This was a pretty strange interview. In over 30 years of talking to musicians, it is the first time I've ever been involved in something like this. It was called a Teleconference and there must have been a couple dozen writers on the phone and I'm assuming, scattered all over the country (maybe over the world). Everybody checked in with a main operator and when it came to your turn, you would ask Rob Zombie
a question. So what you're reading here, are the questions from many different interviewers. It's interesting.
Anyway, it gives you a pretty wide spectrum of queries from a lot of different journalists. Rob Zombie
stayed on the phone for well over an hour and was most accommodating. Many of the questions revolved around the new White Zombie
box set, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
, but as you'll read, all aspects of his life and career were investigated.
UG: I thought that the title for your box, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, was pretty apropos. How long did it take you to come up with that?
It was - there was two titles I had in mind and that one went out. It was - it's pretty self-explanatory because I didn't want everybody to think the box set was the beginning of something I wanted everyone to realize it was the end of something. So this is such a perfect title.
So, I know you're busy working on your next studio record. Tell me a little bit about or tell me what you can about the studio record? I know you are working with the touring band on it.
Yes, we are almost finished. We will probably be finished with the record completely before Christmas. And it's great. I mean actually, the unique thing about this record is, it's the first time since White Zombie broke up, I've actually recorded with the band.
In the sense that these are the guys that I tour with, that I hang out with. We are a band and we record as a band. So the record you know it's hard to describe how music is different to someone if you haven't heard yet or whatever. But it's just got a much more solid vibe and it's just going to be a much more intricate, interesting record I think, just due to the fact that we have four people that are in the room all the time, contributing and working. For me it's great.
Because my solo records have been somewhat disjointed, because it is always a changing roster. People and the people that are touring, are not the people that are playing on record and this is a - great things usually come out of situations that we have a great vibe and you can usually feel it. And that's what going on here.
It's interesting, because you say this about the new album, you are recording it with the band, and in the band's passion again. Did putting the box set together and having that band feeling, did that make any impact on what you are doing with the album?
No, not at all. It made me appreciate the new band more, because going back and putting the White Zombie box set together, brought up a lot of things that I had forgotten about. Unfortunately, some of it was negative.So you know you really appreciate when you are in a good situation with a good group of musicians and a good group of guys, and that's, you know - it took 20 something years, but I feel like I finally found the three perfect people to work with.
What made this the right time to do this White Zombie box?
You know, I've been trying to put it together for a long time. But it was just, I would let everything to take precedence over it. A movie, a new record, because I am not big on revisiting the past, I like to move forward all the time. So whenever anything else would come up, that would go in the backburner. And you know, I just had a - I had a little bit of window, and just knocked it out. And I also figured that, if not now, when? By waiting longer, CDs aren't even going to exist, so there will be no box sets. So, this seems like a good time.
You mentioned the thing that it had brought up other things. What were your emotions, the perspective, as you went through assembling it?
I mean, it was kind of - you know, it was a weird situation. Like any first - a lot of bands, because when the band started, everybody is so young. And then you go through a lot of changes, and you start a band when you are 18 years old, and I don't remember how old I was when it ended. But you know, you're basically right out of high school. So, you are not really in mind frame to sometimes handle what it takes it to put that together. And then you do mature, and then being in a band becomes a weird situation, because it's almost like the situation hasn't matured with you. So you know, that band had a lot of growing pains, and a lot of baggage all the way through, and a lot of rotating people. And I think we did a lot of good stuff, and I think we're kind of ahead of the curve in the beginning, and did some groundbreaking stuff. But it was a painful situation most of the time actually.
Did you do involve any of the others, were they involved at all, or any contact with them at all during the making of it?
No, no. I haven't spoken to them since our last show.
Who else is on the record?
It's the same guys I have had for a couple of years. John 5, Tommy Clufetos and Piggy D, which they've all been with me now for probably two years, I guess. John 5, longer. But we've never actually recorded a whole record together. Part of Educated Horses was John 5 and Tommy, but Matt wasn't around yet and the other guys were still new. And so you know, this is the first full effort of us together.
Will any of the music be in any of your upcoming films?
No, definitely not. I made a choice a while back after A House of 1000 Corpses - House of 1000 Corpses had some of my music, but that was out of financial desperation to get the music, to get the movie done. I took an advance on a soundtrack, and then put the movie, the money back into the movie to finish it. But after that, I always told myself I would keep music and movies separate and that I would never put my own music into the movies. I mean I might someday, if it's ever appropriate, but to me it's never been appropriate. I find it distracting to hear my own music. It takes me out of the film for some reason. So,no plans.
And can I ask how things are with Superbeasto.
The Superbeasto is completely finished, and done, finally. I finished it about a week ago, finished mixing the sound and all that stuff. So, now we're just trying to figure out when the best time for it to come out is. I mean, that's really it. But as far as working on it, it's done, which - after three and half years, there is a nice feeling. I was hoping for one.
Rob, you've touched on a couple of things here. You've gone through a series of different guitar players, with White Zombie and with your solo stuff, and you've been working with John 5 now for several years, who is a pretty unbelievable guy, I've met him several times. He is just an extraordinary player. Is there something that you look for in a guitar player? I mean what kind of qualities do you look for in a guy, before kind of taking him on. What must he bring to the show as it were
Well, I mean, the thing that I always look for first is, somebody that I can get along with because you got to spend so much time with these people. Not just in the studio, but on tour, and when you're on tour, it's just day in day out. I think what these people like, they're your family.So if you have somebody, no matter how talented he is, but you can't fucking stand to be around him, because he is annoying or something, it doesn't work. And you know unfortunately, trying to find someone who is a world class guitar player, who is also like an awesome guy to be around, that you can be friends with. It is hard. And - I really - you know and that's why John 5 is the perfect person. He is like - we are like best friends; we get along great, we never have any problems, because he is such a good guy. And of course he is a world class guitar player. So it's a perfect situation. So when - I mean we actually - when the prospect of John 5 first came up. Not knowing him, I thought oh, he doesn't seem like somebody I get along with.
But when we hung out, we hit it off great. So you know, we're good friends now.
