Wednesday 13 on Condolences, horror and the future
For over 20 years, Wednesday 13 has been involved in music. Whether it’s been writing by himself, getting involved with new bands/projects or on stage performing to thousands of people, the man was born to be in the limelight.
Those who know him will either associate him with any of his side projects such as Bourbon Crow or Gunfire 76, or perhaps the eccentric leader of Frankenstein Drag Queens. But inevitably the most popular happens to be as the frontman of Murderdolls, who rose to fame when W13 and Slipknot’s Joey Jordison joined forces for an album of cheesy horror hits.
His loyal fans will always return for his own records – ranging from superbly daft to hauntingly spooky and most recent ‘Condolences’ would certainly fit in with the latter. Released at the beginning of June 2017, Wednesday returned to Northern Ireland for his first show in over ten years before travelling off to headline at Download Festival 2017. Mark Dunn caught up with him ahead of his performance in the capital.
This is the first question from me and perhaps a slightly strange one but what exactly do your band mates and friends call you? Wednesday? Joseph? Joe?
“No-one calls me Joe except for my Mom & Dad because when I moved away from North Carolina, everyone met me as Wednesday. My nickname as everyone usually calls me is ‘Dub’ or ’13’. People will say ‘Wednesday’ but it’s usually ‘Dub’ or ’13’. I respond to all but I usually don’t respond to Joe because I’m not used to hearing it. In the press, I don’t know why, but four or five years ago they started using “…then Joseph Poole aka….” and I’m not “Ah, when did you start using my real fucking name! I use Wednesday 13, I don’t use my real name!”. And now it’s like I can’t stop it, I don’t know why so when fans are outside they will call “Joseph!” and I’m like “Don’t call me that” but I guess they don’t know any better because they read it in the press.”
Now growing up, before you got involved in music, what was your main influences to get into music?
“I really started getting into music when I was watching movies. I wasn’t a music fan but I liked all these movies in the 80s and I spent the summer watching movies when I was out of school and I always liked the theme songs and they’d be parts in the movie – like a high-speed chase – when there’s like a big rock riff and I was like “Aww cool, I’m kinda into that!” It wasn’t until I discovered Alice Cooper and seen how he took theatrics and put it into a show. Like, I seen it with Kiss but I never seen a horror aspect of that and I was really into horror movies. So when I saw that I was like “Wow! This is like a rock n’ roll horror movie!” and that pretty much set the bar for me. And Alice isn’t horror all the time, he’d do a little bit then he’d do his own thing so I wanted to be the 24/7 horror guy so that was the blueprint in my head. To be as outrageous as him but more horror and be offensive.”
This is your first time in Belfast, Northern Ireland in a long time. I believe the last time you were here was with The 69 Eyes supporting them…
“I think they were supposed to support us but they cancelled or something. We did the UK with them so I think the last time I was here was in 2004 before Transylvania  record came out, my second tour when Piggy was in the band so yeah, it’s been a while. I remember this venue [Limelight, Belfast] when I walked in, I was like “Wow, I’ve been here before”.
Have you ever wondered around the city?
“I’ve been here with Wednesday 13 and Murderdolls came through here in 2002 with Papa Roach and I got so drunk I fell through a table at some bar here and they had to carry me back. I just was told that! Apparently I have good times here! [laughs]
You’ve just released your new album ‘Condolences’ – would it be fair to say that your music has moved on from the old, playful songs from Frankenstein Drag Queens to a more serious horror tone?
“Yeah, it definitely has. It’s strange because this is the seventh Wednesday 13 record. I’ve been releasing music since 1993 and Frankenstein Drag Queens released their first album in ’96 – I was 18 years old doing that and I’ve just turned 40 last year. I’m still really glad to see at 40 I’ve still got that sense of humour there. It’s changed a little bit but it’s still Wednesday 13. It’s a little older, maybe a little wiser – the campy side has left the building a little bit but it’s still there. The humour is still there in a song like ‘Cruel to You’ on the new record, that’s to show there’s a campy side to it. I like to keep evolving and not repeating myself, that’s why I like listening to all my records, they’re all totally different. Everything’s different but it’s still Wednesday 13.”
Do you have a structured songwriting process or is it that you literally get an idea and write it down as soon as possible?
“I usually get song ideas or lyrics and I have a notebook at home that I usually write down a sentence or if I have a riff I’ll just start playing on it but there really isn’t a certain way we write songs. This new record [Condolences], I came in with a couple of ideas, I had the main riff of Condolences and Death Infinity and that was really the only two riffs we came in with and then we started writing. We wrote all that over a three week process – the whole record, from scratch.
“We’d wake up, eat breakfast, throw on guitars and let’s write music for 8 hours and we’d write one song a day for three weeks and that’s how we worked up this entire record. We’d spend an entire day with every song – we’d play it fast, slow, half-time, we’d dissect the song and that’s why I’m so happy with this record. Every single song is thought out – there is no filler tracks. Every song we loved on that record.
