The hateful undead

Metal maestro and film director Rob Zombie chats to Novid Parsi...

Interview, Music feature

Rob Zombie recently split from long-time label Geffen to release his new album, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, with Roadrunner. ‘When I signed to Geffen, it was 1991; it was the place to be for a rock band,’ says the former White Zombie frontman. ‘Suddenly you feel like the sole rock band in a sea of acts like Pussycat Dolls.’ But feeling like the lone figure in a sea of the same has been a lifelong theme for the 44-year-old musician-director.

After your Halloween concert, you Tweeted, ‘Thanks for trashing the dressing room. Beer everywhere. The bill is in the mail.’
Nothing actually happened. [Laughs] No one would ever trash one of our dressing rooms, I’d kill ’em. Trashing dressing rooms is about the corniest thing you can ever want to do.

It’s a bit obvious, yes.
Unless you’re Keith Moon, give me a break, you know what I mean?

If not trashing dressing rooms, how do you come down from your show? It’s not exactly a calm night out.
It’s a pretty draining affair. It’s such a physical show that you can’t really eat ’cause you f****** make yourself sick, so I get off stage and I’m starving.

You’ve said you’re often asked what scares you and that you can’t remember the last time something really did. So why are you drawn in your music and movies to scary things – to horror, bloody imagery?
It’s not really about scary or bloody; I mean, that’s where things have gone over the years, but it started appealing to me as a kid in the late ’60s, early ’70s, with the movies that were on TV, the classic Universal stuff – you know, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, The Mummy. They weren’t bloody, and they weren’t scary really. They were monster movies, and as a weird kid or as an outsider kid you could relate to them. The monster was never a faceless character; he was always a character with a soul that was misunderstood.

So you were that outsider kid?
Oh, yeah, of course. You’re not trying to be. As a kid, you’re always trying to fit in ’cause you don’t want to be weird. You just are and you don’t know why.

How so in your case?
You just see everything differently ’cause the world is set up so that everyone has the same hair, the same shoes, the same this, the same that, drink the same f****** coffee, you know. As a first-grader, you’re not going, ‘Hey, anarchy! Let’s be different!’ You’re just different.

You know, there are certain people that we find hard to imagine as children. You’re definitely one of those people.
The city I grew up in was not unlike Michael Moore’s documentary Roger & Me, which was set in Flint, Michigan. Growing up in places like that, you’re very much about getting away, so you’re always imagining beyond your situation. And that’s how I lived as a kid.

The town where you grew up was Haverhill in the US state of Massachusetts – did you know about its role in the 17th-century witch trials?
We would take field trips to Salem, Massachusetts, and they would do the witch-trial reenactments. Where we grew up, it was a very Sleepy Hollow-looking area. Everywhere was just these ancient cemeteries and old historic homes that look like they’re from witch times.

No wonder you got into all this. Are there any horror movies or directors out there you admire?
I like watching old stuff. I hardly ever go to see new horror movies now. I know what most things are going to be, I know I’m not gonna have any interest in them, so I don’t bother wasting my time.

Speaking of scary stuff, you recently called Hollywood ‘a scared town’. What did you mean by that?
It’s scared to make a bold decision. That’s why everything’s a remake or a comic book or a sequel. This is nothing new; this is no great revelation of mine. It seems like it used to be a bolder town that would make bolder choices and then it became just corporate people who are only interested in protecting their shareholders’ interests.

Yet you’ve remade Halloween and Halloween 2
Oh, yeah, no, I mean, it’s the system that exists, so it’s like I wanna make movies, I love making movies, so you take the opportunities that are presented to you. So with Halloween, you take it and you go: ‘Okay, well, if this is the opportunity that is here, take it and do whatever I can.’
Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is released on February 2.

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