ROB ZOMBIE

…but that’s not all he is. As we hand over our mag­a­zine to the Michael Myers of rock’n’roll, we get an ex­clu­sive in­sight into the fas­ci­nat­ing mind of one of our world’s last true enig­mas

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DAVE EVERLEY • PIC­TURES: TRAVIS SHINN

This month’s guest edi­tor grants us an ex­clu­sive

au­di­ence to talk about his wild life, his love of all

things gory and his tan­ta­lis­ing fu­ture plans.

Rob Zombie doesn’t like look­ing back­wards. he may have just wrapped up the twins of evil tour he co-head­lined with his old friend Mar­i­lyn Man­son, but he’s not buy­ing into the cur­rent nos­tal­gia for all things 90s. “Who gives a shit about the 90s?” he says. “I don’t even re­mem­ber it, so I’m cer­tainly not gonna go back and try to re­live it.” he raises his voice like he’s talk­ing to a small child or a deaf aunt: “I’M SORRY IF YOU MISS IT EVERY­BODY, BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.”

he laughs. the former White Zombie front­man turned solo star/moviemaker/ hor­ror icon can af­ford not to dwell on the past. he has plenty to keep him­self oc­cu­pied right now.

there’s his lat­est movie, 3 From Hell, the third in­stal­ment in the se­ries that be­gan with 2003’s cult gore­s­ploita­tion clas­sic House Of 1000 Corpses and con­tin­ued with its 2005 se­quel, The Devil’s Re­jects. he fin­ished film­ing the new film ear­lier this year and started edit­ing it lit­er­ally two days ago. “the sec­ond was so dif­fer­ent to the first one, I wanted the third one to be dif­fer­ent yet again,” is all he’ll give away about it. “If you’re just re­tread­ing the same movie for a profit, that’s a bum­mer.”

then there’s his next solo al­bum, the fol­low-up to 2016’s none-more-robZom­biefied The Elec­tric War­lock Acid

Witch Satanic Orgy Cel­e­bra­tion Dis­penser. oh, and there’s his new gig as a mag­a­zine edi­tor, the re­sults of which you’re hold­ing in your hands now…

there’s a rea­son we’ve asked rob Zombie to guest-edit Metal Ham­mer, and that’s be­cause he’s King Freak. he walks it, talks it, sings it and makes movies about it. And this is ex­actly how he does it…

Rob doesn’t know where his freak gene came from. he grew up in a blue-col­lar fam­ily in haver­hill, Mas­sachusetts, 20 miles down the road from Salem, scene of the in­fa­mous witch tri­als. his mother’s fam­ily worked in trav­el­ling car­ni­vals, but by the time he was old enough to go to see them, the glory days of that world were long gone.

“It used to be grand and more cir­cusy,” he says. “But by the time me and my brother were around it, which was the early 70s, it had de­gen­er­ated to this sleazy thing that would blow into town for a week, then blow out. the only time it was fun was when there was a haunted house and we could go in, like, a thou­sand times. But mostly we wanted to be home, screw­ing around.”

or watch­ing TV. If any­thing made rob Zombie a mon­ster, it was tele­vi­sion. As a young child, he would ring every­thing he wanted to watch in that week’s copy of the lo­cal list­ings guide. there were a lot of rings.

“I was ob­sessed with all movies,” he says. “I grabbed a TV guide ev­ery week and cir­cled every­thing I was go­ing to watch for the com­ing week, which was al­ways a lot. It didn’t mat­ter if it was a hor­ror movie or a gang­ster movie or a western or a com­edy. I re­mem­ber, when I was pretty young, go­ing to the lo­cal pub­lic li­brary and they had a 35mm print of King Kong that they were show­ing the kids. that was the be­gin­ning of get­ting hooked on that stuff.”

he grav­i­tated to­wards the weirdos and bad guys. the ones who were de­ter­mined to smash, chomp, stomp, laser-beam, ruin and de­stroy any­thing that crossed their paths:

King Kong, Franken­stein’s mon­ster, the crea­ture From the Black la­goon…

“In those films, the mon­sters were the good guys, in a sense,” he says. “King Kong and the Wolf Man weren’t re­ally killing peo­ple or do­ing dam­age un­less they were pushed. It was more like, ‘how do I fit in?’ I think, sub­lim­i­nally, you relate to that.” he was just as drawn to Alice cooper, back when he was a gen­uinely macabre fig­ure. he liked Alice be­cause Alice was an out­sider. rob saw him­self as an out­sider, too. of course, that’s some­thing every­body says, right?

