2017 is set to be a huge, huuuge year for the prolific, terrific Wednesday 13. This month, he announced the news that he has been officially welcomed into the mammoth Nuclear Blast stable. Next month, he’s heading down to our shores for the acoustic Undead, Unplugged, Down Under dates. June sees the release of the new album, Condolences, produced by none other than the mighty, mighty Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed, Queensrÿche, Soufly). He also plays UK’s massive Download Festival in June. Soon after that, he heads back down to Oz allll over again for a tour in support of Condolences. Thanks to our good friend, John Howarth of Nuclear Blast, we had a chance to chat with the busy rocker about the upcoming acoustic shows, costumes, confidence, and Condolences.
SR: Can you tell us a bit about the creative process behind your new album, Condolences, which is set to come out in June?
W13: It’s been a long road. We didn’t have the label behind us at the time we did the record. We took June, July and August off touring last year and basically dedicated that to writing and recording this new album. So we basically devoted our entire lives to writing and recording this album. And then we started looking around to get the record deal and everything; we just got that finalised a few weeks ago and have our release date for it now. It’s been a long time in the making. When it comes out, it’ll be exactly a year from when we started writing it, so that’s pretty cool.
SR: How does Condolences compare to your previous releases?
W13: I think all my records are different. I try to do something different every time. I don’t get anything out of repeating myself over and over again. I mean, I always pay respect to the past with what I do, but I’m always moving forward with music. I’m always experimenting with different sounds and styles, incorporating everything that I listen to. I’m a music nerd. I’m not as one sided as I used to be back when I was in my twenties and only really into punk and glam rock. Now, over the past ten years, I’ve become like a big metal head and I just listen to everything across the spectrum. And I think that comes across in the music now. I’ve started experimenting with all of that. The last record, Monsters of the Universe, definitely set up a kind of thing where we ended up with the Condolences album. This record’s a lot more focused. Like I said, it’s the first album we actually took months off to write and record; whereas, the other records were me kind of sitting around in between tours demoing songs on my own here in my apartment, going ‘Cool – here’s a song I wrote this week.’ I’d just make a demo, set if off to the side and go, ‘Okay, we’re going to record a record in a month.’ And I’d look through all of my demos and go, ‘Oh, that’s a cool song. That one’s okay. What about that one?’ Whereas this time, we sat down in a room and took weeks off and we’d say, ‘Alright, we’re going to write a song a day, and if it takes us all day to write on that song or however long it takes, we get it done.’ So we kind of did it that way. For me, it’s the most focused Wednesday 13 record, and it’s definitely the best sounding Wednesday 13 record. We hired a guy, Zeuss, to produce the record – he’s known for doing all of these big metal records. He did Rob Zombie and a tonne of cool metal records, so he definitely brought production to the table. So yeah, it was just a different beast all-round this time. I think when people hear it, they’re going to hear just how much time we spent on it. It was really, really thought out. I spent a lot of time recording it and also just holding out to get this deal and put it out with the right label and everything as well.
SR: Yes, we’ve heard the news this past week that you’ve been signed to Nuclear Blast. Congratulations. How did that come about and what will that mean for you?
W13: First of all, if you just look at their roster of bands – there’s a U.S side and also a European side. If you look at the big spectrum of it and all the bands they have, there are just so many cool bands… Some of the most respected bands and the bands that I respect the most… And a lot of these bands are my friends as well. When it comes to labels, Nuclear Blast is the first label that comes to my mind. And then, the A&R guy that signed us, Monte Conner, was also my A&R guy on my Murderdolls releases and he was also the A&R guy on my first release when I was signed to Roadrunner Records. So it was kind of cool to go back with my old teammate and also the Nuclear Blast team that’s scattered all around the world. I’m finding out that a lot of the people that I worked with in the past on the Roadrunner team are part of Nuclear Blast now. So it’s kind of like I’ve got my old team together and it’s all these people that used to pull for me back in the day – who believed in me. So, it’s important to not just have a label, but also know that he people behind the scenes at the label are people that I trust from before that just didn’t have the pull maybe back then to do what they wanted, you know what I mean? It’s pretty cool. I was looking through all my emails and seeing all the people I’m talking to now and it’s like I literally went back in time to 12 years ago. It’s a really, really cool thing. I’m so glad that we held out. I spoke to a couple of other labels just to see where their heads were, but I was holding out for Nuclear Blast. I’m so glad we did. I couldn’t be happier with it.
