Finding a balance between competing interests can be a complex challenge for anyone. For masked marauders Hollywood Undead though, juggling a burgeoning marijuana brand with the demands of international touring and recording work out as harmoniously as their music. Four years ago, the group officially launched their cannabis business, Dove & Grenade, and in that time the Los Angeles quintet has continued to write and release music prolifically and play to legions of fans all over the world. Today, the band sits at the helm of a thriving grow operation, dispensary business, and product roll out which has expanded beyond their home state of California to newly legalized Oklahoma, while they release their sixth full length album, New Empire Vol. 1, and embark on a slew of shows crisscrossing the globe.
The group has described the new record as a “reimagining” of sorts for themselves, an opportunity to do new things and push fresh ideas.
“When we decided to do New Empire, our whole purpose going into the studio was to get back to ground zero; what would we do right now if we had never released a record before this one,” says founding member Johnny 3 Tears. “The intention was to reimagine the band instead of stacking songs on top of songs we wrote four to eight years ago. It was about erasing that as best we could and imagine what Hollywood Undead would do today if this was our first album.”
Even for the most seasoned of bands, reinvention is an arduous task, but Hollywood Undead managed the feat by getting back to their roots and getting in touch with their inspirations. “I like playing heavier music live and the band’s background is in rock, punk, and metal,” explains J-Dog, another founding member of the group. “So, we went more in that direction and I feel like we’re really doing what we always wanted to do this time.” Working with producer Matt Good of From First To Last fame, the band worked hard to craft some of the biggest, heaviest, and catchiest songs of their career so far and channel day to day challenges into creative rocket fuel.
“I literally use my daily life experiences, and crazy shit is still going on daily,” says J-Dog. “It’s very good for writing when you’ve got a life that is upside down.”
At the same time Dove & Grenade requires attention too, and Hollywood Undead are more than happy to take breaks from the rock star life to give their developing cannabis brand the time it deserves. When Oklahoma citizens voted to legalize medicinal marijuana in 2018, the band and some of their friends saw opportunity.
“It made sense,” explains J-Dog. “When weed went legal there, our friends hit us up and said, ‘You guys are cultivators and growers, do you want to open up some dispensaries?’ The laws over there are so much more open.”
Johnny 3 Tears adds, “We’d been working at it for years and had many ups and downs along with anybody else who’s been growing in California. California makes it very difficult and we found a brave new world in other parts of the country.”
Since making the move, the band members have found themselves managing cultivation in Oklahoma City and working hard to satisfy this new market with the type of exceptional quality and dependable goods expected in their California home. “We have these pre-rolls and they are amazing,” says J-Dog. “Since we’re growers we can put flowers in our own pre-rolls. Most people use shitty floor shake, but I can throw a pound of weed into my pre-rolls since I’m the grower and I’m in charge.”
“I’ve tried a lot pre-rolls and I think we make the best pre-rolls on the market!” Johnny 3 Tears added. “They’re just top notch!”
At the end of the day though, whether working to write hit songs or collaborating on the best path in this new business of legalized marijuana, inspiration and community remains a key part of it all. “I’ve known the guys in our band since we were little kids; our parents used to drive some of us to preschool together,” muses Johnny 3 Tears. “That’s how long I’ve known these guys. So, some of what inspires me is the comaradery when I’m in a room with them. Honestly, I get inspiration just from being in the room with the same guys and doing what we care about.”
With dedication, passion, and heart for both creating music and growing the best weed they can, expect to be hearing from and enjoying the labors of Hollywood Undead for a very long time. “We’re happy, man, and we’re just happy there are people out there that are passionate about the band,” says Johnny 3 Tears. “We’re gonna keep going until people stop showing up and we might even keep going after that.”