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I know everyone is on their toes ready for nostalgia in the next part of Console Wars since literally the next thing is the infamous Bit Wars, but I’mma need to tell y’all to hold up and take a chill pill, because I need to talk about and review my childhood band that I listened to religiously throughout late elementary and the entirety of middle school and high school.
Hollywood Undead has been a band I’ve been listening to since I was 10 years old thanks to the power of YouTube and the typical “(insert ship here)” videos that existed back then thanks to Happy Tree Friends. And yes I’m a bit of a cursed child when this was a band at the time who had explicit plastered all over their first album. It’s a bit hard to imagine it’s already been 10 years since I first listened to the band, and they made their sixth release since their first release in 2008 and it’s time to bring this band in a bit of limelight here on AAOG.
Hollywood Undead is a rap-rock band that was founded by Jorel Decker and Aron Erlichman and were one of the bands to pop up back in the era of MySpace music in 2005. I now made everyone reading this article feel extremely old. Jorel and Aron would soon recruit Dylan Alvarez, George Ragen, Jordon Terrell, Matthew Busek and Jeffrey Phillips, and they needed an identity, so they decided to make masks and have stage names. The names goes as followed: Jorel Decker is J-Dog, Aron was Tha Producer, or now known as Deuce, Dylan is known as Funny Man, George was known as The Server, but is now known as Johnny 3 Tears, Jordon is Charlie Scene (classy), Matthew was Da Kurlzz and Jeffrey was Shady Jeff, and Hollywood Undead was underway in 2005.
Although literally about a year and a half later in 2007, Shady Jeff quit the band because Deuce was being disrespectful at his birthday party and he pulled out a gun on him in retaliation, telling him to get out his house, although in a 2009 interview on MTV, J-Dog and Johnny 3 Tears claims that he was fired because he was pushing 30 and because he didn’t serve a purpose in the band. Ironic since I was fired for being too young, not wanting to do illegal stuff and “contributing nothing to the band”. I was the bass player who turned the sound into what it was, but stuff happens.
Fun fact about MySpace era Hollywood Undead: they actually have two songs that they collaborated with Jeffree Star back when Jeffree used to do music during his hayday on the platform, although that would be a bit more in the late 2000’s where his hayday of music truly began.
Feel old yet?
Hollywood Undead would continue as a six-person band with a touring drummer for the majority of their careers and in 2008, they released the album Swan Song which would be the album to spark their success and their slow and eventual rise into the mainstream, with more refined and better-looking masks from their MySpace era masks.
This album has quite a lot of aggression and an overwhelming amount of explicit language might I add. Like, the kind of aggression and explicit stuff you’d expect from 2008 when the world was extremely different and a whole lot less PC. Memories.
Unfortunately Deuce’s time with Hollywood Undead would end in 2010 after multiple issues involving touring and creative differences.
The band recruited Daniel Murillo who would be known simply as Danny in the band to take Deuce’s place, while Deuce basically makes an entire album dedicated to crapping on the band and threatening death upon them, with some songs of his members of Nine Lives threatening to kill the members of Hollywood Undead. Classy.
Y’know, in a way it kinda reminds me of Bakugo since he’s always ready to explode at literally anything Deku does, which is pretty much what Deuce did. For one album however, compared to the four seasons of MHA.
A year after Danny joined, the band released their second album, American Tragedy in April 2011, which gave the band a newer sound and a much newer look compared to before with a more hard rock sound, while sticking with some of their roots of an electronic hip-hop sound. Personally a classic in their lineup of albums with an entire album full of really good songs. Not much to say about this album, but it was the start of the Danny era.
A personal favorite in both mask designs and music, this album kicks the door down for the band into a more mainstream audience in its January 2013 release. I mean if one of your songs makes it to a WWE Pay Per View, you know you’ve made it one way or another. It’s the second album to be in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, peaking at #2. Easily my favorite album all around from both a lyrical and compositional standpoint, as well as their kick-ass masks. Highly recommend you to give this album a listen.
