WEDNESDAY 13 - Earthquake Survivor
June 4, 2011, 7 years ago
March 2011 saw Wednesday 13 on tour in Japan with MURDERDOLLS. While there the island nation was struck by the most powerful earthquake in its recorded history, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, which caused a devastating tsunami with waves in excess of 38 metres, which in some cases travelled up to ten kilometres inland. Over 15,000 people were killed, another 5,000 people suffered injuries and in excess of 125,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
Seeing it on television, the magnitude of this disaster was immediately apparent, but being in the midst of it - unfathomable. After a deep breath, Wednesday begins to recount his harrowing experience. “It was hard for me to talk about when I first got back. When I finally got home, it really hit me. You never imagine that you could be in a situation like that. It’s like, is this really happening? Am I being punk’d? Alright, it’s funny now, you can stop. It was a crazy thing. We went to Japan, the first day we got there, there was a small earthquake, but we had flown all night from Australia so we got to our hotel at like ten in the morning. We went to sleep and I heard something squeaking outside the window. I thought someone was cleaning the window; I turned on the TV and find out that there was an earthquake. You really couldn’t feel it. I was so sleepy I didn’t notice it. Everybody says there’s earthquakes all the time, so whatever. I didn’t think a whole lot about it. We played our show the next day which was the Wednesday. Then the Thursday was the earthquake.”
“So I take off running to the door. I’m so panicked I grab the wrong end, trying to pull it and it won’t open. I’m thinking they have some kind of earthquake chamber here where they lock you in so you’re safer. I’m panicking and about to kick the door out when I realize I’m pulling the wrong side like an idiot. So I open the door, and I’m on the third floor. There’s a staircase down and I somehow managed to jump that staircase in like two seconds. I don’t think I hit one step. I jumped platform to platform and got out on the street where I thought I’d feel better. The earth was shaking so bad, people couldn’t stand up; they were kind of holding each other. You had to almost straddle yourself like you were on a surf board just to balance.""So when I got outside, the trees are moving and it was even more terrifying because I could see what was going on. I could see 20 storey buildings like rubber, literally going left to right. This is all going to collapse and there’s thousands of people standing around going ooh and ah. No one knows what’s going on; it was super serious and then the sirens start going off and then it stopped. It was five minutes long and I’m like, oh fuck! I’m in complete panic at this point ‘cause I’m by myself. I don’ know where anyone’s at, I don’t know what had happened, if I just got lucky and that part didn’t collapse. So I’m trying to find the band, I’m three blocks away from our hotel. I get to the block where our hotel is, now this block mind you is in the centre of Tokyo and it’s an intersection. At each intersection during this time of day, there is at least 2,000 people on each part of each intersection – that’s 8,000 people! And everyone is being forced out of the buildings because of the earthquake, so everyone that was in a store shopping is out on the street. They’ve all moved to this centre part of Tokyo which is kind of a clear part, where if a building fell, you could at least try and run for it. So there’s thousands of people in this one little part, and I’m looking for my band. Normally I look for people with black hair… I’m fucked! So what do I look for now? I don’t know how it was, I know my friends so well, my guitar player Ramon whistled. The whistle he can do is so high-pitched it hurts your ears; he does it on purpose to piss people off. He saw me and did that whistle; I heard it over everyone, all these thousands of people. I turned around and found the band.”
“It was my drummer’s birthday; they were on the 18th floor of the hotel when it happened. The elevators weren’t working, the building’s swaying left and right; they had to run down those flights of stairs as the building was moving. Even the people that work there, the maid’s carts were upside down rolling down the hallways. You can’t even imagine… you can’t believe it’s happening. The worst part of it was that it wasn’t just that earthquake. It kept happening every ten minutes, and we had to stay there for 48 hours. The aftershocks just kept coming. You’re in such a state of shock that every time something shakes, you automatically go into panic mode. That’s something I – all the guys in the band, we’ve talked about it – I’m still suffering from it. When something shakes, I automatically go into panic mode and think there’s an earthquake. It’s fucked with my head really bad! That whole thing went on in Japan and we couldn’t get a flight out for 48 hours. It was basically just hanging out, hearing about all the nuclear reactors; especially when you’re in a foreign place, you don’t know how close it is. I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. There was a bar across the street from our hotel; I refused to sleep in the hotel. I grabbed my backpack; I didn’t care about any of my clothes. I had my computer and went to a bar across the street that had WiFi and sat there and talked to my family. I basically made camp there. I thought if I’m on the third floor, it’s better than collapsing on the 18th floor. So I lived in a bar for 48 hours and drank myself ‘til I could get it out of my head. It was a heavy duty experience! I don’t think any of us have really shaken it yet. At least a few times a week it’ll pop into my head; I’ll relive that whole moment.”
