Rob Zombie on His New Record, New Movie, and Why Metal Shows Need Girls
Rob Zombie isn't out to terrify you. He's out to blow your mind. He holds a number of titles: director, artist, musician, actor, writer, lover, and freak show.
And everything he does is loaded up with theatrics, subtle intelligence, and aggression. Zombie is fresh off his August release Mondo Sex Head, a remix album that features Jonathan Davis' DJ alter-ego JDevil, finishing his upcoming film, Lords of Salem, and mixing his upcoming album -- two ventures that he states are the best projects of his life to date.
And this Friday, September 28, Rob Zombie is kicking off his Twins of Evil Tour with Marilyn Manson in conjunction with KUPD's Desert Uprising at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion. The bill also features Corey Taylor and Buck Cherry. (And that's only Friday. On Saturday, the set includes Shinedown, Godsmack, HellYeah and many more.)
See also: Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson to Headline KUPD's Desert Uprising See also: KUPD's John Holmberg Chats About MILFs, Naked Grandmas, and Mom Farts See also: A Closer Look at KUPD's MILF Contest 2012
Up on the Sun spoke with Rob Zombie about and why so many young bands disappoint, and why this new album may represent his Final Act.
Up On The Sun: I saw you and Manson perform at Rock on the Range back in May. Will your set at Uprising differ from the one you did there, in terms of new props and graphics?
Rob Zombie: It will be different from that show, yes. We're in the process of building a new show. There will be some elements that are the same, but my goal overall is to create a new show.
I was so hoping that you and Manson would end up on stage at the same time for a song or two --any chance we can expect to see that at Uprising?
I don't know. We haven't really talked about the tour so there's been nothing rehearsed or worked out.
You guys should do it. The crowd would go nuts.
We'll see. [Laughs.]
You and Manson clearly have similar fan bases, but at the same time, you both differ a lot in your style and themes. When touring together, what do you feel is the main way you guys complement each other as performers?
Well, I think it works good because...of what you said a second ago. There's a similarity in say, the overall mindset that we might have. But our approach in bringing it to life is different. So, it's not unlike when I was touring with Alice Cooper. Two different people and two different ways of doing things, but at the heart of it there's a major similarity. And I feel like it's great for the audience, because you get a lot of crossover fans so it makes everyone happy. The worst is when there are tours where the audience loves one band but hates the other and vice versa, but this way I feel like it's a great show all night and pleases everyone.
This tour is definitely going to be one for the books. Thinking back over the years, what tour sticks out in your head as being your most crazy?
There's been a lot of crazy tours but they aren't necessarily the ones that are the most memorable to me. I think the tour that I had the most fun on was the first time I toured with Alice Cooper. There was such a great vibe to the tour and it felt like a rock show that I always wanted to go to. When sometimes, a lot of the shows we play, there's a lot of metal bands, a lot of aggression, I don't know ... it's not like the old-school hard rock vibe that I grew up loving. It becomes more something else than that ... but I'm sure this show with Manson will have a lot of that too, which will be great.
Yeah, more focused around a fun vibe.
Yeah, that's the difference. You know, we honestly have like 50% girls, which is how rock bands used to be. Now with metal bands, it's all dudes in the crowd. So many fans tell me like 'Thank God there are fine-looking girls here!' But what happens is that girls have to stay in the back or they'll get killed in the front, but at least there's a whole mixture. If that makes sense.
You're working on your next full-length album, that you're aiming to release after this tour. You recently said that this album feels like it's going to be very special, a game changer for your career so to speak. Can you elaborate on that?
Yeah, you know I hadn't actually started the record yet when I originally said that but now I'm almost finished with the record, and now that I look back on it I was correct. Um, I don't know. You have moments in your life where you're just creatively inspired. And I don't know why it happens. I wish it happened more often [laughs]. But once in awhile it happens and it's an amazing moment. So with this album, it was the perfect combination of everything I've ever done combined. Just the rawness, the craziness of early White Zombie recordings way back then, but now I have more complex songwriting skills and the ability to develop things so much better -- I don't know. It is a raw, crazy record, but at the same time it is really hooky and cool. It's by far the favorite thing I've ever done in my whole life.
Is there a concept or theme based around it at all?
Yeah, I don't want to go into it. [It's] too early. But there is a concept abased around the whole thing. I'd like to, at some point when I have the time, make a movie based off a record. I've always wanted to do that. You know it doesn't happen that much anymore and rarely works; think Pink Floyd and The Wall. That is sort of one of my long-range plans on this record so hopefully that will happen.
