I kinda felt that over the past few years I’ve been swimming in the same water and not have done anything really new, so when this release almost had a new sound to it, I wanted to change the logo, I wanted to change the artwork, I wanted everything to be almost like a rebirth of the band so to speak. Because that’s what it felt like to us. We had this new energy within us and it felt like it was time to change it up. Over the years my album covers have always been kinda campy or funny. I guess you could tell from the album covers what the record is gonna be about.
I think what I like the most about ‘Condolences’ is that when you look at this album cover, it doesn’t give it away right away. You’re like: “Wow this is different, this is darker”, like you said “It’s a little more serious!” Usually i give the punchline away with the album cover and the first single. This time I kinda opened it up so that you gotta listen all the way through it to get it. That’s something I wanted to do for a while now, because this record is like a movie to me. You’re in it from the beginning until the end to get it.
You say that this album was kind of a rebirth for the band. We all know that you usually are inspired by movies, was it different this time? Are you also inspired by other things like for example literature, visual arts etc?
Wednesday 13 I purposely decided this time out to not write about any movies this time. I made a conscious effort. I wasn’t gonna do that, because honestly that’s fun to do, but it’s really easy and I’ve done it over and over and I’ve overdone it, I think. I wanted to give that a little break, I wanna go back to write songs like that, but I needed a break from it now. Because I feel I have done a song for every movie that I like or twice now pretty much.
For subject matter on this record, I read a lot of true crime books, a lot of serial killer books. There’s a show here in America that I watch which is called ‘Forensic Files’ and it’s on all day long, like it’s even on right now. It’s literally just these little 30 minute episodes of just murders and all these different things to it. So as I was writing lyrics, that show just was always on my TV, when I was writing lyrics. I was home for writing the lyrics last year and I would always look over to my TV. I started to hear so many stories, that’s why when you look at the artwork and the record there’s like crime scene photos and autopsy sketches of the body. That all came from the TV show that I was watching while I was writing the lyrics.
For me when I was a kid, horror movies used to scare me and now it just seems like nothing can scare me anymore. So I was trying to look for something that was terrifying and scary. As I’ve been reading some of these true crimes and serial killer stories and I’ve been watching some of these shows, I was like: “Man, these are like real monsters! These are the real scary people! These are way scarier than Freddy or Jason! These are people like us, who look normal!” And you know. I wrote from that point of view. That’s why this time around it’s still very much horror to me, it’s just not necessarily “movie-horror” this time, this is “real life-horror”.
Now with every new release, comes a tour. Let’s talk more about your upcoming tour. You will start off your tour in United States and Canada and afterwards you’ll be coming to Europe. You will stop in Helsinki on November 16th. Last time I saw you was exactly 10 years ago when you were a support band for 69 Eyes, now you’re headlining your own tour. How has your stage production developed since then? What can we expect from the show?
Wednesday 13 It’s a completely different show now, especially from that tour. 10 years ago we still had our punk rock era, now it’s a full-on theatrical show with costumes and masks, a light show. It’s a total different era, but I mean of course the old Wednesday is still there. He didn’t completely disappear (laughter). We still play a lot of old songs, except that now it’s a full-on production.
I made a lot of work for myself on stage. When that intro starts, I don’t even have time anymore to drink water until the show is basically done. It really is just a non-stop but really fun show. I keep adding more and more into it and that’s how I keep on making a lot more work on it for myself. I just hope that the fans will enjoy it and that when I look back and watch videos of the shows and stuff, that I can be impressed with what we’ve done. Everything you said, like with the logo, the band covert art, everything is new. This is the new and improved Wednesday 13.
You have been touring for so long now and you must have seen the whole world by now. Is there any show that sticks out from all of those experiences? What would be the most memorable show you have done?
Wednesday 13 I don’t think really there is one or if anything it is almost impossible to pick just one show. I don’t know if there is any musician that can pick one, especially when you do as many shows as we do. 100 and something shows a year makes it hard to pick out just one, especially when you do it for 15-20 years. You start feeling like “Wow I can’t even pick one!” (laughter). But yeah of course there’s a few that come to mind and they’re all big shows. Playing at Ozzfest in the UK opening up for Ozzy with Murderdolls was a huge show, just playing at Download this year with Wednesday 13 was an awesome memorable experience, playing in Italy with Iron Maiden in 2003 and having people throw garbage at us is something i’ll never forget either. I never had like 10000 people throw garbage at me but it was amazing, so (laughter) there are moments with the band every year that there’s a show you think like “Wow that’s my favorite show that I ever played!” But luckily I get to have those every year, so it’s not just one particular show I get to pick out. I would be like just going on: “This show with Alice Cooper, this show here and this show there…” It really goes on and on. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good shows.
You have been doing what you do for 15-20 years now. Over the years you have developed so much in your music, released many albums, have toured all over the world. Hell, you’ve even had your own puppet show. So if you now had to look back on all of that, what was your best achievement?
Wednesday 13 There’s a lot of things. I mean getting ‘Condolences’ released on Nuclear Blast was a really huge thing. It was something that I had set out to do for a couple of years now. We got signed to that label, without any politics and any other stuff, I was really proud. We got signed because we had a good record.
