Whoever said rap/rock was dead? Thanks to bands such as Los Angeles, California’s Hollywood Undead, the genre is alive and well. For those unfamiliar with the group, Hollywood Undead is a six member band that formed in 2005. Illustrating the power of the internet in today’s music scene, the band has made it big largely thanks to its profile on MySpace which made Hollywood Undead MySpace’s top unsigned artist with over eight million total plays. The group’s debut record Swan Songs came out in September, 2008 and continues to fair well, so much so that it was certified gold in the United States. To hold fans over until their next studio record, Hollywood Undead is releasing a CD/DVD combo in November called Desperate Measures. We recently spoke to one of the band’s leaders Charlie Scene to find out a little more about Hollywood Undead, Swan Songs and what fans can expect from Desperate Measures.
You’re currently on tour throughout the U.S. and Canada. How has the tour been going so far? How are the fans reacting?
Charlie: Well considering it’s only our second show and we haven’t played it yet, it’s going pretty good. We just went to the Alamo in Texas. They gave me shit about taking photos. I still bought an Alamo rain poncho for two dollars. They had fake muskets for a hundred dollars. I almost got one. It’d be broken by the time I got home though.
Hollywood Undead has been together since 2005. Tell us briefly the origins of how the band came together.
Charlie: We were sick of doing the same old music or what we felt we were doing wasn’t anything new. We wrote a few songs and it caught on really fast. Been making music ever since. A lot of other groups have similar music now. I don’t know if it’s because of us or they had the same ideas around the same time. But we’re six swinging dicks and with the addition of our drummer Biscurz, that makes seven. It’s all history from there.
Some would refer to your sound as rap rock or rap metal, a genre that was extremely popular in the early 2000s. Would you say this type of music is making a comeback now?
Charlie: I don’t know, is it making a comeback? A lot of our songs are divided, some are only rock, some only rap. On a few we mix the genres together. I personally don’t think we’re that similar to bands in the past. Most notably Limp Bizkit, but if you see them live or hear their music, they’re a good band. People love to hate on anything really.
Your debut record Swan Songs came out now over a year ago. How do you feel about the record now in comparison to when it came out last year?
Charlie: It hasn’t been long over a year since it came out, I actually don’t even know the date it came out. Everything blurs together when you’re on the road. It’s our album, I still like it. It was written so long before it was released so I’ve heard it so many times, but I still enjoy playing it live.
Even though Swan Songs is still doing very well, you’re releasing a CD/DVD package at the end of October called Desperate Measures. What can fans expect from this new release?
Charlie: They can expect a few new songs, a few cover songs, a look at our live show for people who haven’t been to one. Back stage/behind the scenes footage of people hassling the Kurlzz. The usual, the whole shebang…
Of the thirteen songs on the Desperate Measures CD, a few of them are cover versions of other bands’ songs including “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin and “Shout at the Devil” by Motley Crue. How did you go about deciding on these cover songs for the CD?
Charlie: We went over a few cover songs, we thought about The Beastie Boys “Sabotage” but we thought that was too cliché for us to do though. We picked songs we liked that were different to our style of music. Nikki Sixx played bass on “Shout at the Devil.” I didn’t get to meet him though because I slept in. I read his book right after he did it. Made me wish I woke up, I wanted to start keeping a journal too like he did on the road, but after reading his, my life is so boring compared to his. He shot whiskey into his veins when he didn’t have heroin.
Hollywood Undead is obviously a large band consisting of six members. What’s the writing process like within the band? Do you all write together or is it more the efforts of one or two of you?
Charlie: People in the group have an idea or collectively have ideas. It’s simpler than it seems. A lot of songs have actually been written before and we didn’t like them or trashed them or took a single part of one song for another. Group input is really important or a song will go in one direction and the song doesn’t come out like a Hollywood Undead song.
Now to produce some of the new tracks on Desperate Measures, you worked with Danny Lohner who of course used to be in Nine Inch Nails. How did you first meet/get in touch with Danny?
Charlie: In our album writing process we were looking for new producers to add phizzaz, you know?!?! We worked with other producers and Danny clicked as a producer and a friend. We used to have parties at his house after we recorded. He has werewolf heads and spooky shit all over his house/castle so when I woke up hung-over one morning and the girl that I was with left me there. I was pretty scared because I didn’t remember where I was. I saw him play with NIN in LA like a month ago. First time I’ve seen him or them play.
What do you think was Danny’s biggest asset in helping you produce these new tracks? What does he bring to the table that’s maybe different than other producers?
Charlie: He’s got his own style, it’s clear when you hear the songs he did with us. I think every band has a kind of person that clicks with them. For a while it was Linkin Park and Don Gilmore, Danny with us. It’s just kind of there. Plus he’s crazy, kind of like us.
Aside from the current tour what’s next for Hollywood Undead? What can we expect from the band in early 2010?
Charlie: New album eventually, early next year I hope for some time off to write more. Can finally masturbate somewhere that’s not moving (the tour bus).