Zombie apocalypse: Rob Zombie on music, movies and Marilyn

Rob Zombie kicks off the Toldeo Free Press‘ Halloween special with an interview, looking back at his movies, his music and his tour with Marilyn Manson.

Welcome to the Zombie Apocolypse!

Zombie apocalypse: Rob Zombie on music, movies and Marilyn Written by Alan Sculley

Rob Zombie won’t be playing any songs from his almost-completed new CD on his fall tour with Marilyn Manson.

“We’re doing a bunch of songs that are older songs, not a bunch, but some songs I haven’t played in a long time that people will recognize,” Zombie said in a mid-September phone interview. “But we’re not doing anything new just because nobody wants to hear new songs off a record that isn’t out yet. That is just wasted concert time. We’re mixing it up and doing some older stuff that people will be excited to hear, but nothing new.”

Don’t take Zombie’s decision to hold off on playing new songs as an indication that he lacks enthusiasm for the new CD. In fact, he’s pretty amped about his latest musical work.

“It seems to happen every couple of years or every 10 years or every five years or whatever, you have a moment when it all comes together,” Zombie said. “Not that the other records are bad, but not every record can be like the most inspired event in your life. But for some reason, this one feels like it is. The songwriting, the sound of it, the vibe, the production — it’s special.”

The album, which is being produced by Bob Marlette, is essentially finished and will be out in early 2013, Zombie said. Fans can expect an album that touches quite a few musical bases.

“It’s stylistically sort of a little bit of everything,” Zombie said. “Fans of my really old stuff will love it because there’s a certain aspect of it that’s very reminiscent of that. But it also is very looking to the future. It’s hard to describe music to somebody if they haven’t heard it, but I feel like it’s the best of all of the things I’ve done. I’ve finally found a perfect match between the old stuff I did and the new stuff. That’s the way it sounds to me anyway.”

The old stuff to which Zombie (real name Robert Cummings) refers is White Zombie, the band he formed in 1985 and led through a 13-year run that included four albums, including the 1992 release, “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1.” Featuring the single “Thunder Kiss ’65,” the album topped 1 million copies sold and introduced Zombie to the rock mainstream.

But by the end of touring behind that album, Zombie and his then-girlfriend and White Zombie co-founder Sean Yseult had broken up. White Zombie kept things together long enough to release one more album, “Astro Creep: 2000,” in 1995, before the band called it a day in 1998.

Solo Zombie

Zombie then went solo, and his 1999 album, “Hellbilly Deluxe,” was a significant success, selling more than 3 million copies worldwide. He went on to release two more studio CDs, “The Sinister Urge” in 2001 and “Educated Horses” in 2006, before doing a sequel to his first solo effort, “Hellbilly Deluxe 2,” which was released in 2010.

His most recebt album is a remix CD, “Mondo Sex Head,” released this past summer. It features songs from throughout his career (ranging from “Thunder Kiss ’65” through a pair of tracks off “Hellbilly Deluxe 2” — “Burn” and “Mars Needs Women”) remixed and re-imagined by a host of artists and producers, including Jonathan Davis of Korn (under his DJ name JDevil), the Bloody Beetroots, Big Black Delta (aka Jonathan Bates of Mellowdrone) and Chino Moreno of the Deftones.

Remix albums are nothing new to Zombie. While in White Zombie, he released his first one, “Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds,” in 1996, which was followed three years later by a second such CD, “American Made Music to Strip By.”

Considering the exploding popularity of electronic dance music, “Mondo Sex Head” is well-timed, and press materials for the album tout Zombie as a trailblazer for the electronic genre. Zombie, though, sings a different — and more modest — tune about his influence on electronica.

“I don’t really feel that I’m any kind of forefather of electronic in any way at all,” he said.

“I do think that I was very, very early, or maybe one of the earliest people to use that stuff in conjunction with like a heavy metal band situation. So having remixers remix heavy metal songs, I do think I was pretty early on in that thing. I’ve been doing that since the early ’90s. But I don’t feel a connection, l mean, sometimes I do because sometimes I’ll see the concerts, some of the DJs, and I’ll see that they’ve taken some of my old songs and they’re spinning the beats off of those. So I feel a little bit of a connection, but I don’t feel like I necessarily had any influence on anything.”

Rock mode

And fans who come out to see Zombie on his tour with Marilyn Manson will find that Zombie and his band (guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D and drummer Ginger Fish) are very much in a rock mode. They’ll also see a visually theatrical show complete with everything from pyro to video to a giant flame-shooting robot.

“Oh yeah, it’s going to be spectacular. We’re going to have some things on stage that no one’s ever seen,” Zombie said of the show. “It’s going to be from the moment the curtain drops until the house lights come on, it’s going to be a nonstop visual assault. If you’re epileptic, take your medicine. You’re going to need it.”

Directing movies

Zombie’s affinity for the visual world is well established. In fact, he spends a large amount of his time working on his other passion, writing and directing movies.

He began his career as a writer/director with several low-budget horror films, including the 2003 horror flick “House Of 1000 Corpses” and a sequel of sorts to that film, “The Devil’s Rejects.”

His breakthrough on the film scene came in 2007, when he directed a remake of John Carpenter’s horror classic, “Halloween.” Zombie went on to do a remake of “Halloween II,” which of course, was the second film in the original series of “Halloween” movies.

His next film, which is expected to open in theaters in early 2013, is “The Lords Of Salem,” a movie based on the witch trials of the late 1600s that made that Massachusetts town world-famous.

“I don’t think of this movie necessarily as a horror movie,” he said. “It’s not violent and it’s not bloody. It’s not any of those things. It’s sort of like a psychological type film. It’s very bizarre.

“I wanted the person watching it to really fall into the rhythm of the film,” Zombie said. “And when the movie is over, it almost seems like you just had this bad dream for two hours — not that the movie doesn’t make sense and it’s just this surreal thing. But there’s just a weird aspect to it, the same way I feel sometimes when I watch a David Lynch film or a Stanley Kubrick movie sometimes, or Roman Polanski. There’s just a weird quality to it that makes you feel like you were just transported somewhere else. You’re watching weird events, but they’re just created in a way that seems slightly off, and that was the intention with the movie.”

Even though he’s been busy with the next album and touring with Marilyn Manson, Zombie has also found time to work on what may very well be his next movie, “Broad Street Bullies.”

The film will be about the mid-1970s edition of the Philadelphia Flyers, the National Hockey League team that skated and fought its way to the Stanley Cup.

“I’ve been working on that a lot. That’s been a passion project,” said Zombie, who is a hockey fan and has the cooperation of the Flyers’ front office for the project. “I’m almost finished with the script. That’s been going along great. There’s a lot of excitement about that project, which I’m very happy about. It’s an incredible story. I don’t know, I think people are going to love it. And I don’t think you even have to be a hockey fan to love it.”

“Broad Street Bullies,” he said, will have a great real-life story at its core and won’t be much like the  famous hockey movie, “Slap Shot” (which featured Paul Newman in the lead role).

“Everybody always mentions ‘Slap Shot,’ but it’s not a comedy,” Zombie said of “Broad Street Bullies.” “I mean, there are moments of it that will be funny because it’s so outrageous. But when you hear the real story, it almost seems like ‘Rocky on Ice.’ They were an expansion team. They were a total underdog team that no one believed in, ran by a player that essentially nobody wanted. I mean, Bobby Clarke was a player that nobody wanted until he was considered the best player in the league. I mean, the true story reads like fiction, it’s so incredible. It’s kind of like ‘Rocky on Ice,’ only much more violent.”