Yes he is a very cool guy. I mean, did you know his stuff from Marilyn Manson.
Oh, yes. I mean I was well aware of how good he was, and I had seen him in Manson and I had seen him in Two, Way Back When, and a bunch of other bands. But you know he is kind like me where, how he is perceived and who he is, is very different.
And that's why we hit it off, because I'm kind of the same way you know and everybody in the band is kind of like that. But, it just took a long - like I said took over 20 years, but I finally found a great guitar player that I can really vibe with.
Very cool comment. Hey, absolutely. You know, when you kind of changed from the White Zombie approach to your solo career in '98 Rob, you know at Hellbilly Deluxe and all that, was the mindset any different for you, as sort of a writer/ singer? In other words, you are now sort of creating material for your own solo career as opposed to this band thing.
I mean, did it come from any different kind of an emotional place in you? Did the lyrics take on you know any kind of a different meaning, or was the music different at all? I mean, is one different than the other you know the solo career versus the, kind of the band thing?
I mean they are not drastically different; because you know, let's say with White Zombie, I mean, the lyrics and stuff. The vibe was always - I always did what I wanted to do. I was never held back by the fact that it was a band or something. It was always you know what I wanted to do at the time. Musically sometimes, it would be a push and a pull, because you have - if it's a band everyone has got their idea, everyone has got an opinion. Everyone you know you're trying to make everybody happy, which is never possible. And so you know when it became my own thing, I could do whatever I wanted. You know, I could do anything I wanted at any time, and there was no one to say shit, or complain about it.
You know, when sometimes, some of the hardest won battles, even in White Zombie, ended up being you know some of the most popular songs and some of the hits. But you know, trying to get four people in a room, who are going to agree on anything, making it possible. And then you start trying to write music and stuff together. It's just - bands always - and that's fine.This is nothing you know that was a White Zombie problem. This is just being in a band problem. Those people can't, you can't have four people to agree on what movie they want to go see, or what they want to have for dinner. So by spending hours and hours and hours in rehearsal space playing, and you know, it's a nightmare.
Well, listen with the release of the Punisher War Zone thing coming up, the White Zombie retrospective box set and numerous appearances on compilations, featuring your own take on classic tracks. Can we ever expect to see a Rob Zombie album, of strictly covers maybe, spanning any and all styles of music, Rob Zombie style?
I mean, I thought about it before, because I do like doing covers kind of sometime.
You do them quite well.
But just never get around to - maybe someday. I mean, I always like the idea of it. And you know with certain bands like Metallica, they are one of them, their covers record in Garage Days is one of my favorite records. That they redid for some reason. I love that when it came out, and so maybe if I can ever find time, I like the idea of it. But I don't have any plans at the moment.
I know you're kind of a comic book guy. And I was wondering how you feel about kind of the recent trend in comic book movies, and how they are kind of putting that industry out there?
I mean, I think it's cool. What I really wish is, I wish these movies had come out in the 70s like this, you know. I am not as crazed about comic books as I was as a kid. So I mean, I would have lost my fucking mind, back then, if there was a Hulk movie and Fantastic Four movie and all these things. Unfortunately, that can't happen. But - and I think it's great, I mean, some of them are just amazing. I loved Iron Man. I thought Jon Favreau did an awesome job, well I really enjoyed that. I like the fact that now there are sort of A list talent on - in front of the camera and behind the camera. So they are good movies. For a long time, (comic) movies were shit and they are always just horrible just embarrassingly bad almost/ But now it's cool, I dig it.
And on kind of a related topic, do you feel like your filmmaking career has in anyway influenced the way you approach making music? Not necessarily we're putting the two together. But if they just influence each other in some way?
I think they've influenced each other in the sense of being - making - each one makes sort of appreciate the other one more because you get a break from it. You know, when it was just music, music, music and that's like all you talked about, all you did, you tend to burn out on it. Because I hate a place at one point, after Sinister Urge, where I was just burnt out, I was sick of infighting among bands, and being on the road with people that are always angry and tired, you just get burnt out. Because just like anything in life, you do too much, you get burnt out. And you know being able to make a movie, have that experience which is awesome. But even when you get to the end of a movie you know after a year and a half of just the intensity of a movie that burns you out. And so, it's been nice to do a movie, get away from it, make a record, do a tour, get away from it, go back, and do a movie. So either one has just really just made me love the other more, I guess.
I was wondering can you tell us a little bit about Tyrannosaurus Rex when it's going to come out, and what the movie is actually about?
Not really. There is no plan, there is nothing on yet. I haven't really started it yet. The problem with Tyrannosaurus Rex was - it sort of got announced like way ahead of time, unfortunately. So since it was out there, I started talking about it a little bit. But that movie has not even started yet, and so not too much to talk about that.
Do you keep in touch with Riggs?
No I haven't talked to him since probably - since the last time we played a show together. That's probably the last time I saw him.
Have you listened any of his Scum of the Earth music? Do you have an opinion on it?
I heard one track, one or two tracks, and it was funny when I heard him, because I go wild. I remember these songs, because they are songs that he had played me, when we were making Sinister Urge as possible songs for that record.
Haven't really talked yet about War Zone. Can you talk a little or just about how that assignment came down or how that came down in that, what you shot for on that on that song?
|"I didn't want everybody to think the box set was the beginning of something I wanted everyone to realize it was the end of something."|
That came down like most movie songs come down. You just get a call about doing it, doing a song for a movie. Usually, there's not a lot of time, that's why, we usually ended up giving them like a remake, sort of an old song or something. It was very really their time to write something new for the movie. But this time, there was enough time; I was already in the studio recording. So we just basically, I haven't seen the movie yet. So it wasn't based on me watching the movie. I had - they gave me the script, so I knew what it was about. And just sort of got in there and cranked it out. I figured, it was obviously - I knew the vibe of the movie. So I tried to incorporate that into the song. But I was happy to have that come up, because what it really did, it was a nice kick in the ass too. We've been recording, but we really haven't finished any songs yet. We had all those songs kind of half finished. And that was a good kick in the ass to actually have to finish a song. And that really became the domino effect of finishing all, starting to finish all the songs for the record actually. So it worked out good.