SR: It’s almost as though your stars are aligning, isn’t it? Do you believe in that sort of thing?
W13: Yeah, I do. I really do. I think all things happen for a reason. I mean, this was a plan I had years ago. In 2014, my plan was to record with Zeuss and hopefully get signed to Nuclear Blast. To reach that three years later – pretty much exactly what I’d set out in my mind – is pretty crazy. I’m like, ‘Wow – that’s exactly what I said I was going to do three years ago.’ I mean, everything fell right exactly how I wanted it. So yeah, I do believe in that stuff.
SR: We’re very excited that you’re coming down here for your Undead Unplugged Down Under tour. What have you got in store for us with these shows?
W13: It’s a whole different bag of tricks this time. The acoustic tour is really so different from the show we did last April – that full band show. That’s drums, guitars, lights, show, you know? It’s pretty much the same show every night when we do that kind of show. It has to run that way because it’s sort of like a theatre production kind of thing. But with the acoustic show, it’s like ‘an evening with’. There’s no opening band. It’s like doors open, you have 30 to 45 minutes to get a couple of drinks in you, and then we are the opening band. The show’s usually a two and a half hour set. I split it up. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes of the Wednesday 13 stuff first. It’s just me and my guitarist, Roman, and we just sit on stools and play a few songs. I tell stories, I take questions from the audience; and the questions from the audience can lead into a whole other story. Every night it’s different. It’s like a live meet and greet. It’s like live storytelling as much as it is a live show. There’s as many stories as there are songs and every night is a little different, depending on where the audience takes it. Then we take a small intermission and come back with my Bourbon Crow project and finish the show out with what I call ‘the drinking part’ of the set. We save that till the end. We sort of do a greatest hits of our Bourbon Crow records. It’s really cool. I think people really get to know my personality.
If you’ve been following me for all these years – my Twitter and Facebook and Instagram – I think you may have an idea of my sense of humour; but a lot of people don’t follow that. They see the picture and think, ‘Oh, Wednesday 13 must be like Dracula 24/7.’ So, I think that’s one of the shocking things with the show… They’ll see when I start talking to people that I’m down to earth – I’m a human and I can communicate just like anyone else. That really breaks the ice after the first part of the set. So yeah, it’s a lot of fun and it’s really rewarding for me to play that long of a set and walk offstage and meet people who’ll tell me, ‘I’ve seen you 15 times with the band, but this has been my favourite show.’ That’s a really cool thing. That’s the reward that I get. Plus it’s also rewarding that I get such a raw thing with the show – there’s nothing to hide behind. There’s just guitars and my personality. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to stand with – me and my guitar player to stand behind me and make me not sound bad. It’s all just my confidence and how cool the audience is as far as where the show goes. But I know it’s going to be great in Australia. That’s why I wanted to bring it there. I can’t wait. And we’ll be back hopefully soon after with the full band tour for this album.
SR: Speaking of your confidence, were you always a frontman by nature, or did you have to work on your confidence?
W13: Oh, I’m still working on it. It’s definitely not my nature, no. We just filmed a video a couple of days ago. It’s the first video I’ve done in many, many years. This goes back to the confidence thing. For a video, you’re pretty much exposed – you’re not playing with the full band. They’ll be, ‘Okay, here’s the playback – 3, 2, 1…go!’ and you sing into a camera with 20 people standing around watching you. And you’re standing there going, ‘Holy shit.’ But the other day I was nervous about that, before the shoot. But I went in and by the end of the day, I walked out with confidence and thought, ‘I nailed that. I shouldn’t let it get to me.’ So that’s something I’ve been working on for years and it’s why I don’t play guitar anymore with the live band; because I was never confident being a frontman and a guitarist at the same time. I had to basically pick one and it was like, ‘Okay, well which one do you want to do more?’ and I was, ‘Well, of course I want to be the vocalist.’ So, once I got that down, I was able to focus on my voice and my stage presence, and that’s what I’ve honestly really been focusing on since about 2009/2010. That’s when I really started focusing on being a better frontman and getting over that having to have a guitar on me as a crutch. So yeah, it’s a constant work in progress, but doing these new shows… I’ve been incorporating masks and all of these different things… I’m running off every 2 or 3 minutes changing costumes. And that’s definitely brought out another side of me as well, because when I do some of these songs and put on a mask and change, it’s almost like I’m changing characters. It’s really starting to register in my brain that way when I do a show now. It’s like a full on production. I mean, when I’m doing bars and little tiny venues, I’m still doing the full production. So, hopefully I’ll be able to start doing this stuff for a bigger audience and on a bigger stage for the new album.
