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Murderdolls and Wednesday 13’s frontman decided to see what would happen if he stripped back all the glam and goth from his shows. A few tours later, Mr 13 himself sits down to explain why he’s persisted with a format that sometimes scares the shit out of him.
“This was a long time in the making because I never had enough nerve to get up and try it,” Joseph Poole, but you know him as Wednesday 13, says of the concept behind his Undead Unplugged Down Under tour.
“I had an idea that it would work was back in 2006 or 2007 when we had a part in the show where I played one song by myself without the band and it went over really well. And that’s what sparked the idea that I could do an entire show. So I kinda knew it could work, but I still had to get enough nerve to figure it out. And it wasn’t easy at first. People think playing acoustic is easy, but I don’t feel like it’s easy. Because there’s nothing to hide behind, no big amps or drums. So if you screw up, you screw up. And it’s a lot more stressful for me. But it’s also a cool thing to be in a position where it’s a bit terrifying playing a show.”
After a few successful runs through Europe with the unplugged tour Wednesday has gained confidence that the format works, but he confesses that, even still, the seasoned musician finds his hands shaking before he walks out on stage to play acoustically.
“[M]ost of the stories I tell in between songs are almost like comedy skits. So it’s almost like a comedy show. And I think a lot of people are surprised because a lot of people don’t know I have that sense of humour. Because they come to the shows and they read into the lyrics a little bit and they think that I’m dead serious, but it’s a cool experience to be able to show fans my lighter side.” [WEDNESDAY]
“Every project I’ve done for the most part has had an image behind it, there’s been crazy costumes and makeup and stuff like that. So it’s really cool to do these acoustic shows because I’m onstage in the clothes that I wear all the time. And that’s kind of honest and cool.”
As Wednesday sees it, the shows have been resonating with fans because of their honesty. The bulk of the songs in his catalogue first take shape on an acoustic guitar, in a sense that is the purest form of some of his material.
“I write all these songs on my acoustic guitar and I would just sit around in my bedroom and play these songs in front of my cats. So I had this idea that it would be pretty cool if I did an acoustic show where it was almost like a Storytellers thing. Like one of those Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson VH1 Storytellers episode where they basically just sat down and told stories because they’d been through so much and in between they would play songs. And I thought it would be really cool to do that because my history of releases goes back to the 90s now so it’s kind of break it down in an acoustic form and tell stories and take questions from the audience… it’s really a sort of hang around the camp fire type experience. It’s not something you think of as a Wednesday 13 show, but somehow it works.
“It’s completely unrepresentative of my full band live show,” Wednesday continues. “We’re not dressing up in big costumes or anything like that and there’s no crazy lights. Nothing like that. It really is a sit on stools and tell stories and play songs in between. And most of the stories I tell in between songs are almost like comedy skits. So it’s almost like a comedy show. And I think a lot of people are surprised because a lot of people don’t know I have that sense of humour. Because they come to the shows and they read into the lyrics a little bit and they think that I’m dead serious, but it’s a cool experience to be able to show fans my lighter side.”
As much as the unplugged tour offers Wednesday 13’s diehard fans the chance to see a different side to the goth rock icon, the singer promises he’s not abandoning the full-band performances that helped him gain infamy. In fact, he promises there’s plenty more good shit in the Wednesday 13 pipeline.
“We have a new album, Condolences, which we’ve finished. It’s mixed and mastered and done. Right now I’m speaking with a couple of labels about a release date which I’m hoping for April, and once that comes out we’ll be touring around the world non-stop with that and hoping to get back to Australia before the end of the year.”
Wednesday 13’s Undead Unplugged Down Under Australian tour starts Thursday, 23 March with support from Bourbon Crow.
Thursday 23 March – The Brightside, Brisbane
Friday 24 March – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
Saturday 25 March – The Corner, Melbourne