I’m really proud of the whole big picture of everything I achieved so far and especially when I look back to where I came from: the little tiny town of North Carolina that I grew up in. How I started out with my band Frankenstein Drag Queens and just about everyone telling us “You guys suck! You’re stupid! No one’s ever gonna like this music! This is terrible! You’re stupid! It’s never gonna work” But then I got the Murderdolls gig and it’s all the same kind of songs and everything and I’m able to tour the world and I’m able to play all those stupid songs that people said were dumb and (laughter) will never go anywhere. So that’s just a big achievement and I’ve been able to do that for 20 years now. That’s a huge achievement.
Being able to survive this business is an achievement on its own. It changes so much and tell people all the time and I’m on my seventh solo record now. This isn’t my seventh record deal, I don’t know how many record deals I’ve had. Most people when they have a band, they start out and their whole dream is just to get a record deal and get signed. They get signed and then things they don’t go the way the think and then they get dropped and there’s people who lose all hope and just give up.
I’ve had that happen to me about 20 times and… I never stop and I keep on going and I never let it get me down. I think that’s why a lot of these bands have been able to survive all these years. Because the same stuff happened to them. They just get kicked in the dirt, but getting kicked in the dirt inspires them to get up and to be stronger and that has happened to me. My achievement is just to survive in this business and surviving by doing what I do is not easy, because I’m not doing top ten radio music or I never want to do that either, you know, I’m the weirdo. (laughter) I’m like bigfoot. You can hear about me and you don’t know if I’m real or not, like a monster or something. I’m kind of unknown.
So, never give up even when things are not going your way, even when you get kicked in the dirt, fight your way through it. Instead of letting it get to you, let it inspire you to be even stronger. Would that be your advice to aspiring bands who want to break through and have tours all over the world?
Wednesday 13 Absolutely! Every time when people ask me about that I just ask them flat-out: “Are you willing to give up every single thing for the possibility of making it in a band – a band that will tour – are you willing to devote your life to it and possibly losing your friends, possibly losing your girlfriend, possibly losing your wife, possibly losing your family?”
Who knows, because you’re always traveling, you’re never home and people do get jealous of you. You know, you never really know because people are crazy. “Are you willing to gamble all that because you love music that much?”
I ask bands that and I can look in their eyes and sometimes I notice that they can’t really answer that question, you know and I don’t know if I could have even answered that question back then. I probably must have said yeah, but I didn’t really know what that meant, until I started doing it. And now I know that all those things are possible, what I’ve seen happened to me personally, I see it with half of the friends I had, I see it with half of the people just you know it takes every ounce of what you’ve got to make it, I think. And… If you don’t put everything you’ve got to make it, you’re not gonna last. I’m like a cockroach, I won’t go away. (laughter)
We have covered so much already, going back to your achievements. Is there anything you feel that you haven’t achieved yet. Do you have any kind of future plans? You probably get asked this all the time, but would you perhaps like to create your own horror movie?
Wednesday 13 I get asked about movies and stuff all the time, which I think is an awesome question because I’ve been singing songs about movies for pretty much whole of my career. But that’s not what I would like to do eventually down the road.
I don’t have any new plans due any time soon, I’m still enjoying. For me, my goal now is basically just that I want to get this band to a bigger level. You know, I’ve been doing this for so long and I’ve been doing it kind of it’s been on the same level since last time you saw me (laughter) You know what I mean.
I wanna get to the next level and I’m taking our show to a bigger level and I hope that that is bringing some bigger audience and some bigger stages. To me, I still got a long way to go. I feel like I’ve been around forever, but people they don’t know who Wednesday 13 is. They will know who Murderdolls is, but have no idea about me, so we have to just to spread the word which is why I’m really glad we’re with Nuclear Blast on this album because they really help the promotion out and that’s just been great. We’re only just getting started.
Our time is almost up, but I still have two questions for you. Perhaps a less serious one would be about your name. We all know where your inspirations come from, but there is also a day connected to Wednesday 13. People believe that Friday 13th is an unlucky day. How is Wednesday 13th for you? We’re also having this interview on a Wednesday 13th. Do you have any affinity for the day itself. Has anything out-of-the-ordinary ever happened to you on a Wednesday 13th?
Wednesday 13 No, I never had anything crazy happen on those dates. And honestly half of the time I don’t even know it’s Wednesday 13th (laughter). I didn’t know it was gonna be a Wednesday 13th today either until like two days ago (laughter). And I think I only knew it because I had to do this interview with the label and they were like: “We’re putting it out on Wednesday 13th!” I’m like when’s that? (laughter)
But I don’t have anything crazy or superstitious stories that ever happened to me, if anything I just get a lot of messages or texts from people going: “Happy you-day!” (laughter) But it is pretty cool to have my own day and I think this might have been the only Wednesday 13th this year! There may have been one earlier this year, like really early on but I’m not sure. A couple of years ago there was a year with like 5 of them, so I had like 5 me-days! (laughter) This year was kind of on its own, it was kinda weird I wasn’t on tour, but today I’ll celebrate it at home relaxing, because I have one week till I won’t be relaxing.
Thank you so much for making time for Tuonela Magazine, Wednesday! But before we wrap this up, is there anything you still would like to share with our Finnish readers?
Wednesday 13 I always tell my Finnish fans thank you for always supporting us over the years! I hope to see you all out there at our show there in November in Nosturi! I love that venue and if anyone has seen us play there before and has seen our shows, this is gonna be the ultimate one!
Normally if we play in Finland we fly into Finland, it’s a fly day, so we have rental gear and we don’t have our full stage but now we’re actually taking the bus and driving to Finland this time so we have our full stage production and everything. So you’ll get the full show and I promise you it’s 20 times the last time we played in Finland!
We’re looking forward to it!