A man of diverse musicality: Wednesday 13

Song-writer, producer, artist: Wednesday 13 has had a diverse musical career spanning many bands; and he lands on Australian shores next month (February ‘10). He caught up with us for a chat while still in America, touring with Gunfire 76.

We caught up with the musician of many tastes after he’d completed the sound check for his Gunfire 76 show in West Virginia.  With three and a half hours before that night’s show he was trying not to drink too much because the touring is ‘all about the show‘, not the drinking and drug-taking that inevitably occur.  He admits he has been on stage drunk before, but can’t really remember what that was like - though people tell him it was great.  Focusing on the show - ‘the most important thing is the show’ - he tries to give the fans a good performance (that he will remember).

Wednesday 13 describes the Gunfire 76 tour as a total blast with a great band, and describes the music as ‘stripped down rock’n’roll.’  Whereas the Wednesday 13 and Murderdolls stuff has always been rock’n’roll too, it is more metal influenced, with a heavier, glam edge: ‘The Gunfire 76 definitely has more of a rock’n’roll vibe.’  He says sometimes that surprises fans who come along just because they have heard it is a Wednesday 13 band and some of the shows have had very few people turn up; ‘One of the Gunfire 76 shows got snowed in so only six people came out for it but amazingly, we still had a blast.  We still put on a good show for those six people.’

Wednesday 13 also has a country band, called Bourbon Crow, that he describes as 100% opposite to the Wednesday 13 or Murderdolls sound. 

‘Bourbon Crow is a fun project … A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I have a country band, they laugh and are like “yeah, right!” and when I tell them I’m serious they’re like “uh-ohkaaay--”, it’s not what they expect,’ Wed 13 explained. As he enjoys a wide range of music, not just metal and rock or country, but also R&B and classical, he likes to experiment with those different types of music: ‘I like a lot of different music and like to keep something fresh on, I don’t like to listen to the same kind of music over and over and over again.’  Like his listening tastes, the music Wed 13 produces will never be the same kind of sound rehashed again and again.

Producing a range of music has attracted a wider range of fans than most metal acts attract.  Fans of one Wednesday 13 band will check out his other bands, so amongst a crowd at his show you‘ll get kids who play football, kids with the long black dreads and face paint on, the goths and all the kids in the metal t-shirts, and then at the back there’ll be this older guy in his cowboy hat and Jonny Cash t-shirt, just drinking beer and chillin’ who has come along because he liked Bourbon Crow and is curious to check out more.

‘I think we collect the coolest fans from all the genres,' Wednesday tells me.  Speaking of his fans, he adds that he would like to thank them all because without the fans he couldn’t do what he does; he would not be able to travel to places like Australia and keep making music and meeting so many people who enjoy his music.

Some fans were surprised at the change in theme on the 2008 album Skeletons, which moved away from lyrics all about horror to include more personal themes.  Wednesday 13 explains: ‘I got to a point where I wondered how many more songs can I write about zombies and the undead.’ 

The last album he wrote was the Gunfire 76 record written over the last summer; it reflected on the last nine years of touring, drinking, pills, the drugs, where he’s been, and what his life’s dealt him.  It wouldn’t make sense for him to still be writing what he was ten years ago (the days of Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13): ‘The Drag Queens were put to rest with the boxed set we release, I’m really proud of what we did with the Drag Queens but I was a teenager when I did that band and I don’t want to be a thirty-year-old man trying to do the same shit he did when he was a teenager’.

Long known for his long black dreads and tattoos, some fans were also surprised at the change of appearance. Wednesday 13 recalls there were all these twelve year old kids who were shocked: “I can’t believe you cut your hair!”  Tattoos, however, are not like changing a hairstyle; all his tattoos are ideas he came up with, mainly portraits, from horror movies and characters he likes, inked by Mark Evans of North Carolina. Though Wed 13 has proven his skill as an artist with the release of the ‘thirteen dead kids’ range he produced with his wife, he does not trust his drawing enough to draw something to go on his skin.  Happy with Evans’ work, he would not let another person ink him and has turned down offers of free tattoos, preferring to stick with ‘his dude‘.  Though he likes to keep things mixed up and fresh in the musical sphere, there are some things you don’t experiment with.

Unlike working with Murderdolls, which includes Joey Jordison of Slipknot, and Acey Slade, Eric Griffin and Ben Graves, the Wednesday 13 releases are written and produced by Wednesday 13.  He says a big advantage of this is that it is cheaper not having to pay a producer and the records are produced exactly as he envisions; when getting a producer from outside of the band there is always the risk that they will not understand the band and what it is trying to create.  But, working with a good producer, as he has been with Murderdolls, has given Wednesday 13 the chance to learn many new things, enabling him to be able to experiment more in the musical realm.

‘A producer might say “you know, you should try this” and it will be something I’d never thought of doing before and it will be like “wow, I’d never thought the song would sound like this” … working with Joey has pretty much taught me everything I know up until now.'

Though the set list for the Australian tour hasn’t yet been decided it will mostly be the greatest hits from Wednesday 13’s career, including songs written during the Frankenstein Drag Queens and Murderdolls era, such as were rerecorded on the Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying and the Dead album, as well as songs from his later releases, Fang Bang, Skeletons and Bloodwork.  He tells me he has no idea which specific songs they will be.

“I asked the guys to rehearse all the stuff we usually play and we’ll choose about eighteen songs … coming all the way to Australia, we’re not going to just play a half hour set, we want to put on a good show.” 

As for plans for after the Australian tour, nothing is certain yet, but there is a good chance we could see another Murderdolls release produced. Wednesday 13 assures me the Murderdolls are only on hiatus and says they may possibly get together after the Australian tour.  He also has an idea about an album for Halloween, so for him, and us, we will have to wait and see if it is another Wednesday 13 album he will produce or if he will be working on a Murderdolls release in these upcoming months.  Or something else entirely.

The Australian tour consists of only three shows, commencing in Sydney on February 11, visiting Brisbane on the 12th, and then hitting Melbourne for the final show on February 13.  After that, not even Wednesday himself knows - but it is sure to be something new.