Hollywood Undead's Johnny 3 Tears: 10 records that changed my life

Hollywood Undead
(Image credit: Cameron Nunez)

Nu metal might be making a big comeback now, but when Hollywood Undead formed in 2005 the subgenre had taken a steep dive off the cliff of popularity. Nonetheless their dogged pursuit of hip hop meets metal mashups made them mainstays in the metal scene and almost 20 years later the band's albums are still invading the charts. 

Eight studio albums later and Hotel Kalifornia sees the band waving the nu metal flag right as a full scene revival takes place. With Hotel Kalifornia Deluxe arriving this Friday, we spoke to Hollywood Undead singer Johnny 3 Tears to get his picks for ten records that changed his life. 

Metal Hammer line break

Beck - Sea Change (2002)

“I was only banging Korn and N.W.A. when Beck wrote Sea Change in 2002, but I was digging into his catalogue four years ago and I was transfixed by Lonesome Tears. A long-term girlfriend had left him and he went into the studio the very next day: he didn’t have time to digest it, he laid it out when it was fresh and raw and you can feel it – Beck is my hero."

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers) (1993)

“When Wu-Tang Clan wrote Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, hip hop was all about money, girls and fucking people up. Then Tearz told a story about a boy getting killed in his hood and another who has HIV; that song tells a real story of what it’s like out there. You just don’t hear that raw emotion in hip hop often, it was the first time I heard hip hop artists being so vulnerable and it’s really important for the genre itself."

Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine (1989)

"I like my tunes to jump around so I’m moving onto Nine Inch Nails as one of the bigger influences for Hollywood Undead – we started adding an industrial vibe when we worked with Danny Lohner. Head Like A Hole gets me going. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of politicians and all these people who seem to be in charge; obviously now is a very pertinent time for that."

At The Drive In - Relationship Of Command (2000)

“Hollywood Undead have strayed far from the path of At The Drive In, but we were literally trying to copy them; Relationship Of Command might be the most influential record for us. They created something so far left of field, everybody I know who writes music today has been influenced by them. Cosmonaut’s controlled chaos feels like it could go off the rails at any moment, but then they bring you back in with the chorus… it’s a fucking wild ride."

Good Charlotte - Generation Rx (2018)

Good Charlotte’s Actual Pain is a great representation of their growth. They were 17 when they broke out, following their records along and seeing them grow up is rare because people don’t usually start out as teenagers and still have a career 25 years later. I’ve listened to them since adolescence and I think their best music has come out in the last few years."

Architects - For Those That Wish To Exist (2021)

Architects impress me every time. They have this amazing simplicity to their music but it hits you like a ton of bricks. They take on subject matter that’s always intriguing, you think you know what they’re talking about but you’re still left to make up your mind and tie the loose ends yourself. Animals has an on-point message on the dichotomy of being a human being and it’s asking really existential questions: are we just animals, or are we more than that?"

Giggs - Now Or Never (2020)

“[Fellow Hollywood Undead vocalist] J-Dog listens to international hip hop and when he told me to check out Giggs, Straight Murder hooked me immediately. Growing up in urban America, I’m in tune with what’s happening here, but people don’t get that the hip hop lifestyle is everywhere, so hearing about the London underground and hearing slang I don’t recognise is fascinating to me."


I chose GHØSTKID’s THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD next, not just because I’m on it, but because he’s got this awesome ability to blend metalcore, hip hop and industrial in a way I’ve never heard. He brings an element of visual art, and I feel like I’m looking at an art piece and not listening to a song. 

Papa Roach - Who Do You Trust? (2019)

Papa Roach have always made every album a little different, they experiment but never go too far that it doesn’t feel like them. Elevate is so well written and knowing Jacoby Shaddix made me appreciate this song even more because it’s genuine: it encapsulates Jacoby as a person because his enthusiasm for life is so infectious.

Zero 9:36 - ...If You Don't Save Yourself (2021)

“Our manager told us about this kid, Zero 9:36, who loves Hollywood Undead, so I checked out Adrenaline and thought, ‘Dude, this kid’s better than us! What the fuck’s he doing listening to me?’ He’s got the gift of youth and he’s hungry – he’s gonna be around for the next 20 years and one day I’m gonna be his roadie handing him guitar picks onstage.”

Hollywood Undead's Hotel Kalifornia Deluxe is out this Friday.