Do you have - do you have a timetable for the record?
I don't have a release timetable. Not sure yet, because unlike movies, with the records, they are not quite as (hyperdrol) to set a release date. But we're hoping to finish it by Christmas. So whenever, and sometime after that.
All right. And back to the White Zombie box. I mean, what was - after doing it, what was the kind of overall perspective you had at the band, and then what was some of the stuff you found for this that brought a smile to your face?
I mean, the funny thing was when I was putting it together, it seemed so long ago, I felt like I was putting together a box set of somebody else's band. Because even though it's not that long ago, the band broke up about 10 years ago. I guess that's pretty long. It just seems like forever going. Some of the early songs are like, whatever 20 years ago or something. I don't know, it just seemed weird. Most of the really old tracks I hadn't even listened to since then. The song was from like 1985; I probably hadn't listened to it, and heard it since 1985. So it was just kind of weird. Found a lot of old fliers in junk. But luckily, the biggest thing was I was just happy that I had saved a bunch of stuff, because I was saving it for no apparent reason, but now I have a reason so that I can throw it all away. It's all documented and done. So I don't have to save anything anymore.
So are there any song titles that you can actually reveal or are we still very premature?
No we're pretty deep into it. I mean, we're finishing it right now. Song titles, what are some of the song titles, Jesus Frankenstein, is one of our songs we finished, that's a good one. Another one called, can't think of any songs, Fixed Bubble Gum, that's one of our favorites.
And then lyrically, I mean, what approach did you take with this solo record?
It's all over the place. I don't really have an approach - I used to sort of have more of an approach of what I want to do. Now, we just go in the studio and we just kind of like let it happen and this is by having a band that helps because we change things for the moment, work on things and by the end of day - like we'll start with something in the morning, and by the end of the day its morphed into something completely different. And the lyrics, I'm pretty lucid with how I approach it. Sometimes I get inspired by things and sometimes I don't, I don't know. You just bang your head against the wall till something comes out I guess it's like something else.
So it's not like - it's not as though this, the recent election or any - you weren't politically inspired for this record lyrically?
I've always done things in a way that if there is any kind of specific message or information about anything, it's always hidden in the way that I write the lyrics. Because, I've never been a big, big fan necessarily of lyrics that are really blatantly obvious. I've always been more of fan of lyrics they were like what the fuck is that supposed to mean. I guess the case is being baffled by what Benny and Jets words or something. It's that sort of the approach I've always taken. Not that it's - but I mean other people write songs like that, and they work great for them. But that's just not my thing.
Last question, what was the biggest challenge that you had to sort of overcome, just working on this record. Even though, you're still working on it. But what was sort of the biggest challenge to do the whole process?
Well, I mean the biggest challenge is always the same basically. How do you do something that sounds fresh without making it so different that it's not you anymore. I mean, because that's the problem with anything that you do, as time goes on, because if it's too different, everybody complains, and if it's too much the same everybody complains. So we are just trying to find that sort of tight middle ground where it's your vibe and your things, but it still sounds fresh. So that's always the challenge.
You've pretty much lived the dream. You got to be a rock star, you got to - I mean you got do the remake of a John Carpenter movie. So what - you've done that stuff. What does a guy like you have left for I mean, what's - as far as what's the dream you haven't yet fulfilled?
I mean, I never really look at it that way, I don't know. I mean, there's always something - something always comes up, that you are like, why I never thought of that, that's cool. There is always going to be something that's always - even if it's just with music and movies. I mean, every movie is the new challenge and there is always a new exciting thing that goes with it. Every record is a new challenge and that's what's great about it. Whenever you do anything that's related to art, it never gets old. It's always exciting again, the exact same process. Every movie, from the moment it starts, goes off on its own crazy path, same as every record, and you just don't know where it's going. So it never gets tired, I am happy with that, its not like I'm always looking for a completely new thing I have to do. I mean, all those things are still pretty exciting.
You've talked before about perception, like people's perception of me versus the reality. And of course, you have your - the horror monster premise and stuff like that. But what's the one - what do you think is something about you that would blow people's mind that they knew Rob?
I don't know. I really don't know. You know, I don't know what are people's perception of me necessarily is, But I know that it's usually wrong. But of course it is, because they don't know I mean anymore than I know them. Who knows. I think the biggest misconception maybe is that everybody always thought that the only way you can come up with this stuff is that you're fucked up on drugs or something, which I never was. I think that's what I really thought about Frank Zappa too, and he was - and he wasn't either. So, it's kind of fine.
I wanted to go way back to White Zombie and ask what do you remember most about writing and recording La Sexorcisto and did it feel like a kind of make it or break it kind of album, and did you sense that you'd created something that's classic as it ended up being?
You know, we were just happy to be - up to that point in our career; we had never really had the chance to make a real record with real money. I mean, the budget for that record was still small, but it was like way beyond anything we'd ever seen before. So it was exciting to be in a real studio, working with the producer that we didn't have to make the whole record in like two days or something. So, that was great. Having a little bit of money, and by a little, I mean a little, but that's better than zero, which is what we used to have. And just didn't know what to think, because the musical climate at that time wasn't really screaming for band like White Zombie, but we had felt that there was a change kind of coming, because that was just following up around the time of the first, ((inaudible)) and Jane's Addiction was getting big and Primus and different weird bands were starting to pop. So, we felt that there was some kind of hope out there for us, because just a couple of years before that, it's like if you weren't Bon Jovi or Poison, you weren't even alive. So, we were so far off the radar. But as far as the album I always thought that it was pretty cool at the time I remember being a little bit disappointed with ((inaudible)) song. But I always thought Thunder Kiss was a cool song. That was the first time we had really sort of a concise song that maybe could reach people. So that was a main thing I remember.
And with the earlier White Zombie stuff, you guys seemed kind of to be in your own world. Did you sort of feel like outcasts since you didn't naturally fit within any specific genre?
