WEDNESDAY 13 – Hooray For Homicide

October 5, 2022, a year ago

By Aaron Small

feature hard rock wednesday 13

WEDNESDAY 13 – Hooray For Homicide

The Duke of Spook, the Sovereign of the State of Horror Metal, Wednesday 13 continues his undisputed reign over all things ghoulish and ghastly with the October 7 release of his new album, Horrifier. 

Comprised of eleven frightful tracks, Horrifier perfectly incorporates elements from all of W13’s previous releases. After the “Severed” intro, Horrifier is undeniably heavy, akin to more recent material. Then it remarkably goes back to the early days. “That was definitely intentional,” admits Wednesday. “I tried to remind people of the past. It’s sort of like a roller coaster back through the past, but with new songs. When it came time to make this record, it was like, do we keep going on this heavy front and experimenting? Or do we dial it back to what it was? It’s reminiscent of the first few albums.”

Horrifier is the ninth studio album from Wednesday 13. But after two releases on Nuclear Blast, it’s the first batch of songs to be released via Napalm Records. W13 talks about his new home, “It’s been great so far. They’ve been keeping me really busy with press, they’ve been cool with the videos; they gave us a budget. I’ve never had this problem – I know we’ve all read about and heard stories about bands over the years, and labels trying to interfere with their sound, and stuff like that. I’ve never had any label ever really tell me to do something different, or not do something. They trust me to do what I do, and I’m happy with them. The whole thing about being on a label is they can do the stuff that you can’t do. I know how to tour. I know how to write the music; I don’t know how to get it out to everybody and promote it the way they can.”

The sinister abode depicted on the cover of Horrifier was created by Jonny Bush. Wednesday peels back the layers of this eerie artwork. “During the Covid crisis / breakdown / lockdown for two years, I started my fan club, I started my Patreon page. I was still super active with the fans, I was doing all kinds of – and I stumbled across an artist, who was a fan, who drew a picture of something from Necrophaze. I hit him up, ‘Dude, this is a great picture.’ And he just became my artist. On my Patreon, I started doing a comic book last year. So, he’s been drawing my comic book monthly. He’s just a killer artist, and when it came time for the record, he said, ‘I would love a shot at doing your album cover.’ Well, you’re going to get it. We talked about it for a couple of weeks and came up with some ideas. I basically just said, I want to make my own Castle Grayskull, and that’s what he came back with. We had the album cover before we even started recording the album. That was a first in my career. The great thing about Jonny Bush is he knows my history. He showed me a picture of him meeting me and Michael Monroe at an in-store in The UK when he was 15. It’s good to have an artist who knows what you’re about.”

There’s been a change in drummers since W13’s previous album, Necrophaze. Kyle Castronovo is no longer part of the band, and Mike Dupke, formerly of W.A.S.P., is presently behind the kit on the 20 Years Of Fear Tour. However, Dupke did not play on Horrifier. Wednesday sorts out the details of his cymbal smashers. “Basically, Kyle quit right when Covid hit. We had been going non-stop since he joined the band in 2015. I think he was just burnt out, and kind of over it. So, we parted on good terms. Kyle is still a really good friend; I was talking with him last night actually. For the album, we recorded it last November, and hit up our friend Daniel Fox, who plays with Dope and Mushroomhead. He came out and did the drums for us. We didn’t know if he was going to do the tour we did in the US, back in March / April, cause he had a whole tour scheduled with Dope, Fear Factory, and Static-X. It got cancelled, so he was able to do the drums for that tour. He just helped us out with the recording and that first tour. He's got some other stuff going on, so it was time to find someone else for this run. And Mike’s name, I don’t know why, it just popped in my head. I remember playing a couple of songs with him at a jam thing in Los Angeles years ago, and he was really f*cking good. So, I hit him up, he was into it and available.”

“Bow down to me, my sweet amputee. I never hesitate, the chance to mutilate.” Those are the initial words sung on Horrifier, stemming from the song “Insides Out”. It’s classic Wednesday 13 – disturbing, attention-grabbing, and a sign of what’s to follow. “Those lyrics made me laugh, so I knew they would work,” explains W13. “When I try to explain that song, it’s so heavy, but it’s not like double bass heavy… it’s just heavy. When Roman (Surman, guitarist) came in with the riff, and it gets to the chorus with that weird guitar which sounds like a shriek – I’m just… what the f*ck is this? How am I going to sing over this? I wrapped my brain around it and started singing ‘the insides out.’ Cool, I’ll just make this song about dissecting a person – real slow – and make it as mean and vulgar and violent and graphic as the riff sounds. I think we accomplished it. ‘Insides Out’ sounds to me like when Twisted Sister did ‘Burn In Hell’ or ‘Captain Howdy’. It’s just got that heavy, low thing. When I was trying to come up with lyrics for it, that’s what I channeled.”

