Exclusive Premiere: Hollywood Undead Return With 'War Child'

Jonathan Weiner
Hollywood Undead

Hollywood Undead's Johnny 3 Tears sees "the more serious side" as his particular lane in the group. But he acknowledges the rap-rock sextet cannot live by angst alone. 

Enter "War Child," the latest song Hollywood Undead is dropping before the March 31 release of its fourth studio album, Day of the Dead. "It's a party track," Johnny 3 Tears (nee George Ragan) tells Billboard. "I really like writing on the deeper aspects of music and touching down on emotional I have, but at the same time we always put songs on the record we want people to have a good time to. That's one of the reasons I still love this band and I'm intrigued by this band; there's always something to listen to no matter what kind of mood I'm in or what I'm looking for. So ['War Child'] is just a fun, party track, something to have a good time to. It's us drinking and doing drugs and that kind of thing. There's no real deep meaning behind it, just, 'Let's write something fun and make the music as upbeat as possible, something people can put on during the summer and fuck around to.' There's no hidden agenda behind it. It just is what it is."

Johnny 3 Tears says that tracks like that also allowed Hollywood Undead to blow off some steam during a difficult time between albums.

Shortly after the release of 2013's Notes From the Underground, A&M/Octone closed up shop -- not the first time Hollywood Undead had a label dissolve on it. "That cut our last record cycle short; there was basically no record cycle, really," Johnny 3 Tears recalls. "All of a sudden our managers are calling an empty office. We didn't know what was going on. We were going through layers to find out anything. It was a huge mess, man -- probably the only time I've considered that this isn't worth it."

Nevertheless, he says, the group "fought through it. Like anything else when you go through a tough time, when you get to the other side it was worth it. It brought the band closer together. This is our 10th year together, and there have been a lot of trials and tribulations. But we came out of it stronger and made our best effort to date -- and a lot of that had to do with being challenged to do so."

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For Day of the Dead -- which comes out on Interscope -- Hollywood Undead even worked together in the studio again with producers Griffin Boice and Sean Gould after recording Notes From the Underground in a less collective fashion. "It was definitely getting back to our roots," Johnny 3 Tears says. "We were much more separate from each other on the last [album], not 'cause we didn't want to spend time together but just 'cause that was the way it kind of worked. This record was much more of a group atmosphere; we just drank and wrote music together, exactly like we started going when we were kids -- go get a 40 and jam together. It kind of brought us back to those days. It was refreshing, man. No one was sitting there giving us a deadline, and we knew it might not even see the light of day, but it was fun for that exact reason."

Hollywood Undead has already done one North American tour in front of Day of the Dead and celebrates its release with a hometown show March 30 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. The group returns to the road in mid-April and will play a selection of festivals at home -- including Welcome to Rockville in Florida, Rock in Rio USA in Las Vegas and Rock On the Range in Ohio -- and in Europe, with more shows slated to be announced. But, Johnny 3 Tears says, the group is far more interested in celebrating Day of the Dead than its 10-year anniversary right now. 

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"Some days I'll wake up on the road and I feel 100 years old, but most days I feel like this is the first day I've ever done it and how it's the most awesome and coolest thing in the world," he says. "I feel good every day about what I do. I know if I didn't write music I'd be a nut job; it's just part of me, part of who I am. I will say that after 10 years I was hoping to be able to afford a real 12 pack one day. We're not there yet; we're still drinking 40's, which is OK. They're very convenient."

Preorder Day of the Dead on iTunes and Amazon.