Jeff Hardy discusses forming his band, Peroxwhy?gen, his new album, and almost playing the Warped Tour
Fun fact: Jeff Hardy rocks.
No, really. He literally rocks. In addition to forging a comeback run in WWE alongside brother Matt, The Charismatic Enigma is the frontman of an alternative rock band called Peroxwhy?gen, who just released their latest record, “Precession of the Equinoxes,” through his personal website. In an exclusive interview with WWE.com, Jeff discussed how he formed the band, the meaning of the name (and how to pronounce it: Per-Ox-Why-Gen), and that time he almost played the Vans Warped Tour.
WWE.COM: Could you talk to us about how the band got started and how you came up with the name?
JEFF HARDY: Actually, back in ’99, 2000, 2001 is when I met my guitar player, Junior Merrill, in Cincinnati. He just gave me some acoustic tracks, and I was writing poetry at the time — a few raps, but not like rock ‘n’ roll, like alternative music — and I fell in love with his style. I started to write to what he threw down on a six-string guitar and we clicked, man. We started getting together and rehearsing a bit; between now and then, we’ve [produced] a lot of songs. It’s been so much fun: the process of recording, writing and performing. I can’t wait to do more.
WWE.COM: You just put out a new record, too, correct?
JEFF HARDY: On [July 17], we released our third band album, but overall, I’ve released 48, 49 songs now that I can go out and perform. It’s something that I’ve done for a long time, but now I’m just starting to get out in front of people and do it. I’m very excited for what the future holds.
It’s therapy for me, actually, just like painting. If I see a blank canvas and I have an image in my mind, I’m gonna do my best to bring it to life.
WWE.COM: Did you audition any members to join the band or did you know who you wanted from the outset?
JEFF: No, it’s just been me, my guitar player, Junior Merrill, and Dale Oliver, my producer in Music City, Nashville, Tenn. He’s great. I’ve learned so much from him. He’s like my “musical father,” so to speak.
Oh, yeah, and the name! “Peroxwhy?gen.” It’s very confusing, and people wonder what it means. I was on the toilet one day and I looked at a peroxide bottle, and I thought, “Peroxide, it cleans wounds and heals you. And oxygen, we need that.” I just took that letter “y” and made it a word “why.”
I remember I met [Smashing Pumpkins singer] Billy Corgan and said, “Hey, man, I think I got a pretty cool name. Really kind of abstract and it don’t make much sense.” He said that’s good, though, to put something out there that’s very artistic. So, that’s where it came from, and it just kinda stuck.
WWE.COM: Being a full-time WWE Superstar is obviously time-consuming. How do you split time between the ring and the band?
JEFF: It’s hard, man, [on] days like that Monday Night Raw in Nashville. We did that show after our latest CD – “Precession of the Equinoxes,” which is available now at JeffHardyBrand.com – came out. It was a tough day: We wrestled The Revival, got beat, and then I had to get ready and sing 14 songs. It’s tough, but I think moving forward, we’re gonna try to do a show at least once a month in towns near and around Nashville.
WWE.COM: The new album is very intense. What were some of your inspirations in writing it?
JEFF: My songs have always been journal entries to me. It’s very honest and open about everything I’ve been through in life. It’s therapy for me, actually, just like painting. If I see a blank canvas and I have an image in my mind, I’m gonna do my best to bring it to life. Same thing with music – I hear something, I just get obsessed with it. All I need is that opening line, find a good hook for the chorus, and I’m gonna finish that song.
WWE.COM: A lot of the songs are really heavy, while some have more of a pop feel. Do you prefer writing one kind of song over the other?
JEFF: It doesn’t matter to me. I want to do more slower stuff because the last time we performed was really tough. There wasn’t much breathing time with a lot of the songs. There are a lot of slower songs we could do really well, and I’d be able to breathe more. It’s conditioning; the more I do anything, the better I’ll get. But moving forward, I want to write a lot more slower songs.
I’ve already got one that’s just with Dale. It’s very slow – not a ballad, but for a movie, actually. I think it’s gonna [be in] an indie movie. But I’m up for anything. I like the heavy stuff to challenge myself and the slower stuff to just kind of meditate and feel the vibe.
I looked at a peroxide bottle, and I thought, 'Peroxide, it cleans wounds and heals you. And oxygen, we need that.' I just took that letter 'y' and made it a word 'why.'
WWE.COM: Songs like “Unforgivable” seem extremely personal. Is it difficult for you to write about intimate topics?
