The last time Hollywood Undead released an album, over two years ago, it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, their highest charting album to date. Nestled between Chris Tomlin (a contemporary Christian musician) and the Les Miserables soundtrack atop the chart (Taylor Swift’s Red followed behind at No. 4), it was a combination for the rap/hardcore rock group to round out.
Now, on the verge of the release of their fourth album, Day of the Dead, out on March 31, the band are looking to reinvent while still staying true to who they are. Unveiling the record bit by bit since October with the debut of title track “Day of the Dead,” a dynamic roller-coaster wavering between anthemic and anarchic, the result has seen fans latching onto the songs quickly. (They’ve racked up hundreds of thousands, and for “Day of the Dead,” millions, of views on YouTube.)
Touring ahead of the album — and kicking off the U.S. leg at Underground Arts on Monday, March 9 — Hollywood Undead are debuting the new songs live. Each ticket comes with a digital download of Day of the Dead come the end of the month.
We caught up with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jorel “J-Dog” Decker to get his take on following up the success of their last record and finally hitting the road again.
Philly.com: I read a lot that this album signifies a sort of “moving on” period for you. Do you feel like you’re heading into a new part of your career? What does new chapter that entail?
J-Dog: Every album for every band is a new part of your career. It's a tough part, too, because you have to reinvent yourself every time. It’s a gamble every time as well if you made the right decisions with your music as well. This new chapter is going to be a good one because we all feel really good about the album.
PC: Tell me about what went into writing and recording the record.
JD: A lot of frustration, kind of like our first record. We’ve been dicked around so much behind the scenes with labels and managers and our last album kind of got swept under the rug because our label was falling apart. This one truly came from the heart.
PC: Some early reviews say that this is your best album yet. How does that feel?
JD: Feels great, you never know how people are going to react. As an artist you can think, "This is my best album to date!" Then the general consensus is that people don’t like it. The world and the music the world likes changes constantly, so it’s hard to stay original and fresh but I think we did it this time.
PC: You guys are notorious for blending genres. At this point in music history, do genres even matter anymore?
JD: I wouldn’t say we we’re on the forefront of blending genres, but we were doing it before a lot of people were. The lines of music is are blurred now, you’ve got DJs headlining rock festivals, white rappers selling more albums then anyone, and hip-hop stations playing pop music. I don’t really think artists these days need to confine themselves to a style or genre. Seems the more all over the place you are, the more potential you have to be successful.
PC: Were there any self-imposed pressures when it came to following up a No. 2 Billboard release?
JD: There is. If you don’t get number one, then people will immediately think this album isn’t as good. They’ll think that without even listening to it, too. But you can’t control that crap. If two bigger artists come out the same week as you, you’re going to get bumped to number three even if you maybe sold more then your previous last album.
PC: You’ve been pretty strategic with the album’s roll-out, whether it be releasing a new song once a week or giving ticketholders a digital download to the album. What was the thinking behind that?
JD: I’m just here for the beer! It’s actually if you have good label and management, they take care of that stuff. It helps a lot to have a good team behind you.
PC: What was the thought behind touring ahead of the album instead of after it’s released?
JD: You have to get on it, tour dates get booked fast. You’ll miss a ton of shows and festivals and venues get booked. A huge mistake we’ve done in the past is wait to see how an album is perceived then hit the road. It’s not a good strategy. Again that wasn’t our idea but we were steered in the wrong direction.
PC: The tour kicks off in Philly. Will this be the first time you’ve played some of these songs live in the U.S.?
JD: You better believe it! A few songs we’re adding will be the first time we’ve played them anywhere.
PC: What are you most looking forward to during this bout of dates?
JD: Touring the good ole U-S-of-A again. We haven’t done a real tour in the States in years. It’s always familiar to us and fun. The weather will be perfect, too.
Hollywood Undead plays Underground Arts on Monday, March 9 with From Ashes to New.