Today’s coverage includes another interview with HU’s own J-Dog, this time from French publication Hard Force’s Christophe Socttez.  J discusses the then impending release of the base edition of Hotel Kalifornia, working with different producers post-New Empire, his favorite tracks out of the band’s discography, and more. 

French-literate fans can check out the original post here on the official Hard Force website, and we’ve produced our own auto-translated copy below for English readers-


HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD releases its 8th album, “Hotel Kalifornia”. Contrary to the two volumes of “New Empire” which were the playground of a multitude of guests, this new record is that of a group which found itself facing itself and its own creativity in a pandemic context. complex and, rich in its experiences and always with an eclecticism of styles – between rap, punk, rock, alternative and metal -, has been able to deploy a production that could not be more personal, as its singer J-Dog tells us with his proverbial franchise.

So, J-Dog, I imagine that with such an album title, you’re calling me from Los Angeles right now to promote?
Well no ! Here I am in a small town in the Midwest, but how hot it is! I needed to get away from the crowd a bit. To isolate myself…

Did you feel the need to take a break before the real recovery?
Sort of, even though just yesterday we were putting the finishing touches on a clip. So I’m still very busy.

Let’s talk about this new album and start with its title. “Hotel Kalifornia”, with a “K”: is it supposed to be a hybrid cross between the soundtrack of the Dominic Sena film and the EAGLES album?
No no ! It wasn’t about sounding like the cult EAGLES album, let’s be clear, no need to mislead listeners. And it’s not a spelling mistake either (laughs). The “K” refers to a common place typical of us. A bit like the way of talking about gangs, but without claiming either. In our slang, when we were younger, we used to dress up our sentences to make them look cooler. If you take for example the word “Caroline”, you spell it “K-a-r-o-l-i-n-e”. It’s the language of the street. Do you understand the process?

Yes. It’s a figure of speech.
Exactly ! It’s our way. A habit. It goes back to our youth. It’s a nod, because the content of the album also refers to it.

The initial presentation of your album, reinforced by the visual of the cover of “Hotel Kalifornia”, evokes a disc dealing with “the current crisis of homelessness and the cost of living which affects the State of California”. However, it’s not all about that…
Yes, there is a bit of everything. You should know that we worked this time with different producers (Erik Ron known for his collaborations with PANIC! AT THE DISCO, GODSMACK, Andrew Migliore who worked with Sueco and Grandson and WZRD BLD, renowned for his prods on Lil Wayne and BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE Editor’s note), unlike “New Empire”. The world situation has changed as well. The songs are completely different from each other. Some talk about our childhood, when we hung out in unsavory circles, stories also of broken hearts… that kind of shit (laughs) that I really like to hear from other bands. Except that I hope to put more sincerity into the rendering. There is everything, serious themes and lighter ones. We even have this new song, “Wild In These Streets”, which I dedicate especially to Paris. It’s a nod to wild rave parties in the catacombs. I had read an article about it and I found it totally crazy!

Over time, your songs always seem a little more autobiographical. How much of themselves do the members of HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD put into an album like this?
We may have been around for a while now, but we’re more involved than ever. Contrary to our more hazardous beginnings, we have matured, gained experience: there are more egos present in the room at the time of recording, but also more listening and control of these egos. Nobody comes with their song ready and defends it tooth and nail like a few years ago. We compose together and, in turn, everyone brings their stone to the building. It’s more constructive, it participates in the process of improving our music. We are like wine and cheese, we improve from album to album (laughs). And then, I think that, with age, we no longer hesitate to question our certainties. We are more curious and don’t want to become pretentious assholes (laughs). By sincerely trying to be better and not resting on our laurels or our achievements, I would say that we have become more honest. In the writing process, we prefer to put a lot of introspection into it. And this unique identity connects us even more to our audience.

So you explore, but you don’t revolutionize your style with new influences…
No, that’s it… not directly.

On “New Empire, Vol.1” and “Vol.2”, there was the presence of a large skewer of guests (members of PAPA ROACH, ICE NINE KILLS, TECH N9NE, etc…). This is not the case on “Hotel Kalifornia”.
No, not on this album. The main reason for this is the Covid. It was impossible with the confinements and the restrictions to agree to meet in the studio. We had to consider tests and I let you imagine the complications. We had enough trouble getting all the band members together in one room. ‘Hotel Kalifornia’ is therefore a 100% HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD album in which all the members of the group were fully involved, and in each title. We have known periods in the past when, on a track, only two or three musicians really participated. This time, everyone was in on it. It’s really an album that brought us together. Alone with ourselves.

You mentioned a very uninhibited writing process. Nevertheless, we still want to know how you feel after these two years of restrictions due to the pandemic?
Oh, it was definitely a shitty time in general, but regarding HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD, we decided not to spend our time playing consoles, unlike other bands. For us, it was not a forced vacation, but rather the unexpected opportunity to share our ideas and pool them, to gather our energy and be ready to leave as soon as possible. Like I said, it made writing and recording the album easier. I would almost dare to say that it was easy, suddenly.

What are the titles of this album that you will particularly push live by integrating them into your setlist?
From the outset, I would say that we absolutely intend to play “Hourglass”. You know, we grew up in the punk music scene. There was this incredible burst of energy that drove us. The live performances of this environment, the circle-pits, the mosh-pits, you certainly remember, that greatly influenced us and this title completely restores this spirit.

