Exclusive Interview: Johnny 3 Tears Of Hollywood Undead Talks New Album ‘New Empire Vol. 1’ And More

We can hardly contain our excitement for the upcoming release of Hollywood Undead’s new album, New Empire Vol.1, which will be unleashed on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14th) via Dove & Grenade Media/BMG, as this is without a doubt some of the groups hardest rocking tracks to date.

What we adore so much about Hollywood Undead is that, they’re a group of musicians who are fearless when it comes to continuously reinventing themselves with each and every release. As a fan, it is great to always expect the unexpected when it comes to a release from Hollywood Undead and the songs that make-up New Empire Vol.1 is without a doubt some of Hollywood Undead’s best music to date. We can’t even begin to anticipate what they will have planned for New Empire Vol. 2 when it is eventually released as well.

It is enjoyable as a music fan to find a group of musicians that cannot be boxed into any one particular genre and in this area, Hollywood Undead has more than succeeded. They offer fans a little bit of everything from hip-hop/techno to bass dropping and searing hard rock, but do so with a flair that is very much their own. We think longtime fans of Hollywood Undead will undoubtedly be pleased with the nine tracks presented on the forthcoming, New Empire Vol.1, and we absolutely can’t wait to see how these tracks will transfer over into the group’s incredible live performances.

We had a chance to catch up with Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead to talk about the making of their new record, New Empire Vol.1, moments of “mayhem” in the studio, upcoming touring plans and more! Read our full interview with him below:

Q: We are sure you guys are busy gearing up for the release of “New Empire Vol.1” on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and this is some of your heaviest music to date. What was the recording process like for the new album?

JOHNNY 3 TEARS: It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary really when it came to the recording process, but it did end up heavier I have to agree, but it wasn’t conscious. I don’t think we went in and set out to make a heavier record. It was organic and it was what was there at the time and the energy when we all got in the room. We free flow with that kind of stuff and when we are all there and we feel that kind of stuff we just let it flow, so it did end up heavier, but I guess that’s just a product of where everybody was at, but one Vol.2 there are a lot more ballad type tracks and things like that, so we definitely have some songs that offset the heaviness, but on Vol.1 it did end up being quite a bit heavier than usual.

Q: With this being your sixth full-length album release, how do you feel that Hollywood Undead has grown and changed with each album?

J3T: Well, obviously we’re getting older like everyone else and you are kind of grappling with life in a different way fifteen years later than when you started. Your concerns obviously change and anything that happens in someone’s life is going to affect the kind of music they make, so you kind of grow involuntarily even if you are unconscientious of doing it … everyone is just in a different headspace and place in their lives that forces that change and my personal opinion is that we’re a lot better than we were when we first started. You play music up to a certain point when you are really young and like most bands when we started, I’d like to think we’ve gotten considerably better with writing records and touring for so long.

I think we take the craft a lot more seriously than we did, we take music more seriously than we did and we just try to put our best foot forward every time and take hints on the more emotional sides of music and it’s hard because you have to make sure you don’t start coasting after a long time. We have kind of figured out the formula for what works and what doesn’t and it can be fairly easy to just manufacture music and you really have to watch out for that because most of the best music has been written from a position of uncomfortability and we just try to challenge ourselves so I feel very happy and blessed that I still get to do it and people still care about the music that we do.

Q: We have always adored that you guys are not afraid to be experimental in your music, but still remaining true to the Hollywood Undead sound, but it’s very unique. It stands on its’ own and you cannot be boxed into any particular genre.

J3T: Thank you! I definitely like way too much music to ever want to write one type of music. I always feel fortunate with Hollywood Undead that we’ve pushed it to the point where we can really release anything and it wouldn’t shock anyone. Like, if you are in a metal band or a punk band and if you go outside of that even an inch there’s usually an uproar within the fanbase of that musical genre which I can’t stand, but I understand that that’s how people feel about the scene they’re in but we’ve really tap-danced around them all and granted we will never really be fully accepted by them, but we also don’t have to follow the guidelines of those communities. That’s the way I look at it I guess.

