I was lucky enough to talk to Wednesday 13, frontman of The Murderdolls, Wednesday 13, and his new old school glam band, Gunfire 76 just days before they kicked off a world tour at the end of 2009. Interviewed for Powerplay UK magazine, 2009.
Wednesday 13 has fronted the Murderdolls and his own self titled project this decade, and he’s bounced back on the scene with his new band Gunfire 76 and their new album ‘Casualties & Tragedies’. I called up Wednesday on a Friday afternoon. As I’m simple, it caused a bit of confusion. “Yeah, I’m still a bit groggy, I’m just waking up” says Mr. 13, at just past midday in his native North Carolina. “We’ve been rehearsing all week, so it was a late one last night”. There’s certainly a lot for Gunfire 76 to do, as the band only met for the first time earlier this week. “It’s weird, well it would be for a lot of bands, for me for the past couple of years I’ll find a band member, and we’ll piece it together. And alright, we’ll book flights and we’ll rehearse for five days and go on tour, so I’m pretty used to just meeting up with strangers and going “Alright, here’s the songs” and let’s do it. It’s not really that vibe of growing up as band and workin’ in the garage and playing for years…those days are behind me”. Somewhat surprising, as ‘Casualties & Tragedies’ bears all the hallmarks of a garage punk-rock band, including the worryingly small window for rehearsal. “Actually, five days is more than I usually do; I usually do three. But it’s a new band, and we’re doing a bunch of new songs and it’s something important so we’ve got to take that extra time and I’m like “Woah! We goin’ an extra day this time”.
Gunfire 76 are an interesting departure from some of Wednesday’s previous work, owing to the fact that he is in fact a massive 70’s glam rock fan. “It was more, like, just an idea…I remember earlier this year we’d toured the US and gone straight to Japan and then to the UK. It’d been a gruelling tour so far…I’ve been pretty much touring non-stop for…shit, I guess the past five years. By the time I got to London, we had a couple days off, and hanging out in the hotel room. I’m always thinkin’ six months ahead; what do I wanna do next fall? Do I want another Wednesday 13 tour, do I wanna do this, do I wanna do that? I was talking with my manager and he said “I want to see you put together a really cool rock band, to step away from the goth thing”, and I was thinking it sounds kinda cool. Next thing you know, I’m talking about it with Todd Youth who helped write a couple of songs on the record and we get off tour…and three months late we’re in the studio and get a new CD recorded and comes out in October”. Mr. 13 has always been one for numerical prefixes, but 76 seems a bit of a strange number to tag on the end of your band name, so what’s the deal with it? “It was weird, before coming up with this idea I was in the hotel at my desk writing different names down a piece of paper and had the word ‘Gunfire’ down, and I was born in 1976 so I put the number down…Gunfire 76, that’s kinda cool, I got a fire under my ass right now!”
No doubt, there’s a fair few of you who are reading this and have only heard Murderdolls records, and the Wednesday 13 project. As Gunfire 76 is a departure from that, it’s only fair to let the man himself explain: “It was really interesting for me, because when we started yesterday I was wondering how different it was gonna sound. I know what the record sounds like, but once you get into a live environment things change, so just off rehearsals from the past few days, it’s an entirely different kinda band than what I’ve been in. It’s similar, because it’s rockin’ and I have two rippin’ guitar players who are just constantly throwin’ back at each other. It’s a really cool thing, I’ve never had two guitar players who can really do that before. But the whole idea of doing the Gunfire thing was to sort get me out of this corner I got penned into, y’know? I’ve been labelled goth, horror, guy who sings about horror movies and zombies. I’ve been doing that since I was 19 years old, I’m 33 now…I started putting records out in ’96 and I got to a point now where I’m like…”Fuck!”, y’know. I need to step away from myself because I’m getting bored with myself and doing the same thing, so the Gunfire thing came together. Musically, I don’t think it’s way off the map of anything I’ve done, it’s just way less of a darker kinda image or anything like that. I just always cringed when I hear the term…”oh, he’s a goth band”…I like rock music, I dyed my hair black because I like KISS! I don’t think KISS are a goth band”. While we’re on the gothic theme, we tentatively bring up the inevitable comparison with Marilyn Manson, at least in image. “Oh yeah, I’ve heard that since I dyed my hair black. That started when I 16 years old!” Never mind the fact that tracks like ‘Home Sweet Homicide’ pay more homage to the Misfits than Manson. “Yeah, it’s more a Motley Crue thing…they see the hair and they just assume it’s a goth thing. I get what I’ve created and I’m not ashamed of any Wednesday 13 stuff…today people have labels and like “Oh, that’s emo”. I cut my dreads off, and I cut my hair into like a 70’s thing, I don’t think it’s emo…more of a Ramones thing. I’m finally becoming an old guy!”
