WEDNESDAY 13 – Life’s A Grave, Now Dig It!

February 23, 2013, 7 years ago

hot flashes news wednesday

By Aaron Small

Live photos courtesy of Heather Viereck

WEDNESDAY 13’s brilliant new album, The Dixie Dead, was nearly released under another very different title, the name of one of the songs on the thirteen-track platter, one paying homage to MÖTLEY CRÜE and their debut album, Too Fast For Love . “I almost called the record Too Fast For Blood, but that was too easy,” admits W13. “It’s like (MURDERDOLLS’ album) Women And Children Last (which is a tribute to VAN HALEN’s Women And Children First). Too Fast For Blood was a title I had written down and it was typical for me, making a play on another song. I’ve done that and I wanted to do something different with The Dixie Dead, with that you don’t know what you’re going to get. I wanted it to be more of a surprise instead of just spelling it out for people.”

The album artwork for The Dixie Dead, pictured above, is both different and familiar at the same time; appearing to be the poster for a horror movie along the lines of Friday The 13th or Cabin In The Woods. “When I’m thinking about album covers, I think about when I would go into a record store and how an album stood out to me,” reveals Wednesday. “I started looking back on my records – what have I done and what have I not done? I’ve always put myself on the cover; I don’t have to do that this time. I wanted to try a different approach. We’d already recorded the album before I came up with the idea for the cover. The CD, with the intro and outro, it’s kind of got that John Parker kind of feel. So I just brought this ‘80s horror movie vibe to it. It’s so funny, I have a picture of how I drew the album cover; it’s just like stick figures. I drew it in a notebook, and I took a picture of it before I went overseas to tour for Halloween. I sent it to our girl that does the art; it’s the stupidest picture. It looks like Homer Simpson holding a chainsaw, with a dumb stick-house in the background and a road. When she finally sent that to me, it was exactly what I pictured in my head. I’ve been working with the same artist for years, so she knows how to get in my head, and it was perfect. But if you saw the actual picture of it, it’s really quite funny.”

In addition to the intro and outro, smack dab in the middle of The Dixie Dead is ‘Coming Attractions’, which serves as a preview for the title track - the horror movie that has yet to be made. “Yeah, that was the last thing we came up with in the studio; it was totally spur of the moment. On my past recordings I’ve had intros and things like that, back in the DRAG QUEENS days I really went crazy with having intros and outros. We recorded this at my house; I was doing everything in my back room where I’m surrounded by all my movie posters and toys. I just started thinking it would be really funny if we did an actual audio trailer for this song which would be like a movie. So me and my guitarist Roman got in the vocal booth and all the voices you hear are he and I both just changing our voices, we put a little distortion on it. When you listen to it, you can actually visualize what’s going on, but it’s really just he and I being goofballs. Even when I listen to it now, I kind of forget that was us doing it and I’m visualizing this movie trailer.”

It’s rather ironic that the preview trailer for The Dixie Dead (which can be seen at the end of this feature), issued via Facebook and YouTube is very much a take on the 1970s Kung-Fu action films; it’s not at all like the ‘80s horror movies which the album cover is very reminiscent of. “It was one of those things where I don’t like to paint a picture where it’s just horror, horror, horror the whole time. I like to show people all my different sides, and this record I think shows all my different sides musically. There’s the heavy riffs, but I still maintain the rock ‘n roll side of what I’ve always done. Plus, one of my biggest pet peeves, I can’t stand people that take themselves so seriously. It would have been so easy to come back being spooky and scary and make it like the album cover. But something was telling me in my gut – be dumb, be yourself and try the funny approach to it. I’m a huge fan of Shaft and all those Blaxploitation films; I’ve been watching a lot of that and I thought it would be so funny if we re-enacted an old movie like that. I thought it was a cool way to do it ‘cause it’s not what people were expecting; us running around with moustaches. Actually, that’s probably the most positive response I’ve ever got from a video I’ve put out, everyone thought it was hilarious.”

ZAKK WYLDE travelled down a similar path when he played Ju Jitsu Lipshitz in the Bruce Lee/disco parody that is the BLACK LABEL SOCIETY video for ‘Overlord’. “Yeah, it showed that he was human and he’s beyond what is persona is built up to be. I thought that was cool, it’s the same kind of approach. Even with THE FOO FIGHTERS and their videos, those guys are always having fun with it; to me that’s the whole point of making a video. People can come to our shows and see us be scary, but they can’t see us running around doing Kung-Fu… but we may try that once, we’ll see.”

