Hollywood Undead were born in the underground.
They survive there, they thrive there, and they'll die
there. Ever since they clawed their way into the mainstream with their 2008
near platinum-selling debut Swan Songs and its acclaimed 2010 follow-up American Tragedy, the
masked Los Angeles collective—Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Danny,
Funny Man, and Da Kurlzz—never lost sight of where they came from. Their third
full-length album Notes From The Underground
emerges directly from
that same place behind the curtain, underneath the veneer, and inside the
darkest heart of their city. These are their Notes scribed in tears, blood, and truth.
The group didn't waste any time getting to work. While finishing up a final tour supporting American Tragedy alongside Avenged Sevenfold, the members commenced writing on the bus in December 2011. Throwing conventions and expectations out the window, the band approached the creative process with the same freedom that's been embedded in their music and ethos since day one. Naturally, they distilled heavy rock, sly hip-hop, grimy industrial, and swaggering punk into a potent brew all their own.
"We didn't scrutinize what we did," affirms J-Dog. "We wrote from our hearts. I feel like we got back to something pure. We're making music because it's what we do." Johnny 3 Tears agrees sharing, "This was probably the best time we had making a record. It's still Hollywood Undead, but we've grown, and that’s what we want to continue to do.”
The band regrouped in Los Angeles with producers Griffin Boice, Sam & Sluggo, and Danny Lohner to cut what would become Notes From The Underground last winter. The results display Hollywood Undead show no signs of slowing down on explosive new anthems like "We Are" and "Dead Bite." The latter slips from a skittering groove into a snappy beat, while the production warbles like a '60s B-movie horror soundtrack. Johnny 3 Tears, Charlie Scene, and J-Dog trade hilarious and hypnotic barbs as Danny pristinely croons, "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the dead bite." It's perfect for any zombie dance party.
On the other end of the spectrum, they crafted a pensive and propulsive fire-starter on "Believe.” Shimmering keyboards resound alongside a guitar crunch that's completely arena-ready. "No matter how bad someone is, there's still some good in there, there is hope for everybody," says Johnny 3 tears of the track. J-Dog continues "You might have a friend who seems as bad as people get, but he'd take a bullet for you. You could be a rotten asshole, but there's still something good in you. The song reflects both sides of the coin."
The first single, "We Are", exudes punchy power. It reunites the band with "Undead" and "Young" producer Danny Lohner [Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer], and it's an epic call-to-arms laced with gnashing guitars, lyrical jabs, and fiery beats.
Johnny 3 Tears explains, "The song is about collective resistance. It's the silent majority, but we're using Los Angeles as the backdrop. Every time we work with Danny, he takes our music to the next level. He's willing to go as far outside the box as we are. As a whole, it's a good introduction to Notes from the Underground because it encompasses the band idealistically. Think of it as an ode to our misled youth."
They once again delve into darkness on "Lion.” Penned by Johnny 3 Tears much like fan favorites "Paradise Lost" and "Pour Me," it's a raw and real exploration of not fitting in that's bound to resonate immensely with their devout, diehard following.
"That one is like my catharsis," sighs Johnny 3 Tears. "It's really dark. My life has changed a lot since the last record. I feel like if I don't use these experiences in our songs then I shouldn't be writing songs at all. If you ever find yourself looking at some suburban sprawl and wondering how the fuck you got there, you'll understand"
Nevertheless, that's the reason the group continue to connect with an entire generation. That loyal fan community will only strengthen with this record because of Hollywood Undead's unflinching honesty.
"Nothing could change us or our music," assures J-Dog. "We may change the method but not the message."
Hence, the title Notes From The Underground. An homage to the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel—a Johnny 3 Tears personal favorite—the moniker alludes to what's really under the mask.
"We've maintained an underground identity," he goes on. "When we write songs, we're coming from a place people don't like to look at or talk about openly. As people get older, they get used to lying. We have a bond with so many kids because they have a trace of that honesty. They don't know how bad some things get yet. We tell them the truth."
That truth has defined Hollywood Undead since day one. As a result, Swan Songs has moved well over 900,000 copies, and American Tragedy debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at #4 with first-week sales exceeding 67,000. They've played sold out headline shows all over the world as well as rousing appearances at festivals such as the UK's Download and Rock on the Range, Epicenter, and more in the U.S. Their music has also received prime placements everywhere from the trailer trailer for Paramount's hit film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to Madden NFL 2009. Meanwhile, in 2011, legends such as Jonathan Davis of Korn and KMFDM contributed remixes to American Tragedy Redux.
Even as the legend expands, Hollywood Undead will never lose their roots in the Underground.
"If even just one kid identifies with what we do, we've done our job." — Rick Florino