While some would argue 33 isn’t that old, Gunfire 76 certainly seem to be ignoring their relative age and are pushing on with a full worldwide tour, which should’ve started by the time you read this. “We start in Austin Texas. It’s small venues, the same places I’d play when I do a Wednesday tour. We’re splitting this up, from Texas up into the Midwest then to the West Coast. We finish that up and fly from Los Angeles to the UK. We come back for Christmas and we head back out January 8th until…February or something, then we’re talking about Australia after that and then a full European run, so it’s pretty busy”. The lucky bugger I am, I’ll be ringside in Leeds on Dec 12th. “From my previous tour schedule, I’m proud of what I’ve done, where I’ve gone and how I’ve done things and to be able to do what I do on the level I do it…I’m not on a label, I do this all myself. It makes me feel proud knowing I can stay constant being in a touring band, releasing music and stay on the road and tour the world. I’m pretty fortunate like that, having die-hard fans that embrace everything that I do”. For a long while, Wednesday has been a fan of tour support Bullets & Octane, but their raw punk motif has been diametrically opposed to the grandiose horror of Wednesday’s previous tours…until now. “They’re doing the US and the UK with us. I heard their record a couple of years ago, and was a big fan of their major label debut. Then, I guess six months ago, my manager started managing them and they came into the picture and I’d always wanted to tour with them. And going back to the goth thing, I’d tried before and their management at the time was like “Nope! They’re not going out with a goth band” and I was, like, “Oh my god…”. It’s really cool to go out with them because for me it’s really important to go out with package and hear a band you like every night because it gets me excited to play. I think those guys have great songs and hear their music before I go on every night because it’ll pump me up”.
If you’re a Wednesday 13 fan, as you should be if you’re reading this, you’ll know he’s a busy man. If you like ‘Casualties & Tragedies’, which you probably should, you want to know when you get you next fix of Gunfire 76. “I’m always doing different projects. The Gunfire project is something I want to work on for the rest of this year. I don’t want to alienate fans who don’t like Gunfire; the thing you’re gonna get at the live shows is really cool. At rehearsal this week, I’m playing songs from the Wednesday stuff I never played live before. You get to hear all the new songs on the Gunfire CD, and we’re breaking out some old songs I never played with the Wednesday songs; more rock songs, but we were going through it yesterday and it’s the most diverse set we’ve ever done. We’re not doing any covers and stuff, there’s one thing we do in the set, a little Cooper and Bowie. But it’s really cool to go out and play this kind of music. My fanbase is usually from 13-18 and have never heard these kinda bands [Iggy, New York Dolls], and it’s cool to turn them onto them…like “ooh, I see where Motley Crue came from”…it’s just an evolution of how music was created. I wear my influences on my sleeve…I wouldn’t be doing this without KISS or Alice Cooper, those guys paved the way for me”.
So, with the new taken care, of Mr. 13 and I take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of his past projects and any notions of new material for any of them. And yes, I did ask him about Murderdolls because if I didn’t you’d probably find out where I live and egg me on my way to work. First off, Wednesday 13! “Right now, there may be a couple of Wednesday shows I do, maybe around Halloween. I want to make it clear, I didn’t quit doing Wednesday 13, we’re just taking a break right now. When I go back to it and do a new record and full tour, it’s gotta be with my heart 100% into it…and probably do my most ridiculous horror record ever…a super-Wednesday 13 record. I want to get all this out of my system…it’s cool, it makes it fresh. Every band that’s been around for years… you get tired of yourself. You’ve got to go upwards and outwards to let yourself breathe”. Next up is Murderdolls news, you heard it here first; “It’s been a question since we went on hiatus. And for years and years people have been “When!?” and I don’t think anyone’s said it’s not happening. Everyone’s busy, we’ll see what happens and when we can do it. In the last year, there’s been a lot of communication between me and Joey. I know he’s on tour and I’m about to head out on tour, so it’s usually only by text or phone. But I know he really wants to do a new Murderdolls record and we’re trying to set time aside to get together and write. I think people will be surprised when we get together to hear what we’re doing, but there will be another Murderdolls record in the not too distant future, as far as what I’ve been told and the talks I’ve had.” In 2007, Wednesday flipped his car and broke his collar bone, meaning that days before his Bourbon Crew tour kicked off, it had to be cancelled. “The Bourbon Crew thing was kinda fun, I don’t wanna use the word ‘hobby’…but we went out earlier this year and did three weeks. I didn’t have to go out and do Wednesday 13, but to be myself and just play acoustic guitar. And my partner in the band, he’s a local guy…it was a cool vibe. We’ve been trying to work in Bourbon Crew gigs whenever I’m home, but I’ve been busy this summer writing this record, but there’s always the possibility, but no plans for the while, no”.
With that, I left Wednesday for a what’s sure to be another interesting rehearsal for his upcoming tour. And who said goths never have fun? ‘Casualties & Tragedies’ is out now, and Gunfire 76 kick off a world tour this month.