Season of the Witch: Zombie’s co-headling tour with Marilyn Manson comes to Scotland
The US leg of the Twins of Evil tour officially ended last night in a Halloween extravaganza. Later this month it will travel overseas to Europe and on the 28 November at the SECC in Glasgow. Scottish publication, The Skinny, chatted with Rob Zombie ahead of the trip about movies, touring and more. He also gives his top five classic horror movie scores.
Season of the Witch: Rob Zombie’s co-headling tour with Marilyn Manson comes to Scotland. Feature by Dave Kerr. Photo by Claire Taylor
With a new feature film and a giant stage production headed for these shores, Rob Zombie talks The Lords of Salem and the touring buddy who wants to kick his ass.
From Mortiis the cave dwelling goblin to vampire wannabe Dani Filth, shock rock personalities were ten a penny throughout the 90s, but none caught the public imagination quite like the deranged theatricality of Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson.
Zombie, with White Zombie, brought an unusual kind of groovy, muscular, B-movie referencing industrial metal to the mainstream withAstro Creep 2000 in ‘95, perhaps inadvertently preparing MTV’s palette for Manson’s macabre Trent Reznor-produced breakthroughAntichrist Superstar the following year. The two figures’ paths only fleetingly crossed during their ascent, but it’s all change now that their Twins of Evil tour has hit the highways of America, bound for a stop in Glasgow later this month.
As The Skinny’s call with Zombie connects while his tour bus hurtles towards Ohio, Manson’s very public threat to “kick his ass” for allegedly eating into his stage time at a gig in Michigan just a few nights before still rings in his ears. Presumably, with no small measure of restraint and diplomacy, he recalls his initial encounter with the self proclaimed ‘God of Fuck.’ “It was a long time ago – back in 1992,” he drawls. “They opened up for White Zombie one time inFlorida, but I didn’t watch the show. That was the first time I heard the name. I didn’t know who they were, didn’t know anything about them – I didn’t see them. I met them a couple of years later when they opened up for Danzig. I was there to see Glenn and they came up to me and introduced themselves. It was just Manson and Twiggy at the time. First impressions? They seemed like they were very excited to be there – that’s how I remember it. When I finally got to hear them I thought they wrote great songs and made great records.”
These days, former Manson associates John ‘5’ Lowery and Kenneth ‘Ginger Fish’ Wilson stand by Zombie’s side in the current incarnation of his band. Did common allies help pave the way for a full-blown tour after all this time? “Yeah, but I think John’s a little more my friend these days,” he lets out with a devilish chuckle. “But it’s all good. Actually, John’s been in my band a lot longer than he was ever in Manson’s. I never actually got to see him play with them. I don’t really associate him with them much because when I saw them he wasn’t the guitar player.”
Acknowledging the various intersections that their careers’ trajectories have shared in common and the great tradition of musical rivalries between two contemporaries who operate uncomfortably close to one another’s bread and butter – from The Beatles and Stones to Nas and Jay-Z – it’s tempting to ask whether Zombie ever considered Manson his adversary. “I have a friendly rivalry with the whole world, potentially,” he says with a hearty chuckle. “It’s the same thing with Alice Cooper – we have a friendly rivalry. I think every musician does with each other; I don’t know how you couldn’t. But never specifically with Manson; that just isn’t my mentality. We’re almost the same age – he’s a little younger than me, so I assume that our influences are similar from the time period. I guess, with me and Manson, we’re into the same vibe but we’re taking it in two different directions.”
Following his old band’s demise, Zombie proved he could go it alone with 1998’s Hellbilly Deluxe – a worthy successor to Astro Creep, albeit with a bit more pop nous – before refocusing his energy on a film career which made more of his vivid sensibilities as a horror aesthete, most successfully with his gory, backwater serial killer yarnThe Devil’s Rejects and a controversial retelling of John Carpenter’sHalloween.
Meanwhile, the world stage felt Zombie’s absence as he largely confined touring activity to America, a cycle he broke when he finally returned to tour the UK for the first time in 12 years last February. “In the past I wouldn’t do music at all while I made a movie,” he admits. “Now I’m trying to keep both alive simultaneously, but it’s a lot more work. Right now, my new movie The Lords of Salem is finished – that’ll be in theatres early next year. I’m working on another movie now – it’s in the early stages while I’m doing this tour. I’m trying to keep everything alive at the same time. The new record’s finished – I just have to finish mixing it. That’ll probably be out around the same time as the movie, actually.”
The topic of Zombie’s impending feature is impossible to ignore. Toldin the present day but loosely rooted in the hysteria of the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692, he suggests that the basis has been staring him in the face since childhood. “Truthfully, I grew up inMassachusetts,” he points out. “So I was very aware of the Salem Witch Trials. That was sort of a jumping off point as an idea. The movie, really, is pretty fictitious. I took the idea of those trials, where 20 to 25 innocent people were put to death, and played with the idea that there was another secret group of people that were put to death who were actually witches – they were everything they claimed to be. Making the movie was great – especially shooting in Salem. It’s spectacular; the place just has such a great look. The architecture of the buildings is very specific; the cobblestone streets and the cemeteries – the whole look of the town – really added greatly to the film.”
A conscientious and meticulous entertainer on the stage as well as the film set, Zombie’s last touring production held nothing back; towering motorised robots and prowling ghouls meshed with chaotic visuals and a pyrotechnics show to rival KISS. Putting the spectacle above the pay cheque, the man himself dubbed carting it around Europe ‘financial suicide.’ “That’s probably what it’ll be again – I’m working on it right now,” he asserts. “We have a massive show and we’re trying to figure out how to get it to you and ship it all over there. We’ll bring the biggest show we physically can – that’s our goal.”
And, of course, the God of Fuck will be there too.
ALICE COOPER ASKS…
Did you ever get in trouble when you were a kid for sneaking out and going to an Alice Cooper concert without your parents’ permission?
Nope, because it was all done under the cover of darkness, like Jack The Ripper sneaking around Whitechapel – an intricate web of lies leading up to the day of the concert! Remember kids, parents are easy to fool.
Zombie lays down his five favourite horror scores
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Even though their contributions are used with stock music, the great Goblin cues really jump out and make for some classic cuts.
2. Suspiria (1977)
I really love the Italian stuff, and the score for Suspiria is phenomenal – another particularly memorable example of Goblin’s greatness. The opening theme is as unforgettable as Tubular Bells is in The Exorcist.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Riz Ortolani provides a bizarre soundtrack to the most shocking movie of all time. There’s something very odd about it, I don’t know if I can put my finger on what that is, but it’s a very scary score. From beautiful acoustic cues to sickening electronic sounds, it all works to make you ill.
4. Horror of Dracula (1958)
If you want classic horror movie music look no further than James Bernard’s haunting score for the only Dracula that matters.
5. Jaws (1975)
I have to include the only piece of music that ever actually scared me. The great John Williams ruined summer swimming forever.