Spookshow Baby! Rob Zombie Cannibalizes Detroit

Rob Zombie speaks to Real Detroit Weekly about the passions that keep him motivated everyday, whether it be in his work, at play or life in general.  Rob Zombie will be in Detroit tonight (12 October) as part of the Twins of Evil tour with Marilyn Manson.  Enjoy the interview.

Spookshow Baby!  Rob Zombie Cannibalizes Detroit by Adam O’Connor

The thing about Rob Zombie that many people seem not to understand is that – aside from having sold upwards of 15 million albums as a living dead rock star of epic proportion over the past quarter-century and helmed numerous films successfully – he’s really just a dude. Granted, his legal surname actually is Zombie, and yes, he utilizes every ghoulish trick, antic and mind-blowing visual and aural stunt imaginable during his live permormances – certainly providing one of the most incredibly dynamic and entertaining live shows of any modern musician – but he really is a flesh-and-blood human being, complete with everyday concerns and a deep passion for what he does.

It’s that passion that keeps him moving. And to say the man’s busy is, at the very least, stating the completely and ignorantly obvious. Between artistic works in disciplines of every medium you can imagine, there just isn’t much time for the man to rest on his laurels. “I don’t ever really decompress,” says Zombie, “it’s just not possible. There’s just not enough time. It’s always like everything’s colliding at once.”

Although Zombie might be a busy fellow, it does not mean that he doesn’t take time out of his constantly busy schedule to focus on matters that mean something to him. A supporter of animal rights, he’s been a vegetarian for the past three decades – though he doesn’t like to talk about it much.

“I mean, who am I to tell you want to do,” says Zombie. “But actually I was able to convince one person. John 5, our guitar player, was in horrible health – he was always sick and feeling like shit. And I was just like, ‘John, you eat like shit. Stop eating deep-fried whatever the fuck it is from the truck stop. It could be muskrat for all you know.’ And he gave it a shot, and he honestly hasn’t been sick a day since. I mean, I quit eating meat back in high school or whenever, but to actually watch somebody else change is amazing.”

Touching someone else’s life may not be something he traditionally discusses publicly, but it happens to be an undoubtable fact that he is compelled to provide one of the most amazing and unique live performances for his fans each and every night. And it doesn’t matter how tired or worn-down he is. (Remember, this is a man who doesn’t take down-time or decompress.) He gets himself into character, runs around and puts on a sideshow act for two hours each and every night out. “It just happens,” he says. “It’s just sort of the magic of playing live. There’s something to the fact that there’s 10,000 people waiting for you, and they don’t want to hear that you’re tired.”

For further clarification on his devotion to his adoring zombie horde, when he came through metro Detroit last year, he played at DTE Energy Music Theatre (which he affectionately remembers as “Pine Knob”). When his set started creeping up on 11 p.m., which is the witching hour (the strictly-enforced time limit for the noise ordinance for the local municipality), he announced to the crowd that there would be a fine levied against the band for going over on time. “So, we’ve apparently gone over the time limit here,” he shouted to the crowd, giving everyone anxiety that he was going to pull the plug right then and there. “But if I’m going to pay $15,000 in fines, we’d better make it fucking worth it, right?!” The band then promptly played for an additional three songs. Needless to say, if there is one man in rock n’ roll who truly wants you to experience a live show unlike any other, it’s Robert Wolfgang Zombie.

The multi-talented 47-year-old has also made a pair of Halloween franchise reinterpretations, three of his own films (House of 1000 CorpsesThe Devil’s Rejects and the R-rated animated The Haunted World of El Superbeasto), has a brand new mind-fuck of a film named Lords of Salem, and has already signed on to the violent period film The Broad Street Bullies (about the ’70s Philadelphia Flyers hockey squad that was known for their menacing and brutal style of play).

Additionally, he’s putting the final touches on an album of new material (his 11th full-length) and is still enjoying the successes of his brilliant remix album, Mondo Sex Head, which was released in August. The new album, which Zombie feels is one of his best pieces of work to date, has gone smoothly from the start. “I had a feeling it was going to go well,” he explains. “There was just something in the air. Creatively, everybody was on the same page.”

Zombie also personally designs the sets and props for his tours. His shows are entirely his brainchild, and he wants to make sure that everything is symbolic of his vision. His current tour, appropriately titled the Twins of Evil Tour, is a co-headlining jaunt with Marilyn Manson, meaning that the entire show will be, without a doubt, an amazing spectacle of the macabre.

“We have this thing that we made,” he explains. “It’s just too big. I have this guy that helps me design my set pieces, and I went to him and was like, ‘I want it to be a giant thing like you’d find in a field chopping wheat, but it’s a monster.’ And the thing just ended up being too big. It’s really just a nightmare, but it’s really amazing.”

The soon-to-be-released Lords of Salem screened recently in Toronto, but being that this is the time of year when studios are jam-packed with scheduling, Zombie has been graced with a little more time to put the finishing touches on the film before it’s unleashed upon the masses.

“It’s going great,” he says. “It’s basically done. It’ll be out early next year. We screened it in Toronto for the film festival, but there just aren’t any screens available right now. You know, those things get locked in way ahead of time. But I will say that, out of all my movies, it’s been the best to work on. But maybe that’s the kiss of death. I’m used to people hating everything I do, then loving it later.” | RDW

Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson • 10/12, 7 p.m. • DTE Energy Music Theatre • 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston • palacenet.com • 248.377.0100 • $30-$65 pavilion, $25 lawn