Well, we were kind of outcasts. We were definitely in our own world. I mean, I didn't even know what was going on in the world. We know we were like living on the lower east side. Everything the band appeared to be, was exactly what it was, nothing was fake. We were all living in a lower east side. Everybody was flat broke, none had any money. You know sometimes to we would eat the free Hare Krishna Food in the parks, that they would feed to homeless people to survive. I mean, it was like a band of bums. And we're definitely you know I didn't even have a television, I don't know what was going on in the world. You could mention like the number one record to me, and I would have no idea who it was. I was - we were so far off the map. It was like our whole existence was lower east side, CBGBs, that world. That's what came out of it. Totally just not comprehending what was going on. Which is a good thing, I mean, it was sort of what let the band become the band that it was going to be; because we put no restrictions on it, because we weren't even aware that there were restrictions. You know, we didn't know how things are supposed to be done and we didn't give a shit basically.
And you guys were one of the first bands, I remember, to use a lot of samples. How did that sort of evolve with the samples only albums?
It was just something I always wanted to do. I didn't even know how you'd do it, almost. I mean, we were doing stuff in such a primitive way like miking a tape recorder and playing a tape. You know, I mean we were so green. We didn't even have equipment. We would play shows in the way sometimes when we got our equipment to play shows, we would steal stuff. I remember breaking into a club, stealing amplifiers. We didn't have anything, no money.So, I think we have a reference point for the sample thing, because at that time, I think the only person I really thought of - the only person I was really aware of, who is doing that sort of thing was Jim Thirlwell with the Foetus records. We were friends with him, and he actually produced the first demo, Forgiven. So I guess, he was the only person I knew of doing that type of thing. I am sure there were other people, but I was not really aware of them.
Right; Ministry maybe or
Yes, I didn't even know who Ministry were, at that point. I remember somebody mentioned them, I thought I'd remembered them as being the sort of like - I thought they were like this English disco band back then. I didn't know who they were. It wasn't until like Psalm 69 that someone played it for me. Because I remember people saying, oh it's really heavy. Really heavy, I don't remember the name. And I said no. I was like - I knew the few things I liked, and it's kind of ignored everything else. I like The Cramps, I like Van Halen, I like Black Sabbath, I like Alice Cooper. I like The Birthday Party. I like these sorts of things, and other things, I just was oblivious to. Had like my box of like 10 cassettes and that's what I listened to, when I was riding my bike, delivering packages.
Do you think that this box, at this point closes - basically closes the book on White Zombie forever?
Yes, pretty much yes. I mean, there is really nothing more to be done. I mean, they have other like crappy demos and stuff they could release, but they're probably not worth listening to. So, yes, I'd say this is probably the last thing that will come from the band for sure.
When it came down to actually creating the box and choosing the material, was it difficult to decide what was actually going to make the final cut?
No, I just decided from the get-go, that I will put every single thing that we recorded, that was like a real recording. Every song of every vinyl record, every CD and every sound track, just every like actual finished recording that we had a song, that we had thought was a finished mix song, that I put every single one and that's what we did.
At this point in your career, considering the success you've had with your films, which is the primary focus, films or music?
Its still 50-50. Which ever one I am doing at that time is the most important thing to me. So, that's really the way I approach it. That's why I don't try to do them simultaneously. When I am touring and stuff, that's what I am - that's 100% of what I am about, and when I'm making a movie, that's 100 what I am about. You know, I just - they are both equally important.
You were talking about the album, and I am guessing there is going to be a tour in the future. What are some of the bands that are out today that you would like to take on the road with you?
I have no idea. I haven't even thought about it. I mean, that kind of goes along with band members. You know, you like taking bands on the road that you're friends with that you like to hang out, because again, you spend a lot of time with them. And when you don't, you hit it off with a band that's on the road, that's a bummer.
Is there anybody out now that impresses you, with what they're doing musically?
I have no idea what anyone is doing. So, this is nothing against the bands that are doing it, but I am oblivious to it. I kind of function in my own bubble most of the time. So you kind of, can see it in my movies, that's the bubble that I function in. I don't know, I still just drive around listening to, The Allman Brothers. I don't know what the fuck anyone - I didn't even know, I couldn't even name a new record. Sorry.
When you go back, and I know you just said that you closed the book on White Zombie with this. When you go back though and you hear some of that stuff, and sort of revisit it, was there anything that stood out to you? Anything that you sort of heard in a new way, maybe that you had a different appreciation for when you go back and listen to the song, kind of almost changed in meaning for you?
Not really. I didn't really go back and listen to things that closely. I compiled it and just quickly listen through to make sure the mastering and the sequencing was right. But the same thing was obvious to me, that was obvious then in a way where that - I felt that the band had two major shifts that were important. The band started at one place, when you start a band, you are just hoping to find any four people you can get in a room and have a band with, you are not worried about anything other than that. And it seemed like the band finally solidified into the unit that it was on the Soul Crusher record, like that was the pinnacle of what we were doing at that moment in time. And then, it changed again, and solidified as to what it was with Sexorcisto. That's what I thought. The band really had two different lives. Really was they sort of - Soul Crusher was the end of being - that was sort of as far as we could take, sort of New York Underground, Art Damage, Insanity and Sexorcisto was sort of the beginning of the - taking White Zombie out to the world's face. That's really what was obvious to me.
So there were no individual tracks that may be stood out though?
No. Sorry. I kind of - they kind of just seem the same to me. I don't know. Nothing, I mean, actually some of the - I found some early demo stuff that isn't on the box, that stuff sort of stood out to me just as how weird it sounded. It sounded like when you listen to old 60s compilations of garage bands. And at that time I hated it, but now I kind of was enjoying it, because it was so ridiculously raw. But I didn't put any of that on the box set, so I guess that's irrelevant.
When you did Educated Horses, at that point, with the bands you were playing, you were really feeling really energized and sort of entering a new prolific period at the time you talked about. You were just really reinvigorated for music on the couple of times we talked. Do you see yourselves then, taking it as White Zombie having gone in a couple of different directions, are you maybe going into the another period in your solo stuff, is this going into a different direction for you?