I’m a bit torn on this 2015 release, but I generally like it. Some songs I can listen to on repeat, some are just one and done for a few days and then I’m back to listening to them. Their masks were alright, but Danny’s mask I envy because chainmail is awesome. A good album with a much more different sound from the previous.
Probably the most literal album name as it was the fifth album by the band, it also saw the departure of Da Kurlzz from the band as he wanted to go his own direction musically on October 10th, 2017, two and a half weeks before the album released on the 27th of that month. There has been no replacement for him, as the band to this day has continued on as a five-person band, with a touring drummer.
I actually do not like this album at all, outside of four songs I consistently listen to. Unfortunately, they went a little too hip-hop for my taste in this album and it was overall forgettable outside the songs Renegade, California Dreaming, Ghost Beach and Whatever It Takes. Also, the masks were a massive downgrade compared to before, but this was because the band was moving away from masks, and they weren’t joking. Also, I didn’t listen to the EP Psalms so I’m not reviewing or talking about it.
And now the album that we’re reviewing today:
Y’know, this is actually a pretty good album. The backstory to this album is they want to start anew completely, which I can tell from the way the songs are, and the fact that they’ve officially ditched the masks, which kinda suck, but hey, it’s their decision after all.
This album straddles the line of rap-rock and rap-metal as some of the songs can pass as modern-day heavy metal if it wasn’t for the band’s well-known history of being a rap-rock band. The album starts out with the song Time Bomb and man what a bomb to start out with. It’s a song that would definitely open up a pit and cause mayhem at a concert, and it got my blood pumping when listening to it.
Heart of a Champion is the next song and it’s a pretty good song in its own right with pretty good lyrics and a nice beat and composition to boot. Already Dead is a pretty good song and is easily a song that I could imagine in my head as my opinion to a lot of people. Great lyrics and composition in this one too and it was the lead single of the album. Empire. My favorite song hands down, ’nuff said.
Killin It is an alright song. It’s one of those songs that it’s not something I can listen to on repeat, but overall a good song nonetheless. Enemy is another one of my favorites on this album and easily takes second best for this album, great composition and lyrics on this one as well.
Upside Down. I don’t know how to feel about this song because it feels like a punk rock song more than anything. It’s definitely a good song but it’s gonna take some time for me to get used to that type of sound. I can bet after a few listens, I’m gonna want to eat some pizza on a road trip while wearing flannel.
Second Chances is pretty alright but it’s not really something I can listen to. I need to be in a certain mood to listen to this song. And last but not least, Nightmare. Avenged Sevenfold’s version is far better, but this is still an alright song, but it’s another song where I’d need to be in a certain mood to listen to and it’s their most hip-hop heavy song on the whole album. Also no they actually didn’t cover their song, they just have the same name is all.
No joke, but if you listened to this album, doesn’t it sound like something Bakugo would listen to? Although I haven’t seen MHA, which I know everyone is now gonna tell me to stop writing and get watchin’, but from the memes and jokes and some bits and pieces I’ve seen mostly about him, this is an album I feel like he’d probably listen to, given his attitude and demeanor on being the absolute best hero to exist. Not too sure about the whole “starting anew” thing since MHA really isn’t too much in my memory, and from what I’ve seen, Bakugo seems about as stubborn as a loose brick in a building, but in case it is, someone can give me a shout on that.
The band has been around for 15 years at this point and they’ve had a very strong 15-year career through all the rough issues they had starting off with Shady Jeff and Deuce, but the band managed to find a new sound and new ways to reinvent themselves every single album, and this album is certainly no different, as this album is a big U-turn from Five and went in a direction where they’re going to make their new empire. Apparently as well, the band will be making a second volume to this album later this year, and I’m interested already, so you can bet when that comes out, an article will be written about it.
I highly recommend listening to this album.
So if you read my bio, I mentioned how I got fired from my band for not wanting to drink or do drugs, and I’d explain it in the future. Well since it is the time of motivation here at All Ages Of Geek, I might as well explain my beginnings in the band all the way to the bitter end but the bright side in all of it.
