MURDERDOLLS – ACEY SLADE Talks 20th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl: “It’s About Five Guys And 100,000 Fans”
September 20, 2022, a year ago
2002 was 20 years ago. At that point in time, Slipknot had released two albums – their self-titled debut in 1999, and Iowa in 2001. Temporarily setting his mask aside, Slipknot drummer turned guitarist Joey Jordison teamed up with Wednesday 13, who had been fronting Maniac Spider Trash and Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. The pair created Murderdolls – a beloved horror punk side project. Their first album, Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, was released on August 20, 2002 via Roadrunner Records – the same label Slipknot called home.
In the studio, Murderdolls was Joey and Wednesday, with assistance from Tripp Eisen (Static-X, Dope) on guitar solos. But when it came time to hit the road in support of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, guitarist Acey Slade, bassist Eric Griffin, and drummer Ben Graves were enlisted.
On August 20, 2022, Murderdolls touring members Acey Slade and Eric Griffin launched a pre-order for a 20th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl Edition of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls. Sadly, both Joey Jordison and Ben Graves are no longer with us; Joey died in 2021, and Ben passed in 2018. That leaves Wednesday 13 as the only other surviving member from the Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls era. And Wednesday is not supporting the Deluxe Vinyl Edition, which will be released on January 27, 2023.
Unfortunately, this has turned into a social media war of words – it’s Acey Slade and Eric Griffin vs. Wednesday 13 – as Wednesday does not endorse the Deluxe Vinyl Edition of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls. Acey admits he was blindsided by all of this. “It was a bit of a shock, only because I do work with Joey’s estate; I talked to Ben’s estate as well. So, the allegations came as a shock because they’re unfounded. But the truth is, the more I talk about this, the whole goal of this thing… when the album came out 20 years ago, we had the best fans in the world! And we had the best time of our lives! I don’t want to make this about me, and I don’t want to make this about Wednesday. I want to make it about the five guys and 100,000 fans we had, which by rock and roll standards, maybe that’s not a ton, but it meant the world to us.”
100,000 is the number of copies Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls sold in The United States. It peaked at #102 on the Billboard Top 200, with the highest chart position being #40 in The UK. It’s since become a cult classic. “And that to me is why it’s so important,” states Acey. “It’s a band that never had a digital footprint, cause we were just ahead of the curve. I had so many amazing experiences with that band, and one of them included, for the very first time, seeing a cell phone that had a camera. It was in Japan – me, Eric, and Ben couldn’t figure out why everybody was pointing their phones at us. If I remember correctly, it was an attachment to the phone. To me, that’s kind of part of it – Type O Negative has it, Motörhead too. It’s a way of extending the lives of Joey and Ben, and the work that all five of us did together, in the digital age.”
Wednesday 13 describes the Deluxe Edition Vinyl of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls as “not official, not approved or authorized.” Acey’s counterpoint is as follows: “It is all official and licensed. To me, if nobody else is doing it, who else should?” Acey approached Warner Bros., asking if they were going to do anything to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, and nothing was planned. However, Warner Bros. offered Acey the opportunity to license the album and all its assets, which he jumped at. But to be clear, the Deluxe Edition contains the same 26 songs found on the Special Edition CD. There’s no demo versions or unreleased material. “No, and you know what? I unearthed a lot of that,” reveals Acey. “One of the things I’ve really got to give Warner Bros. a lot of credit for was, they really handed me the keys to the kingdom. And there were demo versions of songs, but I didn’t think they were up to snuff. And I feel like I’m unbiased. And I’m a music fan; I love hearing the demo versions of songs. But Joey’s not here to make that decision and say, ‘Let people hear the rough version of it.’ There’s a few songs that they gave me the demo versions of and green-lighted me to release, but I wasn’t comfortable with that.” It would have been easy to sell extra copies by putting the “Unreleased Demos” sticker on the front of the album. “Yeah, I could have. But no. That wouldn’t be fair to Wednesday or to Joey. Like I said, unfortunately Joey’s not here to have a say on it. But the existing assets on the record, it’s helping them to live on. I know that Joey was so proud of that record.”