Undoubtedly the heaviest riff on The Dixie Dead can be found in ‘Curse The Living’. That song crushes so much, it would be right at home on a DOWN album. “Thanks man. This record is really kind of riff heavy. Ironically, that was the very first song that I wrote for this record. I’m always doing demos, but this was one of those off demos; I wasn’t on a timeline. I had this riff for a while, and actually I wrote it on bass. I remember telling my guitar player Jack to check it out, I had to play it for him or I would end up forgetting it. I kept showing it to him and it was really easy to play on bass. But I couldn’t tell if it was going to be a cool song? In my head it sounded awesome. So I did a demo of it and played it for my manager Jon and my guitar player Ramon, they thought it ruled! I’m my biggest critic so I wasn’t sure, ‘cause by the time I did the demo I was kind of semi-sick of it. But when I got that response and I started listening to it, it is cool. That kind of set the precedent for this being a heavy record.”

Although Wednesday wrote all the riffs heard on The Dixie Dead, he did not play guitar on the album. “I didn’t play at all; it was great not to do that for once. There was no point, I’m not playing guitar live anymore, unless I do my acoustic thing. I have great guitar players and I wanted them to do their thing. We’ve all been playing together for such a long time, whether it’s in Wednesday 13, GUNFIRE 76, Murderdolls. I think we’ve developed as a really good live band. I’ve never been that guy where I had to hog all the instruments and play everything. It was just when I recorded (in the past); I didn’t have anyone else to play it. Fortunately I can semi-play most of the instruments besides drums.”

Wednesday involved his fans in The Dixie Dead in a similar fashion as to what was done with Calling All Corpses. The highest eBay bidders were immortalized in the CD booklet with their name on the tombstones, this time it’s 13 plots in the cemetery. “I did that as well this time because so many people liked it on Calling All Corpses that didn’t get to be a part of it. This time, when we did the pre-order, a certain number of people got their name in a list in the booklet as well. The whole packaging for this record is half my fans and half us; it’s awesome that I get to include them! And there’s all the cool limited edition stuff, I’m signing these posters and there’s only 100 of them. 100 fans are going to get these and show them to someone else who’ll wish they had it. There’s so many little things: the postcards, the t-shirt, we did a bandana covered in blood so you can hang it out of your back pocket like you just cleaned up a crime scene. It’s like holy shit, I just want to do one cool thing like KISS did with Love Gun or ALICE COOPER did, and here we came up with five or six special things that go along with this record. I kind of went overboard, but I think anything worth doing is worth over-doing.”

‘Fuck You (In Memory Of…)’ is easily the highlight of the album, yet at the time of this interview, Wednesday “hadn’t played any of these songs live, but I feel like that will be an instant classic live. There’s a cool story about that song… it was actually written as a BOURBON CROW song in the very first stages of it. I was sitting around one night and I was text messaging with Rayen (Belchere), the other guy in Bourbon Crow. I hadn’t even thought about writing a Bourbon Crow song in forever, I’d had couple of drinks, picked up my acoustic guitar, and just started singing that chorus. I thought, this would be a perfect sing-along country song; and then I picked up my electric guitar and plugged it in. You know what, this would be even better as a Wednesday song. It’s the perfect song, people can relate to it, and the whole place will have their middle fingers up half way through it.”

There’s one line in ‘Fuck You (In Memory Of…)’ that has special significance: “I hope you know my heart is true, when I say I want bad things to happen to you.” Right after which another voice pops up with “Wrong song asshole!” ‘Bad Things’ appeared on W13’s Transylvania 90210 album. “Again, I’m poking fun at myself and my limits on lyrics. That’s funny too because the ‘Wrong song asshole’ was taken from one time we were on tour going through Jersey, and we took a wrong turn. We were going the wrong way on a one-way street, and this guy pulls up right beside us, he’s so furious at us and he yells, ‘wrong way asshole!’ while he’s holding his fist up. We imitated that guy’s voice, so it’s kind of like a little inside joke for us; it was so funny within the song.”

