WEDNESDAY 13 – Next Year’s Album Condolences Is “Personal, Dark, And Violent”

October 11, 2016, a year ago

Aaron Small

feature hard rock heavy metal wednesday 13

WEDNESDAY 13 – Next Year’s Album Condolences Is “Personal, Dark, And Violent”

“This whole record is themed off death. It’s not a concept record, but the theme of all the lyrics is death… being from the point of view of the killer, the victim, and then to end the record is a funeral – and the afterlife,” says Wednesday 13, talking exclusively to BraveWords about his seventh studio album, Condolences, which “will come out around April 2017.”
 
After revealing that Condolences “is eleven songs with a little intro and mid-section, so it’s 13 total – my number,” Wednesday shares the inspiration behind the title. “We had personal losses in our lives, Roman (Surman – lead guitarist) lost a really close friend, I lost my old drummer from The Drag Queens (David Hughes aka Scabs). Then you’ve got Bowie, and Lemmy, and Prince dropping… I kept seeing ‘condolences, condolences, sorry for your loss, condolences.’ That set something off in my head. I just turned 40 and I’m thinking, I could die soon. Death is in my head. It’s a dark record based off death.”
 
While the music for Condolences is completely finished and ready to go, cover art is still in the works according to Wednesday. “I have an idea for it, and it’s totally different – no disrespect to my old artist or anything, but I’m going a different route. I’m rebranding the Wednesday 13 name and what we do. The sound of this new album is, what I think, the next level. The imagery, everything, is going to take a different step. And it’s not to disrespect the past, but it’s a new level for us. For me, every record has to be bigger and better than the last. It’s like Tommy Lee doing a drum solo – ‘I went upside down, what now?’ It’s like that in my brain.”
 

Delving into the collaborative process that gave birth to Condolences, Wednesday admits, “It’s really weird because all the records I’ve ever done, I always sent demos to the guys and they heard stuff. But Roman is my Randy Rhoads – if I had to compare it in an Ozzy sort of scenario; he’s my guy. He listens to what I say, he’s not just trying to be a guitar player. When I write lyrics, he plays guitar parts along to the words. He’s not trying to Vinnie Vincent the whole thing. On the past couple of releases, I really let him do his own thing because I became more focused on the vocals. I don’t really care about playing guitar anymore. It was never a big point for me; I could always do it, but now I have a guy who can do what I could do a million times better. On this new album, instead of me sending demos out, Roman had ideas for songs we’d been playing on the bus for the past two years. I think I wrote six songs on the new album, and the rest of it is all Roman – and Kyle (Castronovo, drummer). And Kyle plays guitar too which is crazy! He wrote one of my favourite songs on the new album, it’s called ‘Omen Amen’. It’s so cool. We went to Kyle’s house in Portland, Oregon for three weeks; he has a really nice setup there and we spent a day on each song. We played it in every aspect – punk beat, half time. We played every song in every level, which I’ve never done before. I used to do demos and say, ‘It’s like this.’ We listened to everything, which was a really cool experience. The three of us – Me, Roman, and Kyle wrote the entire album.”
 
Kyle’s dad is also a drummer, quite notably Deen Castronovo of Journey, and he makes a guest appearance behind the kit on Condolences. “I’m telling you dude, there is nobody like that guy,” proclaims Wednesday. “His drumming style is so unique… the one song he plays on is the only commercial, maybe radio song on the album; but the lyrics are so bad it won’t be on the radio. It’s called ‘Cruel To You’. It goes, ‘I just want to beat you black and blue, I just want to be so cruel to you.’ It’s the most radio-friendly song ever, but again, story of my life, I can’t do it.”
 
“Going back to the story with Deen and Kyle… Kyle used to play in all these local bands; he’s been playing drums since he was six years old; his Dad trained him, it’s insane. He’s 25 years old now, but he knows everything about music, he knows all the movies we talk about. When I first met Kyle, his band was opening up for us in Oregon. And every time I came through, he was in a different band – ‘that’s the Journey kid.’ That’s what everyone said, ‘the Journey kid.’ Then in 2013, his band Fortified Mortician opened for us and he was playing guitar; but he played drums before. He can do everything. In 2015 we had Kyle in the band as a keyboard player and our drummer left. It was like, what the fuck? I forgot that he played drums because I saw him as a keyboard player and a guitar player, but Kyle came in on drums and changed everything for us. Watching Kyle and Roman play, it’s like a video game. Those dudes… it’s insane, and it’s a perfect fit. To sit back and watch that… the name is Wednesday 13, but it’s a band, a full band. I’ve done a lot of shit in my time, but at 40 to hit that mark, I’m finally here.”
 