The make-up and the stage props are all part of your live shows. Is it important to you that your fans witness that theatrical performance at your shows?
“For me and Wednesday 13, the whole theatrics goes hand in hand. When it was created, that was created along with the music. People would say “You gotta have the music first” and we’re like “I’m always gonna take the music first, that’s the most important thing” but I’m always writing the music thinking in my head when we are playing that song live, what am I going to do with it? I’m not gonna stare at my shoes. I want to put on a fucking show. That’s what I do. That’s not what everyone likes to do but that’s what I like to do. For me, our image is just going to get bigger and worse at this point [laughs]. You’ll see tonight this show is a total different beast from the last show. It’s like watching a movie.
Are you a fan of those ‘album-in-full’ shows and what do you think of a tour for the 20th Anniversary of Transylvania 90210 in 2020?
“I would love to. As crazy as it is, every year that passes by always seems to be the anniversary of something now. Right now, that is still tied up with Roadrunner and that’s why I haven’t been able to re-release that on my own, same with Fang Bang but maybe, fingers crossed, we might be trying to release the catalogue from Skeletons – maybe, we could get the whole thing but that’s still a work in progress.”
Now, it’s well documented your role in Murderdolls and the ‘will they, won’t they’ reunion – what is your opinion of it all and would you prefer to concentrate all your efforts on your own Wednesday 13 work?
“The thing with Murderdolls is that it put me on the map. People had heard of me before but not enough to matter. I was local band status. And Joey Jordison discovered me and asked me to do this project with him and I put in my music with my band, thinking no-one had heard it and we ended up touring and doing some of the most amazing things you ever thought of doing. Opening up for Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, all these bands and then it just stopped. It was a whirlwind of a year then it just stopped – “Hey, go on a break, come back in like five years” and I’m like “What?!” so I started Wednesday 13.
“Then Murderdolls came back in 2010, it was a good time to do that, we did that and then it stopped again. If it happens again, and it’s the right space for us, and Joey and I are into it, then I’m sure we’ll do it. For me and music, there is nothing bad enough between me or anybody that we can’t play music together. Music was to escape bullshit and drama. Let’s just have fun and do it. If the fans want it, and it’s available for us to do, I would like to do it. I’m not going to stop doing Wednesday 13 by any means, this is something I’m passionate about, this is my main thing. If Murderdolls can happen on the side, why not? Fans would love that, and I would love that too.”
Great. Now, it’s quickfire questions. I’ll name each Wednesday 13 albums and you give me your favourite song. Let’s start with Transylvania 90210?
“The Ghost of Vincent Price.”
“Curse of Me.”
“Probably the song Skeletons.”
Calling All Corpses?
“We All Die.”
The Dixie Dead?
“Get Your Grave On, a funny, dumb disco graveyard song!”
Monsters of the Universe?
And your latest album, Condolences?
“Probably the title track, Condolences, all the dark, spooky songs!”
Now, just general quickfire questions, same again, first answer! Favourite lyrics you’ve ever written?
“Rambo, the dumbiest, the easiest and I’m really proud of it. R.A.M.B.O., blow them up like Rambo!”
And if you could replace ‘Fuck’ in ‘I Love to Say Fuck’ with any other word, what would it be?
“I had to do this a lot when I was younger with my parents so I used to say duck or truck, anything that rhymed with fuck!”
Favourite character in the TV show The Munsters?
Favourite horror movie?
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
Favourite conspiracy theory?
Craziest place you’ve ever played?
“Italy with Iron Maiden, 80,000 people throwing garbage at us!”
Your biggest achievement to date?
“Surviving in this business being right here talking to you.”
Great – now what have you learned in your experiences over the last 20 years and what would you do differently if you had the chance to do it agian?
“If I knew what I know now, everything would be different. I don’t ever try and think about that but the one thing I’ve learned is stick to your guns, believe in what you do, don’t follow trends and you’ll outlast everything. At least for me, I didn’t start this band on new trends, I’ve never been on the radio and I’ve been able to do it for 15 years now, it’s crazy. But I also tell people the biggest advice is if you want to do this be willing to sacrifice everything – your girlfriend, your wife, your family, anything because it will all get jeopardised if you want to go for this full throttle to achieve it.”
And finally, what does the future hold for Wednesday 13?
“We’re gonna tour on this album for the next year and a half and hopefully the label will like the work we’ve done and keep us for the next one and we’ll keep going. For me, I’m never satisified. I’m satisifed to this point. The next record, we’ve gotta top it. The stage shows etc. It’s a ladder to me. I’m never at the top of it. I’m constantly on the ladder but I know I’m on there and that’s how I look at it.”
Wednesday 13 performed at the Limelight, Belfast on 9th June 2017. His new record ‘Condolences’ is available for purchase or stream now.