The 1973 horror movie, The Exorcist, obviously served as inspiration for the first video from Horrifier, “You’re So Hideous”. However, the lyrics for the song appear to be about Greek mythology figure Medusa. Wednesday elaborates upon combining two completely contrasting themes: “Well basically, I didn’t have the whole band here to do a full band video. This is sort of a modern-day Medusa. It’s not really based on the actual Medusa thing. I just wrote it about a really awful, nasty person – but I disguised it, like I always do. I don’t try to write about personal things. But in the past three or four years, with the cancel culture, you got to see a lot of ugliness. So, I kind of wrote it about people just being f*cking horrible and hideous; I didn’t go into detail about anybody in particular or anything like that. It’s sort of about a person going around destroying people’s lives – a modern day Medusa.” 

“But the visual aspect, when it came to The Exorcist thing, when I was coming up with the video idea, I couldn’t do a Medusa video. How the f*ck am I going to do a snake-headed lady? And there’s some commercial on right now for some horrible product, I don’t know, and it’s got a terrible Medusa theme. I was watching The Exorcist and thought, I could probably sync this up, and that would sort of make sense with this a little bit. But again, it’s not a personal song. It wasn’t about anybody in particular. When it comes to videos and trying to make a visual thing for a song like that, I was really kind of lost. I just rely on what I always know, and that’s horror. The Exorcist has been there with me since I was a little kid. Go with what you know.”

Along those same lines, the song “Return To Haddonfield” from Horrifier is the sequel to “Haddonfield” from Wednesday’s second album, Fang Bang, going back to 2006. There’s been 12 Halloween movies thus far, with the 13th coming later this month. Why not write a song sequel? “Well, I’m not a big fan of all those movies, the franchise. Of course, I’ve been a fan of Halloween since the beginning, but I’ve just kind of lost interest in it from this point. But last year when I was writing the music and lyrics for that song, originally, I had a song about Halloween – not necessarily about the movie, about the holiday. It was around Halloween, and I was watching Halloween I and II back-to-back, and I started coming up with lyrics. F*ck! Here I am writing a Halloween song again. But it was too good to stop. And I was like, f*ck, this is like the sequel to my ‘Haddonfield’ song. So, I thought it would be a fun little thing for fans; especially if they know that song from the Fang Bang record. But yeah, that song turned out super cool, and now I’ve got another Michael Myers anthem.”

Incorporating the tag line from the original Halloween movie poster, “The Night He Came Home!”, into the lyrics for “Return To Haddonfield” was brilliant. “Yeah, it fit. And it was easy to come up with. I really haven’t wrote about movies in a while. That used to be my constant go-to thing, and I kind of steered away from doing that on the past couple of records. So, it was fun to back and say, I’m going to write about this movie. It was the same way with Christine, it was fun to write about a movie again.”

The song W13 is alluding to is “Christine: Fury In The Night”, clearly inspired by Stephen King’s horror novel Christine, which was published in 1983; the same year the movie came out. Wednesday was only seven years old in 1983, and that’s when he saw the film for the first time. “I was watching these movies… I’ve said it before. Where I grew up, I lived in a little trailer with my brother and sister. I didn’t have a bedroom ‘til I was almost a teenager. I just lived in the living room, and we had full cable hook-up. I could watch HBO, and I just watched movies all day long. Soon as it went to HBO, I was watching it. I remember seeing Christine when it was a new movie, seeing Nightmare On Elm Street when it was a brand new movie, Creepshow when it was brand new. I was watching these at much, much too young of an age probably, but that’s what’s made me who I am today.”

Surprisingly, all these years later, and Wednesday has still not read the novel, Christine. “No. I’m the movie guy, I’ve never read the book. I have the book in my collection, with all my other stuff that I collect. I know a little bit about it. I’ve been watching documentaries on Christine. I just got obsessed with watching it over the two years off cause of Covid. I watched that, and I watched Stephen King’s The Dead Zone movie. I watched both of those, I don’t know how many times? It was kind of getting ridiculous.”

“Christine: Fury In The Night” is the shortest song on Horrifier at 2:51. It just whizzes by. “Well, I wanted it to be like a car, just fast – woah! I knew I wanted to write a song about the car Christine. So alright, I’ve got to make this music sound like the car blasting down the highway. The music’s got to sound like the car going full throttle, running over people. That was my goal. So, that was kind of fun to actually write that, and I was really happy with the outcome. It didn’t need to be a long song; it didn’t need to go on. It just needed to be short and sweet. I’ve been talking about writing a song about Christine for, f*ck I don’t know, seven or eight years. Finally got it done.”