Well I don't know if it's a different direction necessarily, but I feel like with the solo stuff, Hellbilly Deluxe was the pinnacle of the first phase. And then I believe this record, whatever it maybe called, is the caper of where it's going. For me, Educated Horses, I think it's a great record, I think it has a lot of great songs. But it was definitely a transitional record, because that was sort of coming out of other phase and it was - you guys were in the band, some of them weren't really even in the band yet, and it was sort of - you get to these phases. But now that the band has been locked and tied for a couple of years, I feel like we're really - we've solidified it into the next real legitimate strong phase of what we're doing. And that's why it's pretty exciting.
You talked a little bit in the past in other interviews about how digital music is kind of replacing the CDs that were in the - people aren't buying records any more. So, what made you decide to release a real traditional format kind of box set?
Well, the reasoning was because the thing, if I waited any longer you wouldn't release it because it would be useless. I probably already waited longer than I should have. I don't know. There is something about it. I mean, I know that the way - CDs are a thing of the past; they won't be around much longer, much like vinyl and everything else. You know, maybe there will be some, but as a whole they'll be gone. But there is still something nice about putting together the set that you can hold in your hand and you can go to iTunes, and here is the box set and download. Because no one is going to - I just don't see people go on iTunes and downloading 79 songs from the box set. They probably pick and choose them. But there is something nice of presenting things in the format that you want them to be heard, which is going away. I mean, it's the same thing is if you put movies out digitally, and everyone could edit them the way they want, it'd be kind of weird. You know, it's nice to be able to put things out, as you see that they should be presented. But after that, people can do whatever they want with them. But I mean at least at some point in time, they come out the way you want it.
Generally, box sets tend to be kind of directed toward hardcore fans and that too is going to buy all those
What do you think about the fact that this might kind of bring in a new generation of White Zombie fans?
It's great. And I think its there is already a new generation of White Zombie fans. I can see it strangely enough in just the royalty checks. I mean, every year the band makes more money, it's weird for band that every year has been gone longer and longer, it seems to get more and more popular. And that's just one of those things that happens. Now I know that it's gotten a lot of hot topic as doing this whole new line of all this White Zombie emerge.I don't know, its just one of those things I think that - there is always a new wave of kids that always gets super jazzed on a band that's not around anymore. It's just the way things go. I mean, I don't know, sometimes things just seem cooler when they get older. Maybe, I ((inaudible)) White Zombie. Luckily, we have those moments where the band hit and got really big and all that. But, it was always a band that was slightly out of time and out of step with what was going on. So, sometimes things age well.
Any plans for more Rock Band Guitar Hero, any fun with the stuff you're doing right now?
Nothing that I know of. I think something with the War Zone track is connected to one of those things. But probably in the future, there's always discussion, but there's no plans yet to do anything that I know of.
Have you been approached to produce a Halloween sequel?
Oh yes, that's come up a bunch of times, that always comes up. But I don't have - there is nothing in the works yet.
Producing, directing, anything in particular?
It all depends. I don't know what there plans are for - if I was going to produce somebody else's movie, I would want to know what it was about. I always get offers to produce things or shadow produce things, where you actually don't do any work, and you just pick up a check. But, I've never done it, because I feel weird about putting my name on something that I'm not responsible for, and can't 100% stand behind. So at this point no, there is no plans to do that.
Were you always attracted to bands with a strong theatrical image, and did you always envision that your bands would have that element, and is it important for you to keep that element alive?
Yes, yes and yes. I've always been attracted to that, but unconsciously, because I think what happened was - when I was a little kid, in the 70s, when I discovered music, everything was like that. I just thought that's the way music was. I mean, if you look at what was popular. Do you ever go back and watch Don Kirshner's rock concerts, like everything's in sync. So it's like I was into Kiss, Alice Cooper, Elton John, Queen, I didn't realize that - I just thought everything was like that. Like oh, if you have a band, it's this giant crazy thing. It was just sort of like, just worked in my mind and thinking that's the way it's supposed to be. So that's the way I always, always perceived it. So hard to erase that from your mind and I like that, I think that's what was is - was lacking from rock music for a long time and I think that - I always said that I thought that not that they weren't good bands during the grunge thing, and not that there weren't good songs, but I really thought the anti-rockstar stance was going to be the death of rock music.
And for a long time it really was, because you go to these shows, the bands would do nothing on stage, and you don't go back, and they are all done. And it really put rock music in the fucking toilet for a long time. And now you finally feel it's starting to come back, like kids are excited - whether it's through Guitar Hero or whatever, but you feel like kids are excited about rock music again. And it's great.I mean people want to go to a show and they want to see a fucking show and they want to be entertained. And that's just - maybe with other forms of music it's different, but with fucking rock music and metal, that's the way it is. And that's - or at least in my mind, that's the way it is, and that's what I've always stayed true to.
And I once read a story that on the original God of Thunder cover was banned or something like that, is there any truth to that?
|"We are a band and we record as a band."|
No, it wasn't. That was sort of one of those things that back then, when we were like flat broke White Zombie, desperate for attention. We thought hey, maybe if - that was around the time I think that Gene Simmons had sued King Diamond for his makeup or it was something, I don't even know what the real story was.But we thought oh, maybe if we do this, we'll get in trouble by Gene Simmons, and that will give us some attention. People go, who's this band that Gene Simmons is suing. With even that, we were on - even that we couldn't pull off, it never happened, nothing ever happened. In fact the funny thing is, I know it is, of course Gene doesn't miss a trick, so obviously, it came to his attention and I guess he was Okay with it, and it didn't bother him. But even as much as like as early as like a year ago or so maybe two years ago, when I did the VH1 Honors and did the Kiss tribute, Gene still mentioned it to me backstage. I mean, this was like almost 20 years later, and he still brought it up. Not in a bad way, but just kind of like, I don't know. In fact, he said something and I wasn't even sure what he said, some kind of comment. But it was just - I just thought it was funny that after all those years that he could even remember that we did that. I don't even remember that we did that. So I thought it was funny that he did.
After doing this box set are there any sort of obscure White Zombie songs that you might want to bring back into the live set list?
