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Hollywood Undead Unmasked: J-Dog on New Singer, Touring with Avenged Sevenfold

Jonas Akerlund

Hollywood Undead fuse two diverse musical styles, melodic rock and hip-hop, on their latest album, ‘American Tragedy.’ The result is a big-sounding disc, fit for a spot in the dance-club mix but with enough guitar-driven power to appeal to the rock-minded music fan.

The guys of Hollywood Undead say that above all, they’re happy that fans dig the album.

“I’m just proud people like it,” says founding member J-Dog, who plays bass guitar and has also done programming and played rhythm guitar in the Hollywood, Calif.-based group. “In this business, there can be a lot of criticism thrown your way, but this album proves that isn’t the case with Hollywood Undead.”

On the way to a gig in Vermont, J-Dog checked in for an exclusive interview with Loudwire to talk about the band’s unique blend of sounds and forging on after losing one of their main singers:

Hollywood Undead mixes such a wide variety of musical styles: hip hop, alternative rock, nu-metal. How did you develop such an eclectic sound?

All of us listen to different kinds of music. I recently have been listening to more metal. [Vocalist] Charlie [Scene] is into country. [Screamer] Jonny [3 Tears] and [new singer] Danny all listen to hip-hop in one form or another. As for influences, Nine Inch Nails is big for all of us, and Muse. I like old school hip-hop and West Coast rap.

Why the decision to wear masks for the band?

It was actually just something to do for our live show. We thought our music sounded different, so we wanted to make it look different. We thought masks would look cool, because it’s entertaining and you’re almost more than a band.

What was it like hitting it big with ‘Undead’ off 2008’s ‘Swan Songs’?

It’s one of those things that’s surreal. It was cool. You spend your whole life wanting to be on the radio and wanting all these things, and once it happens, you’re overjoyed, but it’s a weird feeling hearing yourself on the radio. It’s cool, but it took a while to settle in.

When singer Deuce left the band in 2010, was there ever a point where you thought the band would never record again?

Well, we knew it would happen before it happened. It built up to that, and it’s what we wanted. It actually played out better for us. We’re writing better and we’re better live, and it was a necessary step to evolve.

How did having new singer Daniel “Danny” Murillo on board affect the new album, ‘American Tragedy?’

He’s a lot more solid, so things were a lot easier and it brought our writing to a different level, so we didn’t have to pigeonhole into one style. We didn’t want to repeat our first album, because people would be like, “It’s the same album,” and with him on board, we were able to diversify the sound, and I love that about the album.

How long did it take to write the songs on your new album?

We took about a year off, which is pretty long. Most bands take three months to record their second album, but we had a new singer and we wanted to take the time to make it really right. We didn’t want to just put stuff out. When bands go into record the so-called sophomore record, it can be a curse, because if you have success on the first record, you have to make sure the second one is better than the first. I’ve seen bands who have gotten ahead of themselves and rushed through it, and they’re gone now. We knew we wanted to take our time, and I think people really love the new album because of it.

You were on the “Nightmare After Christmas Tour” with Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour from the end of 2010 to the beginning of this year. Was that a blast?

It was awesome. I’m not used to the cold weather, so that was a different thing, but the shows were insane. We got along with all of the bands on there. That was something I was looking forward to for months before we went on tour. Watching Avenged Sevenfold, those guys have a really good work ethic, and they’ve been touring a lot longer than us. You see there’s a certain work ethic you have to have once you get to a certain point. So, watching them and how they operate made us realize that.

You guys are out on the Endless Summer 2011 tour with All That Remains. How is it going?

We’re getting along really well, and you wouldn’t think of it, but All That Remains and Hollywood Undead actually share a lot of the same fans, so it’s working out great. We hang out with their bass player Jeanne [Sagan] a lot. It’s fun. I love having a metal band out with us, because it sweetens our shows up.

Where do you stand right now on the future of Hollywood Undead? Are you planning another tour this fall, or recording new music?

We’re going to keep touring. We have a really cool tour in the fall with Asking Alexandria, D.R.U.G.S. and We Came as Romans. Our record only been out six months, so it has at least another year to go, but we just set up a recording setup on our bus, so we’re going to start writing. Once you spend yourself on writing a record, you run out of creativity for a while and shut yourself off. But since it’s been six months, we’re ready to start writing again.

Watch the Hollywood Undead ‘Hear Me Now’ Video

 

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