The title track “Horrifier” has a very different chorus, in that it’s basically just one word. “You know… that song, again, you don’t have to read into it too deep. I was literally just writing about a monster. Horrifier is like Mothra or Godzilla, it’s summoned in the night, it comes and destroys. When I came up with that title, Horrifier… I’ve made so many albums, I was trying to come up with a title that didn’t sound campy. Something that sounded cool, and Horrifier reminded me of when Judas Priest put out Jugulator. Woah, that’s cool. But that song, the music to it and lyric, really reminded, structurally, it reminds me of ‘I Want You Dead’ from my first album.”

Exploring additional songs from Horrifier, “Hell Is Coming” shows a totally different side of the band. The guitar solo that Roman plays is unusual; it’s not like what he’s known for. “Yeah, that’s our bluesy, cowboy, Duke Of Spook kicking open the saloon doors. It’s funny. I was just playing that riff… that was one of the first songs I started writing early in the pandemic. When Roman came down, and we all sat down and started playing that riff, he really liked it. He just kind of stretched it and started adding stuff to it. Once we put that song together, we realized we had this sort of bluesy, kind of Danzig meets AC/DC sort of song. Then in the middle, it almost goes into this metal, Carcass guitar sort of thing. And then it goes right into a blues solo. And it somehow fits. That’s the thing with Roman, he’s known for doing his guitar solos with all his crazy whammy effects where it sounds like a laser gun. So, it was cool to actually hear him play – because he can play, he can play all kinds of styles. He sort of did that on the song ‘Condolences’, there’s some more of a bluesy – we call it the Slash solos. That’s what we thought would fit. We’re just trying to change things up and do something different. Like you said that song is different all around, but it still fits what we do.”

The final song on Horrifier, “The Other Side”, unlike those that came before it, is a very personal song. It’s about the passing of both Wednesday’s mother and his Murderdolls bandmate, Joey Jordison. Admittedly, a difficult one to complete. “Yes. Anytime I write anything personal, or anything that feels like it’s personal, I just sort of clam up on it and I don’t… it takes me a while to get comfortable with it. I put that song off until… it was the very last thing I recorded. I just kept putting it off – and it’s not the first time I’ve wrote a song that’s personal like that. I’ve had stuff like ‘My Demise’, that was one of the very first ones I did back in the day that was… and that song was the same way. I had it for a while, I wrote it. I was scared to show people, cause it showed me out of my shell. But since then, I’ve wrote songs like ‘We All Die’ from Calling All Corpses – that was a personal song. So, I knew I could do it. But again, it still didn’t change… when you’re revealing yourself like that. Anytime I sing anything different from zombies or horror movie stuff, it's like I’m revealing my skeleton to people.” 

“But at the same time, I’m so glad I have music to use as therapy for that; cause that was a really hard time. It’s still a hard time, I’m still not over any of that. But I’m glad I had music there to help that. When Roman came in with that song, I knew right away, I’ve got to do something different with this. And it worked out. I’m glad I’ve been able to do that, and not just… if I need to sing about something personal, I can do it on a song here or there. But I didn’t want to make this whole album be like that, I didn’t want to make it a whole personal album, which I probably could have, cause I had enough to write about. The song is kind of sad, but it’s also kind of happy; I didn’t want to make it super dark and depressing.”

In closing, Wednesday reveals that recording Horrifier truly can’t compare to the sessions for its predecessor, Necrophaze. “Oh my God. We did this all ourselves. So, because of Covid, we couldn’t go anywhere. You couldn’t be in a confined space with people. The producer couldn’t do this. It was a lot of things we had to think about before we started recording. We just decided… I was like, look, I know we’ve recorded with Zeuss. I know we’ve recorded with Mike on the last two records. But five, six years before that, we used to do this all ourselves; and we did it pretty good! Why don’t we just do it again? I just moved to Burbank. I had a new house with a whole studio space that we had to do this. So, we just decided we were going to tackle it ourselves and go back to basics.” 
Last August, Roman came down, and we basically finalized the songs we were going to work on, which are the songs on the record. In November we did the drums and got the basic tracks down. Roman did guitars and stuff. We all went home for Christmas. He came back in January, did another two or three weeks here at my house, working on guitar stuff. Then he left, and I did all of my vocals by myself – February up until we left for the tour in March. So, I basically did a month and a half, just recording. I did it all myself, and I had no idea what I was doing either, which was another funny thing. I mean, I had a little bit of an idea what I was doing, but I had to hit record. It was the first time I didn’t have an engineer doing it. It was also the first time I didn’t have anybody telling me if it was good or bad. That’s why I spent so long on it. I’d record it one night, listen to it. Wake up the next morning, listen to it; hate it, re-record it. Do the same thing for two or three days – I’m going insane!  Literally, I had to be my own producer. I had to kick my own ass and tell myself if this was good or bad. It was definitely a different situation recording than it’s been on the past couple of records.”

(Photo credit: Stephen Jensen at F3 Studios)

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