Rob Zombie talks to The Current
Just before Rob Zombie rounded up his co-headlinging tour with Megadeth by performing at this years Rocklahoma, he spoke to Andrew W. Griffin of The Current to discuss his new movie, touring and more.
For musician and moviemaker Rob Zombie, balancing the two creative passions can be quite a balancing act, but somehow the horror fan and heavy rocker manages just fine.
Finishing up a film and starting a movie, all within months of one another – it’s a tall order. And then there’s his upcoming gig co-headlining Rocklahoma with Megadeth on Saturday, May 26th.
Zombie said that while some outdoor rock festivals can be a drag or simply not well organized, Rocklahoma proved to be a one of the country’s top hard rock and heavy metal festivals.
“Great vibes at festivals,” the scary-looking Zombie said optimistically.
Regarding his band’s appearance alongside Megadeth, with whom they will be touring this summer, Zombie said that he last shared a gig with Megadeth approximately 20 years ago.
“It’s cool how fast 20 years went by,” he said. “It seems like the shows happened just yesterday.”
Starting in early June, Zombie is assembling a crack team of musicians and will begin recording an album
“It will be great,” Zombie told The Current. “I have nothing but enthusiasm right now. Right now, I feel I have the strongest band I have ever had. It’s good heading into the studio.”
At the same time, Zombie admits that he has a “different feeling about the record,” particularly with a music industry that is so far removed from the model that existed a quarter-of-a-century ago when Zombie first got his start in music and making it big in the mid-1990’s with the heavy and disturbing “white-trash-on-acid metal” of White Zombie and some MTV-supported videos for “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “More Human Than Human.”
“It’s exciting,” he said of the current state of making records. “You don’t have to rely on the conventional methods anymore. You are really making music that is more fun to play in a live setting.”
But with popular radio being “tired” in most places, Zombie is keen on getting the music out to a wider audience, many of whom don’t necessarily follow the Billboard charts or track the top hits on local radio.
The Current was curious to know about when it comes to recording, what was the most exotic-sounding instrument he has used on an album. Thinking about it, Zombie noted the sitar/guitar sound heard on “17-Year Locust” and “The Devil’s Rejects” on “Educated Horses.”
Continuing, Zombie said he will think of ways of achieving unusual sounds for his heavy music.
“Sometimes we’ll use a piano, use a toy piano … stuff kids would use and get interesting sounds,” he said. “And lots of times we’ll use exotic microphones.”
Referring to his 2010 album Hellbilly Deluxe 2, the follow-up to his successful 1998 solo disc Hellbilly Deluxe, a title play on Dwight Yoakum’s Hillbilly Deluxe album, he said there was a 100-piece orchestra on “The Man Who Laughs.”
Discussing his film career, Zombie is currently in post-production and editing a horror/thriller film called The Lords of Salem which he expects to be released by the end of the year and features Clint Howard, Sid Haig, Udo Kier and his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, among others.
Zombie, 47, is originally from Haverhill, Mass., about 25 miles from Salem, Mass., home of the infamous “Salem Witch Trials” of 1692-93. Being a Bay State native, he was familiar with the mythology and story surrounding the trials, where young women were terrorized, put on trial and torture after they were accused of engaging in witchcraft.
“It was about five or six years ago and I was in Massachusetts for a wedding, believe it or not, and I was killing time and I was reading a book on the Salem Witch Trials and I was invigorated and fired-up by it,” he said.
A basic synopsis of the film involves a DJ named Heidi who receives a vinyl record a “gift of the Lords.” Assuming the Lords are a rock band, she and her radio station pals play it backwards and soon discover that the Lords “are far from the rock spectacle they’re expecting … the original Lords of Salem are returning and they’re out for blood.”
The Lords of Salem is also a song based on the Salem Witch Trials that Zombie recorded for his 2006 album Educated Horses.
Sounds scary. And Zombie knows how to frighten audiences, something he has been effectively doing since House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects.
Zombie, who recently directed a remake of Halloween, and a sequel, and had been toying with doing a remake of the classic horror film “The Blob,” but decided against it. He is trying to avoid getting caught in the remake rut, which, in turn, helped inspire fresh material like “The Lords of Salem.”
Zombie has a healthy sense of humor and – dare I say it – a slight geekiness amidst all the gore and violence he’s known for. Over at Nerdist.com, “The Nerdist Channel,” he has a video posted where he is doing an impression of 1970’s-era Doctor Who actor Tom Baker, he of the frizzy hair and long scarf. The video, he said, is leading up to a new project he is writing and directing which is based on a 45-year-old loser named Eugene.
Asked if he was a Doctor Who fan from way back, Zombie admits that he watched it when it aired on PBS in the 1970’s and will watch it on occasion if it is aired.
Figuring Rob Zombie as the kind of guy who digs sci-fi and weirdness, we wondered if the man who once named an album Astro Creep: 2000 with White Zombie, if he, like actor Ashton Kutcher, would be interested in traveling into space on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo craft – or go even further and take a trip to the Moon.
“Probably,” Zombie said, seemingly amused by the question. “It sounds like a pretty cool thing to do.” That was about as far as he wanted to take it.
And when asked about his travels here on Earth and to name the weirdest place he had ever visited, Zombie didn’t really have an answer, instead saying, “I think sometimes, when you travel so much, you get jaded.”
Rob Zombie, who is touring with Megadeth starting May 11 in Holmdel, N.J., will headline Rocklahoma on Saturday, May 26. For more information, go to www.rocklahoma.com.