Looking at the song titles, ‘Hail Ming’ seems a little left field. But once you listen to it, you realize it’s based on Emperor Ming the Merciless from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. “That is correct. That was the very first movie I ever saw in a theatre. My father took me when I was a kid and I had a choice, I could see Flash Gordon or Popeye The Movie with Robin Williams – uh, Flash Gordon. I think I was five years old when this came out and I was just amazed with it. Ming always scared me; he’s the most bad-ass space villain next to Darth Vader. He’s a space Hitler, he was just evil. I’ve watched that movie for years and it’s become a cult classic for me, and for many people. I love the villain and I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi stuff as well. I never really did a song like that; my guitar player Roman and I were hanging out during the summer and I finally wrote this riff, so we put it together. The thing I always hear is that people think it has an industrial feel to it; I just wanted it to sound like a machine, like a fucking rocket ship soaring through space. Just like Ming pushing buttons and blowing up planets, that’s what I wanted to visualize with that song, and I feel like I captured that. And it was a left field thing, I never did a sci-fi song; I never did a song that heavy. So it was two left field things for me to try, and I feel like it came out well.”

The timing of ‘Hail Ming’ is impeccable as last year’s hit movie Ted, about the talking teddy bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, was the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time, earning in excess of $525,000,000; and Flash Gordon plays an integral part in the film. “Which I haven’t seen,” exclaims Wednesday. “Everybody keeps telling me about it, and I didn’t even know this movie had this part in it. I guess I was on tour and missed that movie.”

Another really catchy tune on The Dixie Dead is ‘Ghost Stories’. The question beckons, does W13 believe in ghosts and has he ever seen one? “I have yet to see a ghost. I did a couple of ghost ritual tour things over in The UK a few years ago. We went to an old castle that had a morgue, it was also a prison; they did a séance there. You turn out the lights in a creepy place you’ve never been before, you start hearing little rattles and things like that, and it’s how your imagination takes it. But I didn’t see anything that convinced me of ghosts; I’ll believe it when I see it. So I’m not ruling it out; I haven’t seen any ghosts but I’ve been looking. I’m a big alien fan, the strange and weird, but I haven’t had anything cool happen to me. Until it happens, I’ll just continue to write songs about it.”

A title for those in the know is ‘Carol Anne… They’re Here’. It would have been way too obvious to call it The Poltergeist Song. “Ha, ha, ha, yeah,” laughs W13. For those who love the 1982 movie, it’s an instant connection. “That was another movie I remember seeing early on. It’s kind of funny, again with the album cover, I tried to do it like a ‘80s horror movie. And the themes - I’m singing about Flash Gordon and Ming, I’m singing about Carol Anne, you see where I always go back to my childhood, my happiest time. I remember seeing Poltergeist and it freaked my family out, of course it freaked me out because it freaked them out. I’ve always wanted to write a song about that little girl, Carol Anne. Plus, there’s all these horror stories after the movie was filmed; all this bad luck happened to the actors. It was overdue. I really haven’t heard anyone, besides THE MISFITS include Carole Anne in a song. I just wanted to do it in a different way, and it’s kind of cool to sing a girl’s name in a chorus, I haven’t done that before. It was another cool avenue for me to try, and another nod to one of my favourite movies as a kid.”

When asked how many times he’s seen Poltergeist, Wednesday is momentarily at a loss for words. “Man… I was a kid when we had HBO and Cinemax when it first came out. I would come home from school and that movie was always on, they kept showing it every three hours, and I watched it every three hours. As a kid, I probably watched it 100 times, then when I got older I got it on VHS, then I got it on DVD, now it’s on Blu-Ray; I’ve been suckered into every era of it and I still watch it. Now I’m writing songs about it.”

As far as the sequels, Poltergeist II The Other Side (1986), and Poltergeist III (1988) go… “I liked them. Poltergeist II with The Preacher, that was so creepy! I think MARILYN MANSON had sampled, or was actually speaking, some of the dialogue from that movie on Portrait Of An American Family. I was talking to him one night when we were hanging out recently and I brought up the Poltergeist movies. I asked him if he used it on a record, and I believe he told me yes. On that Portrait record, he sang ‘God is in his holy temple’, that’s what the guy in the movie was saying on his porch. So yes, that movie freaked me out as a kid. I lived in The Bible Belt and anything I was watching, my parents would walk by, and of course they had to scare me about it. So it was extra creepy.”

W13 tour dates have been confirmed until March 15th, what happens after that? “We end in Helsinki (Finland) and then we come back (to The States). We’re planning a tour that’s probably going to start the very first of May, so we’ll probably have the month of April off. I shouldn’t necessarily say off, we’re planning to film a video in that time. We have another video that’s being edited now that’s hopefully going to come out in the next week or so that’ll tide people over. I’m actually going to do several videos for this record. But we’re hoping the tour will start in May in The US and that will take us to places we didn’t hit in the first run. I’m looking to go everywhere I possibly can, fingers crossed, trying to even get into Canada; it is in the works. I’m planning on putting together a package, like a mini-type horror rock thing, so I’m trying to piece it together. And if it does well, I’m going to try and take it outside The US as well. If not, I still plan on touring Australia and Europe at the end of the year; I’ll be touring pretty much non-stop. I’ll have a few weeks off here and there, but it’s looking like a pretty busy year. And I’m trying to work out this movie idea I’m working on as well; so busy, busy, busy.”

