WEDNESDAY 13 INTERVIEW:
November 28, 2011
If Joseph Poole (A.K.A Wednesday 13) was a horror movie franchise he’d be Halloween: hugely influential, a cult curiosity, and currently enjoying an overdue resurgence. Proudly carrying the torch of horror rock (alongside the Misfits, Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie), Poole’s ghoulish new album ‘Calling All Corpses’, his first since 2009, serves up even more of those B-movie horror hooks he is famous for. On the UK leg of his current tour, Sleaze Roxx caught up with Wednesday 13 to talk about surviving the Japanese earthquake, song writing, getting fired from Hot Topic, being star struck by his support act and idol Michael Monroe, and his fear of the Zombie Apocalypse.
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on the release of your new album. Since the release of the last Wednesday 13 album ‘Skeletons’ you’ve released new material with the Murderdolls and Gunfire76. How different did you find the song writing process with ‘Calling All Corpses’?
Wednesday 13: Whilst working on this album I do what I always do, and just lock myself in my room or my apartment and just write as many songs as I can — I spent two weeks nonstop just writing songs. Within a two week period I had 20 songs, or something like that, and shaped them down to what became the final ‘Corpses’ record.
It’s weird, I used to be able to write with a band and when I started on my solo stuff I wrote by myself, so every record I have [done] has a different process. I wrote this one by myself, but when I recorded it I had all the band members play on it this time — because on my solo stuff, when I record, I normally play everything myself, except for the drums.
Sleaze Roxx: While listening to the album and looking at the track names I noticed a theme emerging, is the new album supposed to tell a story?
Wednesday 13: Yes and no. As far as the artwork came together, that is a theme I wanted to go with throughout the record and I also used it with our stage show and everything as well. But as far as it being a story, no. But that’s what records are, well at least mine are, little short movies or stories. I tend to start off with a bang and end with a celebration kind of song and that’s what I started off with [on this record] and what I did with the outro as well.
Sleaze Roxx: How have fans reacted to the new tracks you’ve been playing overseas?
Wednesday 13: Great! I mean we were only working with four new songs from the record in the set, because it’s so hard to make an hour of our set with 17 records that I’ve released over my career — right from with my old bands, to the Murderdolls and my new stuff. So making a set list is hard, we pick four songs as well as our older songs. It’s great, to play one or two new songs for me is a breath of fresh air, and then to get a reaction is cool! I’m like, I got another and another on my bill — another good live song.
Sleaze Roxx: The earthquake experience in Japan must have been really scary. You mentioned that you wrote this album straight after, can you tell me a bit about that experience and did it in anyway help you to write ‘Calling All Corpses’?
Wednesday 13: Yes! I think probably the reason I worked so hard on writing for this record is because it was a month or so after we got back from the earthquake, and it was super heavy on my mind and it took me a while to shake it off. But to get it off my mind I sat in my room with my guitar and that’s kinda how I forgot about it. But also, there’s a song I wrote on the album, “We All Die,” which was from that experience. When I was writing songs for the record, of course I still remembered everything that went on and I thought… I have to tell the story of this and get it out. So in a way, it was kind of like therapy for me. It kinda got my mind off it and writing a song about it got it out there and off my chest a bit…
The whole writing process on that record was a good escape to get my brain off of that [experience], because it is something I still think about. For about six months it was nonstop, I even had vertigo, where I felt everything was shaking at all times. When I did my show back in July, I remember telling the other guys and I would be standing there on stage and the vibrations and vertigo would just kick in. We were there [in Japan] for like two days with nonstop shakes [during the earthquake] and when it did finally stop, you had to think to yourself… has it stopped? Whenever I was in an elevator or anything like that it would just shake and would creep me out as if it was all happening again, but it’s not so bad now (nervous laugh). It’s a crazy thing, you don’t think it’s ever gonna happen to you and when it does you think you’re gonna be like… ‘Alright, where’s the camera? This is a joke!’ But evidently it wasn’t.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think your horror themed lyrics paint you into a corner?