Prior to the earthquake, W13 had been working on a five-song remix EP, Re-Animated. It’s since been released digitally via Amazon and iTunes. In an effort to contribute towards the rebuilding of Japan, Wednesday is donating a portion of the proceeds to the American Red Cross who are supporting and advising the Japanese Red Cross, which continues to assist the government in its response. “I’m not SLASH, I’m not someone who can get tons of money, but it was something that I could do. Whether it’s $1,000 or whatever, at least it’s something. Once I came back and we started with the remixes, it made sense. It’s just something to help out. That whole thing hasn’t left my head at all. It still feels like it just happened – I wish I could get it out of my head! I hope it leaves one day. The sad thing is, I remember taking off when we finally left, leaving the ground was kind of like a relief, but also like a sad feeling ‘cause I was thinking of all the people that have to stay there. People who have no idea where their family is? It was relieving, but at the same time it made me feel selfish when I left. Fuck – here I am, just trying to get out and this is these people’s home, it’s their country and it’s going under. It doesn’t make any sense – why? How could this happen?”
With the exception of WHITE ZOMBIE’s Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds, released in 1996, the punk, metal and rock worlds don’t see a lot of remixes. “As far as remixes, it was a thing where I didn’t really want to be involved at all,” admits Wednesday. “I didn’t want to sit down with someone and remix a song. It was something for me, while I was out touring with Murderdolls, to give these tracks to someone and see what they will come up with. That was the idea and then when they sent it back to me, I thought it was cool. It’s so different to listen to, those songs in that format is kind of cool. Over the years I’ve been compared to (MARILYN) MANSON and (ROB) ZOMBIE and (ALICE) COOPER. The Skeletons record was more of a heavy record, you start remixing that stuff and it almost starts giving those hints of White Zombie mixes; I’ve heard that a lot. It’s not a bad thing. I’m still kind of new as far as becoming a fan of remixes, but being involved in this has kind of got me paying attention to them, so I’m looking for CDs that have a remix on them and checking it out. Whereas before I was like, alright, if you want to remix it, do it and we’ll see what happens. If I hate it, I hate it; if I like it, we’ll put it out – and I liked it. I used to hear NINE INCH NAILS remixes, MINISTRY remixes and old Manson remixes, when I heard these songs I thought, could I tolerate listening to these? Yes. So I had fun listening to it. That record (Skeletons) has been out since 2008, so the fans might think it’s cool to hear it in a different way. With the exception of ‘Scream Baby Scream’, which is pretty much the same, but ‘Death Mask’ and ‘Bloodshed’ – those are completely different songs now.”
Re-Animated is currently only available digitally, as far as an actual CD release goes… “We have so many ideas… right now I’m in the studio doing my new solo record. We have ideas of possibly putting Re-Animated together with a new remixed and remastered version of Skeletons, combining it like a double album kind of deal. It’ll sound totally different than how it was the first time. If it happens this year, I don’t know? Right now I’m concentrating on getting this new Wednesday record done which is turning out fucking great!”
The decision to do a W13 album as opposed to a GUNFIRE 76 disc “was pretty simple. The Gunfire record (Casualties & Tragedies, released in 2009), which I still am super proud of, I love that record! It’s probably one of my favourite things I’ve ever recorded. But the thing about it was, when that record came out, it was an unfortunate time for the music industry and the situation I was in. People didn’t really know it was me, so we did minimal touring, then the Murderdolls thing came around and I jumped into that. So basically now I’ve stepped away from Gunfire and the Wednesday stuff, ‘cause my last Wednesday tour was the beginning of 2010 in Australia, but that was like three shows. Before that, I hadn’t played for almost a whole year, so I can’t even count that. So I hadn’t really done the Wednesday thing since March 2009."