So if this album is opening a new chapter in your career is there a title that comes to mind if you were to name that chapter?
Well I mean, yeah ... laughter. I feel like it could be called The Final Act. Unfortunately. You know, White Zombie was Act I when I was a kid. And then everything after that was middle acts. But this is the most exciting thing that is going to lead into the future, because I don't think that ... there's a difference when you're getting older, you can sort of rest on what you've done. You can make a lot of money off that, playing the old songs and blah blah blah. But there's something cool about creatively trying to push yourself harder, rather than just throw in the towel. And that's hard to do. And I think this record has done that, which is why I'm so excited.
I'm a big fan of your films. From Sheriff Wydell to Otis to Laurie Strode, how you portray the characters and develop them always has a great result. But a favorite in your films, it never fails, is Sheri Moon's character. What can we expect from her character in your upcoming film, Lords of Salem?
Her character is really different in this. It's a character that people are going to be surprised by, I think. It's a different, very dark, slow, mind-fuck of a movie. Very character-driven. Very dark. And it's my favorite movie I've made so far. I can't wait to get it out there. I need to mix the sound on the movie and then it will be finished.
So the main difference between Lords of Salem and your films like The Devil's Rejects, in terms of the feel of the production, it's just more psychological than action-packed?
It's definitely more based on psychology than violence, for sure. Sort of like in the realm of Rosemary's Baby or The Shining. My other films are very violent, exploding in your face as much as possible. And this film is exactly the opposite.Well, I know one of my favorite movie scenes of all time is at the end of The Devil's Rejects with the "Free Bird"-themed shoot-out. Why did you choose the song for that scene?
Well I chose that song because I felt that, without a doubt, it is one of the greatest American rock songs ever made. That's the greatest song. And I thought that would make it the best songs for the characters to die to. You want something that will take you to a whole 'nother place, and I couldn't think of any other song that was more epic.
Your next film project is the Broad Street Bullies, but you've also said in the past that you want to do a film centered around Tyrannosaurus Rex. What is the interest to work on that?
That's more of an idea. Who knows if it will ever get made! That's not on schedule at all currently. Right now I'm just working on Broad Street Bullies.
And how's that going?
Well, we're not shooting it yet. Right now we're just researching the story, since it's true. Reading books on the backstory...it's going well, but it's a different process since it has to be based on reality. [Laughs]
You and Sheri Moon are one of my favorite couples in music. After being together for so long, what's a secret to keeping things real in a heavy metal relationship?
I think the biggest thing we've always done, for us, is that we've always done things together, and that's what makes it special. You know, whether it's touring, or her being on stage, or doing movies together. There's nothing more strangely bonding than creating stuff together. A lot of people don't do that, but I mean if you go off on this whole life and do things separately like touring, it can create this big wedge because one person isn't a part of it. So we've always found a way to intertwine and it works.
What do you think of the current state of metal? Any up and coming bands that you have been listening to?
Nope. I haven't been listening to anything up-and-coming that I can think of. I don't really know what the current state is, and I don't want to criticize anything, but I think that sometimes with metal ... what I feel is that bands have become sort of conservative as the years have gone on. And it seems like in order for crazy things to happen, they have to break this mind set and be like 'Oh, it's metal, should I be doing this?' In all the bands I know that are considered sort of classic bands, they didn't think like that. They just did what they did, and they would take influences from really weird places to get where they were. You know, I think sometimes bands need to step outside of their comfort zone because that's where the cool stuff happens. Sometimes when a band listens to a band a lot that they call their favorite, they end up sounding just like them, and that's stupid.
Yeah, I have to agree. I always ask that question because a lot of the really great bands have been around for quite some time and can completely run it off of their own style that is timeless.
When you hear new bands coming out, there's not much of anything that is substantial. It appears to me that bands seem very short-sided. They should have a longer thought process and shouldn't worry so much about what they're doing, about having to stick to a theme, or a genre. That was the big thing with me and White Zombie. I didn't want to, and still don't, to be part of a scene. As soon as I feel like we're getting grouped in a category with other bands, I want to get away from it; I think it's detrimental to the process. You need to be your own band. You don't want to look like anyone else, or sound like anyone else. I think that sometimes bands get into a pack mentality and look alike, sound alike...you know, maybe power in numbers, but I think ultimately it's overruled by creativity.
Those band can be really hard to come by.
Exactly, my friend.
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