WEDNESDAY 13 – “I’m Not Trying To Write Shakespeare”

September 25, 2019, 10 months ago

By Aaron Small

feature heavy metal wednesday 13

WEDNESDAY 13 – “I’m Not Trying To Write Shakespeare”

“Alice Cooper and G.I. Joe taught me everything I need to know.” Those words were sung by Wednesday 13 in 2011 during the song “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, from the album Calling All Corpses. Now, eight years later, Alice Cooper himself has narrated the introduction of W13’s brand new album, Necrophaze, available via Nuclear Blast.

“I didn’t really think about that until you said that,” admits Wednesday 13. “It kind of came full bloom. It’s something I’ve been working on for years. Originally, Alice was going to do my Skeletons intro (in 2008). But that was back in the day before everyone had computers, and Garage Band on their laptops. It meant getting to a studio, so that never happened. Then he was going to be on the last Murderdolls records (Women And Children Last, released in 2010), and something fell through with that. It’s something I’ve looked at doing… when this record came up, I thought, it would be cool to get Alice! Once he said he was into doing it, I wrote out the dialogue and sent it to him. He sent it right back, exactly like I wanted, and we created that music behind it.”

It really sets the ‘80s horror movie vibe that envelopes Necrophaze, which is further accentuated by the CD cover, resembling an old John Carpenter flick. “I think so too. I don’t know if bands really do that anymore, cause honestly, I don’t really listen to too much anymore. Not that I’m being… I’m so busy. When I do listen to music, I usually throw on Eddie Money or James Brown or some soundtrack just to chill out. So, I don’t know if bands do a cinematic approach to a record where it takes you in. I wanted this one to be a haunted house, a fun house. Alice is kind of the conductor, he’s welcoming you in. You open the door and it’s just like a roller coaster ride taking you on different ins and outs; dark places and fun places. Then it spits you out and you’re like, ‘Fuck, that was awesome! Let’s do it again!’ That was the whole goal with Necrophaze, and I think we pulled that off. We didn’t make it a long record; it’s just long enough where you go, “Fuck, I want to play it again.’”

Necrophaze is not only the title of this spooky sonic scrapbook, it’s also a character created specifically for the album. “Basically, this is an audio horror film, so to speak. Alice Cooper is the Necromaster. In my mind, the way I vision it, he’s the creator. I’ve said it before, he’s the reason I do what I do. He’s Dr. Frankenstein and he’s created this new – the next phase, which is Necrophaze; me, Wednesday 13. Alice has been a supporter of what I do for years, so to me, it was the ultimate goal to achieve, and we finally did it. I couldn’t be happier. It still gives me goose bumps when I listen to it.”

There’s also another element to the title track, “Necrophaze”. It deals with sleep paralysis, which is something Wednesday 13 has personally experienced in the past. “Yeah, I don’t get it too much anymore. It’s something I’ve been studying; I’m my greatest science project. I’m fascinated with my own mind. When I stopped drinking, I stopped having all these sleep paralysis / night terror things. I could go into a whole other subject on that thing of why I think these things happened… but I was writing about the sleep paralysis and things I had during these times. I didn’t necessarily write about one of mine in particular; I wrote about the idea of what it is, and what would be the most terrifying way to explain it in a Wednesday 13 song. So, I created this character – the Necroshadow – he’s like a sleep paralysis entity that feeds on people’s fears while they sleep. Not a Freddy Krueger kind of thing, more like if you were laying in your bed and there’s a spirit hovering over you, just sucking your life force out of you. People have had those dreams where they try to scream, and nothing comes out – and that’s terrifying because you’re helpless. When people go to sleep, that’s their safe spot; it’s the one time they can relax. If you invade that, you’re fucked!”

Venturing from nightmares to day horrors, there’s a real character that W13 sings about on Necrophaze, that being the Zodiac Killer. It doesn’t matter that Wednesday wasn’t even born yet when the Zodiac Killer was taking lives in 1968 and 1969 in San Francisco; the ominous legend will not die. “I basically went back in a time machine. I really only watch movies from the ‘80s; I still watch a few newer things, but for the most part it’s all retro stuff. And my next step that I’ve got into over the last month is binge-watching ‘80s television commercials and news. I actually watch the news from the ‘80s, as crazy as that sounds. Either way, point I’m getting to is… I was watching one and they had a murder. They were like, ‘Is the Zodiac back?’ I remember hearing about that when I was younger, and it just reminded me again. If you put it together, he’s sort of the real life Michael Myers.” Except they’ve never caught the Zodiac Killer. “And that’s what’s creepy. He was not like most of these serial killers that make mistakes; this guy was clever. He was the first serial killer, to my knowledge, to ever send a letter to the police and taunt them, saying ‘I did this. If you don’t believe me, here’s the bullet rounds I used, here’s the colour of the shirt the girl was wearing.’ I found that really morbid and fucked up… and I like to sing about strange things. I’ve pretty much covered all the bases on all my favourite movies so, I’ve started to tell stories. The Zodiac story is one I’ve yet to tell in my own way, and we did it. It’s one of my favourite songs that we’ve ever recorded, and one of my favourite things to play live. I can’t wait for that in our set. Kyle’s drumming and the guitar… it’s really aggressive and grinding; it’s got that pummeling wheel sound. It makes you move your head, and if you don’t, you’re dead.”