Q: Can you talk about the name of the album “New Empire Vol.1”? What stood out with the title track “Empire”?

J3T: I think the way that we look at what we do is that if you are trying to build something and I’ve always kind of viewed it that way partly because a band is very isolating, you’re four or five people who make music together and that can be isolating, but I’ve always viewed our fan base as part of the band. I think there’s a lot of reciprocity, we get a lot from them, it isn’t just about us so I think that is where we developed the idea for “Empire” thing or I love to look at it as a military-type unit, granted I’m not saying it in the literal sense, but I think there is a lot more to it than just us, the guys who write music. We have built this thing up and we decided “New Empire” because typically when you are writing a record or writing music you tend to build off the foundation of what proceeded it and with this being our sixth album it’s very easy to keep stacking these things on top of one another so our goal when we stepped into the studio was to try to pretend that we have never written anything before, like what would we do right now if we just got signed and this was our first album so that was kind of our approach.

A lot of times you want to avoid certain things because of saying ‘oh, I don’t want to write this song because we’ve already written something similar’ or someone else that’s out wrote a song similar in nature, so you start combining everything down the pipeline and our attitude was like ‘Look, let’s just write songs’ there won’t be any comparison to albums before and we won’t avoid or try things solely on the fact that we haven’t done them or have done them before. It’s just about starting from a foundation of nothing as opposed to everything we have done prior.

Q: You guys head out on the road right around the release date for an overseas tour with Papa Roach, correct?

J3T: Right before! We play our record release show in London with Papa Roach, and the tour starts the day before and then our next date is in Spain I believe, so it’s right there and the coincide pretty closely.

Q: It looks like you guys will be hitting the U.S. festival circuit as well this summer with all the DWP shows and such. 

J3T: Yeah, I’m dreading that (laughs)

Q: It’s like summer boot camp! 

J3T: You know, I’ve never been a fan of those festivals, not those ones in particular, but festivals in general. It’s hot and oppressing and everyone stinks. It’s gross!

Q: They are like an animal all their own!

J3T: They really are and we’ve been playing those for like a decade and it is cool, and I will say the one aspect I do like about it is that it shows you that there really is a huge audience for rock music. I think rock is really at the bottom of the barrel of pop culture as far as music goes … I mean like the Grammy’s don’t even televise the awards for rock anymore, not that anyone’s watching the f**king Grammy’s anyhow, but it’s kind of insulting, so it is nice to see so many people together who still like heavy hard music because I don’t we or rather the scene gets the credit it deserves. That part I do enjoy!

Q: What was one of the standout moments of “mayhem” during the recording process for “New Empire Vol.1 and Vol. 2?

J3T: I think it’s always pretty nuts in the studio with us. We are one of those bands that write together so we are always in there together, but we … well, there are things I can’t say … that’s the issue!  (laughs) Honestly, we take the craft very seriously so we really do focus. It’s not like we’re in there doing keg stands while we’re recording, so we do for the most party take it very seriously.

We try to keep a level head and stuff. I remember with our old days we all used to do a ton of cocaine, like many bands, but when you are younger you can still function and our third album is called “Notes From The Underground” and it is like the darkest f**king record we ever made and I was always like ‘why is that record so depressing?’ and it’s because everyone was blown out of their heads for like four months straight while we did it and I don’t think we recorded while it was daytime for like six months … we looked like vampires and honestly when I think about it, it gives me the chills a little bit because it was so weird and dark and not like fun dark, but gross dark, like if you walked in there you would be like “Eww!’ it would be like a bunch of vampires sitting around hissing if they saw the sun! It was creepy! So, now we keep a normal schedule and start in the daytime and end when it gets dark, it’s nothing that crazy, to be honest. We try to really focus and make great songs and you really can’t do that and be completely f**ked up if you really do care.

Q: Do you have plans for what the next single will be? You have already released “Already Dead” and “Time Bomb”. 

J3T: No … I know we have a song coming out with some surprise guests on it which we are in the process of doing right now, so I can’t really say much about it, but there is definitely, at least in my opinion, some pretty cool stuff coming.

Pre-order New Empire, Vol. 1, out February 14th, 2020 here

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