|basement tapes||concert reviews||cd reviews||interviews||ticket swap||music news|
By Phil Bonyata
Trick-or-treating with Rob Zombie
"One on One"
Oct. 31, 2009
Rob Zombie's career thus far has been one of a dark Renaissance man. From creating heart thumping metal with his band White Zombie (named after the 1932 horror film starring Bela Lugosi) and turning to a very successful solo career in 1998 to taking horror films into a tasty and twisted new world with "House of a 1,000 Corpses," "The Devil's Rejects" and the two "Halloween" films, Zombie is staking his claim as an innovator with a twisted vision.
Zombie is taking a break from his filmmaking (there are current reports that he might do a remake of the 1950's sci-fi classic "The Blob") to hit the road with his band on The HELLBILLY DELUXE 2 TOUR. He hasn't headlined a tour since 2007 and is apparently itching to hit the road. Openers include Nekromantix and Captain Clegg & the Night Creatures last seen puttin' the musical hooks in Haddonfield, Illinois in Zombie's latest film "Halloween II." The tour will usher in Zombie's forthcoming album Hellbilly Deluxe II.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata recently chatted with Zombie via a teleconference.
What possessed you to do a sequel to Hellbilly Deluxe in Hellbilly Deluxe II?
Zombie: I've had the idea for many, many years - like that would be cool and go back and do that. Even though the idea has been floating in my head for three years, it wasn't until recently that I wanted to do Hellbilly Deluxe II. I didn't want to slap some title to the record that didn't make sense and didn't tie in with the original. I really feel like that it's the perfect companion piece to the first record.
In the spirit of the season - what are your top three favorite Halloween candies and on the flip side what's the worst thing you can give a kid on Halloween?
Zombie: Well, without a doubt the worst thing you could give a kid on Halloween is a toothbrush! (laughs) I remember when that was a popular thing to do. Or dental floss - why didn't they just punch the kids in the face - they probably would have liked that better. Personally, I'm sick of candy. Candy corn is my favorite and I get very excited when I see it on the shelves. Usually, I'll buy a bag and open it in the car and by the time I get home I'm disgusted with myself for eating it.
There's rumors that you are going to be remaking the 1950's classic "The Blob" - is there any truth to that?
Zombie: There's some truth to it. That's the movie that we're talking about now, but I don't know for sure if I'm doing that and if I am doing that I don't know when I would be doing that. So, there's truth to it, but as far as when and where it would happen - I have no idea.
You've been quoted as saying that you firmly believe that the CD format is going to be dead soon. Do you think that cover artwork is lost on a generation?
Zombie: I hope not. I mean, I hope that CDs don't disappear that quickly, but the way the business is going, it's not something that I like, but the harsh reality is, I think that album artwork will be a thing of the past unfortunately. Where will you put it? I mean people that grew up with vinyl believed that it was a huge sacrifice with CD art compared to vinyl covers. I mean, it went to 12" to like 4" and people started to simplify their artwork and everything just became a giant picture of somebody. Anything else you just couldn't see it. If you look at Sgt. Pepper's artwork on a CD you say "what's going on with this," but when viewed on an album you understand the artwork. Unfortunately, CDs took artwork lower. Once that goes away I don't know what will be artwork. It's weird because everyone has websites and blogs and MySpace so there's so much artwork everywhere, but I think that "classic" images will start getting lost because there just won't be that strong of a format anymore. And the new generation of kids coming up will say "Who gives a crap, anyway."
Were there any societal perversions that inspired your new record?
Zombie: For the first time ever we were writing when we were on tour, because we never really do that. Now we can really work fast wherever we're at. We were compiling song bits and songs over a long period of time. As far as being affected by things that are going on in the world - no - I think creatively the record exits within it's own bubble. We don't consciously put social events into our music, obviously in some fashion they might find their way into the music.
Since you've remade the classic "Halloween" how would you feel about someone else remaking "House of 1000 Corpses" or "The Devil's Rejects"?
Zombie: Well, I have no doubt that that's going to happen and I think it could be pretty wild. I would probably be excited and think it's cool. I'm predicting in maybe 10 years that that someone will remake "House of 1000 Corpses." As time goes by they'll be chewing up the remakes because they're running out of new material. Actually, it has a lot more name recognition then like "Sorority Row." It's kind of like when you hear someone cover your song - it's kinda fun just to hear it. I don't know how I'll feel - I can't really say. Hopefully, I'll feel good about it.
Did the whole band contribute to the writing of Hellbilly Deluxe II and does John 5 do any shredding on the album?
