Hollywood Undead – Johnny 3 Tears (vocals)

THAT ONE TIME WHEN I INTERVIEWED JOHNNY 3 TEARS FROM HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD AND WE TALKED FOR 40 MINUTES.
by Marisa Connelly

Funny how that happens. I?ve never met Johnny 3 Tears (aka George Ragan), but we talked about everything from their new album and tour plans, how much hangovers suck as you get older, and Dostoyevsky was even mentioned somewhere. He?s one of those guys that you could immediately see yourself being friends with. Or, maybe you already have a friend just like him- easy going, self-deprecating sense of humor, and a quick wit. He?s just a down to earth super ordinary kind of dude, which I totally appreciate.
Hollywood Undead Band

SMN: Hi how are you?

J3T: I?m ok how are you?

I?m good. So, what do we have like 15 minutes?

Well, I do have to go to Costco.

Yeah, I have to go to Wal-Mart to do all my Christmas shopping. Love that store. I go during the day and count all the mullets.

[Laughs] Well, we don?t have a Wal-Mart around here, but I’ve been to that website that has pictures of Wal-Mart people.

So, in preparing for this interview, I noticed that in older ones, you guys tend to joke around and avoid questions, and now you seam a bit more focused and serious. Why? What happened?

Um, well I don?t think that?s the case. I?ve found that if it?s a group of us, we can?t help but to mess around. I take interviews seriously, but not too seriously. If it?s for Time Magazine, I wouldn?t screw around too much, but I don?t think that?s going to happen any time soon. I guess in the beginning, when you?re so green, the music industry itself, and doing it for a living, and when you?re first doing this stuff it?s the coolest thing in the world. You spend your childhood in a band and when you?re finally doing it there?s no bigger thrill. I suppose as things progress you take it more seriously because it becomes more serious to you and you realize that there are a lot of things that aren?t laughing matters. That?s all part of it, but we try to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. The only thing we really take seriously is our music and writing music.

For sure. You can?t take yourself too seriously.

Well I take myself seriously, just not other people.

Or that.

I?m just kidding. [Laughs]

Well, a lot of people use sarcasm to invite people in, but only so far. That being said, with the voyeuristic nature of fans these days, how do you specifically keep your private life private? And not feed into the 24/7 all access nature of today?s music industry?

Well, its responsibility. Myself, I don?t have a Facebook account or any of that stuff. So I?m capable of keeping a majority of what I do private. But I?m not that different privately. That?s one of the cool things- I?ve been friends with the guys in my band since I was little. And we?re generally just trying to have a good time. It?s fun. Being in a band is a fun thing to do. But you always have to keep that in mind because you work hard to do something and then you get there and you?re miserable doing it, it?s a pointless pursuit. So we keep it light in that sense. And I think it?s up to them how private they keep their lives. I mean, I was born as raised in Los Angeles where you have to be an A-list actor to get noticed anyways. So, you don?t run into that out here. So as far as that goes, it?s not like we have people following us around. So it?s pretty easy as far as being in a band and being in Los Angeles you stay under the radar. It?s not that big a deal.

Yeah, but with twitter and stuff it?s very different than 50 years ago when fans knew nothing of the private lives of people of notoriety.

Well right. The technological movements have obviously changed that and there?s not much anybody can do about that. Being around back then must have been a pretty cool thing, but there?s so much more exposure now. There are good things and bad things. For smaller bands coming up, back in the 70?s you had to have thousands of dollars to record and album. Now kids can make a record at home. But we are children of the technological era. It?s how we started. We knew how to write music, and then we just learned how to record it. We would have never had that capability 20 or 30 years ago. So it?s just a natural progression and I?m more scared of where things are going from here. I have a feeling that in a couple years, there will be no such thing as a hard copy CD anymore. And that part of music is kind of dead. The artistic presentation of music is dead or dying. There?s nothing wrong with iTunes, but I was one of those kids that when I bought a CD, I flipped though every page, I read all the thank you?s. I read all the credits. I enjoyed that aspect of music. The presentation, the covers, the artwork. I think its unfortunate that that aspect of it is dying out.