No. I'm not really about playing obscure songs in the live set, because that always seems like a fun thing and there is always people like, oh, you've got to play this song, and you've got to play that song. And then you play it, and great. That one guy is having a great time. But the other 10,000 people are looking at each other like, what the fuck is this stupid song. I mean, it never works. So I'm about - like I said, which shows I'm all about giving the people what they want. There is nothing more annoying to me than going to see a band, and they don't play the songs you want to hear. That drives me fucking crazy. Working one or two new songs, but when bands come out and they just go through like seven new songs, they want to slit my wrist.
Is Planet Motherfucker a possibility?
We play that every once in a while. I think, on last tour. We are doing off shows wherever ((inaudible)). We play it every once in a while. So sometimes - most of it is John 5 was all trying to play, I was - I didn't care because I had already played it a 90 million times. But sometimes I just play it, so he can have fun.
And do you think you might utilize some of John's ability as a country player on your next album?
Well, we kind of have actually. I mean John is phenomenal, he can play anything, and he can play it very convincingly, which is great. It doesn't sound cheesy. So we have some songs, they're heavy rock songs, but they definitely have a very like - a very heavy twang to them, for lack of a better term. So, yes definitely. I'm trying to utilize everything I can with that guy. And he loves it because he's got a lot of knowledge; he's got talent, he's got to channel somewhere.
He does great instrumental records as well.
Yes, he is phenomenal.
I've been following your career for many years now. And I noticed a subtle difference between your music and from White Zombie, and there are a lot of fans out there trying to wish you - you would get back together with the original band. What was your set out purpose for starting your own project and tell me, what is the main difference between you as an individual artist and White Zombie?
I mean, the main reason White Zombie ended was, because the people that were White Zombie couldn't get along anymore.
That was the main reason. It wasn't because I had some artistic urge that I must be by myself. It was just a necessity. I mean the band could not be as ((inaudible)). So it was just a nightmare. It just ended over a bad feeling. And as far as what's the difference between the two, I don't know. I mean, I can't - it's hard - some - there is a lot of aspects that are very similar and distinctively different. It's kind of hard for me to actually judge it truthfully. Because sometimes people will hear a song and they are like, oh that sounds so old White Zombie to me, and I am like, really, I don't hear it like that. I'm not really a good judge of that.
Well, you say you've been getting a lot more of a chance to be more creative than the kind of - some ideas that normally the band members of the previous projects wouldn't agree with being a solo artist?
Definitely. I mean, one of the biggest things that I could do as a solo artist is, I can get people that can do anything. When you are in a band, and you use those musicians for good or for bad, you are at the mercy of their ability, and nothing to slack them, but say working with John 5. I mean John 5 is a phenomenal guitar player. I can demand things with him, but I could not demand that from other guitar player, because they wouldn't have the ability to do it. So that's kind of nice to be able to reach out and branch out to people, who can play beyond the main, than perhaps the people here are in a bandwidth.
And it's funny too, because I see it in another bands, because sometimes if you are on tour with bands, I don't want to play (with) popular bands and they will come up to John. John will literally be giving the guitar player on the other band, a guitar lesson. I can see the struggle bands have, when you are stuck with the limits of your own ability. So, I feel like that is one of the things that being solo has really set me free. I don't have to try to get someone to do a solo that might be like Kerry King. I'll just go to Kerry King to do the solo.
Where do you see your music going in the future? I mean, I really liked your last video out there, I thought it was very different. Do you see yourself kind of constantly evolving as the year's progress? I mean, when will be the next video will be out in that way?
Well, it's hard to say. I mean, like I was saying before, my goal is to always keep - retain who I am, so that the fans are happy, but always keep it fresh and keep it moving forward, so it doesn't feel like the same old shit. So that's the goal, how you achieve, a great ((inaudible)). You just try.
I was wondering if - with the box set out there, is there any thought or discussion about at some point, knocking it down to single disc, double disc or anything like that?
No, it wouldn't fit. I mean those discs are maxed out. I mean, we had to push it to that many discs, just because that's how much space it was. I mean, maybe we will like condense it down to like the best of White Zombie or something someday. But those discs are as tight as they are ever going to get. We jammed like 79 minutes of music on every disc. Maybe someday we will like put out a 10 songs thing or something. But there is no plan for that right now.
What about any old archive or live stuff from White Zombie that you might consider putting out at some point?
You mean audio stuff? We don't really have any. We never recorded a live record. We never really - we didn't really - unfortunately we didn't really document the band all that well. I don't have really any live recordings that sound like anything other than somebody recording it on their walkman. And even the same with live video, I mean there is some live video on this box set, but it's pretty raw. I mean unfortunately, we never really - I still don't even do it now. I mean, that's why I finally got around to making a live record because I just - I'm not good at documenting things. I like it - it just kind of happens when it's over.
You mentioned you really like Queen and what they did, as you were growing up. Talk a little bit more about that. Where does Queen - where did Queen kind of fit for you and everything?
Well, I mean musically the bands I grew up loving, I don't know if they -don't necessarily affect me musically. There is nothing about Queen that I think falls into our sound and I think maybe, it was just mentally where these bands had such a wide range of what they did, that I wasn't stuck in a box or like this is what the band has to be because I think sometimes bands get stuck in that like, when they start going.
Well, this is what metal is man. Like who gives a shit. Just create stuff man, do whatever you're going to do, don't get hung up on the label of what it is, because that drives me crazy. People do that and they do with movies, they do with music, they do with everything. They are all about labeling it, so that they can lock it down.
And what I like about that time period especially Alice Cooper, he could do the sickest, craziest song, and then he could do like the nicest ballet. And I just accepted it as a kid. I accepted God of Thunder right next to best. Didn't even seem weird to me, when I bought Destroyer. Didn't seem weird at all. Now people would have a fucking heart attack, if the band did that usually. So I think that's the main thing I took away from those bands. It was just like do what you're going to do man, don't get all caught up.
Did Spider ever reach out to you for importer ideas or just
He will play to me what is working on. He played me some new songs that they did - that they're doing for their new record and they are fucking great. ((inaudible)) he was like we're going to go back and remix these and fix these, it was like fucking man, done, sounds fucking great. Walk away. He gets a little bit more caught up in overworking things than I do.