Speaking of Kyle Castronovo, he wrote “Decompose”. “Yeah, Kyle has been such a huge addition to the band. Not just filling the drumming position; he took it to another level. His skill and style… he’s amazing! He came into our band as a fan of Wednesday 13. I always tell people, he didn’t have to learn the songs, he knew them. I think that’s another reason why he fit. As he’s been in the band, he reminds me of things I forgot about. When he started bringing riffs to the table, it was right on the money. It was exactly in the world of what we do. He started to do that a little bit on the Condolences record, but with this record, ‘Decompose’ is the first song that was submitted to all of us, and it’s killer! Then we just started piecing everything together and it was like, let’s follow that route and see if we can make another ten songs as good as that.”

Furthermore, “Decompose” contains a classic W13 lyric, that being, “I loved it when you stopped living.” “Yeah, that made me laugh. I remember when I wrote that down in my notebook. I was like, t-shirt, that’ll be a good one. With what I do and my lyrics, for what they are, I’m not trying to write Shakespeare, but I do find it fun whenever I can still do something of the same genre and come up with another clever one-liner. It’s like the ‘80s with Rambo or Schwarzenegger; had to have that one-liner in every movie. To me, that’s my new ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’ It used to be ‘I’m back,’ now it’s that.”

Halfway through the Necrophaze album, there’s another spoken word piece. This time by Jeff Clayton (Antiseen, GG Allin’s Murder Junkies), and his voice is absolutely perfect for the warning he bestows. “That being said, I’ve known Jeff for… we grew up as friends. He helped Frankenstein Drag Queens; that very first album cover, Jeff is the one who organized that. I had that picture and blew it up; he coloured it in with a Sharpie, put it on a piece of canvas and took it to the t-shirt place. He’s the original vocalist on ‘197666’ on the original Drag Queens album. He’s been a friend for a long time. When I moved away, we kind of lost contact. But I wanted something for this record. I wanted the voice. I wanted somebody telling a ghost story. Me being from the South, I love an authentic Southern drawl. Jeff just came to mind and I hit him up. He was like, ‘Absolutely!’ I gave him an idea, sent him a couple of notes, and said, ‘Just do you.’ Once he sent it back, even I knowing him, it was like – woah! That’s the Sam Elliott take. His voice is amazing! It’s so much better than what I imagined. I knew it was going to be cool, but he took it to the next level. There’s such a cool atmosphere to it. The way he tells that story, you can feel his seriousness in it.”

Of course, that leads into ‘The Hearse” which is a song about a car, which is kind of new for W13. ‘Well yes, but no. New to write about, but not new to be a fan of a horrifying car. The movie Christine – I saw that when it was brand new. I didn’t think a car could be scary. The movie, The Car, that’s another one from the ‘80s that terrified me. I saw that before I saw Christine, and Christine scared me even more. Before that, there was the movie Duel, where the guy’s being chased down by this truck; it’s a late ‘70s movie. There have been some killer cars, and when I was coming up with the idea for ‘The Hearse’, I took the old nursery rhyme, ‘Don’t you ever laugh when the hearse comes by, you may be the next to die.’ I’d heard it for years and years growing up, said different ways. So, I twisted my own words into it. I don’t really like to write about movies anymore. I like to tell my own story. So, this was about… imagine The Headless Horseman driving Christine; if Christine was a hearse. It happens on this one night – you may see it, you may not. If you laugh, it’s going to pick you up and put you in the back. That’s it. That seals your fate and drives you off. I thought that was kind of scary. Just imagine you’re down this dead-end street, and all of a sudden there’s a hearse coming by; like a ghost hearse, it’s creepy. To me, it’s just a different thing to sing about; it’s a haunted car.”

The last two original songs on Necrophaze – “Life Will Kill Us All” and “Bury The Hatchet” – harken back to the earlier Wednesday 13 albums; reason being, they’re not as heavy. “Ironically, those are the two songs that I wrote,” says W13. “I think that’s why it has that vibe to it; and I wanted that. Those were the last two songs that were written for the record. We had all the other stuff that you hear. I felt like ‘Zodiac’ is heavy as fuck! ‘The Hearse’ is quadruple heavy as fuck. ‘Decompose’ – cool rock song. ‘Necrophaze’ – it’s Alice Cooper! I can’t say any more than that. We had all these different songs and I’m like, what’s it missing? It’d be cool to have an old school punk rock song. And that’s the first thing I came up with. It wasn’t forced. I wrote it in my head. I walked to Target to get some stuff,” laughs W13. “I wrote them on the way back. It’s cool to know that still comes back naturally.”

“Bury The Hatchet” is another moment of lyrical genius. Traditionally, it’s an idiom meaning “to make peace.” The common assumption is, the fighting’s over, we’re going to settle our differences. Let’s bury the hatchet… in your head! “It’s funny. It’s kind of like… that’s our Bugs Bunny. That’s our fun, old school dare to be dumb song. Actually, I was reading an article online,” chuckles W13. “That title came from, I want to say maybe Great White; there were two or three versions of the band. Somebody said, ‘Oh yeah. The only way we’re going to bury this hatchet is in their head.’ I laughed so hard! That’s awesome. I wrote it down, so, thanks Great White! True story.”

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