I agree with you 100%. I remember being a kid and seeing the cover of ?Holy Diver.? I was mesmerized by it. Seeing the mountains and the demon and the priest, it was intense.

See that?s cool. I gotcha.

Speaking of personal life, if you were to sign up for a dating website, how would you describe yourself and your current life?

[Laughs]

See, that?s my way of getting personal information from you, but putting it in a joking manner so you answer candidly.

[Still laughing] Well I wouldn?t put anything candid on there because if I said what band I?m in, then I?d have 16 year old girls trying to get dates with me and that?s about it.

Ok, so for occupation just say musician, so people think you?re still living in your mom?s basement.

Yeah, that?s actually very true. Um, I suppose just what I was looking for in a girl I guess. I?ve never been to one of these websites. I?ve seen advertisements for hornysingles.com so I?m sure that?s the one I would sign up for. And I would just say, ?Look, I?m as horny as everyone else on here, so let?s just get together.?

So you would go on a site for just random hookups?

No that?s disgusting. That?s creepy. It?s hard for me to answer because it?s so outside what I would normally do. You know honestly, I would just put what I like and what I don?t like and hopefully match it up with someone who likes the same things.

OK, fair enough. With holidays just around the corner, what is your favorite holiday memory from your childhood? What is your lamest memory?

Ok, lamest holiday memory or memory in general?

Holiday. Or both if you want. That?s up to you.

Um, I?m trying to think if I have any good ones. I got a Gameboy when I was a kid and that was pretty cool because that was the hot toy at the time. And normally we wouldn?t get much because we didn?t have a lot growing up. I knew that my parents worked hard to get it, so that was one of those things that was really cool because I had no expectations whatsoever. And my dad is a real reader, so I would usually get books and stuff. But when you?re eight you don?t want ?The Idiot? by (Fyodor) Dostoyevsky, and that?s usually the kind of stuff I got. So when I got a Gameboy, it was big.

Yeah, most people don?t read Dostoyevsky until college.

[Laughing]  Not in my family. And, I guess, the bad stuff, I really don?t have any bad memories. To be honest with you I really don?t remember my childhood all that vividly. Well, my parents got divorced when I was a kid, and we always had a Christmas tree. Well, my mom got remarried to a Jewish guy, which is ok with me, but then there was no Christmas anymore and I?, sitting there thinking, ?what the hell happened to Christmas?? And when you?re nine you don?t really understand religious concepts. So that was a trip. We went from Christmas every year to no celebrations except for candles in the window. So I was kind of confounded. I wasn?t pleased.

I wouldn?t be either at that age.

Well, now it doesn?t bother me, but at nine you don?t know what the hell Hanukkah is.

OK. So, if the world ends on December 21st, where do you want to be and what will you be doing?

You know, I?m going to Palm Springs on the 21st. But where I want to be is Boise, Idaho. There is the safest place to be in case of any natural disaster apparently. They?ve done research on it. Apparently the climate and elevation is just right. So, Boise and that are seems to have escaped the majority of natural catastrophes that?s occurred over the past 60 million years. But I?m going to go to Palm Springs and what I?d like to be doing is hopefully I?ll be stumbling drunk and won?t care that much that the world is ending. And partly I don?t want to be in Los Angeles because there?s a lot of wackos out here already and I have a feeling they?re going to come out in droves for this one, so I want to be as far away from them as I can. I know there are people just looking for an excuse to act like jackasses, so I?ll be in Palm Springs hanging out.

Your new single ?We Are? has the lyric, ?We are made from broken parts.? If you were a cyborg, what parts would make you?

All heart and brain baby! A cyborg brain and nice arms. I?d like some nice triceps, biceps, deltoids- just a buff robot, a mirror image of who I am now, but in robot form, with some upgrades.

 

You?re probably sick of answering this, but I have to ask for the kiddies-what was it like working with Clown of Slipknot?

