Rob Zombie talks to ArtistDirect about Mondo Sex Head, The Lords of Salem, Touring with Marilyn Manson and More

Rob Zombie speaks to ArtisDirect about a multitude of topics including his new remix album, his forthcoming tour and much more. Enjoy!

Rob Zombie Talks “Mondo Sex Head”, “The Lords of Salem”, Touring with Marilyn Manson, New Album, and More

“As long as the groove is strong, it works,” Rob Zombie affirms.

That’s true for both movies and records. The groove remains paramount. It’s the hook. It’s the reason the audience or listener sticks around. In some ways, it’s everything. Make no mistake about it, when it comes to hard rock and film in the 21st century, Zombie is king of the groove.

His films like 2009’s spectacular Halloween II flow with a distinct rhythm that’s both thought-provoking and intense. Meanwhile, few musicians are capable of coming up with anthems even in the same stratosphere of “More Human than Human” or, more recently, “Mars Needs Women”.

That inherent swing makes his forthcoming remix collection, Mondo Sex Head [available August 7], such a treat. At the hands of Korn’s Jonathan Davis, “Thunderkiss ’65” becomes a riff-driven dance floor firestarter, while The Bloody Beetroots expand “Burn” into a veritable techno epic. However, Zombie’s infallible sonic blueprint made this all possible.

In this exclusive interview with editor in chief Rick Forino, Rob Zombie spoke on Mondo Sex Head, delved deep into The Lords of Salem, remembered the first time he met Marilyn Manson, and discussed what’s in store for his forthcoming new studio album.

What do you think makes Mondo Sex Head different from your other remix albums?

Truthfully, I don’t know if it’s that different. I wasn’t shooting to make it different than the other records. What I’ve always liked about the other records is they all have a cool, sexy vibe. Probably on Mondo Sex Head, some of the songs can be longer. There’s a remix of “Living Dead Girl” which is seven minutes long. There’s this pretty long trance groove in it. That’s much more out there than any of the tracks on the other remix albums. I like doing these records because I like seeing where the songs can go and how it all fits together.

Overall, it shows the boundlessness in your music from “Thunderkiss ’65” through “Mars Needs Women”.

I think it’s cool. The song Jonathan Davis did, “Thunderkiss ’65”, is 20-years-old. Just the other day, I found this video of Mix Master Mike live at one of his concerts. He was cutting and scratching with “Thunderkiss ’65”. I thought it was pretty cool that you could take a groove—such a simple thing this band did 20 years ago—and play it to young kids in that crowd and they still go crazy. It works. I find that really interesting.

Jonathan’s remix preserves the original riff, while taking the song to a new place.

I like it! It takes a song that’s old and gives it a facelift. Out of all the mixers, I think he kept the integrity of the original song the most, yet he did take it to a new place, like you said. It works great.

Did the mix on “The Lords of Salem” stand out for you?

Yeah, I like that one a lot. A lot of them stood out. I like that a lot of the mixers didn’t simply gravitate towards the popular songs. “Devil’s Hole Girls and the Big Revolution” is an extra bonus track on the deluxe edition of Hellbilly Deluxe 2. Songs like that are the ones I like hearing remixed because they can be forgotten tracks. “Pussy Liquor” is another weird song off the soundtrack to House of 1000 Corpses that for some reason has become incredibly popular over the years. It’s good to get a remix of that one. “Burn” is another more obscure track. I think it works. My goal is for it to work as an album. I’m still into the idea of the listening experience of an album. I didn’t want it to just sound like fragmented tracks that didn’t work together. There were a couple of remixes I liked that conceptually I didn’t think worked with the vibe so I didn’t use them. I was conscious of trying to make it work as one piece.

When did this process begin for Mondo Sex Head?

It was within the past year for sure. I always lose track of time [Laughs]. We’ve been talking about it for a while. It really seemed like remix records had lost their luster and nobody cared anymore. It was like they were a thing of the past. However, a lot of people would say, “I went to see this DJ or that DJ and they’ve been using your music and the crowd reacts to it”. That’s what gave us the idea to revisit it. The last remix record I did came out in 2001. It had been ten years of not doing them. As it goes, things come in and out of fashion. It definitely seemed like this type of music was in fashion again. That last time we did it was more from an industrial point of view. Now, kids are more into the dubstep and rave vibes. This works with that. Ten years ago, the industrial thing was popular.