The snafu about the Murderdolls trademark is certainly controversial. Wednesday stated online that the trademark lapsed and Acey snapped it up, essentially declaring that Acey stole the name from Joey. “Yeah, that’s not true,” proclaims Acey. “And I’ll take it back to Joey’s family – they’re aware how everything went down. We speak almost daily. So, I can sleep with my head on my pillow at night knowing that the way I went about doing things was the right way. Joey was notified. He should have been notified by the US Trademark Administration, or whatever the right word is. And it’s not quite that simple. You don’t just go and say, ‘Hey, I want this trademark.’ And they go, ‘Oh cool. Here you go.’ It had been abandoned for ten years. And for ten years, no one had it. Even once I applied for it, it takes a year for it to clear. In that year, all the parties are notified. Once I was notified, I went to all parties considered and let them know. There’s really nothing more I could have done. My concern was this – have you ever heard of a band called The Lords Of The New Church? Basically, a very savvy fan, who was a kid with a trust fund – this is the way I understand the story, maybe I’m wrong. The trademark had lapsed. A fan took it and started making merch, and there’s nothing the band could do about it. There was an outside source, that had absolutely nothing to do with the band, printing the merch. He eventually employed the band, and the band didn’t even know that this guy had the trademark. It’s a really crazy situation, and that’s what I was hoping to avoid.” On a much simpler scale, you see that with domain names. “Exactly! That’s actually a really, really good way of explaining it.”
As a touring member of Murderdolls, Acey got to play some remarkable shows, especially opening for Iron Maiden on the Give Me Ed… ‘Til I’m Dead Tour across Europe in 2003. Were the guys in Maiden fans of Murderdolls? “No, they hated us. We got the gig because I think Nicko (McBrain – drummer for Iron Maiden) was a fan. Also, we shared the same management. One of the great things about having Joey in your band is, everybody will bend over backwards for the guy from Slipknot. We were so excited! Probably one of my favorite memories from that tour was the very first show that we did, it was in Vienna, Austria. We’re getting ready backstage, and the advantage that I had in the band, was that I came in – and Joey really looked to me for this. I was the guy that was a bit more seasoned. So, Wednesday, Ben, and Eric had never really toured before. It was my job to kind of keep the bunnies in the basket, so to speak. Play the whack-a-mole game.”
“So, having toured with Dope, I knew what it was like to play for adverse crowds. When Dope toured with Fear Factory, man, that was a hard tour. Even when we toured with Kid Rock, that was a tough tour. So, I kinda knew. I was watching people funnel in, and it was proper metalheads with battle vests with Gamma Ray backpatches, and shit like that. Yeah, we ain’t like that. So, we’re sitting in the dressing room, we’re getting ready, and I wasn’t doing as much makeup that day. Joey goes, ‘Dude, how come you’re not putting all the makeup on?’ I said, ‘This is going to be a tough crowd.’ He’s like, ‘I don’t give a shit, fuck them.’ Alright, cool. All of a sudden, we hear the entire arena start booing. We’re sitting in the dressing room – why is everybody booing? One of our techs walks in and we asked, why was everybody booing? He goes, ‘Oh, we just put your backdrop up.’ With that, everybody found the makeup wipes and started dumbing it down a little bit. That was a rough tour.”
When it came time for album number two from Murderdolls, Acey admits he was surprised he wasn’t invited to be part of Women And Children Last, which was released in 2010. “Yes, myself and Ben, and Eric, were very taken back, because we had all been promised to become full members for the second record. And we never really were notified either. Nobody ever called us. Nobody ever told us anything.”