Once the new songs were finalized and ready to be recorded, “We did the drums in Oregon for a week, and then we went to (producer) Zeuss’ studio and spent the entire month of August in Massachusetts in a little – I mean a smaller town than where I grew up (in North Carolina). It was bizarre. I think Roman literally went insane. He didn’t leave the studio, except for twice – in one month. Didn’t walk outside, didn’t see daylight. He was so focused on this record, I took him to Applebee’s to get him out for one night, to get his brain off it. It’s the most focused thing I’ve ever done, that he’s ever done; and it shows.”
 
Looking back over Wednesday 13’s past catalogue, horror movies were a big influence when it came to lyrics; not this time around. “Not at all. The new album is not film related, and it’s cool because with every record I’ve tried to step out of the box. When I first started out, that’s all I had was movies. I kept doing that thing, singing about Freddy, and Jason, and Mike Myers, that kind of stuff. After a while, that became boring to me because I felt like anyone could do that. So I just started telling stories on the past couple records – The Dixie Dead, Monsters Of The Universe. Now, I don’t want to watch TV and write songs. I want to dig deep in the human mind. Horror movies always intrigued me because they were fucked up. They were weird, but I want to get into the minds of real weird people. So for this album I read a lot of true crime books and serial killer books. I read some horrifying shit man! Albert Fish… just his quotes. How can the human mind go to that point? So at this point in my career, I love what I do and I want to sing about horror, but I like real horror. This new album is inside the human mind, in that weird aspect, but also some of my personal views as well. So it’s kind of personal, but also the darkest, most violent thing I’ve ever done.”
 
And, Wednesday 13 will be taking another unexpected turn with Condolences. “Because the new album turned out so good, I’m not self-releasing it. I’m going with a label this time.” As of press time, Wednesday was still shopping. “I’ve talked to all my friends, and I’ve met a lot of people over the last 15 years. I know how to tour. I’ve been doing that for a long time independently. But I want to step it up and do something with a label.”
 

In closing, Halloween night will be unlike any other as Wednesday 13 is playing a one-off double bill with former Misfits vocalist Michale Graves at The Whisky-A-Go-Go in Hollywood on October 31st. Setting the horror punk world ablaze, Graves’ predecessor is now his successor as original Misfits vocalist Glenn Danzig recently reunited with bassist Jerry Only, guitarist Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, and newly recruited drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer) for a pair of shows at Riot Fest in Denver and Chicago. “It’s a very weird thing for me because when Frankenstein Drag Queens first came out (in 1996), we were sending our demos out to all the magazines, and when the reviews came back they said, ‘these guys are like The Damned and The Misfits.’ And I never listened to The Damned or The Misfits. And I kept getting that comparison all the time. Finally, Kerrang – in a 5K review, the best review you can get – compared us to GG Allin, and I noticed that because I grew up with the anti-scene bands in North Carolina that toured with GG Allin; that was his market, North Carolina. Either way, people thought I loved The Misfits, but I never listened to them.” 
 
“Then in 1999, The Misfits are about to release the Famous Monsters record (which Graves sang on), and we open up for them in South Carolina – Frankenstein Drag Queens. Still didn’t care, didn’t know anything about them. Cool, let’s piss their audience off. We played in front of about 1,000 people that night, and I have a video of it. I watch it, and I wonder what’s going through my brain? Because, I could have had them in my hand, but I went the opposite route. We just made them so mad. When I said it was our last song, the whole place just cheered! We didn’t want to make fans, we wanted to make enemies. It’s the dumbest mentality ever! But that’s what I was doing at that point. After that I started listening to The Misfits, and they’re fucking great! I love it now, so it’s part of my life. But it was not even the start – my whole horror thing came from Alice Cooper. Watching The Misfits play at Riot Fest in front of 80,000 people, that’s so cool. I see that shit… they have to be dumbfounded knowing they could have done this ten years ago. But it’s amazing to see.”

(Photos by: Aaron Small)

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