INTERVIEW: Hollywood Undead's own J-Dog, January 2013

January 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

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With less than a week to wait before the latest disc from Hollywood Undead drops, I was able to score a phone slot with J-Dog of Hollywood Undead.  I couldn't wait to get his take on the disc, his porn name, and his overall life philosophy.

ToddStar: Hello, J-Dog?

J-Dog: Hello, how’re you doing?

ToddStar: What’s going on, brother?

J-Dog: I’m confused right now; I just dialed in and you dialed in.  I don’t know what the fuck is going on.

ToddStar: Ha ha, cool. I think we’re both the first to use this today.

J-Dog: Oh okay, yeah, I don’t even know how they organized it. I’m just fucking sitting here playing cards; it’s pretty cool that we can do it this way.

ToddStar: No shit, plus it keeps anyone else from getting your cell phone number.

J-Dog: I know, right. I wouldn’t mind if people called me and I knew who they were.  I keep getting fucking calls from numbers that I don’t know.  That’s when I freak out.  I think the mafia’s coming after me and shit.

ToddStar: [Laughter] Cool man, well listen I am really pumped to be talking to you today. And we here at 100% Rock really appreciate the time you took out for us today.

J-Dog: Oh of course man, thanks for doing this.  You’re Todd, right?

ToddStar: Yeah, I’m Todd.

J-Dog: Alright cool.  How do you pronounce your last name?

ToddStar: Jolicoeur.

J-Dog: Jolicoeur?  What nationality are you?

ToddStar: French.

J-Dog: French, nice.  One of our band members is from France.

ToddStar: Who’s that? Which one is that?

J-Dog: Da Kurlzz.

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ToddStar: Oh really?  We’re going to talk about French in a minute, because there was actually something I caught on one of the chats that him and Funny Man were doing not too long ago and they actually talked about you, but let’s get to what’s really important right now. Notes from the Underground, man, this thing is huge. I have loved this disc since they got me a preview copy of it. They’ve made me hold my review. I can’t drop it until the 6th, but this thing got 9-1/2 out of 10 from me.

J-Dog: Oh fuck! Thanks man.

ToddStar: Oh dude, it’s the best thing that you guys have done in my opinion. What can you tell us from your perspective, I know there are six perspectives on this disc, but what can you tell us that most people might not know on the surface?

J-Dog: I’ve said this a few times, but this is one of the records that we made where it felt like we were making our first record again. People tell you that you have your whole life to write your first record, you know, and three months to a year to write your second, and it keeps going from there. But when we wrote this record I felt like it was so much fun… like we were writing our first record. It was literally just about the music, like we didn’t give a shit what the suits and the label thought about it and what, you know, because there is always pressure on you because you’re supposed to make people money. But literally, we were happy to do it and it was probably the most fun I’ve had since I first started recording.

ToddStar: That’s awesome. It comes across in the music if you really listen to it. You can tell you guys kind of branched out, but at the same time you guys kept a lot of the basic components of that Hollywood Undead sound. In your opinion, how does this vary sonically from some of your earlier releases?

J-Dog: I mean, stylewise it kind of departs a little bit, but still it kind of you know, Hollywood Undead.  We’re always going to sound like that, obviously. But sonically I think we’ve progressed even more. We’ve advanced a little more as a band. And we keep getting better as song writers.  But anyone who enjoys Hollywood Undead will enjoy it, but even those that don’t enjoy Hollywood Undead will hopefully appreciate this more too.

ToddStar: I’d agree with that. Were there any things you guys did previously in the studio or during the writing process that you thought ‘Nope, we’re not going to revisit that. That just didn’t work for us, or it didn’t work the way we wanted it to?’