I learned over the years when to walk away. Sometimes you can get that syndrome of never wanting to let it go, and sometimes I'm just like, it sounds great. So, he will play me stuff. But I don't - I mean everybody's band has their own things, so I don't really tell him what to do, and he doesn't tell me what to do, but I will tell my things are kickass.
I just had a quick question on White Zombie. Going back to when the band was first discovered, what events transpired that got White Zombie there for its record deal?
It was pretty simple and pretty - I mean, we've been turned down by every single record company that could turn you down. We sort of were flirting with RCA at the time, who had just signed some friends of ours. They had signed Raging Slab, who we were friends with at that time, also the band Circus of Power that we were friends with. And we've been talking to someone over there for a while.
But I wasn't really feeling it. I wanted to be on Geffen for some reason; because at that time Geffen Records seems like the cool record label to be on. I don't know why, I can't remember why I thought of that. But that was, I had set my goal to Geffen Records that seemed like the one. And we - I remember, I think we played a showed at a small club in here, called the Pyramid Club and Michael Alago, who is the main guy for Geffen Records came down.
We think - I don't even know if we knew - we had already known him, because he was friends of some other people who knew him in New York. It's a small scene, so you know people. And he liked one of our songs which became - which was the song Soul Crusher that was on Sexorcisto. He just loved that song, and really based on that song, he signed us to Geffen or signed us to make a demo for Geffen.
Then we made a demo with Jim Thirlwell and that demo produced Thunder Kiss and all the other songs that you aware. And then we got a deal. But it was really it was through Michael Alago, who just saw something in the band, and he's all about it. That's how we got our deal. And that's the funny thing that people have to remember when they try to break into the things, and I have to remind myself of it, sometimes too. It only takes one person. Sometimes you shop a demo around every record label, and they go you suck, we hate you.
But it only takes the one person that says, they like it. Same thing with scripts you know. I've gone through this on like so many movies where, whether it's a - even a finished movie, with the House of a 1000 Corpses, where everyone turned it down. Every single person turned it down except one place, Lions Gate. Because all I needed was one place. Only one person who can put the movie up. So you know people - you know anyone looking for advice, that's what I was telling you. You only need that one place. And that's what we found with Geffen.
You were talking about - earlier in the conversation about touring with bands that you can get along with. And I am sure that you know there are so many stories that can go on. But, do you have a lot of fond memories of touring with Pantera back in '96?
We had toured with Pantera so much, because we had the same management company back then, Concrete Management. It's so funny, seems like another lifetime ago. But we played with them almost like 300 shows with Pantera, I swear to God. Yes that was a crazy time, because it was sort of like - we sort of were on the same path; because both bands were sort of - they started breaking out, just before I'd said Cowboys from Hell and then we actually opened for them, on their Cowboys from Hell tour, and then after that - I think Sexorcisto and Vulgar Display may be came out, then Sexorcisto. I think they had Vulgar Display at kind of the same time period, I think. I tend to get confused on it.
But it was fun, they were good guys and we were good friends with them, and it was nice to have sort of both bands, sort of breaking simultaneously. We were sort of achieving the exact same level of success. I remember you know going on, me and Phil one time went on Headbangers Ball together. And you know, the bands were very-very interlinked through that whole time period. It was great.
I was wanting to ask - in terms of making movies were you basically self-taught. Did you have a mentor, and do you think your approach to movies was a result of the fan that you are?
|"I've always been more of fan of lyrics they were like what the fuck is that supposed to mean."|
Yes. I mean I am pretty much a self taught everything, and I think that's the key is - you really can't learn how to do any of these things. You know, you can read all the books you want and take all advice you can get, but nothing prepares you for what it's going to be, till you actually just do it. And as far as - I never had a mentor, I still don't have a mentor, I wish I had a mentor. You know, that's the bummer, man. I wish I had someone I could really - but still now there is tons of weird questions and situations that come up with movies, and you want to turn to somebody for advice. But I really don't have anybody. So you know, I just kind of do my thing, and look at the situations as best I can.
Music, I kind of had some people. Like I remember when White Zombie was falling apart, and I wanted to go, breakout of my own, I called Alice Cooper and said, you know what do you think about this? Because I knew I he had gone through the same thing. When he made, Welcome To My Nightmare, so I kind of talked to him about it a little and we compared stories, and they were very-very similar. As the reasons why he did went out on his own and that's the reasons that I was going out of my own. So that was nice. But as far as movies, not so much, just kind of unfortunate. But one of these days, hopefully, I am going to talk to different directors and stuff and get what I can. But I don't really have any one person that turn to.
And so do you have sort of a laundry list of actors that you might want to work with?
Not really. I mean, I have - there is a million actors that I just love to death, from people that are hugely famous, to people that are not. So, I don't really have a laundry list. I mean, probably when I start the next project, I'll start compiling the new laundry list, if that might be appropriate for the film. But there are people that I have worked with, that I would love to work with again. I would love to work with Paul Giamatti again. We worked briefly on El Superbeasto, and I love him. He is amazing and that was a great experience working with him. So they are people that I would like to definitely hook up with again.
And would you consider these - you know, the people you've worked with friends. You know, people like Sid Haig and stuff like this? And do you see yourself working with him again in the future?
Oh yes. These guys are all my friends. I mean, what kind of happens, as you make a movie, there is a whole group of people. And then it's like a strainer. Some people fall through, who you never talk to again, and then there is the people that remain. In every movie, there is a few more people that remain. You know from House Of 1000 Corpses, Sid has been a good friend ever since, Bill Moseley has been a good friend ever since. Probably some other people I am forgetting. You know, Tom Towles is a friend and from Halloween Dee Wallace is someone, who is a good friend I always talk to. PJ Soles and, you know. Some people are really friendly with and you love to work with. But you don't really talk to them or see them outside of work. And then there is other people that you stay in touch with all the time that you really enjoy. As far as the person I see the most, because he lives right down the street for me that is Bill Moseley. You know, he was over here on Halloween with his daughter trick or treating again. He always hits our house first.
Can you just discuss the importance of personal view of the White Zombie box set and what was it like revisiting those early EPs?