I’d like to make an immediate disclaimer before we continue and say that I will not be mentioning names and the name of the band and will use false names, as I absolutely do not condone attacking anyone who is currently or used to be in the band as I’ve fully moved on since, and I already slammed the door behind me when the firing happened, so it’s best not to cause any issues as this is old tea that has since expired.
I graduated high school on the 25th of June and got my diploma in two days on the 27th, and I didn’t really have intentions to go to college yet as I wanted to take some time off, but it wasn’t long until my calling happened two weeks after graduation.
I got a message from the lead singer to join his band “Cold Shoulder” as their inaugural bass player, and as an 18-year-old, fresh as hell out of high school who’s been dying to start a band or find one, without hesitation, I joined. My first day of practice was the 16th of July, and the band consisted of Johnny, the lead singer, Andy the guitarist, Roger the drummer, whom I’ll talk about later in the story, and myself, the young bassist. The age gap between the four of us was pretty major since Roger was turning 28 in August, Johnny was turning 25, and Andy I think was turning 23, so from 18 to 28, major gap.
It was a speedy start because the next show the band had, was on the 22nd of July at The Bowery Electric, so I literally had 6 days to learn all of the songs we were performing that night, and add my spin on it to give the band a wholly unique sound for the show, and would you guess it, I nailed it, and the crowd couldn’t believe that an 18-year-old kid, fresh outta high school could play as well as I could. It was a feeling I never experienced before, even though I was in a school band, rocking my five-string and my pre-stickered Thunderbird bass since I was 15, but it was something completely different, as it was a feeling I wasn’t gonna experience again.
August came around, and after a second successful show, we found out that we were gonna record our first singles together, which both are currently still on YouTube, as the songs are “Little Things” and “Back Against The Ropes.” I documented the experience as well on my YouTube channel, and we spent 20 combined hours in the studio working our asses off to make these two songs the best songs ever… but a dark cloud began to loom over while that recording process was being done on day two.
There’s really no way around it, but I got peer pressured into smoking weed. This was from the band, yes, but it was mostly Johnny and his friends who were putting in most of the pressure onto me, even when I was saying no. I just did it so it can shut them up, and that didn’t really help much. After the recording was done, Johnny invited me to his place to watch the GGG vs Canelo 2 fight that went on, and that’s pretty much where I saw his true colors. He wanted me to do more than just weed, as he also had mushrooms, and cocaine, which his comments before he did a line were “this is a big boy’s thing Dio, you’ll be able to do this when you’re older.”
This is where regret started to immediately set in.
We were back to doing shows in October with an acoustic set at The Parkside Lounge, and that was the last time I decided to smoke weed, as I wanted to get a job, but really, I was beginning to rethink my decisions and leave the band some time in the new year, and I was gonna focus on college as I had applied to start going in January. After another successful show at The Bowery Electric in November, we, unfortunately, found out that Andy would be leaving the band after our next show in December, and unfortunately, that was the show where we ended up flopping really hard, due to it being a cold night in Brooklyn, the fact that it was a local coffee shop, and we played last, and no one was there besides one of Johnny’s friends. And after that, haven’t talked to Andy since.
Joey was going to be the new replacement in the band and our new comrade in the band, stepping in for the departure of Andy, and he was a damn good guitarist. He was 20 years old and he was gonna turn 21 in April, and he had one hell of a dedication because he would travel from New Jersey to come to rehearsals, but unfortunately, he was no different than Johnny when it came to drugs and alcohol. The final show I performed in was at Arlene’s Grocery, on the 19th of January, 9 days before I turned 19. Now, footage of this show has since been deleted from the band’s YouTube channel, which I’d assume it’s to erase any existence of me and Jack as he’s no longer part of the band either, but I do have one song on Google Docs that I will be uploading to YouTube, which is the only remaining footage of me being a part of the band.
