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Words by Brett Ensbey {Brett Bites}

What do you get when you cross horror movies, heavy music and a dark sense of humour? You get the Duke of Spook; Wednesday 13.

Starting his music career in horror punk bands such as Maniac Spider Trash and the Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13, the North Carolina native rose to prominence in 2002 when he began fronting the Murderdolls alongside the late Joey Jordison, releasing 2 albums with the band, ‘Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls’ in 2003 and 2010’s ‘Women and Children Last’.

In addition to his work with the Murderdolls, Wednesday has released 9 studio albums as well as numerous EPs and live albums. The tragic passing of Joey Jordison in July of 2021 saw the end of the Murderdolls but their legacy continues to live on in the hearts of horror, punk, and metal fans worldwide. This year (2023) marks 20 years since the release of their debut album and Wednesday 13 has decided to celebrate the music they made with a tour that sees him performing songs from both of the Murderdolls albums.

I was lucky enough to sit down with Mr. Motherfucker himself and talk about the upcoming tour and his career in general.

So you’re doing this tour performing the Murderdolls songs, obviously Joey was big part of that band. Do you have a favourite story from the time you spent with him?
There are so many. A lot of people don’t know his personality because with Slipknot the mask kept that personal side of him away from people. But that was the great thing about Murderdolls, it got to show Joey’s other side, and you got to see a little behind the mask so to speak. But for me, I didn’t know what to expect because we met doing this project, so with hearing their kind of music I expected this crazy, big sort of attitude but he was really down to Earth and really a lot like me. We grew up watching a lot of the same movies and listening to the same music. He never tried to flaunt his status or anything, but I remember seeing a poster for the Freddy VS Jason soundtrack and it had all the bands listed on it and we weren’t there. I went to Joey and I said “Why is this? We’re the horror rock band here.”

I remember him calling the label and telling then that he was going to quit Slipknot if they didn’t put us on the soundtrack. He wasn’t going to but he told them he was and within an hour there was an updated post with our track listed on it. That was just a fun way that he could pull the lever on people. He didn’t do it a lot but when he did he used his powers for good. And although that movie was terrible, we were still on the soundtrack and that was pretty cool.

You originally joined the Murderdolls as a bassist when they were still known as The Rejects, was it a pretty big surprise to end up fronting the band?
It was a surprise when it happened, but I don’t think it was out of my mind that it could happen. When I got the offer to be a part of this side project it was just “we want to use a couple of your songs,” it wasn’t what the Murderdolls became. But when I went up and met them and recorded a couple of things Joey and I hit it off and I could feel there was this connection there, there was a songwriting connection and when Joey started realising he wanted to use more of those songs it was kind of dumb to go “Hey, why don’t we take your songs and just have this guy try to imitate what you’re doing,” so I knew something was gonna change with that. And I’m not saying that the original frontman Dizzy was a bad vocalist or anything, but it was just literally why would you have someone else do something when the guy who’s already done it is right there and Joey realised that so I switched positions. And that was what I wanted to do and what I would have done best. Could I have been the bassist in Murderdolls and done that? Sure, but would it have been the best use of my abilities and shown what I’m capable of? No. And luckily, Joey saw that and that opened the door for me to do that to this day.

Obviously when horror music is mentioned there are a few names that automatically spring to mind like The Misfits, Rob Zombie, and of course Alice Cooper. Being that horror isn’t exactly a mainstream music genre did you ever see yourself being among those names?
No, and I really had never even thought of it like that. Never thought that I’d be doing this at 47 years old. But it’s really cool to be this age and still have it mean something and be important to me and to the fans. But to answer your question, when I first started doing this, The Misfits weren’t even on the map for me yet. They weren’t an influence on that early songwriting for Frankenstein Drag Queens. The horror influence came from my own personal influence of liking movies, and I was obsessed with The Ramones, Alice Cooper, and The Sex Pistols so I just sang what I knew over that type of music. Then people started calling us horror punk, and I didn’t even know that was a term. But did I think I’d be in that group of people? No, but, you mentioned the people, you’ve got Misfits, Danzig, Alice Cooper, and Rob Zombie. Who’s left? I’m on the glove of horror rock and that’s good enough for me, whether I’m the pinky or the thumb, I don’t know, but I’m on the glove.

Does it get hard to keep creating new music and keep it within the confines of horror? Do you ever just think to yourself why did I create this monster instead of just playing straight-up punk or metal?
Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to not get painted into a corner. Any time I do feel painted into a corner I change it up. That’s why my records all sound different. That’s why some of my latest records are more metal and more heavy, because I got painted into that horror punk corner to the point where I was like, “I don’t wanna do that anymore, I wanna do this for a while,” now that I’ve done this for a while I miss the horror punk corner a bit so now I’m crawling my way back to it. I still stay in the same world, it’s never too far removed from each other. But I’ve also never really run out of ideas, there’s always something there to inspire me to do this. That’s why I surround myself with collectables stuff from my childhood. I can sit around playing guitar in my room and just look at my swamp thing poster and just go “why haven’t I written a song about you yet?”

