The streets of Hollywood are paved with dreams.
Most of those dreams are broken, others are buried, and someare simply burned. On their new album, AmericanTragedy, Hollywood Undead dissect those very same dreams with a volatileand vibrant hip hop swagger, a magnificent metallic crunch, and a danceable industrial soul. At the heart of the band’s second release for A&M/Octone, these six musicians—Johnny3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man, and Danny—rhyme and rockfrom sharply hilarious jabs about vacuous clubs to unbridled, poignant musingson losing faith and struggling with addiction. Due out April 5, 2011, American Tragedy peeks at the death ofthe American dream from the rooftop of the hottest party in the world. Thissecond offering from Hollywood Undead is a sanctuary for the disillusioned masses that made the band a Gold-selling sensation. It’s a middle finger to thesafe, burdensome “norm.” It’s the future of heavy pop…
Hollywood Undead have been staring at that future from the moment they burst onto the scene with their breakout 2008 debut, Swan Songs. Since its release, Swan Songs has exceeded sales of 800,000worldwide and is quickly approaching platinum status. The band embarked on atwo-year world tour that saw them play countless sold out headline shows aswell as prestigious festivals such as the UK’s Download Festival. In addition, the album’s leadoff single”Undead” received prominent placements in the trailer for Paramount’shit film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Madden NFL 2009. In 2009, the bandreleased the Desperate Measures DVD/CDcapturing their magnetic madness on stage. The collection also featured a fewunreleased gems and covers. However, everything merely serves as a prelude to American Tragedy.
Hollywood Undead began constructing American Tragedy in early 2010. Collaborating with producers DonGilmore, Griffin Boice, and S*A*M and Sluggo, the band tapped into a myriad ofinfluences and styles, yielding music that’s as diverse and dangerous. American Tragedy’s first single,”Hear Me Now,” is an anthemic catharsis of guitars and synths,colored by these six distinct voices. At the same time, “Been ToHell” creeps from an ominous bass line into full-blown aural assault andbattery during a distorted refrain. “I Don’t Wanna Die” is a funeral march for any and all enemiesin Hollywood Undead’s path. Meanwhile, “Comin’ In Hot” could set anydance floor off with slickly sharp rhymes and “Levitate” floats intomainstream crossover territory on a soaring chorus.
For Hollywood Undead, AmericanTragedy was a natural progression from SwanSongs. About the band’s sophomore album, J-Dog exclaims, “Similar toour first record, there’s something for everybody. Some of the songs havebigger hooks, while others are a lot heavier. We wanted to expand ourcreative palette as a band and grow. We wrote the first album years ago. Mentally,we’re not in the same place we were then. We got better at what we do lyricallyand musically. We wanted to experiment more and embrace new elements. It’sheavier at points because we are a rock band, for the most part.”
Johnny 3 Tears goes on, “AmericanTragedy is what Hollywood Undead is. We can incorporate anything into thelandscape of our songs. There are no boundaries. Musically, I like songs thatgo against the grain. I want to create art that doesn’t conform to the statusquo. We choose to take everything a step beyond that.”
“Hear Me Now” encapsulates that sentiment.Blending an arena rock stomp with rap attitude, the song’s a venomous and viciousstrike. All six members hunkered down in the same Hollywood rehearsal room towrite “Hear Me Now” together, and it brandishes the intricacies andidiosyncrasies of all their personalities. On December 21, the band officiallyreleased “Hear Me Now” digitally, and within two short days, it hitnumber 2 on the iTunes rock chart. The song covers the current state ofaffairs, calling listeners to arms.
“Obviously, it’s a struggling song,” declaresJohnny 3 Tears. “Everyone is going through a rough time, and the song is veryappropriate for this day and age. We aimed to make something that you can singalong to, and the message gets delivered in between.”
One song that examines hopelessness is the bludgeoning”Been to Hell.” In between a wall of raging rhythms and angry rhymes,the band comments on failed purposes. “Growing up in Los Angeles, we’veseen a lot of people come out here with grandiose ambitions and, 99.9 percent ofthe time, they don’t do shit,” continues J-Dog. “They end uppartying, getting on drugs, and just going home. You’ve got to go through thosehardships to actualize your dreams. The song’s about getting off your ass andworking towards a higher goal. I hope it actually inspires someone to followthrough with what they say.”
Hollywood Undead continue to work themselves to the bone.Every night on tour, they spill blood for packed venues of diehard fans allover the world, and they’ll continue that tradition. There’s no doubt thatevery track on American Tragedy willresonate with those fans too. J-Dog states, “People are having a hard timeright now, and kids go through the same problems everywhere. I feel lucky thatthey come to our shows, and it’s their release for an hour.”
Songs like “Levitate” and “StreetDreams” show another side of Hollywood Undead. The band’s sense of humorremains in tact, but they also brandish a pop prowess that’s simply undeniable.About touting so many styles, Johnny 3 Tears exclaims, “I want fans tofeel like they got their money’s worth with a full album you can’t categorize.This is a step up. We want to be a band that’s special to kids. We want tosignify what they feel. I’d love for them to have the same feeling I had when Ilistened to Korn or Nine Inch Nails as a kid.”
That revolutionary spirit courses through American Tragedy, and the band placetheir hearts on the line for their music once again. J-Dog concludes, “As aband, we collectively put our blood, sweat, and soul into this. We couldn’thave done anything better than we did, and we love it. We are honest, and kidsconnect with that. They know we’re not bullshitting them. When you’re true toyourself, people connect with you.”