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Hollywood Undead makes Sturgis debut

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Hollywood Undead

Hollywood Undead plays at the Buffalo Chip on Tuesday in Sturgis.

Traveling with Bad Wolves, Falling in Reverse and Papa Roach, Hollywood Undead made their debut appearance at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Tuesday night as a special guest in Papa Roach's and Falling in Reverse's Rockzilla Summer Tour.

Sturgis was the 10th stop on the four rock bands' 25-concert tour that started on the East Coast and is now winding through the Midwest before the groups play several shows in the Southwest and then wrap up in the music capital of the country, Nashville.

Veteran member of Hollywood Undead, Jorel Decker, 38, who goes by J-Dog, has been with the group since its inception in California in 2005. J-Dog’s positions in the band include vocals, guitars, bass, keyboard and programming. Before Tuesday, he had never been to Sturgis before, despite his family connections.

“My dad’s side of my family was like super into biker culture … My dad was super into it. My grandpa was like a Hell’s Angel. His name was Jungle Jim Decker. It never stuck with me though,” he said. “I saw some wild [expletive] as a kid being around that stuff. My dad came and went so much. He wasn’t in my life a lot, so that’s probably why.”

J-Dog said he wouldn’t have gone to Sturgis if it hadn’t been for the tour, but he spent the morning walking around downtown and taking in the sights of the rally.

“I always wanted to do this, but it’s not something I would necessarily do on my own,” he said.

Although J-Dog is able to play different instruments as well as provide vocals for the band, he never received any formal musical training growing up. His mother was resistant to the public school system, and he stopped going to school at about 13 years old.

“I feel like in this day and age, if you can’t teach yourself something, that’s just an excuse, especially with the invention of YouTube and whatnot, you can learn anything,” he said. “Anybody can learn anything. You just have to be willing to learn basically. So I just taught myself everything through friends, books and the internet.”

Hollywood Undead is scheduled to release their eighth studio album, "Hotel Kalifornia," on Friday. Throughout the creation of those albums, J-Dog has been able to watch the band evolve and develop over the years with fluctuation of members and the passing of time.

“It’s hard for any artist or band to evolve and keep your fan base happy but also change enough where you feel like you’re progressing and not doing the same thing over and over,” J-Dog told the Journal just hours before the group took the stage on Tuesday. “It’s been a difficult process, but we just do whatever feels natural. We don’t try to force anything.”

As far as what feel "Hotel Kalifornia" will have, J-Dog said he can’t completely define it.

“It’s all over the place,” he said. “Every album we write literally goes from a metal song to a hip hop song to a rock song to a ballad, so I can’t really say there’s a vibe.”

“I think it’s just us feeling like kids again. We’re all best friends still, and when we wrote this, we checked our egos at the door and were just like ‘let’s just write music like we used to,” he said. “It came together really well. We haven’t written like that for a very long time.”

J-Dog’s favorite track on the new album is “World War,” which he said reminds him of “a real good '90s track.”

Hollywood Undead took the stage Tuesday as the sun began to set following Bad Wolves and before Falling in Reverse and Papa Roach. The group played some of their better known hits, “Bullet,” “Here Me Now,” “Undead,” and the crowd favorite “Everywhere I Go” on a fairly minimalist set featuring a backdrop with the band’s name on it.

J-Dog said ego doesn't have a role between the four bands who have been traveling together since July 27 and will continue to do so until the end of August. 

"Everybody gets along great. From the opening bands to the headlining band, we're all just close friends. It's kind of rare to come across that," he said.

— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at sgee@rapidcityjournal.com — 

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