As the heir apparent to Alice Cooper, outrageous shock rocker Wednesday 13 has forged a reputation for pushing his live sets to the limit – a combination of heavy metal riffs, Rocky Horror Show-style theatre and dazzling light shows delighting a loyal army of devotees for two decades.
Yet there’s a softer side to the North Carolina native christened Joseph Poole and the former Muderdolls frontman has chose the sanctuary of some of Britain’s most intimate live venues to bare his soul and strip things down.
The Undead, Unplugged tour is a huge gamble where Wednesday is concerned. As far removed from his comfort zone as it’s possible to be, the 37-year-old is approaching his latest run of 10 UK shows with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.
“I feel very exposed,” he admitted. “I’m bringing Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley (guitarists from Wednesday’s solo band) along for the ride but it’s still going to be a very intimate show.
“A lot of my fans just can’t imagine what some of the acoustic interpretations of their favourite songs sound like and I’m under pressure to perform them well.
“However, perhaps people don’t realise that I write most of my songs on the acoustic guitar and then build them up from there. A good song should sound great on an acoustic guitar as well as with a full band behind it.”
Wednesday warmed up for his biggest challenge yet five years ago when he took country rock side project Bourbon Crow on the road. Another leap into the unknown, it proved to be a huge success and a musician renowned for thinking outside of the box is hoping history will repeat itself.
I guess the idea for the acoustic album and tour has been there for years and years,” he added.
“People know I did my country project Bourbon Crow and I toured with that in the States in 2009. I enjoyed the ‘stripped down’ feel – it was something very different and a change for me. It gave me a lot of confidence and it showed how that kind of set can work.
“I finally got the idea in my head for this particular tour at the end of last year. I wanted to record an acoustic album and take it out on tour. Hopefully it will be cool.
“The thing is I’ve just got so used to playing full electric shows and doing what I do on stage with an amp and the drums behind me. I always have people to fall back on and although I’m bringing a couple of the guys on the road with me this time it’s very much about putting myself in the spotlight.
“I don’t really have a blueprint for the acoustic show. Not all of my favourite bands have done something like this so it’s a bit of a leap into the unknown. I don’t have a lot to draw on. It’s a challenge.”
Significantly Wednesday would rather meet the challenge in the UK than back home in front of an unforgiving US audience fearful of evolution and spoon fed a diet of unremarkable radio rock.
“This is the first place that really patted me on the back,” he added. “So it feels like the right place to play these shows but on the other hand it’s nerve-wracking because these are some of the people who know me best.
“In the early 90s it was Kerrang! magazine that understood me straight away – they gave us a 5K review for the Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 album and when Murderdolls came out they loved us.
“The UK was the first place that made me feel like everything I’d worked towards for my whole life was worthwhile. I wasn’t going to test this out in the States where I might get a bottle thrown at my head! No way.
“The UK is my home away from home – I wouldn’t say it’s my comfort zone but the fans over here have always understood what I’m doing or at least what I’m trying to do!”
:: Wednesday 13 plays Newcastle’s The Cluny on Friday May 23. The new album Undead Unplugged is set for release on July 7.