J-Dog: Yeah, I think every band kind of goes through that shit. You feel like you make a song that you love and then you play it, or fans hear it and nobody likes it. I think a lot of bands stylistically they try to you know, once they get some success they’re just like ‘You know what, I’m going to do whatever I want. I’m an artist.’ Then you release the record and all the fans are like ‘Whoa, this isn’t the band I like.’ So we try to stay away from like ego and be more conscientious of the other guys in the band and write; to me I’d write like a whole Slayer record, you know, which I think we try to stay away from. For the things we want to do, 100%, because our ideas are too farfetched. So we’re going to stay true to like, you know the way Hollywood Undead really sound.

ToddStar: That’s good to hear that you guys kind of stick to a formula because, like you’ve pointed out, so many fans will listen to an album and just lose interest in a band if there’s just one album they don’t like.

J-Dog: Yeah man, it kind of sucks. The thing is as an artist you want to express yourself but you listen to a lot of band’s first albums and second albums, they are so different and people are like ‘Oh, this isn’t the same band’ and they kind of just turn their backs on them.

ToddStar: Right. Well some of the songs in my opinion are very strong, and I find myself going back to certain tracks. I personally can’t get enough of the first two tracks; “Dead Bite” and “From the Ground,” but I love “Believe” and “Outside” is probably one of my favorites on the disc. Are there any…

J-Dog: Oh, awesome man.

ToddStar: And I know you like some of the ones with the harder edge, you know, the stuff like you guys brought in John 5 and things like that, which was nice to see Detroit represented there with John.

J-Dog: Oh yeah, he’s a Detroiter. Well, I’m glad you like “Oustide.” I actually produced that song and wrote like all the music for it and stuff.

ToddStar: Did you really? That is hands down my favorite track. It kind of surprised me that on the regular edition it’s the last song. Are there favorites of yours that you find yourself going back to and listening to now that you guys have got this mixed, mastered, and ready to drop on the 8th?

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J-Dog: Yeah, as soon as the record was mixed and mastered it actually felt different. Some songs come out a little different than you expected, but what I found was that “Rain” is one of my favorites, and I didn’t even write that song. You know, that was Johnny 3 Tears, Danny, and Charlie Scene, but literally I love that, it’s my favorite song on the record. One song I had nothing to do with.

ToddStar: That’s another one I gave props to in my review. I did dig “Rain.” I like when you guys kind of back off and you really turn the world on its ear by doing something that’s totally different from what really broke you guys.

J-Dog: Yeah, I mean see we want to advance, but we don’t want to completely go to left field where people are like ‘Whoa, what is this? Like screw this band.’  We definitely want to progress but still keep the same sound. It’s very hard to do and I’m kind of glad that we think we did it right, but we’ll see as time goes on.

ToddStar: I know you guys have been putting songs out there a little bit. I think since October you guys have been dropping little tid bits on the fans and stuff. Are there any songs that you’re hearing about being received better than others by the fans?

J-Dog: I’m not on the internet a lot.  I’m not one of those dudes that sit there and read comments. You know, I barely use Facebook; I log in like once a month. But from what I hear they’re really positive reviews.  Because we’re going to have fans that like the more hip hop aspect, some like the more rock side. But from what I hear it’s been positive. When our second record came out there was mixed reviews.

ToddStar: Okay, you are the existing founding member. So after seven years of Hollywood Undead, do you still feel and hear growth in the band when you guys are together?

J-Dog: Yeah. It’s kind of funny because we fight a lot, but still we’re all like best friends and we’ve known each other since we were really young. So to be in like… it’s just strange to hear, like we write but separately, we all have our own studios. To hear us getting better and when I meet up with someone in the band that I haven’t hung out with for a while and we write, it’s just strange. It’s like ‘Holy shit, he got better’ and he’ll say I got better. So it just kind of works out that way. It’s pretty cool.

ToddStar: Well you guys have definitely gotten better. I’ve loved you guys since Swan Song and American Tragedy which was over the top. And trust me when I go to your shows in Detroit I’m probably one of the older guys in the crowd.

J-Dog: Are you going to the St Andrews Hall show?

ToddStar: Yeah, oh yeah. I’ll be doing some photos of that show and hoping to catch you outside and shake your hand and thank you for the interview when I get there.

