Wednesday 13 is many things, if not diverse. Not content with having a successful solo career following Murder Dolls' hiatus, he has since fronted two other bands as side-projects (under an pseudonym). Few artists, and especially those who have an established career, would choose to start again.

Wednesday 13 began his career as the lead singer for Mizery before forming Maniac Spider Trash, which later disbanded in 1995. Wednesday 13 went on to form Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 (with whom he recorded five studio albums), until he was recruited into the Murder Dolls in 2002. Wednesday 13 was initially their guitarist before being promoted into becoming their lead singer, and recorded the classic album ‘Beyond the Valley of the Murder Dolls’(2002). Following the Murder Dolls' decision to enter an indefinite hiatus in 2004, Wednesday 13 pursued a successful solo career, releasing his début album ‘Transylvania 90210’ (2005), its acclaimed follow-up album ‘Fang Bang’ (2006), and his most recent and serious album, ‘Skeletons’(2008), in which he openly addressed the subject of his constant battle with depression.

During this time, he has also been the lead singer (under the moniker of Buck Bourbon) of Bourbon Crew, an outlaw-country project with Rayen Belchere, and in 2006 briefly reformed the Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13.

As can be ascertained by the naming conventions of the bands and albums he has been associated with, Wednesday 13 has his tongue firmly in his cheek. He freely admits his music is fun. Yet to dismiss his music because of its fun nature would be a gross disservice to an accomplished musician and to disregard some truly great music. Just because music is fun, does not mean it cannot be skilled, which is exactly what Wednesday 13's is.

A suitable metaphor for Wednesday 13 would be if Bowling for Soup wrote the lyrics for Marilyn Manson. For whilst Wednesday 13 has at times been compared to Marilyn Manson, having similar horror references and dark overtones, Wednesday 13's music is much bouncier with a decidedly humorous twist. Wednesday 13's appeal lies in his strong song-writing ability. He creates lyrics that roll off the tongue and which are delivered in such a cheerfully enthusiastic manner that you cannot take them seriously.

Wednesday 13's most recent project is classic rock and roll band Gunfire 76, who débuted with their album, ‘Casualties and Tragedies’, in November. Whilst I was ambivalent to the Gunfire 76's album, their live show was a wonderfully raw and visceral experience, and gave an incredible rock-and-roll performance. What the album lacked was Gunfire 76's passion and energy which cannot be adequately captured on CD.

I had spoken to Wednesday 13 in March of last year, during his previous solo tour of the UK, where he confessed to being exhausted. Since then, he has changed quite dramatically. I almost didn't recognise him as he looked so different. (This is not a rare occurrence, for in Wednesday 13's own words. “I think for the first couple of songs people are wondering is that really you?”). Finding a quiet place to talk after the sound check for Gunfire 76's gig in the Nottingham Rescue Rooms, we sat down to talk.

PB: Last time we spoke in March, you were touring as Wednesday 13. How does it feel to be back in Nottingham. Are you enjoying the weather?

W13: I haven’t really noticed the weather, as I have been pretty much on-stage, off-stage, and then we go hang-out at after-shows, but that’s alright. I prefer the cold, as I really hate hot weather, although I could do without the rain a little bit. But so far it is pretty cool. This is our fifth show over here.

PB: Back in March you admitted to being absolutely shattered, having just finished touring Japan and playing what one of the first dates of a UK tour. How do you feel now?

W13: I took six months off, and by that I mean just six months off touring. I have been busy as fuck, between recording the Gunfire 76 record and writing it. I spent the whole summer doing that. It felt really weird to go home for six months, as not being on tour really fucked with me a lot. Even though I said I needed it, and I did, I think it made me a little more crazy (Laughs). I was like, “Fuck this!”, as I do not know what to do with myself when I am not touring.

But I survived, and here I am with Bullets and Octane as support, which is really cool as I am huge fan of these guys. It is cool to be on tour with guys who enjoy each others' music, rather than guys who you just tour with, which I have done before with bands that I really couldn’t care less about. I mean they could be the nicest guys in the world, but you just don’t like their music. For me it is the live thing, and when I hear Bullets and Octane play it makes me want to play.

PB: What was the inspiration behind Gunfire 76?

W13: The whole Gunfire thing is a response to me becoming burned out on what I had been doing for the past couple of years. I felt that if you’re the guy who creates all this shit and you’re sick of it maybe you’re not going about it the right way.

