Regardless of your personal taste in music, one cannot help but be impressed by the DIY and get-it-done nature of the punk rock scene. It’s incredibly powerful and inspiring to see a group of individuals band together and make their art come to life.
More often than not, the artists end up losing money or making very little in return from the final product. However, when you look back at the legacy left behind and the art that really hits home, you realise some things are worth more than a couple extra zeroes at the end of the cheque.
The story of horror punk rocker Wednesday 13 is an interesting one filled with peaks and lows. His start in music can be traced back to two bands, Maniac Spider Trash and Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13—both garnered decent followings, but nothing as significant as what was to come. It was his joining of Joey Jordison’s (ex-Slipknot drummer) Murderdolls project that truly catapulted Mr 13 to the top of the music scene and the hearts of horror punk aficionados around the world. The band rode high for two years, even appearing on a Dawson’s Creek episode and sharing the stage with the likes of Iron Maiden and Foo Fighters.
Like most good things, though, Murderdolls came to an end (then another start and end much later). Carrying the band’s momentum into his eponymous project, Wednesday 13 released his debut album, Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying, and the Dead, via Roadrunner Records and the follow-up, Fang Bang, on Rykodisc. After two lukewarm label releases, he struggled to find a home for his next outing, Skeletons, so he released it independently in the US. Interestingly, Skeletons matched his previous release’s first-week sales figures.
“My last CD, Fang Bang, came out through a major distributor and was shipped to all music retail stores nationwide,” said Wednesday 13 in an interview with Access Limited. “Skeletons has almost matched the previous first-week numbers by doing an exclusive deal with Hot Topic. This also does not include any online sales, as the CD has not been placed on iTunes yet.”
The release of Skeletons showed he’d built enough of a decent following to sustain himself all by himself—even more remarkable is how he did it in a niche genre such as horror punk. Since then, Wednesday has remained largely independent and continued to tour around the world. The fact he’s still earning a living from his music today means he’s doing something right—and that you don’t always need the big labels to help you make it in the music scene.
Now how does any of this equate to writing? I’m glad you asked. Like musicians, many writers believe the journey to the land of milk and honey is filled with hotshots who hold the key to unlocking your dreams, but it’s far more complex than that. Just because you have an agent or a sweet deal doesn’t mean truckloads of money and awards are being dropped off at your doorstep; it can come crashing down at any minute. Look at the Wednesday 13 example—one minute you’re on top, the next you’re not.
Writing is about building your readership one person at a time, and having more perseverance and determination than the day before. There will be agony, there will be success, there will be indifference. But if you believe it can be done and you just do it (I bet you heard Shia LaBeouf’s voice now), nothing can stop you from achieving what you set out to do.