Editor’s Note: CityBeat contributor Amy Harris attended the recent Rock on the Range in Columbus, one of the most beloved Hard Rock and Metal music fest’s in the country. And she brought her camera and tape recorded along to share the experience with you. Below is Part 1 of her collection of interviews from RotR, featuring members of Hollywood Dead, Escape the Fate and Alter Bridge. For photos from the event, click here and here. (ADD PHOTO GALLERY LINKS)
Hollywood Dead’s Jorel
Hollywood Undead is a hardcore Rap/Metal sound based out of Los Angeles. They just released their second studio album, American Tragedy with a new lead singer after their first singer, Deuce, left the band in early 2010. The album hit number four on the Billboard 200 chart and number one on the hard rock chart after its release. They have recently toured with some of the biggest names in rock Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour.
CityBeat spoke with Jorel (J-Dog) before their show in Cincinnati at Bogart’s in preparation for Rock on the Range. They discussed everything from the band’s famous masks to spending large amounts of time in close quarters with lots of band members.
CityBeat: Do you prefer playing venues like Bogart’s with your core fan base or do you guys prefer to play festivals like Rock on the Range?
Jorel: I prefer to play smaller venues because the energy is way higher and it’s more fun. You can hear the kids singing back to you and stuff like that. Festivals, I’d say are fun just because you get to watch other bands and you’re in a wide open place. You get to walk around. It’s not like you’re confined to one little building. I prefer, show-wise to do venues. We did a whole tour with Avenged, Stone Sour and New Medicine. I love the tour because it was big arenas and it was awesome. But we did one off-shows and it was a small venues where the kids are right up on you. I had so much fun. I loved doing this. I love playing smaller shows. I think every band does. It’s just not always feasible. You have to do the other.
CB: I caught you on the Nightmare Before Christmas Tour right before Christmas at the Lexington show. It was a great tour. What was one of your most memorable or crazy stories from that tour?
Jorel: Probably in Detroit because we played in the arena where the Pistons play. It was cool to be where a major basketball team plays. When Avenged was playing, I went to the very top to look for somebody, one of my friends and I was at the top of the whole venue looking down and didn’t realize how many people and was like, “Holy shit! This is fucking amazing… This whole stadium is like completely full.” I think the show was sold out. I was like, “This is insane. I can’t believe how many people are here.” It kind of tripped me out.
CB: I think there were lots of people at Rupp as well.
Jorel: Yeah, there were a few of them that were really crazy.
CB: So you guys wear these masks. And I have to be honest with you, the masks trip me out a little bit. I don’t love masks and whenever I’m photographing it, my heart kind of races. I fight through it but I have that reaction to it and s,o I’m a little interested in the masks. Do you guys make your own or make your own design?
Jorel: We design them. They’re too hard for us to make on our own because someone has to mold our face into the plastering and all that stuff. But we design them.
CB: They’re making me nervous because they are right over there on the table.
Jorel: They are kind of creepy. When we do a signing or something and a kid will be staring at us in line with a mask on for like 20 minutes just staring at us. And that’s kind of creepy for us as well.
CB: From the other side?
Jorel: Yeah. Like it’s creepy you’re staring at me with the mask on. It can be a little kid but it just looks creepy because you don’t know what’s under the mask.
CB: But you guys take them off during the show, right?
Jorel: We take them off during the show. I think photo-wise it looks cool. We could take the masks off for photos but we just look like every other band. So with the masks, I think it adds a cool element to it.
CB: I really liked it. I was looking at the photos again today. I think I got the most photos of Johnny because he just happened to be in the front and there was good light because you guys play and it is kind of dark. The guy playing the electronic drums,
Da Kurlzzalso caught my attention.
Jorel : He loves the camera too. He’s not shy. Usually I’ll play the guitar in the first few songs with the mask on and if I’m in the front, people start bumping into my guitar and getting it out of tune so I stay in the back. So not many pictures of me with my mask.
CB: You guys have so many members. Are there any issues with being together a lot on the bus? Is it crazy or do you guys keep your own space?
Jorel: We get along really well. We all grew up together but we do fight a lot. There are stories about bands that have been around for 20 years that can’t stand each other and hate each other until they get on stage. We’re not like that. We get along really well. We get into fights all the time but that’s what happens when you’re in close quarters with anybody. It’s like having a bunch of girlfriends that you can’t have sex with because you have to agree on everything and fight about everything. So it’s pretty normal. Every band fights. Bands break up all the time.
CB: There are some bands where each person has their own bus and hotel room.
Jorel: Yeah. That’s healthy in a sense. If you can afford to do that, then you should. You shouldn’t be around someone like that constantly. It’s not how humans are built. You’re supposed to have space. To be around someone 24-7, you’re going to end up fighting even if it’s your girlfriend or whoever the fuck it is.
CB: At least you’re not in a van anymore. At least you’re in a bus.
Jorel: Yeah, I can’t really complain. I’m fine with it and we actually have two buses now.
CB: What’s the biggest life change for you guys since you got the record deal?
Jorel: Just being gone from home. People think we made it big time. Not really, we’re not rich or anything like that. We’re not making crazy money. We’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing but we’re not at home doing it. The biggest change is actually leaving. If you leave home for two or three months at a time, it’s a very strange thing when you get back. It’s like “Holy shit.” Things are different, especially where I live out in L.A. They’re building so rapidly, I’ll get back home and be like, “Fuck dude,” and there will be four new buildings on my block. It’s all sorts of shit.
CB: What are you looking forward to at Rock on the Range?
Jorel: I hope that we are playing the same day as Avenged Sevenfold. I’d like to see those guys again. I don’t know what day they’re playing or what day we’re playing.
CB: What music are you listening to right now?
Jorel: I’ve been listening to Kid Cudi.
CB: He’s an Ohio person. He’s from Cleveland area.
Jorel: Oh, I dig him. I’m into him right now. Suicide Silence, they’re an Urban Metal band. I don’t know. I don’t really come across new music too much. I like this rapper called Yellow Wolf. I really like him. Other than that, I don’t sit on the internet looking for music so if I happen to come across it, I’ll listen to it and like it. But it doesn’t really happen that often.
CB: Did you guys get here early enough to do anything in Cincinnati today?
Jorel: We were actually here yesterday. We had a day off yesterday. I went to some pub called Bagpipes or some shit and got hammered all day. Then I went to
Benihanafor dinner. I had never been there before. That was cool.
CB: No, never seen the flaming volcano?
Jorel: Weird tricks and shit like that. I was walking around here right now. It’s a trip out here because everything is mashed together.
CB: The school’s right here. The University of Cincinnati is really big. This area has all been torn down and rebuilt, even the college campus. I moved here 10 years ago and it’s totally different. It’s all brand new.
Jorel: Then you go a few blocks over and it gets pretty ghetto.
CB: Yeah. It’s definitely not the safest