Where are you at with The Lords of Salem?

I’m in the final stages of finishing the film. By the end of August, we’ll be done. The sound designers are still creating some of the sound effects for the movie. Once they’re done, I’ll go into the mix stage in August and mix the final sound for the movie. Then, I’ll be done.

In Halloween II, you traversed darker, dreamier territory. Are you going down that psychological road further with The Lords of Salem? The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses are more visceral.

This movie is definitely a slow psychological burn. Not a lot of people have seen the movie, but I have had some screenings for people. It’s a weird movie, and it affects me the same way. When you watch it, it seems like there’s not a lot happening for a while. However, what’s happening is you’re starting to get sucked into the pace of the movie though. I’ve noticed movies that fuck with you dictate the pace you watch them at. A lot of modern movies are cut exactly how the audience wants to watch them, but if you watch a movie like The Shining, it moves at a very strange pace. It starts controlling you as you’re watching. There will be a simple scene in The Shining that’ll take forever to complete itself, but that weird rhythm starts fucking with you as you’re watching the movie. That’s kind of how this movie functions. It wasn’t one particular thing like, “Oh my God, that’s so scary”. It’s a long slow mindfuck. When it ended, several people sat there stunned, didn’t say anything, and left. I thought, “Fuck, they hate the movie”. Then, they called me the next day and said, “Sorry I left. I didn’t know what to say. I had to go home and digest that. That thing fucking freaked me out”. Then, they would call me the next day and talk for a while. It’s a very strange movie. I wanted to go against a lot of the conventions that I’ve seen in what are considered horror movies. There are certain things that always happen. I wanted to break away from them. It’s a more psychological movie.

Those old black and white movies like Horror Hotel and The Old Dark House built slowly too. At the end, the payoff is always greater.

Yeah, in this one especially, it’s the cumulative effect of the things that have happened. Lots of little crazy things happen all the way through it. There’s not one particular thing where you’re flying out of your seat. The way it unfolds is like Chinese water torture dripping on you.

How’s the new record coming along? It seems like the tightest band you’ve ever had. Does that translate into the studio?

It’s been special. I’m really excited. I know everybody says, “Our new record is our best record ever”. That’s a total cliché, but what I do feel about this record is there have been a couple of times in our career where I feel what we’re doing is special. Whether it’s our best record or not is for someone else to decide. With White Zombie, I felt when we made Astro-Creep: 2000 was a special moment for that band. It was like, “This is the key moment for us”. With my first solo record, Hellbilly Deluxe, I felt, “This is a key moment for me”. I haven’t had that feeling since then. I thought the other albums I made were good records and had great songs. People liked them, but every record can’t have that feeling. It wasn’t until this album, I felt that revelation like you’ve just turned the page on the next chapter. This is a significant record for me. That’s very exciting. A lot of it is in part due to the people I’m working with right now.

When did you first meet Marilyn Manson?

Well, Marilyn Manson opened for White Zombie early on. They were just a small club band that I don’t think anybody had heard of yet. I certainly hadn’t. I first met Manson and Twiggy when they were opening for Danzig at The Universal Amphitheatre. It was a long time ago. Korn was on the tour too. That was our first meeting.

Has the idea for the “Twins of Evil” tour been in the works for a while?

It was similar to the Alice Cooper thing where it seemed like a no-brainer to do a tour, but we never had for whatever reason. I’m kind of glad we didn’t. You run out of people tour with [Laughs]. After a while, it seems like you’ve toured with everybody you could possibly tour with. It was cool that the Zombie and Manson tour never happened. It can now be something new that never happened. Sometimes, your album and touring cycles just don’t match up. Whenever he’s on tour, I’m not on tour. Whenever I’m tour, he’s not on tour. That can go on for years. When you throw the movies into the mixtures, my time off the road gets really screwy. It just so happened that it finally worked.

You’ve got to tour with Slipknot.

That’s another great one! I always forget about that one because Joey was in the band for a couple of tours, so I feel like I’ve toured with Slipknot, but I’ve actually never toured with them [Laughs]. I had some of Slipknot in the band. That would be a great tour.

What’s next for you?

The immediate future is finish the record, go back mix the sound, finish the movie, and go on tour with Manson until Christmas. After Christmas, mix the record, do more tour dates…

—Rick Florino

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