I love answering that. That was one of the coolest experiences. Working with clown was definitely different because he?s a band guy first. He?s been a musician obviously for a very long time and it?s cool because he has an understanding of the other side of it. He has that perspective; he?s very understanding and really got where we were coming from. There was a lot less frustration because he knew what was going on before we did. So the experience was much smother than what it usually is. We had a really good time, the guy is a visionary. He?s got great ideas for videos and he really made the whole thing a pleasure to do. I really enjoyed the experience and I really like the final product which is the most important thing. We?re all happy with that.

Yeah, no one likes playing unplugged instruments to their own music over and over.

Yeah, like 200 times in a row. Video directors have to get what they have to get, which is understandable. But they?re only thinking from their side of it. Clown made us all really comfortable and he understood what was going on with us, and that makes it a lot smoother process. He?s just an all around really cool dude. He?s really intelligent, so it was a pleasure getting to know him, even for only a few days. That was his first break away solo video. And if that is his first one, I can see him going very far in that world. He?s got a world of talent behind him.

I?m sure it was easier for you guys having a director that understands. Music videos are mostly hurry up and wait. Worse than touring.

Yeah normally that?s what music videos are like, but that?s what was so cool about this process. It was very smooth and we were very fortunate. We just finished the record and the artwork and the mixing. And it just so happened that it was in late November, so in the music industry it slows down quite a bit. If we were on tour for a month- then had five days off- and if we have to do a video for three of them, it can be a real pain in the ass because everyone just wants to go home a relax for a minute. See their family or girlfriend or whatever. So that part of it could be a chore. But we did it at a time where we had an open schedule and we finished the day before Thanksgiving. So I just went home, ate turkey and passed out for a couple days afterwards.

Not a bad Thanksgiving.

Ugh. I actually hate Thanksgiving. I always get sick. Something about all the carbohydrates or something and drinking, I don?t know. It?s tasty for 20 minutes, then hell for 20 hours.

Well maybe you just can?t eat like you used to when you were a young lad.

I know! Why does this have to happen?

I don?t know, right around your late 20?s it seems to hit you.

That?s when it hits you, huh? Yeah, well, that?s exactly the age I’m getting to so, I?m in deep crap.

Yeah, I first learned what a real hangover was when I was 27.

[Laughs] I actually have you beat on that one. Apart from the band, I used to do construction stuff on the side. Band practice was at night, and we had this fun rehearsal space and I used to get hammered until 4 in the morning and then wake up at 7 and go work and do roofing and stuff and it was never an issue. Now, after 12 hours of sleep I?m still like, ?Uggghhhhh!?

Yeah, if I drink a 6 pack now, I can?t even function the following day.

Well that?s the cool thing about being on the road- you wake up with a hangover, the first thing I do is open a bottle of wine when I wake up- and you?re a-ok after 20 minutes.

I never have time to drink on the road. When you?re crew you don?t have as much time to drink and enjoy yourself.

Well, we?re very lenient with our crew. Some people are really strict, which I understand. Especially on larger productions, they have pyrotechnics and stuff and don?t want drunk crew members.

I?m not that fancy, I just do merch. But I’m the first to load in and the last to load out, so I just don?t have time. I really enjoy touring though.

Yeah, well, I wouldn?t do it, but you get paid to travel. It?s definitely hard work, but there are rewards. When we tour, we get two days off a week, and that?s when the crew guys really go nuts. I go to bed and try to catch up on sleep and exercise. Those guys go out and go apeshit everywhere and I see them in the hotel lobby at 4 in the morning passed out. But hey, that?s their day off. They can do whatever they want. We have a lot of strip club addicts in our crew too.

[Laughing] Well, I?m a little more low key. Hey, wait; we were doing an interview right? Anyways, tell me something about your upcoming album Notes from the Underground that you haven?t told every other journalist on the planet.

Actually we just started doing interviews so I?m not sick of it yet, but in a week I?m sure I will be. But really the album is just going to speak for itself. I have nothing to really say about it. There?s nothing to say until people hear it.

Um, ok. So what you?re saying is that it comes out January 8th, go buy it.