"So I had a long break to get away from it and just reinvent myself. I just got to the point where I got bored, that’s why I did the Gunfire thing. This last little run with Murderdolls, on Easter we played our last show at The Roxy. I came home and I needed to change some shit in my life. I’d been drinking and partying my ass off for a year straight; I decided I was going to stop. So I quit drinking, I quit doing everything. I started being a human and I just went on this crazy writing spree, I couldn’t stop writing songs! Basically, for about two weeks I’d sit all day and write, I don’t know how many songs? I came up with so much cool shit and it’s taken on a whole new life. I think because I stepped away from it, I’ve listened to so many new things. It’s like a whole new Wednesday 13 for me. It’s got hints of all my stuff, but it’s nothing like the Skeletons record. To me, this is turning out to be my most catchy sing along record that I’ve ever done. It’s just a cool, fun rock record. It was written really quickly; that doesn’t mean it’s shitty. Some of my best songs were written in a few minutes, and that’s the way this record came out. It’s just kind of happening; I’m letting it do itself.”
The new album, Calling All Corpses, is tentatively due in October. When asked about the origin of the title, Wednesday replies, “Honestly I have no idea. It’s a song that’s going to be on the record as well. Maybe it was the old police siren, ‘calling all cars.’ I thought I heard that and of course I thought Calling All Corpses would be a fun title, so I wrote it down in a notebook. Next thing I know I’m writing a song and I went back to the mentality of the DRAG QUEENS when we put out our third record (Songs From The Recently Deceased). Every time we played shows, we could never decide what song to open with. I decided to write the intro, which was ‘Monster Monster 13’, so we never had to fight about it again. It was real quick and short, got to the point and hit you in the face. I kind of made ‘Calling All Corpses’ in that spirit. That will probably be our opener – which to me sounds like The Headless Horseman galloping out of Hell stabbing babies. That’s a good explanation of it.”
Both Skeletons and the Bloodwork EP were self-released, essentially independently. Will the same route be followed with Calling All Corpses or is signing with a record company a viable possibility? “Hearing about Warner Bros. (being sold to a Russian-born billionaire) and all this stuff that’s been going down the past month… I’ve got so many ways to do stuff now, like when I used Hot Topic in the States. I haven’t exactly decided, but I have tons of options. I’m finishing the record now and I’m just going to see what happens with it. The whole point of putting a record out is you want everyone to hear it. If someone wants to put it everywhere, of course I’m going to go with where everyone can get it; that’s why I play music. I want people to hear it.”
W13 will perform a one-off show on Wednesday July 13th at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, CA. “The cool thing about it is, when I got through with touring, I looked at the calendar and saw there was a Wednesday 13 coming up and I just got the idea. I live in Hollywood now, the Whisky’s right up the road from me. Every time I tour, I try to take the show with me – the production, props or whatever you want to call it – all you can fit in the van or trailer. But to focus on one show, I haven’t done that in a long time. So I’m going all out on the set list, I’m not doing any of my old tricks – you’re never going to figure it out. I’m doing stuff I haven’t done. It’s going to be a whole different thing.” Will this show be filmed for a DVD release? “Yeah, I think that is the plan. Get the record done, film that. There’s so many ideas. My brain feels kind of clear for the first time, I feel creative for the first time in a long time.”
The move from North Carolina to California, talk about a change in environment! “Yes, but I also haven’t been home, I’ve been on tour for the most part. This was kind of the first few months I’ve had to actually hang out in Hollywood. I didn’t go there ‘to be a rock star and live the dream.’ I hang out in my place and watch TV. It just happened that I ended up here. Me and my lady split up back home and I didn’t want to be there anymore so I went to the opposite side of the country. It’s just better for me as far as business and what I do. When I’m not on tour, I have stuff I can do out here. Whereas in the middle of the fucking sticks in North Carolina, there’s not a whole lot I can do. It’s just a better outlet for me and my sanity. But I still love North Carolina. I still make time to visit; I still call it home, I just happen to live in Hollywood right now.”
Live photos courtesy of James Williams