J-Dog: Yeah, we’ll be going to the strip club around the corner where we went last time.

ToddStar: Which one? Bazukis?

J-Dog: Fuck, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was fucking chaos in there. Bitches shaking their booties, there was only white trash in there I think.

ToddStar: I tell you what if you want to go down there after the show, I’ll buy the first round.

J-Dog: Hell yeah. I’d love to do that.

ToddStar: Now, if you had to describe the sound of Hollywood Undead to someone who had never heard your music before, how would you do that?

J-Dog: Fuck, that’s like the toughest question. How do I say it without sounding cheesy? I’d say it’s like Nine Inch Nails, LinkinPark, I try not to refer to other bands. I’d say it was like metal / industrial / hip hop fusion, but there is literally no way to make that sound cool.

ToddStar: [Laughter] No, but you know what, if you want to tell someone that then the best way to make it sound cool is just throw on one of your tracks, that’s for sure.

J-Dog: Yeah, I’ll just put on one of our CDs and show them what our band really is.

ToddStar: Now, you guys have toured extensively, especially over the last couple of years… well not this past year, but especially the couple of years before that. Are there any countries that you still want to see that you want to tour and just bring the sound to?

J-Dog: Oh there’s a bunch. We’ve never been to Russia, which I think we’re going to go this year. There’s a lot of Europe. We haven’t been to Asia. So a lot of those places we would love to go to. My favorite place to tour in the world is the United States and it always will be, but you know, it is kind of cool to try and see other places like Russia, Sweden and stuff like that. I should get excited by new places but I get more excited about tours of the States.

ToddStar: Cool. Well when it comes to performing live, are you guys going to mix this up? Are you going to mix it up evenly with the new stuff or are you going to drop a lot more of the new stuff in the live shows this time around?

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J-Dog: Well right now we are about to do a two and a half week promo tour, like a smaller tour. It won’t be too much new stuff. It will be like two or three songs, because we still want the fans to come out and see the show and they want to hear songs that they know. Our album comes out the day we leave, so it will take a little bit for people to get familiar with it so we don’t want to be the band that’s like ‘We’re playing only this, go buy it.’ We want people to enjoy the older material as well.

ToddStar: Do you find there are songs, especially from Swan Song, do you think there are just songs which will always be a part of your show?

J-Dog: Yeah of course. I mean, we’ll forever play stuff off Swan Song. We love the songs and people love the songs, so we’re not going to be that band either that’s like ‘Alright, we’ve got five albums and we hate our first record.’ A lot of bands are like that. ‘We’re five albums deep and we don’t like our first record’ and yeah it sucks to play those songs but you know, if people like the song why would you even stop? A lot of people will always love a band’s first record. You’ve got Korn and Slipknot and people out there are like oh that first record was the best. Why would you shy away from that? Why don’t you embrace it?

ToddStar: It’s true. So what’s next for the band? Is there going to be a huge tour cycle behind this, other than the upcoming “Underground Tour” that you referenced?

J-Dog: There’s nothing set in stone yet. There’s talk about different things. Hopefully we’ll do another Uproar or tour like that, but right now there is nothing set in stone.

ToddStar: Okay, and I mentioned it earlier, but you founded the band in 2005. Honestly, did you ever imagine this is where you would be now?

J-Dog: No, never, and I mean… I thank my lucky stars every day. I never take it for granted. It sounds stupid and kind of pretentious, but I get to sleep in. When I’m on tour I can sleep in until as late as I want, and then when I wake up I’m like ‘Oh, this sucks, I wish I was home.’ But then I realize I could be at home, working a nine to five so I take a step back and appreciate what I have, because a lot of people don’t do that. A lot of guys in bands just complain and it’s like, you can’t look at it that way. There are a million people out there who would kill to walk a day in your shoes, so you have to really take advantage of it. It could all go away like tomorrow. So many bands disappear overnight. So it’s like enjoy it while it lasts.

ToddStar: Music is definitely a lot more disposable now than when I grew up, that’s for sure.