In August 2018, Acey, Wednesday 13, and Eric – along with guitarist Alex Kane and drummer Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative – played together on stage at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, under the name Murderdolls, for the Ben Graves celebration of life. Everyone must have been on good terms then. Take the Covid lockdowns out of the equation, and it really wasn’t that long ago. What happened? “I don’t know. I wish I knew,” answers Acey. “All I can say is, this thing would be so much better if all the pettiness were to subside, and if Wednesday was a part of it. I really wish that he was. He is such a consummate singer, and consummate frontman. It’s funny, I’ve got all these videos that I watched, from back when we were on tour and I’m like, ‘He was such a bad motherfucker!’ He was unstoppable. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that he’s got a new record coming out, which is going to be awesome! Horrifier (released October 7 via Napalm Records) is going to be great!”
Wednesday 13 has been playing various Murderdolls songs live throughout his career as a solo artist; “I Love To Say F***” is probably the most well-known. Remarkably, “I Love To Say F***” was a bonus track and did not appear on the original version of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls. “Yeah, isn’t that the way it always goes,” quips Acey. “There’s a lot of songs that were famously B-sides to songs that became much more popular. Sometimes the band and the record company are the last people to know. ‘I Love To Say F***’ was either the show closer, or the closer before we came out for an encore; I’m not sure which. We probably switched it out a couple times. But even back on the 2003 tour, we were playing songs live that were intended to be for the second record. There’s a song called ‘Murder Pie’, there’s a couple songs we were playing that were intended for a second record. That was obviously before the digital footprint age, so you could get away with that. I think that’s why some songs end up being so good, because you get a chance to road test them, and see how they go over in front of an audience. Nobody probably thought that ‘I Love To Say F***’ was a single. So, it was like, why bother putting it on the record? Then it was like, let’s play it live. All of a sudden you see all the smiles on people’s faces, all chanting F***. Wait – that was the one, and we missed it.”
Last year Acey launched Murderdolls coffee, through his own company Catfight Coffee. Thankfully it’s not a scenario of just slapping the band logo on a generic brand. “We don’t do that with anything with the coffee company,” asserts Acey. “Everything is really well thought out; it’s really well tested. All of our coffee is Arabica beans, which are superior to Robusto – which is like the dirt weed of coffee. And a lot of people do that. A lot of people will take a licensed franchise, put in on the bag, slap a sticker on it, and call it a day.”
Connoisseurs often wonder how much tasting and research is involved in creating a branded coffee. Did you travel to the coffee fields? Were you looking for something specific for Murderdolls coffee? Did you want it to be a really dark blend, or a bold blend? “So, the first part of your question, yeah, I’ve gone to Mexico to visit our plantations, I’ve gone to Bali, I’ve gone to plantations in Taiwan. I go to as many as I can, but obviously they’re expensive places to fly to. So, I can’t go to all of them. But I do have a distributor that I go to regularly and vet stuff there. For the Murderdolls, our colors were red and white. So, I decided to do a flavored coffee, which I’m not always a big fan of. Because sometimes they just don’t taste right. There shouldn’t be a banana daquiri coffee because there’s nothing like that in there. But we did white chocolate, raspberry, and rum – white, red, and then the rum because it was always a party with that band.”
For comparison’s sake, Catfight Coffee also offers an Alice Cooper coffee. The vast majority of Murderdolls fans will also enjoy Alice Cooper’s music. Will fans of Murderdolls coffee also like Alice Cooper coffee? Are they comparable? “Uh, no. Alice Cooper coffee is… Alice wanted something non-flavoured, really exotic. So, that’s a coffee from Africa that’s really, really good quality, really, rich. But the Misfits coffee is a red velvet coffee, which would pair very nicely with the Murderdolls coffee.”
In closing, Acey Slade reiterates his position on the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl release of Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls: “Basically, I just want to celebrate the record and celebrate the touring cycle. That’s kind of the whole thing. I’m not looking to re-launch the band, I’m not looking to do anything like that. This band meant a lot to people; it really was a very meaningful thing. For me, it’s about this time-period and this time frame, and that’s basically it.”
(Acey Slade photo by Mick Hutson)