This show was riddled with issues, from my bass strings not being that good in my honest opinion, the sound guy was simply an idiot, and when I upload the video, my bass was completely inaudible for most of the song. Talk about getting the Jason Newsted treatment. Joey himself said that he wanted to “kick the sound guy’s ass” for messing up his sound, which I advised him not to as it would ruin any opportunity of the band making a second show at Arlene’s. After the show, I went back to Johnny’s place for his little after-party and played Smash with his friend, and this was where I had fully decided that I wasn’t gonna stay in the band anymore, as drugs and alcohol were everywhere. Mushrooms, Coke, Amphetamines, Ecstasy, Acid, Weed, you name it. All we needed was Ketamine and Meth and we’d be in a trailer park hoedown hootenanny in a barn in the middle of Nowhere, Alabama.
I had to make this a little bit funny.
After all the commotion died down, it was pretty much just me, Joey, and one of Johnny’s sisters and Johnny wanted to find someone to have sex with because his sister’s had some sort of argument. Yeah, that just shows why I wanted to bail. After spending an extra half hour at the place, I pretty much told Joey and Johnny’s sister about my bisexuality (which has since shifted to pansexuality), that I never told anyone at the time, and they welcomed me with open arms about it. I decided to leave a bit afterward because, well, Jack wanted to get down and dirty with Johnny’s sister, so basically, bro code, and I didn’t want to break it, so I obliged. Joey’s last words to me before I left were “I love you man, I won’t tell anyone” and I went home after that.
On February 9th, I got fired from the band by Johnny, as he called me and said: “I’m going through a different creative direction, and I’m gonna have to let you go.” Keep in mind, he said “I’m” not “I was talking to Roger” or “I talked to the others” “I’m”. After hearing about getting fired, I told my friends about it and saying how it honestly sucks that I got fired, but I forgot who the friends I told this to were. My friend Randy rather quickly went on to YouTube and voiced his displeasure of Johnny of my firing, criticized his lack of singing abilities and praising the talent that I, along with Roger and Joey had, while my friend Samantha only criticized the audio problems throughout the footage.
Around 11 at night that same time, Johnny called me in a high and/or drunken fit of rage about my friends comments, even going to lengths calling me “a self-absorbent piece of shit” and ridiculing me about my mental health, as I posted stuff on Instagram about my mental struggles, telling me “I’m fucked up in the head, and that I need help” which didn’t help because that plunged me into an even deeper depression knowing that he never cared about me. I’ve since made two posts on Instagram completely exposing him for his actions, as I wanted to speak up about it instead of staying silent about it. I hadn’t said a single bad word about him throughout my time in the band, and I respected him throughout my tenure there, even if the things he did were questionable, that moment where he disrespected me, he had lost all of my respect for him as a musician, a bandmate, and as a person. At this point, I had wanted to give up as a musician, and I was even contemplating on selling my basses. It’s probably the lowest I’ve ever been in my life.
“Hey dude. Sorry about the way shits gone down the past week. For what it’s worth, just wanted to say you’re a damn good bassist/musician. Bands come and go (I’ve been in like 8 myself) but don’t ever stop playing music! A good bass player is hard to come by, so I hope this whole thing doesn’t discourage you.”
Those were Roger’s last words to me in a text he sent me a week after I got fired. To know that he messaged me after all of the hate and anger I had aimed towards both Johnny and Joey, it pretty much made me breakdown knowing that he cared about me, even after I spoke up about what happened. I haven’t spoken to him since as I’ve distanced myself from anyone who associates with the band, but I absolutely respect Roger for being a professional and handling it properly and telling me to not stop playing music. Thanks a ton, Roger, you’re the man.
Since then, I’ve been on a musical hiatus, but my creativity has no boundaries as I do plan to start up a project or two in the future, as I don’t plan on giving up on music. What I’ve learned from this, is be careful in who you trust, because sometimes, that person you look up to can be your worst nightmare. But even through all those issues, not only do you have to enjoy the little things but even when your backs are against the ropes, you’ll have someone by your side, giving you words and encouragement, to never give up on what you love.