Before getting into the movie, which song from The Dixie Dead will be the first to receive video treatment? “I think we’re going to do a video for ‘Curse The Living’. We were talking about doing one for ‘Ghost Stories’, and that’s still a possibility too. It’ll be between both of those. We have ideas for both songs that I think are cool. To me, doing ‘Ghost Stories’, I think it’s a catchy song and you brought it up as well. But I don’t know if that seems like something typical I would release first, or putting out ‘Curse The Living’ is different? I don’t know. I like them both and this is one of the first records where I don’t really have a favourite song; there’s not a single in my head, I like every song! Usually it’s this song and this song, but that really didn’t happen with this.”

The movie project… without putting the cart in front of the horse, give us a teaser. “Basically, you can listen to the song ‘The Dixie Dead’ and the trailer for that, ‘Coming Attractions’; that gives you a basic idea of what it’s about. It’s going to be a southern-fried, hillbilly zombie movie. I plan on going back to North Carolina and recording it. I’m going to incorporate all the spooky stuff that creeped me out as a kid, and try and tie it all in together and make a movie that represents what Wednesday 13 is. I’m going to include all my quirkiness and sense of humour, but also I don’t want people to think I’m going to do something stupid and not take it serious. I’m going to take it as serious as I take my music, When I say I’m going to make a horror movie, I’m going to make a fucking horror movie!”

Are you aiming for theatrical release, or will this be straight to DVD? “Again, I’m my biggest critic. I would love for it to turn out in the end and be something we should present to a film festival; that would be awesome! I have no idea; I’ve never made a movie. I know in my head how I want it to be. I always try not to set myself up for disappointment. I know it will definitely be direct to DVD because I can do that, I can get it straight to my fans; I have an audience for that already. If it goes beyond that… it’s awesome. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see. But it’s still a work in progress. I haven’t finished anything yet, I’ve just got a basic idea. I know I want to do it and that I’m going to get it done. I hope it’s amazing, and I wish I could say I’m going to have a movie in the theatre, but who knows?”

And Wednesday has at least one more project in the pipeline. Going back to Halloween 2012, his show at Club Koko in London, England was filmed for release on DVD. “Yes. I’ve tried to tell people on Facebook and Twitter, when we filmed that, we announced it because we had to let people know we were filming it for that reason. We just didn’t want that night to go to waste. We definitely wanted to have it on video; we just didn’t have an immediate release date for it. So what we’re actually doing, that was just the first part. When we go back over in March, we’re going to film several of the shows. I’m going to basically concentrate on filming the backstage, us arriving, how we are on the bus, doing meet and greets with the fans. I’m going to try and include what people don’t get to see behind the scenes, which seems to be more important; that’s what fans want to see more. When I put videos up on my YouTube channel, I can put a video of us playing a song and it’ll get 2000 views. Or, I can put up a video of me and our guitar player being idiots singing MILLI VANILLI songs and it gets 10000 views. When I was a kid and I watched home videos of MÖTLEY CRÜE, SKID ROW, and PANTERA, I liked watching the concert; that was great. But the best part was watching all their crazy shenanigans backstage. That’s something the fans have always wanted, and I see there’s a demand for it so I want to capture it. Also, a lot of people that see my shows here – you’ve been to some of the shows, you’ve been to Cleveland where it was a good crowd, and you’ve seen us in Rochester where there was five people there. A lot of people have never seen how it is for me in The UK; it’s a different world! So I want to show that side as well because that’s where I’ve been touring a lot for over a decade now. The concert’s cool, but I want people to see what we’re about. People may have this misconception about me being the dark, spooky goth guy, they have no idea I’m a goofball; I’m as much of a fan of Anchorman as I am of Dracula.”

Featured Audio

CARCASS – “The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue” (Nuclear Blast)

CARCASS – “The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue” (Nuclear Blast)

Featured Video

HOMICIDE Premieres “Scourge Of God”

HOMICIDE Premieres “Scourge Of God”

Latest Reviews