SR: I spoke to you this time last year and you were talking to me about a friend of yours in L.A who does your costumes. Are you still working with him? You were saying your look for that tour was Texas Chainsaw Massacre crossed with…
SR: Yeah, yeah – that’s it.
W13: Yeah, I was like one of the Cenobites from Hellraiser crossed with Leatherface if he was in a rock band.
SR: (Laughs) What’s it going to be for the next tour?
W13: Well, we finished the last tour in October. I had a brand new outfit made for me by my friend Brian, whose company’s Bone Black. He’s a good friend of ours who makes the clothes. I’ll sit around and sketch out what I want to wear. I’ll draw like a terrible little stick person drawing and he’ll be, ‘Alright, cool. Come on over.’ And I’ll go to his house and sit there for a couple of hours while he measures me out. We’ll draw stuff and talk about it; because, when I first started out, I’d draw stuff out and he’d make it and I’d go, ‘This is great!’ Then I’d get on stage and go, ‘Woah! This is not working onstage! I can’t move.’ So now we take all of the little things into consideration. When he measures me, I’ll pose the way I do on stage. We’re learning as we go, but it’s really cool to be able to go to him and say, ‘Well, this is what I want’. And there’s nothing I’ve brought to him that he hasn’t been able to make. He’ll take every idea I bring to him up a hundred levels from where I had it in my head. So, yeah, it’s just really cool to have that – it’s a custom look that we have and we all get our clothes made by him. And it’s just going to keep going up and up from there.
SR: Well, the girls love you, Wednesday. What’s the craziest thing you’ve had called out or thrown at you during a show?
W13: (Coyly) Oh, I don’t know.
SR: Come on.
W13: Well, nothing crazy like you might imagine. But there’s a story I tell… It’s not a crazy story, actually. It’s just an interesting story. I guess people who know what I do kind of go, ‘Oh, yeah’, but I’d tell it to my Mom and she’d be ‘Oh my God!’ We played in Germany and I had a fan send me a letter through my merchandise lady at the merchandise desk. She came back and said, ‘Wednesday, there’s a letter here from a fan. She dropped it off and wants you to read it.’
I opened it up and it was this girl speaking on behalf of herself and two other people. It was like, ‘Hey Wednesday, we’re really big fans… We have all your records. We follow you everywhere you go’ blah blah blah…’And enclosed in this package is a syringe and clean needle and a little vial. Could you please take blood and put it in this vial so we can make a necklace to wear as a group.’
SR: Did you do it?
W13: No, but I made them think I did. Actually, we were in Germany and for some reason, on our rider, there was a bottle of cherry juice. So I took the needle over there and filled it full of cherry juice and put it back in the package and signed it.
SR: That’s hilarious.
W13: Yeah, there are some fans out there wearing Wednesday 13 cherry juice around their necks from Germany.
SR: What are you doing to prepare for the Aussie tour?
W13: I don’t do anything. For these tours, I think sleep is the best preparation because the travelling for Australia is really tiring. It’s so much fun to come there, though. After the show, you want to come out and meet everybody and talk; and you have lobby call at like 6am… So yeah, I’m going to try to pace myself through this. I know Australia’s so much fun. I always go there and wanna have more fun before the show even starts but end up regretting it after that. So I’m going to pace myself so I can still get a nap in there.
SR: Finally, do you have a message we can send out to your Aussie fans ahead of the tour?
W13: I just always want to say thank you for supporting what I do and this next tour is going to be something totally different, but I think the fans are going to love it. So, we’ll see you soon.
**TICKETS ON SALE NOW**
Wednesday 13 Australian Tour Dates
Thurs March 23 – The Brightside, Brisbane 18+
Fri March 24 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney 18+
Sat March 25 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Tickets available from http://tickets.destroyalllines.com/