I needed a break from it. I’m not ashamed though of anything I’ve done or any of the records that I’ve done - as every record has been different. As you know, the first album ‘Transylvania 90210’ was way more tongue in cheek and more fun, which is probably what people come to expect from Wednesday 13, whereas the last album was a little more serious and took people by surprise a little bit. So I started thinking like that. Do I want to make another ‘Skeletons’ type record, or do I want to take a departure and do something totally different so that when I do come to do Wednesday stuff I can go back and do it the way it should be done? Not thinking, just being fun party stuff, and doing it full throttle and overboard like when I did it the first time.

PB: With Gunfire 76, it is almost like you are starting afresh?

W13:It has been, and definitely kind of a mind-fuck a little bit. Many people have asked me, “Why the fuck would you do that?”, as my guarantees are less, and I will have less of an audience. I am playing half of what I would normally play. “Why would I work all these years to start all over?”, but it’s because doing this makes me happy. It would have been real-easy to record another Wednesday record, and call this Gunfire record Wednesday 13: ‘Casualties and Tragedies’, but it wouldn’t have been the same, and people would have still been “What the fuck are you doing?”. I wanted a departure from it, and I’ve got it, and now I’m doing this, and it’s a totally different world. I don’t play guitar and get to go on stage and be a complete idiot which is great.

PB: Has the industry changed from when you initially started out?

W13: It has completely changed, and is one hundred percent different. Bands used to, and still do to an extent, need record labels. But over the years bands have realised they do not need the record labels as much as they used to. If they have enough money they can form their own record label. Like the ‘Skeletons’ record I did that completely on my own, licensed it out to the UK, signed a record contract, and it has been financially more successful for me than when I was on Roadrunner Records.

Having said that, Roadrunner here in the UK were great, but in the States they did nothing for me, barring putting a couple of ads out. Over here Roadrunner UK really pushed the record, and it was great; that team is awesome. But it came to the end of the year, and like a lot of bands “we decided to leave the label”. No, most bands never leave labels. They’re dropped. I get asked, “Why aren’t you on Roadrunner any more, so I just say, “Because they told me they didn’t want me on their label any more”.

It’s a simple thing, bands come and go. I guess every little obstacle has helped along the way and the industry has changed. I’ve learned stuff. I’ve made money and I’ve lost money. In the end of the day, I think if you’ve got it inside of you, it is so easy to give up and just quit, and believe me I have considered a few times, but I don’t. I just keep going. I’ve been doing this pretty much non-stop since 2001 - and you know how much I tour every year - so I stay pretty busy.

PB: Has having a successful solo and band career behind you helped Gunfire 76's success?

W13:I was really nervous when the tour first started, as I’ve had a guitar on me for a couple of years now. It may be hard to understand, but for guys who play guitar it really becomes their crutch, so I kind of hid behind my guitar. When you don’t have that guitar any more, what do you do? You’re not playing, you're just singing, so you’ve got to sway and got to move. I was really nervous about it; and, like when I cut my hair, my hair used to be a prop as when I moved my hair I would have dreadlocks flowing three miles, and it was real easy.

Doing the way I did it, it was a different band, and when I went out I told myself I was not going to be the front guy that I was before, so I had to almost re-invent myself. The first couple of shows were pretty scary, as I came out full throttle, and the rest of the guys were like “Oh my God, what are you doing?” I was throwing things – in fact check the bruises on most of the guys, as they’re covered, and I’m beat all to shot. I think I fractured my ankle two weeks ago – that’s why I’m kind of limping and have my leg up here (Indicates his foot resting on the table). I’m not trying to be cool. It really actually hurts. So, yeah, I’ve pretty much beat myself to death for this tour, and it’s been in front of a small audience. I’m not glorifying with, “Well, y’know, we’re playing to a sold out night”. When we’re playing to a hundred people or to a thousand people, it doesn’t matter. We just go for it, as whoever is there matters.

PB: I’ve noticed your fans range from thirteen to forty and onwards.

W13: Back home I’ve toured with Alice Cooper, and he has a much older crowd, and luckily a lot of his older fans come out and see my shows at the places I play with him which is really cool as they “get it”, in that they go “Okay, I can see the influence”. But it is different, yet people are digging it so far. At first I don’t think they knew what to expect. They watch the first couple of songs and think, “What the fuck is going on? Why does that guy have eyebrows?” You wouldn’t believe that was actually an issue with a lot of people. When I cut my hair and grew eyebrows, I thought the world had frozen over.

