"It was an honour to watch Mick Mars play our dumb songs!" How a secret meeting, some serious growing up and a Motley Crue legend helped Murderdolls reunite for their final album

Joey Jordison and Wednesday 13 posing in 2010
(Image credit: Rob Monk via Getty Images)

In 2010, eight years after their debut album lobbed a blood-drenched, shlocky grenade into the heart of the metal scene, Murderdolls reunited for the follow-up album many thought would never happen. That year, Metal Hammer caught up with the band's dual leaders, Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison, to find out what finally brought them back together.

Metal Hammer line break

On July 12, 2003, the band that Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison had formed with his friend, vocalist Wednesday 13, as a bit of light relief from the relentless touring and ferocious intensity of his day job, performed to a sold-out Brixton Academy in London.

Within a year of releasing their debut album, 2002’s brilliantly snotty Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, this goofy, sleazy horror-punk side-project had evolved beyond all expectations, like some kind of many-headed Frankenstein, and won the hearts of thousands of fans. In the UK in particular, Murderdolls rocketed from nowhere to the brink of hugeness, accruing a hysterical army of red’n’black-clad admirers who had fallen wholesale for the band’s party-all- night-and-fuck-the-consequences philosophy. What started as a liberating side-project had mutated into something with the potential to conquer the world... all of which makes the fact that Murderdolls left Brixton, buggered off back across the Atlantic and then vanished for seven years somewhat confusing.

But now it’s the summer of 2010 and Murderdolls are back at last. And so, as Joey Jordison and Wednesday 13 settle down on a small leather sofa in the air-conditioned downstairs bar of a swanky Soho hotel to speak with Metal Hammer about their reunion, imminent comeback and brand new studio album, Women And Children Last, it’s finally time to ask the question: Gentlemen, where the fuck have you been?

“We don’t bullshit and there’s no reason to lie,” says Joey, shades on and as serious as hell. “After we got done with the tour for Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, we ended on a high note at Brixton Academy, but then of course I had to go back and start up Slipknot again. Me and Wednesday were still in contact and he had demoed like 30 songs and sent me a CD, but the next thing I know, he’s doing a solo record and he didn’t tell me! I didn’t understand it. I was like, ‘Don’t you wanna do another Murderdolls record?’, but I can’t tell him not to go and do what he wants to do, you know? So I had to go and do my stuff with [Slipknot album] Volume 3 (The Subliminal Verses) and we did the whole tour, and we met up again during that tour. We hadn’t talked in a while, so it was kinda weird, but once we talked and crossed paths...”

“We met in a trailer at Rock Im Park in Germany,” recalls Wednesday. “It was 100 degrees and all the crew people were like, ‘Get in there and work it out!’ and they threw us in there and shut the door! That’s when we sorted everything out.”

Having patched things up after what sounds like a fairly minor falling out, Joey and Wednesday still didn’t exactly rush into a Murderdolls reunion. In fact, another five years have passed since that initial exchange of apologies and explanations. In terms of squandering momentum, this hiatus will take some beating, and yet Women And Children Last oozes a level of intensity that was never even hinted at by Murderdolls first time round. Apparently absence makes the fire blaze harder.

“To other people, eight years [between albums] must seem like a long time,” says Wednesday.“ But if you think  about fuckin’ everything that Joey’s done and everything that I’ve done in that period, that’s a lot of shit! Combined, we’ve done more than bands do in a 20-year period. Joey did two Slipknot records, a Ministry tour, played with Korn, did Roadrunner United, produced 3 Inches Of Blood and played with Satyricon and I did three solo records, an EP, two country records and started a whole new band...”

“We never were enemies at all,” adds Joey. “We just got confused. After we met up again, we were on speaking terms and having conversations by texting and we were thinking that maybe we’d just let Murderdolls be the band with the cult following that it was and let sleeping dogs lie. But then the moment of clarity came to me about two years ago. I was at home on a break and I was sleeping on my couch and Headbanger’s Ball was on and there was this spark that jolted me awake. The metal scene in America and also in Europe, it’s all the fucking same now. There are some great bands, trust me, but everyone’s the same now. Labels are trying to survive because they’re going down the tubes. It’s all about who can play double bass the fastest. There’s no rock stars anymore. I called Wednesday at that point and I’m still in a sleep haze and I said, ‘Wednesday, I want to make another Murderdolls record!’”

A world apart from the comic book kitsch and pun-filled sloppiness of their debut, the second Murderdolls album might as well be the work of an entirely different band. Although still imbued with the hook- packed sleaze metal sensibilities that made old songs like Dead In Hollywood and Grave Robbing USA so irresistible, the new songs seem to have been beamed in from somewhere much darker and more real than their predecessors. There is no shortage of macabre humour lurking amid the pounding riffs and roar-along rage of Chapel Of Blood and My Dark Place Alone but while Beyond The Valley... was all about taking the listener into a grim but ludicrous fantasy world, this record sounds very much like the work of men on a sincere and heartfelt mission. Murderdolls 2.0 mean every last fucking word, and as a result they have become a hundred times more believable.

