Like most of us, horror punk icon Wednesday 13 has been holed up in his home for the last few years. But rather than spending the pandemic watching Netflix and baking banana bread, Wednesday spent most of his time writing music. “I was the producer, I was my own judge and jury,” he laughs as we sit down to talk about his ninth solo album, Horrifier.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to a record before. So, I’d do a vocal take and then go ‘Is it good? Is it good enough?’, I’ve been doing press for it and people have been telling me it’s a great record. I go, ‘Phew! I got away with it! (laughs) It was a weird time to write and record.”
What had you been listening to in the buildup to the writing of the album? It’s got some heavy Pantera vibes!
“It’s the whammy guitar effects. Our guitarist Ramon is a great guitar player, he’s my favourite guitar player, my best friend and he’s been playing with me since 2011. He’s a Texas guy, so one of his idols is Dimebag, that’s where you can hear that. He was even doing the Gojira stuff before I’d ever heard them. I like to let him do the thing he loves to do, and so you do get that Southern metal thing in there. I like to let him let loose.”
How about the themes of the album? You’re not running out of horror films just yet are you!
“Ever since I’ve been writing music I’ve always thought, ‘Write about what you know.’ and all I know is movies and music. So, when I’m sitting around writing a song, holding that acoustic guitar and watching TV... Christine comes on.
‘Hmm... it would be pretty cool to write a song from the perspective of this car, this murder machine that is running all these people over.’ so that’s what I did. Then you go ‘Can I make this riff sound like the engine of the car? Let’s make this song sound like an engine.’ I don’t ever really try to write too much about personal stuff. I just write about the world I’ve always liked, and I’ve never heard anyone write a song about Christine.”
Do you fear the day when you’ve written about every horror film ever?
“I overthink things sometimes. I told myself years ago ‘No more Zombie songs!’ I try not to repeat myself, so I always look for new things. A few years ago I got into UFO’s and aliens and I started writing about that, a more horror-sci-fi thing. Every time I think I’m running out of ideas, I’ll get into something else.”
The final track on the album, The Other Side, is a bit more personal, though...
“I don’t have many songs in my career that are deep or that close to me. I’ve written a couple in the past - We All Die was one - but this was particularly hard. It was during the lockdown, which wasn’t easy for anyone, but I had a really hard time; I had my mother pass away in the first year.
I also had some other tragedy in my family, I had Alexei [Laiho] pass away, and then Joey [Jordison] passed away almost a year to the day after I lost my mom. That’s the first time I’ve had that much death around me. I’ve never had someone as close as my mom, or a friend like Joey leave me. He was like a brother to me, whether we talked or not on for a year or whatever, we picked up right where we left off. We loved each other like brothers, and he was like my musical mentor, he taught me how to sing, how to record, he saw the potential in me and showed me how to be better. Just to know he’s not here, it was a hard thing to swallow, still is.
When we were finishing the record, we had this one particular song and it had this element to it, and I thought maybe I could use music as my therapy and get some closure. I didn’t want to make it too sad; I think it comes off almost like a... happy almost, it’s not a sad song, it’s a positive way of getting through it.”
How hard do you think it’ll be do perform that live?
“It’s nowhere as easy as singing about walking with a zombie or something! I have to try and get into that mindset every time I play it, yeah, it is hard. Trying to put my feelings and emotions is a tough thing to have to do. It was hard to record, it probably took me a few weeks to actually get in there and do it. Then I was judging myself, ‘Is this good enough?’. I just hope people enjoy it; those songs are hard to put out there. It’s me shedding my shell.”
It must be a relief to get out and tour the album now?
“It’s been such a tough time, to have this record to go out and tour is a godsend. Before the pandemic I had been touring non-stop for 18 years, so when the train stopped it was like ‘Whoah!’, it definitely saved me. Music has saved me, seeing the fans for the first time when we finally got to get out on tour, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You could feel the energy, and we did this little tribute to Joey every night, because he was loved by everybody.”
What are your thoughts on the state of modern horror?
“For me, I don’t ever try and rag on anything, I always say it’s not my thing. Horror, I really stopped liking horror films in the late 90’s when all the CGI came in. I know people won’t get it, but the overuse of CGI really ruined it for me, people would say ‘Oh, it looks so much better than that stupid monster in a rubber suit from the 80’s!’... nope! Thing is, I can touch that rubber suit, the thing they are looking at is a video game.
That production has made me not even be interested. If you catch me watching movies then I’ll be watching Christine, or The Dead Zone, or Return of the Living Dead, that’s my favourite stuff and I still love watching them. I love that I see things now that I didn’t see back in my youth.”
Do you get many recommendations from people for new movies?
“I sat down and watched the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre from last year... I was in a good mood and... I didn’t hate it, there were a couple of funny scenes. It’s never gonna top the original one for me, I went in with an open mind, and I got through it. I watched the latest Scream and I don’t think I made it 20 minutes into it, I was bored, I couldn’t do it. I have yet to sit down and watch the new Predator [Prey], which I hear it amazing. So, I’m gonna do that.”
Horrifier is out now via Napalm