“Yeah, I know,” he replies. “But I just felt like I didn’t fit in. It never got any bet­ter as I got older. When you’re re­ally lit­tle, you’re try­ing to fit in, ’cause you don’t un­der­stand the con­cept of not fit­ting in. But by the time you’re older, you’re like, ‘Fuck every­body, I don’t give a fuck, fuck you!’ And then you dis­cover punk rock, and then you re­ally don’t fit in.”

But there were real-life mon­sters, too. one of rob’s ear­li­est me­mories grow­ing up was the trial of charles Man­son, the psy­cho­pathic cult leader who was jailed for or­der­ing his fol­low­ers to carry out a se­ries of bru­tal killings in the late 60s. to some, Man­son went be­yond an­ti­hero and out the other side – a real life equiv­a­lent of the orig­i­nal rebel an­gel, lu­cifer. In 2017, the year of Man­son’s death, rob nar­rated a doc­u­men­tary on him.

“As nor­mal as my par­ents were, they never cen­sored any­thing. My mom had Hel­ter

Skel­ter [the best-sell­ing true crime book on the Man­son killings] and I re­mem­ber look­ing at the pic­tures and just be­ing fas­ci­nated by it. I was four when it hap­pened, and I’d see it and find it fas­ci­nat­ing.”

“YOU RELATE TO MON­STERS”

Did you mourn him when he died? “No, of course not. But he was in­fin­itely en­ter­tain­ing. I kind of miss him be­ing around. Should he have been in prison? of course. But no­body can deny he was en­ter­tain­ing. It’s kind of a bum­mer that there’s no more en­ter­tain­ment com­ing from that guy.”

Along-gone club in New York city, some­time in the late-80s. on­stage, a bunch of crusty­look­ing, snag­gle­toothed gut­ter crawlers with dread­locked heads and dump­ster clothes are mak­ing an un­holy racket that sounds more like a cav­al­cade of garbage cans clat­ter­ing down a back al­ley than it does mu­sic. their name is White Zombie, and they have come for your souls…

rob moved to the Big Ap­ple in the early 80s, straight from school. Punk rock had in­spired him to be­come a mu­si­cian and he stepped right into a mi­lieu of artists and freaks, cra­zies and drug ad­dicts. It was un­der the un­der­ground, an al­ter­na­tive scene long be­fore ‘al­ter­na­tive’ be­came a cheap buzz­word. But even there, rob and his band White Zombie didn’t quite fit.

“We were too metal for the art crowd and too arty for the metal crowd,” says rob. he wasn’t a drug guy ei­ther, which set him even fur­ther apart from his peers. Way be­fore White Zombie hit, he saw friends and ac­quain­tances get hooked on the hard stuff, get strung out, over­dose, die.

“I knew so many peo­ple who got fucked up,” he says. “It just didn’t in­ter­est me. I was like, ‘I’ve seen that movie. I know how it’s go­ing to end.’

I’m al­ways amazed when some­one new gets hooked on heroin. I’m, like, ‘re­ally? Is the jury still out on this?’” he puts on a dumb voice. “‘We’re not sure if this is bad yet. We’ve got to try it for our­selves. I’m just gonna stick this nee­dle in here…’”

there was an­other rea­son he steered clear. rob Zombie was al­ways am­bi­tious. he wanted White Zombie to be more than just an­other bunch of noise-rock no-marks play­ing some Bow­ery shit­hole to zero peo­ple.