Or illegally download it. It?s all the same to me. Just listen to it and see what you think. If you don?t like it, I don?t care. If you do like it, I care.

Plug any upcoming tours.

You know, I just found out a couple days ago that we are going on tour in January. We start in LA; it?s just a short two week run. It?s only major markets and we?re going to be doing these small clubs. Kind of get back to where we started for at least this tour. We really like that idea; we actually got it from bands bigger than us who never get to do that anymore. You know, like bands like U2 that play these giant arenas- which we?re not in any position to do- but that?s where the thought process came from. They go out and do that stuff once in a while just to get back to the reason why they still play. They play these small clubs just to have a good time. And we?re going to do that for a short run- play these 500 seaters- and small little theaters and get close to the fan base again. Just do a run like that before we have to get back to business and think of all the numbers and stuff you have to think of when you?re on tour. But we wanted to run a run to really reconnect with some of the fans and hang out and talk to them- see where they?re at, see where we?re at since it?s been two years since we?ve put out a record. And it?s always exciting; you never know who you?re going to meet when you?re in those situations. It?s usually a pretty thrilling experience.

 

So I saw on your website that in Denver you?re going to play at The Bluebird. I?ve been there on tour myself.

I?ve never even heard of this place so I?m excited. Is it a dive bar?

No it?s an old theater with a marquee and balcony and it?s really cool.

That?s really cool because these old places always have good acoustics too.

Ok because in an early interview you guys had said that Denver was one of the best shows ever because everyone jumped on stage and it got really crazy.

I think that place was called The Marquis. Is that right? The one thing I remember it was right next to where he Rockies play, or like right up the street. I?m a big baseball fan so I went and looked at the field. I?m not sure about the name of the venue but it was kind of in the downtown area. We?ve played a few places there. I almost moved there. Not Denver, but another city that I can?t remember the name of now. I went and looked at houses, but wussed out.

Well I will tell you that there?s this restaurant and bar across the street from The Bluebird and their Cuban sandwich is really good. And they have a really good selection of craft beers and microbrews. It?s called The Goosetown Tavern or something like that.

See now you?re talking! I?m going to remember that now.

Besides music, how do you contribute to or detract from society?

Um, I have to pay taxes. That?s about as deep as I get in the social structure. I live in a neighborhood. That?s about it. That?s where I draw the line usually. I don?t go out much, I just kind of hole up at my house. I tend to keep my distance. When I go to my front door to get my mail or go out and smoke a cigarette I look out my peephole first. It?s sadly true.

I completely understand. So, if you could pick one other band to steal their entire fan base, which bands fans would you steal?

Um, I would go with Avenged Sevenfold. Because their fan base is big, but they?re also very dedicated. They have an army behind them. We toured with them a couple times and I was always envious because the kids really like them, but for good reason. But they?re very dedicated; they know every word to every song and stuff like that.

I would want Slayer?s fan base.

Really? Kerry King lives right down the street from me.

But that?s the music I listen to. I love it! But they sometimes boo the opening bands, so it?s good and bad.

It?s a little to heavy for me. But the only time we?ve ever been booed was in Germany at a festival. But we made a game of it. If you actually get upset by it, then you?re in deep crap because they feed off of it. But all you have to do is antagonize them back, and by the end of the set, they were all applauding like, ?Ok, we gave them crap and they got through it.? But some people get really upset by it. Between every song we just talked horrible shit to them and eventually they realized that we were ok. That?s the key. And the festivals out there are so huge! The American ones are very tiny. In Europe they close down, like, 20 acres and it?s insane. There are a couple hundred bands and 200,000 ? 300,000 people. So we?ve opened for Faith No More, every type of band plays.

Yeah, but Europeans really like power metal and Manowar. Or Volbeat.

That, or like euro electonica. But we do really well in Europe. We?ve been kind of lucky with that. And I?ve heard of Volbeat.

Cool. Well thank you very much for your time, you?ve been very generous with it.

Thank you! And I?ll definitely have to check out Volbeat.

 

 

3 Comments

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