JEFF: They’re all extremely personal. “Emotionless” is a heavy song about a point in my life which is very public. Even after I went through all the chemical dependency issues and addiction, drinking is one of the easiest things to get out of control with. “Emotionless” is a song about drinking too much, honestly, but then kinda controlling it and drinking just enough to not get crazy. Some people are gonna hate it, and some people will love it.
“Unforgivable” is very heartfelt and very touching; that was one of my favorite slower songs the last time we performed live. I had a great feeling. It must be good if it gives you goosebumps, and I got goosebumps that night playing it.
WWE.COM: You also have a couple of big, six-minute epics on the album like “1 or 100” and “Fiction.”
JEFF: “Fiction,” to me, is fun. Basically, it’s fiction, you know? It’s my Moby Dick story. Instead of being a big, old [sperm] whale, it’s a killer whale in this song. The idea is that I got swallowed whole, but somehow survived and believed, had faith [that I’d be saved]. Essentially, it’s anything goes, and I love that about songs.
“1 or 100” is basically a love song to my wife. She’s been with me through thick and thin, and that last bridge is a journey back to the past when she got an asthma attack. It was the first time I had to call 911 on one of my own, and that whole bridge section is when I thought she was about to die. Basically, they arrived and brought her back to life. That’s a good song. It’s one of those ones I can’t wait to perform live.
WWE.COM: You’re unique as an in-ring performer; there really wasn’t a Jeff Hardy before you. How do you find it hard to create something similarly unique in the world of music?
JEFF: When you watch shows like “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent,” and you hear some of these voices out there … these kids sing so good, and it’s very intimidating. A lot of times, I’ll hear something I love that makes me go, “Why am I even trying this?” But I can’t help it. I guess I’m very passionate for it, and I want to strive and get better. I feel gifted in a sense, just like I did as a wrestler.
One day, I want to put all I can into the music world and actually make a living from it. It’s inevitable, just like wrestling. I’m gonna wrestle for as long as I can, paint for as long as I can and cut grass for as long as I can. I’m gonna do all that artistic stuff for as long as I can. I think it keeps me alive. I just love creating and staying as abstract and different as possible, and I love for others to be able to say, “Thank you. Because of you, I’m not afraid to be different.” That’s just the best, man. When a kid tells you that? That’s the best.
I’m gonna do all that artistic stuff for as long as I can. I think it keeps me alive.
WWE.COM: Talk a bit about that CD release party after Raw in Nashville. Matt was very enthusiastic about it on Twitter.
JEFF: Matt dropped me off, did a little filming, walked the streets of Nashville with my camera guy, met some fans along the way and got through the crowd there. People were going crazy. There was a band playing before us, so I just tried to prepare myself. Man, I was psyched up after that match with The Revival. I couldn’t wait to get onstage, and when that opening track hit, it just came so naturally.
I saw my performance later, and [looking back] I thought, “Wow, I could do that so much better. That’s what I did wrong and that’s what I’m gonna fix next time...” I need to start filming the whole show and just watch it all back, like a wrestling match, and I’m sure it’s gonna come to me.
WWE.COM: Does Matt ever offer contributions to the band?
JEFF: I’ve tried my best! Matt has written so many cool raps back in the day. I’ve said, “Man, let’s just get in the studio and record a brotherly song! I’ll try to do my little alternative abstract rock and you come in with a bridge rap at the end.” He’s like, “Yeah, man,” but he’s also said he’s gonna get “Hardy Boyz” tattooed on his neck and it hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know if we’ll ever write a song together. Still, for him to come out and support me that night meant the world. We’ve been through so much, and for us to be back in WWE doing what we’re doing now, and have my music going the way it is, it’s the best to have his support.
WWE.COM: What’s the ultimate goal for the band?
JEFF: I actually had the opportunity to play the [Vans] Warped Tour this month, two Carolina dates. I was so scared to commit; I knew I was coming back to WWE, but it was before we made our return. I was like, “I can’t really commit to that; should I ask somebody?” I kept putting it off and putting it off until finally, I said, “All right, there’s no more time.” But, starting now, my goal is to play the Warped Tour next summer – a couple of days in the Carolinas or Tennessee. As far as wrestling, it’s to keep on rockin’ and maybe perform at one of the pay-per-views these days. Maybe write a song for one.
WWE.COM: And, one last time, where can the WWE Universe find the album?
JEFF: I’m very old-school. I’m still a fan of going to Best Buy and getting a CD. I’m not a digital guy at all, so right now it’s not digitally available. But you can get it through JeffHardyBrand.com.
The album’s really cool. There are full lyrics in there and it’s a cool collector’s item. “Precession of the Equinoxes” is available on JeffHardyBrand.com, and I’m sure that eventually you’ll be able to download it as well.