Zombie: We're pretty much a band collaboration. Obviously, me and John 5 do most of the songwriting, but everybody is an integral part of it. As far as John 5 doing any shredding - it's not typical like he's going to breakdown and do these amazing solos for you, it's just like the stuff he's playing that people are going to think he's using sequencers and samples, but it's not - it's John playing guitar. It's kind of like when you see Rage Against the Machine or see Rage Against the Machine - it's "holy fuck" that's all guitar! People are going to say "holy shit! and John's doing a lot of that on this record. Until people see him live, people are going to say "holy shit" that's him playing guitar! It's not like weird keyboard effects. I mean, John's incredible, he took it to a new level creatively.
You recently did a show in Japan, was it good to get the cobwebs out in a place you haven't been in a long time?
Zombie: I haven't been to Japan for so long. The last time we were in Japan was with White Zombie in 1992 opening for Pantera and even then we were playing small clubs. Now we were playing a large stadium as a solo act. I thought it would be more like getting the cobwebs out, but it seemed like we were on tour forever. I've never had more fun anyplace - if I could speak Japanese I'd move to Japan, it was such a great time.
You've done it all - what do you have stashed in your hip pocket that we haven't seen yet?
Zombie: Well, always one of the things that I've wanted to do, but actually not in awhile is and every year it seems to slip through the cracks, is about ten years ago or so I used to do theme park attractions for Universal Studios. Two years in a row for their Halloween Horror Night. I always felt that I would like to expand that. But. every year Halloween seems to come up so fast that that I'm in the middle of music or a movie or something that I can't do it again. You know I've had offers to do it in Vegas and elsewhere, but it's never the right time. Because you'd have to work full-force right now for next year. That's always something that I really want to do that always seem to fall to the back seat of my other projects.
Do you have anymore "Halloween" movies in your future and why do you think that the second movie wasn't as well received as the first one?
Zombie: No, I don't have anymore in my future. I thought it was only one and then I did "II" and I said enough is enough. It's like whatever is the new thing is never as well received as the last thing. It's really weird like that because people would say "man, what you did with the first "Halloween" is what I really loved - what happened on the second?" When we put out "Halloween" people would say "man, what did you do it's "The Devil's Rejects" that we really love." When "The Devil's Rejects" came out people would say "man it was "House of a 1,000 Corpses" that was so cool." People see a movie or buy a DVD and they see it a hundred times...so when they go see the new one they're always disappointed because the first one was this old tried and true friend that they've memorized a hundred times. But, what's really funny is it's already happening with this one. People are like they see it a couple of times and once the DVD comes out and they watch it a few more times they suddenly go "man, I saw it in the theatre and I really didn't like it that much, now it fucking kicks ass!" Every record - same story - people tell me why it's not as good as the last record until there's the next record and suddenly the record they weren't so thrilled with is now the one they love. It's been going on for 25 years now and it's such a weird thing. But, I understand it because I do the same thing - if you sit at home and you listen to a record over and over and over and you memorize every little thing and when the new one comes of course you can't love it as much as the last one.
Any plans to self-release your next album?
Zombie: I'm still under contract with Geffen Records, so it hasn't been an option. This new album is my last album under the contract. It's definitely the way of the future. I mean, record labels are becoming obsolete. Why do you need a record label? I mean, you might need one now, but barely...barely. Everything is online, you can hire yourself some kid that can do the work of...(pffffff) what the record labels don't have anyone anymore because they're all going out of business.
Even in your wildest, bloodiest teenage dreams did you ever imagine a life and a career based on making horror movies and rock 'n roll?
Zombie: Umm, yes. (laughs) I think that's how I got here and people who get where they are do imagine it. I knew this is what I was going to do. I didn't want to have a normal life and a normal job. I didn't ever want to spend time doing something that I didn't want to do. I mean, that sounds like a cute attitude when you're a kid and your parents think that you're crazy. I think you have to hold onto that attitude, because it gets beaten out of you when as grow up. I notice this with art like drawing and painting. Every little kid draws and paints, Everybody is doing it - in kindergarten, first grade, second grade and then you start seeing people drift away from it. I think that for whatever reason society in general tends to want you to stop doing the things that you love. That's seems to be what the definition of growing up is and doing the thing that you hate and that makes you miserable. To be miserable by definition is being an adult.
Rob Zombie performs at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI on Thursday, November 19th and The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, IL on Sunday, November 22nd with additional details at www.ticketmaster.com.