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Johnny 3 Tears – singer, rapper and bassist of the defiant genre-mixing Hollywood Undead – tells us it’s an “exciting time to be a member of this band right now” and it’s not hard to see why.
After nearly a decade on a major label, they’re now free to control their own destiny and are more than rising to the challenge. Their last record, 2017’s FIVE, was the first release on the band’s own MDDN label and achieved their highest chart position ever in the UK – they’re also filling increasingly bigger venues and appearing higher up on festival line-ups.
As their name suggests, Los Angeles looms large over the band. Although he’s now based in Tennessee, Johnny 3 Tears still has a strong affinity and connection to the City of Angels. What does he miss most? “Hanging out at the beach, and my friends back in Boyle Heights,” he says. “If you find yourself in LA for one day only, you should spend it at the beach… and get a corn dog.”
But despite their LA roots, the band have a long history of touring the UK and a strong affinity to these shores, too.
“I love the history of the place, Tolkien and all the cultural stuff you don’t get back home. And I feel like every band says this, but Nando’s! If I could bring anything back to the US it would be your history and your Nando’s,” he adds laughingly.
The last time Hollywood Undead came to the UK was for a headline set at Reading and Leeds. “We’ve played other festivals in the UK so we thought we had an idea of what to expect, but those shows blew us away. We’ve known about Reading for a long time, and watched footage of Red Hot Chili Peppers playing there.”
Talking to Johnny, you get the feeling that festivals are hugely important to Hollywood Undead, that they feel like the beating heart of their live shows. “If I could have played any festival in the world? It’d have to be Woodstock in the ‘60s. Although I wouldn’t want to change the line-up one bit, it’d be fun to see how that crowd would react to a Hollywood Undead show.”
It’s true that the band’s sound doesn’t belong in the ‘6os, and over the past six months they’ve teased fans about the future direction of their music with two new tracks: the EDM-inspired Another Level and the gentler and reflective Gotta Let Go.
So, what’s next for the band? “An EP and then a new album next year. Streaming is obviously growing, but I still like the album as a format – I was that kid who saved up his allowance and went down to the record store to buy the latest album and I think people will always value that.”
And as for the UK tour next spring, Johnny says the band are very excited. “We have a very strong bond with our UK fans. The challenge will be picking out a setlist that reflects all five of our albums and the connection we have with UK audiences – but it’s one we’ll enjoy doing.”
You can see Hollywood Undead at the following dates in 2019:
23 April 2019 – O2 Academy Brixton, London
24 April 2019 – O2 Academy Bristol
25 April 2019 – O2 Academy Bournemouth
27 April 2019 – Mountford Hall, Liverpool
28 April 2019 – O2 Academy Leeds
30 April 2019 – O2 Academy Newcastle
1 May 2019 – O2 Academy Sheffield
3 May 2019 – Rocky City, Nottingham
4 May 2019 – Cardiff Students Union
Tickets for Hollywood Undead’s upcoming tour dates are available now through ticketmaster.co.uk