Wednesday 13: Yes, they definitely have. But you know, over the past couple of years that used to bug me, and that’s why I had to stop doing the Wednesday stuff for a while — because I figured people thought, ‘Oh look! Wednesday’s a Goth guy, blah, blah, blah.’ At the time I always hated being painted into a corner, so that’s why I did the Gunfire76 thing, one of my little country band records and the Murderdolls. So coming back and doing a new Wednesday record… it kind of recharged the batteries. I’m having more fun now than I can remember having in a long time! I’m actually enjoying playing the records every night, whereas right before I stopped playing in 2009, I just felt I was going through the motions.
Now when I read reviews and I see what people say about what I’ve done my whole career, I think ‘you know what? I like the corner I’m in,’ because I know there’s not a lot of people that do what I do, or done what I’ve done for this long. It’s kinda like I stand out on my own. I admit, there are people I’ve ripped off for years like Alice Cooper, KISS and Twisted Sister and all of that, but now, when you think who’s the horror rock dude who does this, you hear pretty much Rob Zombie or me! There’s not like a lot of people in line for it. So I’m enjoying my corner that I’ve painted myself into. I’ve been doing this for so long — right back to when I started my first band in ’94, ’95. I was always writing this kinda music or these horror themed lyrics, and now it just seems like everything in popular culture is werewolves and vampires and zombies — so it’s almost as if culture has caught up with what I’m doing now, and that makes me happy because I’m seeing it take off now in places like Australia! It’s like a whole new breed that’s evolved there now… So I’m like ‘OK, well I’ve been doing this a while but glad u guys caught up.’ (Laughs)
Sleaze Roxx: With a new wave of Scene kids linked to the Hot Topic brand; do you think that has helped to make you more commercial?
Wednesday 13: Hot Topic is really strange — it changes every time I go in there. It used to be all the Goth stuff catering to what I like, but last time I went in it was all Hello Kitty. But yeah, I think I’ve opened up to a mainstream audience. Anyone who says they wanna be in a band and don’t want the fame… why would you do it? It’s like I want all the attention, I would love to have my songs on the radio. Any type of exposure I can get from anything like that [Hot Topic], is great for me.
Sleaze Roxx: Will Gunfire76 ever release another album?
Wednesday 13: Erm, I would like to do another record one day but I don’t know if I’ll do a tour. It would be fun to do another recording and there are still a few songs we didn’t even record — but eventually you know. I’ll probably start another band, do something completely different and change it up a bit.
Sleaze Roxx: You’re on tour now with Michael Monroe and CrashDiet, have you toured with any of these bands before?
Wednesday 13: Not CrashDiet, but I’ve known Michael for a couple of years. I did the final Hanoi Rocks tour with Michael in Japan in 2009. That being one of my favorite bands, and being able to do the farewell tour, and getting to do the tour with Michael… We kept in touch and when it finally came round to do another UK tour we had the same booking agent. They’re always asking me, ‘who do u guys wanna tour with?’, and I always mention my favorite bands and I was like… ‘Hey! What’s Michael doing?’ So luckily it worked out perfect.
It’s a really cool thing, I’m such a huge fan of him and we’ve sat for hours and just talked about music, music and music and I go, ‘I know every band member you’ve had since Hanoi’ and he’s like, ‘Whoa you know everything about me man!’ So it’s really, really surreal for me to be touring with someone I had posters of on my wall. My mom knows who Hanoi Rocks is because she had to wash my t-shirts all the time — so it’s really cool. To be on tour with someone like that, it just blows my mind. I was just talking to him in the hallway a minute ago and I’m like, ‘Oh my god!’ Got to pinch myself — is this really happening? (Laughs nervously)
Sleaze Roxx: It sounds like you still get star struck by him.