J-Dog: Yeah, that’s the problem. We’ve had bands before. It was literally like the smallest band, back in the day, could play an arena. A band like Jackyl or someone. They would be headlining arenas. The biggest band, like Guns’n’Roses would be headlining a stadium. Nowadays it’s the biggest bands headlining arenas, like the whole stadium thing has kind of gone. Music comes and goes so fast.

ToddStar: I agree. With that being said and the power of MP3s I ask this question a lot and people look at me like I’m crazy, but what was the last CD or MP3 you listened to from start to finish?

J-Dog: Oh, it was probably the last Avenged Sevenfold CD. I actually went into the store and bought it. I still buy music, obviously. I hope people will do the same for us. But it was the Nightmare CD, I actually listened to from front to back, and that was the first Avenged Sevenfold record that I actually listened to from front to back because I loved it. People just buy singles now.

ToddStar: I’m like you, I like reading the liner notes, I like seeing whose getting thanked, who’s getting credit, what instruments got played. I grew up in that era where you wanted to know those things. I’m like you, I like to run out and buy the CD. You know, getting the promo from you guys is nice but I want the bonus tracks, I want all that stuff so on the 8th I’ll be at the store waiting for them to open up.

J-Dog: Dude, that’s awesome. You want the cover art, the physical thing of it. It’s like… the younger generation doesn’t really appreciate that stuff because they don’t even know it, cover art, what’s that? They grew up buying MP3s or downloading them for free. I guess we’re old school. I’ve still got a box of CDs in my garage that I ‘m never gonna sell.

ToddStar: Oh exactly, I’m the same way. Well listen, we just broke into 2013, any resolutions for J-Dog this year?

J-Dog: Fuck, drink less? I make that resolution every year, but I’m one of those people that does and it never works.

ToddStar: Okay, we talked about being French in the beginning and like I mentioned there was a chat and somebody asked if you were to have a porn name, what would it be? And I can’t remember if it was Funny Man or Da Kurlzz, but they said you would just put a French twist on it, you’d be Je Dogg.

J-Dog: Yeah, that’s what they call me.

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ToddStar: Do they? Okay, so that’s where they got that.

J-Dog: We got French names for all of us. Funny Man we call Fe man or Je Dogg. If I had to pick, they say it’s supposed to be like your first pet and street you grew up on. So my first pet was a dog named Dino and the street I grew up on was called Bagley, so my name would be Dino Bagley.

ToddStar: That would actually be a cool porn name I think.

J-Dog: I know and it worked out pretty well too. Try it yourself, it works for everybody.

ToddStar: Yeah, mine would be Shadow Highview.

J-Dog: That’s pretty cool. People would assume you were a huge black guy or something.

ToddStar: That’s true. J-Dog, if there was one piece of music in the history of time that you wish you had written what would it be?

J-Dog: Fuck, you know it’s weird, I was thinking about that today. I wish I wrote “Paint it Black,” I wish I wrote a million of them. But I look at it more like bands that write songs like of my era, that wrote that song while I was writing music but I didn’t write that. Like that Linkin Park song, New Divide, the Transformers song. There’s something about that song, it’s a masterpiece. I’m not even like a big LinkinPark fan or anything, but for me that song is one of the best songs of my era. So if I could pick a song during my time, like it’s like I could have written that but I didn’t. There’s no way in hell that I could have written that.

ToddStar: Right, now one last one for you J Dog; what’s the meaning of life?

J-Dog: Fuck dude, if  I knew that answer I wouldn’t even be on the phone right now, I’d be like on top of some mountain in Tibet or something. It would be totally different.

ToddStar: Cool man. Again, we thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate you clearing your busy schedule for us and we look forward to the 16th when you guys will grace the stage of St Andrew’s.

J-Dog: Thanks Todd, I’ll see you there.

ToddStar: Sounds good, and again we can’t wait for the 8th and to get our hands on this disc. So again, enjoy the rest of your interviews and have a great day.

J-Dog: Alright thanks man, bye.

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