The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to partner with Microsoft Zune for Five Minutes with Fame, an exclusive video series on the Zune Marketplace featuring singers, songwriters and bands at the forefront of today's music. After a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum, we sit down with artists to talk about their music, their road to success, inspirations, being on tour and of course, some of their favorite artists and artifacts highlighted in the Museum. This week's featured artist is Hollywood Undead.
As their name not-so subtly suggests, Hollywood Undead emerged from the music scene in Tinseltown, combining elements of hip-hop and hardcore in a sound they call "heavy pop." The first incarnation of the band took shape in 2005, and evolved into the six mask-wearing musicians that compose Hollywood Undead today: Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man and Daniel "Danny" Murillo.
The band's debut album Swan Songs was released in 2008, selling more than 800,000 copies worldwide. Sales were helped by two years on the road that found the band headlining international gigs and on the bill at major festivals, including the Download Festival in the UK. The album's lead single "Undead" was also featured in the trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Madden NFL 2009.
American Tragedy was released in early 2011. Collaborating with producers Don Gilmore, Griffin Boice, and S*A*M and Sluggo, the band's first single, "Hear Me Now," highlighted the band's penchant for rap swagger and verse, with a liberal dose of rock bombast.
"Similar to our first record, there's something for everybody," says J-Dog. "Some of the songs have bigger hooks, while others are a lot heavier. We wanted to expand our creative palette as a band and grow. We wrote the first album years ago. Mentally, we’re not in the same place we were then. We got better at what we do lyrically and musically. We wanted to experiment more and embrace new elements. It's heavier at points, because we are a rock band, for the most part."
Those elements feature prominently on tracks like "Been To Hell" and "I Don't Wanna Die," where rock sonics are at the core of the band's sound. "The first concert I ever went to… was at the Hollywood Bowl, and it was the Who," says J-Dog of his introduction to the Who at 14, when his Mom took him to the concert. "When I saw "Teenage Wasteland"… I was like, 'Wow. That's like the best song ever written, practically.' I think that's when I first [thought] I want to play music. I saw the bass player [John Entwistle] going crazy, and that's when I started playing bass, after that."
In this clip, Charlie Scene and J-Dog discuss doing something "different" musically, the advantages of wearing masks, experiencing the Who as a kid, listening to Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," and wanting to take Elvis Presley's Lincoln and Cash's tour bus for spins.