Wednesday 13: Yeah, from time to time. I hadn’t seen him in a while and when we’re talking I’m like, ‘WOAH I’m fucking talking to Michael Monroe!’ But we’ve known each other for a while and yeah I definitely still get star struck, and what’s great about a tour like this, is I usually bring my iPod along with me because I don’t often listen to the bands I tour with. So I don’t have to listen to that [this time around] when they play, because I’m normally listening to Hanoi or Michael Monroe backstage anyway, so now I can just open my door…and listen to it. I’m actually gonna get dressed earlier just so I can go and watch them, to me it’s the best warm up before a show… to get to watch them [Michael Monroe] play!
Sleaze Roxx: Being such a Horror fan, have you ever considered making movies like Rob Zombie?
Wednesday 13: Yes! I’ve thought about it and its one of those things where it’s a way bigger money project than a record. It would definitely be a thing where someone would offer me something, but we’ll see! I would love to, but writing stories for songs is different than writing a movie and I was always into movies as a kid. So one day when I get bored doing music, I can sit down and write a script for a movie and see what happens.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s your favorite B-movie of all time?
Wednesday 13: It would have to be an Edward Wood movie, so I’d probably say ‘Plan 9’ is the best one of all time.
Sleaze Roxx: You seem to work a lot. When you’re not writing, you’re on tour — is there anything you like to do when you’re not working?
Wednesday 13: Sleep! (laughs) My favorite thing to do when I’m not on tour is at my apartment where I live back home. I love to sit on my couch and watch my TV — it’s my favorite thing to do! I don’t know if you guys have it here in the UK, something called Netflix, but back home it’s just instant movies and TV shows, and I get to watch TV shows that I don’t watch when I’m on tour. So my couch is the favorite thing in the world!
Sleaze Roxx: There was talk of you releasing a book in connection with The Thirteen Dead Kids project. Has this idea disbanded or is it something fans can still expect?
Wednesday 13: That was a cool idea, but the reason why that thing happened was that in 2003 we were taking a break from Murderdolls, it was supposed to be a 6 month break, and I was told, ‘you can’t make music so do something else.’ So, I got bored, started drawing shit, and started doing that to keep me busy and started to realize pretty quick that the Murderdolls was not gonna be happening again. So I started my solo stuff for the first time and when I got full speed ahead with that I forgot the whole thing — I just didn’t wanna sit around and do cartoons. It worked for the time I needed it for, but after that it just went on to the back burner and caught fire — it’s never gonna happen probably.
Sleaze Roxx: You used to work in Hot Topic, is that a career path you would have stuck with if your music career didn’t take off?
Wednesday 13: No, I was fired from Hot Topic (laughs). Well, I don’t know if I was fired, I think they were pretty much just like, ‘you should leave!’ The reason I worked at Hot Topic wasn’t because I wanted to, when it first opened in America we had one in our mall, and when it first opened up it was really cool cause you went in and bought the stuff you wore. I had pink dreadlocks at the time and the lady behind the counter goes, ‘you want a job?’ At the time I did, but I also had a normal job — I worked 8 hours, but I wanted to get the money to move out because my kid was a year old. That was my second job, I’d work there all night [at Hot Topic], and I’d go to work, come home and take care of my kid for a few hours. So when I was in Hot Topic, I was [literally] a Zombie! I didn’t try to sell anything and they were like, ‘You got to talk to people and sell stuff’ and I was just like (sighs)… I think they just wanted me as a prop cause I looked weird and so I just went there and slept for a few weeks and then they told me to go home… (Laughs)
Sleaze Roxx: Do you hope to experience a Zombie Apocalypse before you die?
Wednesday 13: You know, I woulda said yes a couple of years ago while watching the old school movies that I love. It woulda been fun to fight slow, stupid zombies like in the original ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ — I think I could do pretty well. But then I watch shows like ‘Walking Dead’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I wanna be a part of this shit at all!’ So after watching that show… NO! I’m not looking forward to that experience and hope I never see anything like that. I’ll watch it on TV and enjoy it that way…one time a week. (Laughs)