The importance? Well, I don't know if there is importance to it, but I just thought it was nice to finally get all the songs out there in a good sounding fashion; because for so many years, people have been asking this, how do I get the old records? Because the first chunk of our career was - never even came out on a CD, because CDs didn't exist yet. They were just limited edition vinyls that no one - basically nobody has. Since there was so few copies. So that's nice to have everything out there for whoever wants it. And what was the second part of the question, I forgot already?
That was like - for your revisiting those early EPs?
Oh yes, revisiting it. Yes, it was weird; because, like I said, a lot of the stuff I hadn't heard in so long, I had actually forgotten. I mean, there were songs on those early records, that if you played me that song, if I was in a store or something and heard the song, I wouldn't even recognize it. Because I was going through the tapes and I was like what the fuck is this? I don't even remember this. My voice sounds so different back then that, I didn't even recognize myself when I hear it. And I hadn't heard - if you hear a song a couple of times, and you don't hear for 20 years, I mean, you don't - we would basically write a song, record it and be done with it. And we weren't really playing shows early-early on that much. So most of those songs we never really played live. So they just sort of disappeared from you mind. So it was kind of funny to go back and look and - look at it and go, wow, I never remember writing half of these songs.
And as far as the Punisher soundtrack, there was a name, - I mean, did you approach this song with a great personal interest, or as if just another day at the office so to speak?
I mean, I approach every song the same kind of - it was funny for Punisher, because there was a point when I almost directed that movie. I was working on it, right before Halloween came up, and then something kind of happened, and I didn't do it, and I did Halloween instead. So that was kind of funny, that two years later comes back and there's a chance to do a song for it. So it was kind of cool.
I just wanted to ask, how would you sort of describe your own sort of vocal evolution on some of the older stuff? There are some pretty fastly spoken lyrics, and was it difficult to attain such clarity on those?
Well I don't know if I ever did achieve any clarity because I remember everybody was complaining. I can't understand a fucking thing you are saying and they probably still do. I remember that was a big issue on Thunder Kiss, when we were recording that record, Andy Wallace the producer was like, I can't understand any of these lyrics.So he was - he made - he didn't make me, but we agreed, I went back and rerecorded Thunder Kiss really clearly, and we both agreed that sounds like shit. Because there was no vibe, it sounded like a guy's struggling to pronounce things too clearly and he was like well you know and it's funny because like right when - Thunder Kiss hit was right when, Nevermind hit too, and we couldn't understand that either. I mean, It Smells Like Teen Spirit.
But as far as the vocal evolution, it's kind of weird because, my voice was pitch high when I first started, and I think what happened actually over the years, was my voice kept dropping and dropping, getting lower and lower. Probably, I guess, continually damaging my vocal chords over 20 years of doing that. So I couldn't do those early songs if I had to, because I don't sound like that anymore. Probably it's too many years of touring with bad monitors. Where you just - I can't even notice it even on the White Zombie live tape sometimes, because the stage volume would be so loud, that I never ever, ever, ever could hear myself. So you are just screaming your lungs out, trying to just hear yourselves and you know, I just screwed my voice doing that.
And I wanted to ask, like, sort of, where you did get your psychedelic sense of art from the early album covers and videos and stuff like that? Was it from a lot of '60 type of psychedelia stuff?
Everything was just kind of - I don't really know, everything was just sort of a conglomerate and mish-mash of all of the things that I liked. Movies were always, always, always a bigger influence to me than music; because I couldn't really find that many other bands that were like what I wanted to do. And even the bands that I did really like, weren't doing what I wanted to do. So it was more like, oh I want to create a band that sounds like faster pussycat looks or something that sounds like - I don't know, name any movie like that. So that was really trying to capture the essence of a lot of these, sort of, bizarre movies in a band.
And just out of curiosity, what sort of happened at some of the old stage props from the old tours with the robots and all those stuff like that?
You know, most of that stuff is all sitting in a warehouse, waiting to be used again. Some of it has self-destructed from wear and tear. Some of it gets lost, stolen, it has been a lot of stuff over all the years we've gone through.
Just had one more question regarding the White Zombie box because that didn't really come out, has there been any discussion of maybe a reunion with you guys?
Not by anybody actually in the band. I mean fans speculate about it. But there's no plans for that at all.
No chance of it happening?
No chance, no.
Do you really miss those early days when you guys were just sort of in clubs? I remember a show outside of Lawrence, where I live, that love Alice, where there are just wall-to-wall people and now what you're doing reassures, that intensity is gone, do you ever miss those old days?
No, I do. Actually I mean, that's why - I don't miss the miserable part, like the show is fun, sleeping in the van later at night, not so fun. So I don't miss that part of it. Sleeping in a van with no heat, in Wisconsin, in the winter, that was just - we'd lay out tires and we'd sleep on these tires, it was like so relieving. But anyway, the shows were a blast, and I miss that. And that's why on the last tour, I did the Aussie tour. Aussie plays like day-on, day-off everyday. So on the days-off, we would do club shows, and it was a blast. To play club and have people like right in your face, and it's like a 1000 degrees and they're right there. It was just awesome.
I just wanted to just wrap up the White Zombie thing real quick. The White Zombie seemed to end rather abruptly, and was the end of the band ever talked about, or did it just sort of happen or kind of fall apart or anything?
Well, you could feel it coming for a long time, I mean, anyone on the inside knew it was more of a miracle that it was still holding together, rather than it falling apart; because people weren't getting along, people weren't speaking, I don't think the entire band was ever actually in the same room together, when we made Astro Creep. We were riding on separate buses. I wouldn't even see those guys until show time, I would walk on stage play, walk off stage.So it was more of a miracle that it lasted that long. And I just remember, it was the (War of the Gargantuous) tour with Pantera, walking off stage and handing this guy who we call them Wookie, because he looks like Chewbacca. Handing him the microphone, and just - and I remember saying well, that's the end of that. And just I walked out stage and walked to the car, and went to the airport, and went home and that was the end of that. And there was no discussion at all just sort of self evident.
So, even after the Hellbilly Deluxe, there was no thought of ever you know returning to that?
No, never look back. Okay guys thanks a lot. Good talking to you. Bye.
Interview by Steven Rosen