“I said, ‘If we’re gonna do this, it has to be full bore and we have to make a real record’,” says Joey. “The first record is great for what it was and I love it, but I consider this to be the first Murderdolls record. This is the first time we actually sat down with a vision and wrote songs together, and it’s been one of the most gratifying records I’ve ever made.”

“We wrote all these songs from scratch, a few feet away from each other in the studio,” grins Wednesday. “The first song we did was Homicide Drive, and the drum take you hear on the record is the first take we did. It all happened that naturally. It was really easy and it was fun. We had a fuckin’ blast making this record.”

Just like their favourite band, Murderdolls fans may well be a little bit older and wiser eight years on from that first flush of anti-hero worship, but the goofy, light- hearted side of the band was always a major part of their appeal. As a result, there may be some who find the idea of a more serious Murderdolls a little alarming, but despite injecting their sound with a little more substance, Joey and Wednesday are still firmly committed to delivering the rock’n’roll goods. It’s just that this time round the fire in their bellies is for real and not just cheap whiskey afterburn.

“It’s still fun but it’s more fun for me because I get to sing about personal stuff now,”explainsWednesday.“I’m not the same guy you saw before. This band has changed – this is a whole new Murderdolls, in terms of what we’re bringing to the table. When I sing My Dark Place Alone, that’ s very personal to me. I’m going deep into the lyrics, and that’s something I’ve never been able to do before."

“The first record, you could say we were a dumb horror-punk band or something like that,”adds Joey. “The new one, this is like my other Slipknot, even though they’re like apples and oranges. On this record you go from a song like Chapel Of Blood to Drug Me To Hell, and then songs like Nowhere and Summertime Suicide and it starts getting poppier. It’s kinda like Slipknot, with all that diversity, even though we’re a rock’n’roll band. That’s what’s gratifying to me, having a band that has its own style but is able to inject its own identity into each song. When I used to play in death metal and speed metal bands, it was easy to sit there and write a million riffs. The biggest challenge is to write an actual song, and only then do you know you’re a real songwriter.”

If everything goes to plan, the new Murderdolls album should swiftly restore the band to the levels of popularity they were enjoying when they took their extended hiatus. But if anyone needs convincing that Women And Children Last is the real deal, they need only acknowledge the presence of no less a figure than Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars, who lends some hair-raising solos to Drug Me To Hell and Blood Stained Valentine, two of the album’s grittiest anthems. Mick doesn’t put on his top hat for any old rubbish, and Joey and Wednesday are visibly thrilled when they talk about his involvement in their new record.

"Mick's one fo the great underdogs and never got the respect he deserved," says Wednesday. We see him as one of the great rock 'n' roll villains, so what better guy to come out and play for us? It was so natural. He loved it!"

"We didn't want any guests on this album whatsoever, but this was a little bit different," smiles Joey. "It was definitely an honour to watch him play our dumbass songs! I was just sitting there, almost blacking out, thinking about when I had Shout At The Devil on vinyl in my parents' basement and I was thinking, 'Man, this is fucked up!'"

Mick Mars aside, Murderdolls remain very much a two-man operation in the studio, but live performance is plainly a major part of what the band stands for and so, with that in mind, Joey and Wednesday have recruited a brand new lineup to assist them in their new crusade. Original members Acey Slade, Eric Griffin and Ben Graves have been usurped by new lead guitarist Roman Surman, bassist Jack Tankersley and drummer Racci Shay, who previously played in Wednesday 13’s solo band. Again, as with the songs themselves, fresh blood seems to have invigorated the whole Murderdolls enterprise.

“The first lineup and the first everything that we did, it was really thrown together,” admits Wednesday. “We did our first video without ever having played together in a room before. Me and Joey did the record by ourselves and then we found these guys through friends of friends and, of course, it was complete chaos. So this time, we purposefully picked people we knew and that we were friends with, and it’s been great. When we finally got on stage, it was like ‘Holy shit!’”

"What we've done now and the people we have now, they're great players and they're great players and they're there for the job," continues Joey. "They're not there to fuckin' party. They believe in the songs and they believe in the project and this is a big chance for all of 'em. They're all amazing players. I wouldn't do this if my heart wasn't completely in it."

With a new war cry of“We live, we breathe, we bleed rock ’n’ roll!”, the all-new Murderdolls can hardly be said to have altered the main thrust of their philosophy, but everything about the new lineup, the new album and the intense demeanour of the two men steering the ship suggests that they are in this for the long haul this time, ready to do whatever it takes to bully the world into joining in the fun. Serious men on a serious mission, perhaps, but surely there is still plenty of room for a little chaos, mayhem and debauchery?

“Before, when we walked off stage, everything else was complete madness too,” Wednesday laughs. “It was a fuckin’ circus, but it was great. But we’ve moved on. We want to take the chaos from backstage and put it on the stage!”

“Now it’s just the most violent, fuckin’ sleazy, hideous, heaviest fuckin’ rock’n’roll you can possibly imagine,” concludes Joey, with a snarl.“ It’s a real band now.

Originally printed in Metal Hammer #209

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.