I have to tell you that listening to this album, that’s exactly what I said to myself: what an incredible punk connotation!.
You see ! That’s quite right. It is in this atmosphere and this universe that we grew up. We went to the shows of CASUALTIES, GREEN DAY, … wherever there was a punk concert, you found us there. This was long before cell phones and social media. If you weren’t on the streets or at concerts, you were at home at home pissing you off. So we were outside all the time! While writing this album, we became again those kids who went out, danced and had fun in those punk concerts. These feelings spilled over into the compositions. You know what I mean ?

Absolutely ! What other titles can have the premiere of the live?
“Chaos”, “Trap Good”, “City Of The Dead”… hard to say, for now. As I said, we worked with different producers and brought together a lot of influences, hip hop, low-fi, edgy metal à la SLIPKNOT. It’s hard to establish a setlist, as the songs sound completely different from each other. We are really not in the configuration of the “New Empire” which had a certain regularity. I love the diversity of “Hotel Kalifornia” and that is a great success. We are back to the best of who we are. We really found each other. We were all in the same room and one would start by saying, “Let’s write a rock song!” “. Everyone then went there with their personal touch. Another member said, “let’s do a hip hop track!” “. And it was back. Total involvement, and that’s how you get titles of such creativity. A pleasure shared like that is truly magnificent.

Speaking of the HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD repertoire, enriched by eight albums, looking back, what is the top 5 of your favorite ultimate titles?
Wow… considering the number, after all these years, it’s not easy to choose. I think I’ll take one song from each album. “Black Dalhia” on the 1st. On the second “Hear Me Now”. For the 3rd… ah, I don’t remember, I have to look on Spotify (laughs). I believe there is the song “I Don’t Wanna Die”. Oh no, rather “Rain”. “Day Of The Dead” is the song I love on the 4th. On the album “V” there is “Bad Moon”. New Empire? “Heart Of A Champion” which I really like. On the new album, it’s really “Hourglass” that has my favourites.

If you weren’t J-Dog from HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD, what real or fictional character would you want to be?
Mmh… you mean, superhero type?

Maybe. You choose.
What character? I would be an honest politician (laughs). That’s what I would be… but we’re definitely on fiction!

What is your relationship to the notion of celebrity?
Everyone wants to be famous, but beware: talent is unfortunately not all that matters. It takes hard work, that’s for sure. You can compose 100 songs and only have one that works. No, you really have to work hard. With the internet, anyone can post music, and I think that’s not a good thing, because your first song is never the best. It’s nonsense to put it online immediately. You must only offer the best of you.

And yet, we all make mistakes… Here, on stage, for example, you have a “worst memory”, don’t you?
My worst… I remember a concert filmed for TV. When I was supposed to start my verse, I had a blank and forgot the lyrics. It was a first for me. The camera is on me and I can’t say a word. I don’t think I was nervous…probably drunk, actually (laughs). I was like a dick. But fortunately, there is also a “best memory”: it was a show in a small room, 200 people maximum, a place where, as a kid, I went to see the groups play while dreaming of being in their place. And this time, I was the one performing there. Obviously, when I play in stadiums, it’s incredible, but I don’t find this intimacy with the public.

With the resumption of concerts in 2022, what about the future tour? Dates planned in Europe or in France?
For the moment, we are on the Rockzilla tour in the United States. We don’t have anything planned in Europe yet but, yes, we can’t wait to come back. We were on tour with you when the Covid appeared and our concerts were cancelled. We were going to play in Paris…

Yes I remember, I still have the tickets for the concert with PAPA ROACH and ICE NINE KILLS.
Oh man, I’m sorry about that. It was terrible, we were looking forward to playing in Paris! It happened so fast. We didn’t really understand what was happening to us and, at the last minute, we were told that everything was cancelled. And then, with what’s happening with Russia, the next tour was cancelled. A real curse is nase. I can’t wait to finally be able to come and perform with the band. Honestly, I hope we get there soon.

You said that HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD had gone bad. It’s true that we realize that you have been touring for almost two decades! Are you, in the end, so different from your beginnings?
Yes and no. For my part, I would say that I feel more myself than 3 years ago and I also feel more intelligent, you see? You will no longer see me dead drunk at a bar counter, looking for an altercation, for example. Yes, more thoughtful about ourselves, that’s the thing that characterizes HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD today. And on the other hand, I like to feel the same feelings as when we started, because even if someone offered me 10 million dollars to change everything, I would not do things differently. Anyway, it’s not the money that makes you better, it’s the experiences you’ve had. I’m the same guy as at the beginning, but I estimate with a little more intelligence.

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Scrub has spent the better part of the last decade contributing to SCNFDM as the site's lead content editor.  His prior contributions to the Hollywood Undead fandom include providing content for famous Hollywood Undead tumblogs like HoodAsFuck and Vik Winchester's original HU Tumblog. His time in LA allowed him to provide the community with behind the scenes tidbits, music video shoot info, and exclusive live recordings of Han Cholo. Scrub has been participating in the Hollywood Undead community in some capacity as far back as Fall of 2008 on the original Ning page.  In his spare time, Scrub is a computer engineer by day, and also writes mini-reviews for various genres of games and shares pictures of his ever-growing Transformers collection on Twitter.