On the surface, Hollywood Undead may seem like rocks perpetual partiers, but behind the masks lies a surprising amount of depth. The rock/hip-hop group’s new album “Notes from the Underground” (out Jan. 8) certainly has its fair share of the band’s signature wit and songs about drinking —but the Hollywood six-piece wasn’t afraid to show their darker side this time around.
Hollywood Undead plays the Bluebird Theater on Saturday.
Reverb caught up with HU’s Johnny 3 Tears to get his take on the new album, their collaboration with Clown from Slipknot and why he could care less about drama surrounding former members.
Reverb: The album is all over the place as far as genres go. How do you describe it to people who haven’t heard it?
Johnny 3 Tears: I mean, we’ve always been that kind of band. I just say it’s a Hollywood Undead record. There’s not a lot of comparisons I can make, you just have to listen to it and decide for yourself. It incorporates so many different things that I can’t really label it.
R: When you were writing the album did you have a set direction or did you just let it come together organically?
JT: I mean, we’ve been writing together for a long time. We write Hollywood Undead songs the way we would write any other songs; the way we start and the way we finish. We went through the process as usual. Sitting there with an acoustic guitar and a bottle of wine—and there ya go.
R: Would you say you guys took any risks with this album?
JT: Well yeah, we took things a little further on songs like “Believe” and “Rain” that are really ballad driven songs. All things considered we have pretty predominately rock audience, so I guess those things always carry some risk with them innately. But, usually for as many people who don’t like it when we go outside the box, I’d say there’s far more people who do. We usually try to keep it interesting for us and for everyone else.
R: The ballads were definitely different.
JT: Yeah, I usually like writing those kinds of songs. I mean, that’s the cool part about being in Hollywood Undead — you can play just about anything and it’ll fit in there somewhere, ya know?
R: Are there different members of the group who contribute different styles? Is there someone in particular who always wants to do a little bit more rock and someone more funny/lyrical hip hop…?
JT: Yeah, everybody has parts of them who do those things but there’s certainly more dynamics. I’m a bigger fan of the serious side of it and the rock stuff and then Charlie (Scene) certainly enjoys the clubby rap stuff. Not to say I don’t like that stuff. The personalities are certainly different.
R: Now, you guys had a lot going on in the past couple years outside of the studio, particularly continuing drama around your former member Deuce. Did any of that translate into this album or did you decide to not even go there?
JT: Man, that shit’s so far off my radar. I honestly don’t pay any attention whatsoever until someone brings it up. I mean, writing music’s all about moving forward and that’s really where my mind has been as far as writing a record. I don’t really let too many distractions in. Those things can be a pain in the ass if you pay attention to them — so that’s exactly why I don’t.