If you go
• What: Deuce, in concert as part of the UPROAR Festival
• When: 3:20 p.m. Sept. 23, festival opens at 12:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. in autograph tent.
• Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road.
• Cost: $27-$90.90 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.
• Information: Uproar Festival
Officially, the second Hollywood Undead CD was called "American Tragedy" and it was released last year. But to some fans of the group, the "real" second album is called "Nine Lives," and it arrived on April 24 under the name Deuce. Deuce was the member of Hollywood Undead who wrote and produced virtually all of the tracks on the group's 2008 debut CD, "Swan Songs." That CD went on to become a significant hit, selling about 800,000 copies worldwide and topping alternative, hard rock and rock charts in the process.
Then came something few outside of the group anticipated. Deuce split with Hollywood Undead and is now launching his solo career. And to many fans of "Swan Songs," Hollywood Undead was not the same band on "American Tragedy," as the rap element that had been a prominent part of the sound on the first CD was largely absent and supplanted by a sound that was much more rock oriented. For those fans, "Nine Lives" sounds more like the second Hollywood Undead CD they expected than what "American Tragedy" was. The split came down mostly to the age-old issue of musical differences -- something that is apparent in listening to "Nine Lives" and comparing it with "American Tragedy."
"My thing is listen to my album, and I feel it explains the most that way," Deuce said. By going solo, Deuce said, he could avoid being locked into a metal-rap style, and with "Nine Lives" he feels he broadened the range of his music -- something that he believes will allow him to attract a larger audience than he reached with Hollywood Undead.
"A song like 'I Came To Party,' featuring Travie McCoy, that wouldn't have been there if I would have been with my old band," Deuce said. "That's like a big party song that everybody can get into. It's dancy, but I like it. It's (expletive) heavy. It's still dark.
"I just think it's more, it's fresh. It's newer. It's more contemporary, and it's not old," he said. "It hits more people. It hits younger people, still, but it hits 50-year-old, 60-year-old people. They're still into it. I go to the airport and I play it for a Marine or something, and they're just like 'Dude, this is good music,' and they're older. So I don't know if it was always like that before, but that's how I feel this 'Nine Lives' album is."
There are, indeed, a variety of facets to the hard-hitting "Nine Lives" CD. It has its party starters, such as "Let's Get It Crackin'" and "I Came To Party" -- tracks that blend electronic and hip-hop with high-powered rock. Some of the songs are riff-based rockers ("Help Me" and "America"), while others draw more from hip-hop ("The One" and "Freaky Now"). Lyrically, Deuce, who's never been afraid to push the envelope with lyrics that some would view as vulgar and sexist, is back to his old tricks on tracks like "Let's Get It Crackin'" and "Freaky Now." Even he admits he surprises himself sometimes with how extreme he'll get when he's writing about sex and women. But he enjoys getting a rise out of audiences, be it with his words or his music.
"It's just fun," Deuce said. "I know that it's going to cause a reaction from the public, and that's what I do. I'm not like a fully controversial artist, but I am at the same time, and I like knowing while I'm making the song, 'Oh (expletive), this is going to cause a reaction in people.' That's just fun to me. And if it doesn't cause a reaction in people, then I don't know, it's not good enough."
At the same time, "Nine Lives" has some songs that show a more thoughtful side, such as "America" (which fires back at critics of the United States), "Nobody Likes Me" (an anthem for people who feel like outsiders) and "The One" (a song that touches on unity, support for each other and dreams).
Deuce is now getting the chance to see how his new music goes over in a live setting. He's on tour as part of the UPROAR Festival tour, headlined by Shinedown. He's touring with four musicians, which he said brings a bit different sound to his songs, which feature a good deal of synthetic instrumentation and programmed beats.
"It sounds different, but it's mainly about us," Deuce said. "If our energy is high, the song is going to sound good. If our energy is not high, it's not going to sound as good.
"Yeah, it sounds the same or better," he said. "It has live drums, of course, and the other drums aren't there. And it's just kind of crazier. There are more people doing vocals. It's more of a group thing. It's more of something the crowd can get into. Like the crowd can sing along, because I'm singing, but then I have my backup guy singing with me, so it kind of gives it more of a group (feel). I don't know, it makes me want to sing along more to it and party to it."