George Ragan has worn many masks throughout his nearly two decade-spanning career. After spending years as Johnny 3 Tears in rap-rock band Hollywood Undead, sporting a series of literal masks as part of his costume, Ragan announced his new persona George Ragan The Dead Son in 2021. For the vulnerable single “All Gone,” which premiered last month, along with the announcement of his upcoming debut album The Abyss, out May 14, Ragan appears ready to ditch the mask and show the world who he’s been hiding.
When working with Hollywood Undead, a group he co-founded with his friends in 2005, Ragan was eager to contribute to the team effort. But as the years passed, he realized he had something more personal to share on his own that didn’t fit the mold of the group.
“I was always composing and writing stuff, and sometimes even recording and putting it on the back burner. And then eventually, I wanted to do something with it besides getting drunk and listening to it by myself— [that] didn’t sound as appealing anymore. So, I was like, alright, let’s do something with it,” Ragan shares with American Songwriter. “It’s been a long time coming, but it kind of all came out in one spurt.”
At the age of 39, Ragan now finds himself ready to face his demons. With his new record, Ragan traded the task of depicting the outside world for some soul-searching, turning to his love of songwriting to guide him through it.
“I found that writing songs was the fundamental way for me to get any kind of answer from myself,” Ragan shares. “It allows you to dig in an artistic way, where you don’t feel like you’re sitting on the couch with a therapist. It’s just trying to find the answers to my own questions about myself and doing it in a form with music behind it.”
Ragan took his uninhibited self-exploration one step further with the accompanying video for “All Gone,” where he delves deeper into his candid struggle with mental health. Ragan knew he couldn’t tread around depicting self-harm lightly, believing he’d be doing a disservice and ultimately creating a parody of the subject matter if he held back. “I figured if I’m going to tackle this subject, I want to do it as openly and honestly as possible, so I don’t feel like I’m belittling the intelligence of someone who watches,” Ragan says.
The suicidal thoughts followed by tragic actions portrayed in the video were scenes Ragan admitted to being “very strange to film.” But this ability to not pull punches is a sentiment shown throughout the entirety of Ragan’s upcoming album, launching a new era of transparency for the singer.
“Music is important to me because I can say the things I want to say without thinking I’m batshit crazy. And then the people who otherwise wouldn’t want to hear these things can find comfort in it because they’re probably looking for, to some degree, the same answers,” Ragan says. “But there are also social constructs that dictate how we act towards each other. That’s why whenever you walk by someone and say, ‘How are you?’ I’ve never heard anything besides ‘I’m fine,’ even though we all know that not everything and everyone is always fine. So, I think music is a good medium to say what we mean without breaking those unspoken rules.”
Listen to George Ragan’s latest single, “All Gone,” with the accompanying visual below and pre-order his upcoming debut album The Abyss, out May 14, here.