Aside from Wednesday 13 and The Murderdolls you’ve had other projects like Gunfire 76 and Bourbon Crow. Was it a bit of fun to step away from your usual style, and do you think we’ll ever see more of them or are you pretty content doing what you’re doing now?
The projects were a lot of fun and they were definitely helpful along the way, I think they opened the door for me to branch out musically from what Wednesday 13 did. Gunfire 76 helped me as a vocalist by just doing different things with my voice, and the live show as well, I took my stage presence up to this super energetic level. Bourbon Crow was a laid-back, more acoustic thing, not relying on loud guitars to cover anything up, I actually had to sing and do stuff, so those were all big parts of the puzzle to get me where I am today. As for having the time or the energy to work on any other projects, I don’t really have the time to do that and with Wednesday 13 I’ve had such freedom to really do whatever I want, If I want to change it up, I just change it up. I don’t have to do a new project now to do the songs I want to do. But If I was to do anything outside of Wednesday 13 it would probably be working on a horror movie or something, cause that’s something that I haven’t done yet that’s on the map as something I have to do.

It’s funny you mentioned a movie because that was my next question. I remember when ‘The Dixie Dead’ came out there was talk of you doing a movie, so that’s something that’s still a possibility obviously?
Yeah, I have a lot of ideas and they’re all ridiculous, and I think it’ll be worth the wait. I want to do it right and you’ll definitely see my influence stamped all over it.

Apart from Murderdolls and the ‘Transylvania 90210’ album on Roadrunner, a lot of your earlier work was all very independent. Your last couple of albums were released on a label. Has that changed the way you do things much or is the process still mostly the same?
It’s still the same. A band like us, we didn’t get signed cause they thought we were gonna change the world. It’s just they know what we do. I think because of that independent format they went “This guy’s doing his own thing, we can do it with him.” I don’t really have anybody going “Hey guys, why don’t you change your style?” or anything. I’ve heard stories with bands where the label has tried to interfere but I think that only happens to the bands that are making those labels that kind of money.

One of the things one always enjoys with your music is that while all of your albums have your signature style and distinct sound, they all have their own individual feel. Do you have a favourite even going back to your Maniac Spider Trash days?
If I had to pick right now, and I haven’t been asked this question in a while, I don’t know what I’d pick as a favourite. For me, certain people hear records and it reminds them of when they first heard it. Every one of my records is a period of my life. So I’ll be like “Oh that first record I had just moved here and was doing this and this,” or “Oh that second record everything was going to shit then.” So sometimes I’ve looked at records that are maybe really good and I don’t care for them because of that period of my life. Like the last record, ‘Horrifier’, I like the records but it reminds me of COVID, and I don’t like it for that reason. But there’s nothing that I hate. Some of the earlier stuff is hard to listen to just because I’m such a perfectionist and I can just hear the young mistakes I made.

Do you find that the different eras of Wednesday 13 get different reactions in different parts of the world?
I don’t know. It’s weird because COVID knocked everybody so off the map with everything. Now ‘Necrophaze’ is what, 5 or 6 years old. So when we played at the very beginning it was still new to people and they were kind of just soaking it in. I think If I play those songs now, they know them so I think time is on our side with a lot of this stuff. Some of the newer stuff people like, but I think it takes them a couple of years of listening to stuff for them to go “Well I think over time of listening to these albums this is my favourite now.” For example, I used to play Ghost of Vincent Price on the ‘Transylvania 90210’ tour and it was an OK reaction. When I play that song now, people go crazy. Because it had those years of people listening to it. It’s crazy how time changes that, it’s weird, but I don’t get to dictate that, it’s up to the fans.

So you’re an avid collector of action figures and pop culture memorabilia and so am I so this question is more for me than anyone else. What’s the coolest thing in your collection at the moment, the thing you love to show off?
It’s one of my oldest collectables. It’s an original Herman Munster doll from 1968 I believe. It was available through a catalogue in the US that was a big deal back in the day and you could order him. It’s a pull string, and it’s so old it just kind of makes a gurgling kind of sound now. They’re not that rare to get, you can still find them on Ebay, they’re a few hundred bucks, but he’s one of the oldest toys I have and he kind of just hangs out here with me.

If you’d like to hear more from Wednesday 13 make sure you’re at The Triffid on February 2nd 2024 to see him performing the Murderdolls classics.

Thanks to Maric Media

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