As the 1990s gave way to the new millennium, Slipknot were among the biggest and most exciting metal bands on the planet. So when, in 2002, drummer Joey Jordison decided to pick up a guitar and start a side project called the Murderdolls, scores of Slipknot fans, or “maggots” as the band liked to call them, were paying attention.

The singer in that band was Wednesday 13, who had made a name for himself in the horror-punk underground with his gender-bending zombie crew, Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. The debut Murderdolls album, 2002’s Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls, was in fact largely composed of rerecorded FDQFP13 tunes. Jordison might have had the star power, but Wednesday 13 was bringing just about everything else to the table.

Murderdolls (a band that also featured Ben Graves, R.I.P., in its ranks) went away in 2004 while Slipknot continued to reign, then resurfaced in 2010 for the second album, Women and Children Last, and now, by all accounts, have gone for good. Thankfully, 13’s solo music is along very similar lines. Like Murderdolls, and FDQFP13 before them, Wednesday 13 plays trashy, sleazy gutter punk, with a slice of Sunset Strip cock rock pomp. Think Misfits meets Mötley Crüe.

For (appropriately enough) 13 years, he’s been putting out solo records, with Condolences dropping last year. And he has fans who have been following him from his mid-1990s Drag Queens years.

“Every time you put a record out, you always hope your fans are gonna follow what you’re doing, and this was definitely a heavier record and a heavier sound,” 13 says. “I never know how the fans are gonna react to it but the reaction was great and everyone seems to like it or say it’s their favorite next to the very first one [2005’s Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying and the Dead]. So I feel like we got a home run with it.”

While the basic style of 13’s music has remained the same, the frontman says he’s gotten better at crafting songs as the years have passed.

“Each record I can listen to, and I can tell the difference and the progression,” he says. “Plus I’ve had a solid band lineup for the past three or four releases, so that’s definitely changed the writing and the way things sound compared to the first few albums, because I pretty much played everything except for the drums on the first few. It’s always evolving and we’re always experimenting, trying to do different things but keep the heart of what Wednesday 13 is. With us, it’s kind of cool. We don’t really have any rules to play with. We just do what we want.”

The solid band lineup he’s talking about sees 13 joined by Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley on guitar, Troy Doebbler on bass and Kyle Castronovo on drums. Despite the fact that he’s playing under his own name, 13 says the five-piece has a genuine band dynamic.

“I never ever set out to be some egomaniac,” he says. “I’d been through the thing with bands — every time we’d get a band name, somebody would quit and it changed the whole thing. If I call it Wednesday 13, that’s what it is. I went through 15 or 16 different band members before finding the guys I’ve got now. It’s definitely more of a band, even though it’s called Wednesday 13.”

Condolences is also 13’s first album for Nuclear Blast, a label known for putting out records by extreme-metal groups. The singer says that, though the seventh solo album is heavier than his previous work, he wasn’t tailoring it that way to get the deal.

“Lots of people think that we got signed to Nuclear Blast and that’s why the record is heavy, but it’s the exact opposite,” he says. “We recorded the record and had it done, and were shopping it hoping to get a deal. Nuclear Blast was my first choice. I know a few people there, including my past A&R guy Monte [Conner], who signed the Murderdolls [to Roadrunner Records], then did my first solo record. I hit him with the record and it was a perfect fit. They worked us into the family, and we’re happy to be there.”

This month, Wednesday 13 head out on tour opening for industrial-metal group Combichrist. The tour begins locally, at the Glass House in Pomona. At the end of June, the U.S. leg of the tour ends here too, at the Regent in L.A.

“I live in West Hollywood,” 13 says. “It’s always fun to play hometown shows. I get to run home to my cat and girlfriend for a few, so that’s always good. You’ll get us at the very end when we’re good and warmed up, or good and worn out. We’ll see when that day comes.”

Wednesday 13 isn’t used to playing second fiddle and shortening his set, having toured as a headliner for years. That said, he believes that his sound and the Combichrist vibe will work wonderfully well.

“I think I’ve got something that’s going to work for everybody — everybody will walk away happy,” he says. “Plus, playing with Combichrist gives, for us, a slightly different audience. It’s going to be a fun time. I’m looking forward to going out and seeing some new faces. Scaring some people. It’s not our audience, so for me that’s a challenge. Expect us to be full-throttle weird, and it’s going to be a good time.”

After that, the Combichrist/Wednesday 13 tour moves to Europe, while 13 also will be performing at some festivals. By fall, he’ll be working on a new album, and he also has an autobiography in the works.
There is, apparently, no rest for the wicked.

Wednesday 13 play with Combichrist, Night Club, Prison, Death Valley High and Requiem at 6:30 on Friday, May 18, at the Glass House in Pomona; then at 7:30 on Saturday, June 30, at the Regent.

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