PB: You are unlike many musicians in that you have many projects that you work on, rather than focusing on a single band. Does this make you more versatile as an artist?

W13: I guess it is because I’m getting older, and I hate to use the phrase “getting older”… When you follow your favourite bands over the years, sometimes the fan will grow with the artist, and sometimes there are fans who did not grow with me and the Wednesday stuff. They only like that first record, or they only like Murder Dolls and nothing else. Then I have fans who think ‘Skeletons’ was the best thing I ever did and they are the fans that kind of have matured with me.

But having all these projects gives me different outlets. If I did a country song as Wednesday 13, people would be “What the fuck are you doing that for?”, so I have a band for that (Bourbon Crew). Gunfire is a straight-up rock-band. It has an image based on it, though not as much as Wednesday 13, which is where people took the image first – at least the press did – but I like to believe over the years that I have always made good fun music. I come over here every year without record labels, and still have fans come see me which is amazing.

PB: Where did the inspiration for the tracks for this record come from?

W13: This is a personal record, from the point of view of what I have been doing since touring professionally for the past five or six years of life. So this is things I’ve seen and things I’ve personally done and things I’ve personally seen other people do. It’s a real record. So for me when I’m on stage, another big difference is when I am up there as Wednesday 13 which is fun, not that I ain’t having fun as Gunfire 76. You’ve seen ‘Walk with a Zombie ‘and it’s fun to watch the crowd get into it, but I ain’t feeling anything from it as I never really did walk with a zombie. But when I play something off the new album, like ‘Los Angeles’, I think about what I wrote that song about and totally get into the character for that, which is really cool as it is something I never go to do with the Wednesday stuff as I can actually react to some of these songs.

PB: Was the writing process different from your previous work?

W13: It was different because at first when I first started this project I was working with Todd Youth from Chelsea Smiles. That was when the original idea started with this. It was kind of cool y’know doing things together. For the Wednesday 13 and the Drag Queens stuff I write everything. So to actually have someone create music for me to write lyrics over was really cool and fresh for me, as I forgot that you could actually have someone write music with you! I’d just been so into being on my own and writing music myself, that it definitely brought something new to the table.

Now I know the difference between Gunfire 76 and Wednesday 13, I know which direction to take it. We’ve just recorded two new songs right before we came out here, and it fits right with the record we recorded six months ago. So I feel pretty good about that, knowing I’ve still got the vibe and style of Gunfire 76. These were not Wednesday 13 songs, as they do not sound like Wednesday 13 songs.

PB: To what degree was Todd Youth's involvement in Gunfire 76?

W13: Basically he and I came up with the idea and he contributed a few things, but he got so busy that he had to focus on his own stuff. He helped a little bit in the very beginning.

PB: Is Gunfire 76 your main focus, or can we expect more solo work in the future, and further releases by Bourbon Crew?

W13: Bourbon Crew is a project I do, but it is not much of a touring band, but more of a fun we-get-together-once-in-a-while, and has never been a priority. I did one tour earlier this year as Wednesday 13, but that was more or less a fun thing. The Gunfire 76 thing is what I am putting a lot of my time into. I got booked to visit Australia and do three Wednesday 13 shows, which is cool as the Australian fans really wanted me to come over and play, so I didn’t want to turn it down. But it’s a bit fucked-up as I am not in that mind-set right now, and I have to go and do three Wednesday 13 shows and get into that character, when I am really not in that mood. I am sure it will be fine and that I can pull it off, but what I really want to do this year is focus on Gunfire 76. Although it is technically starting over again, the reaction I am getting from the fans are “Man, I’ve never seen you perform the way you performed tonight”.

PB: You’ve performed five gigs so far and had a pretty good response. Is this the same for the album?

W13: Yeah. Everything starts off small, and I’m doing these little meet-and-greets every day y’know, but each time fans say, “Man, this is my favourite thing that you’ve ever done”. I like to think those are the fans that have matured with me over the years, but then I see a kid who is about thirteen years old, and he’ll say to me, “I have all your albums, and this is my favourite one”. I’m like “You’ve probably not matured with me, but that’s awesome”. It’s a departure, yet it’s not that much of a departure. It is not like the country album I did compared to Wednesday 13, as it is still rock-and-roll. I am not singing about graveyards and zombies, and all that stuff, but there has to be a point where people think, “You’ve been doing that for how many records?”, so what do I sing about now?

PB: Wednesday 13, thank you.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken for Pennyblackmusic by Alan Taylor-Shearer















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