“When you’re cre­atively ob­sessed with the band, like I was, you’re al­ways in it,” he says, re­fer­ring to the artis­tic process. “I wasn’t in the band to stand on­stage and be adored. I wasn’t that guy sit­ting in the ho­tel room, won­der­ing why peo­ple weren’t still cheer­ing. there was al­ways some­thing to do, some­thing to think about, to work out how you could do things bet­ter.”

the steely work ethic paid off. White Zombie’s third al­bum, 1992’s La Sex­or­cisto: Devil Mu­sic Vol 1, was a mondo bizarro ex­plo­sion of B-movie shlock dis­guised as early 90s alt-metal that pushed them out of the gut­ter and onto MtV and into are­nas. that multi-plat­inum suc­cess didn’t scram­ble rob Zombie’s brain like it did Kurt cobain’s was down to the fact that his band were an eight-year ‘overnight’ sen­sa­tion. that and the fact that rob Zombie’s brain seems to be fairly un­scram­ble-able.

“It wasn’t like we were this un­known band in a club who sud­denly got huge,” he says. “I was smart enough to lis­ten to the hor­ror sto­ries. A lot of bands back then would sign to ma­jor la­bels and go, ‘We’re su­per­stars.’ I’d go, ‘We’re signed to Gef­fen records but no­body knows who the fuck we are, no­body gives a shit.’”

only peo­ple did give a shit – lots of them. Iron­i­cally, the one per­son who was giv­ing less of a shit by the day was rob him­self. By the time of White Zombie’s fourth al­bum, Astro-Creep 2000, he be­gan to feel like an stranger in his own band.

“It was not a fun sit­u­a­tion,” he says. “the sit­u­a­tion had got so ter­ri­ble that I was, like, ‘I don’t want to do this any more, I don’t want to spend my whole life work­ing to this goal so I can be mis­er­able. I’d rather play clubs on my own and have fun than play are­nas and be mis­er­able.’”

So rob Zombie did what any sel­f­re­spect­ing mad sci­en­tist whose grand ex­per­i­ment had gone wrong would do. he killed the mon­ster he’d cre­ated.

“It was a tough de­ci­sion,” he says. “It seems like some di­a­bol­i­cal plan I had, but re­ally I was just on a quest to ac­tu­ally en­joy my­self.”

how’s that work­ing out for you? the mad sci­en­tist laughs. “oh, it’s work­ing out great.”

White Zombie of­fi­cially split in 1998. A lot of peo­ple would have taken a break, maybe had a hol­i­day. But rob Zombie’s not a hol­i­day kind of guy. In­stead, he threw him­self back into the thick of it. Be­fore you could say “Plan 9 From outer Space”, he’d made two solo al­bums – 1998’s Hell­billy Deluxe and 2001’s The Sin­is­ter Urge.

“I MISS CHARLES MAN­SON BE­ING AROUND”

But that wasn’t all. In 2000, he di­rected his first full-length movie, House Of 1000 Corpses. he’d made videos for White Zombie be­fore, as well as ozzy os­bourne and Black la­bel So­ci­ety, but this was a whole dif­fer­ent beast, not least be­cause no one ex­pected a long-haired rock star to get be­hind the cam­era.

“Peo­ple are very ac­cept­ing now. ev­ery­one’s got to be a rocker-slashac­tor-slash-model-slash-what­ever.

If you only have one ca­reer, it’s like, ‘oh, that’s all you do?’ But back then it was very dif­fer­ent. [Peo­ple were like]

‘What, be­ing in a band isn’t enough for you? Now you gotta make a movie?’”

he did the rounds in hol­ly­wood, squeez­ing him­self into the of­fices of movie peo­ple, throw­ing out his pitch, see­ing if any­one would bite. even­tu­ally, Universal

Stu­dios did. he’d de­signed a hor­ror-themed theme park ride for them, so he al­ready had a foot in the door. the stu­dio coughed up a $10mil­lion bud­get – or it might have been $14mil­lion, he can’t ex­actly re­mem­ber ex­actly how much. “that was peanuts to them,” he says. “We weren’t even on the radar. Now you’d kill some­one to get that bud­get, but back then it was, like, ‘oh, what­ever.’”

Next to the movie busi­ness, the mu­sic busi­ness was a walk in the park. House Of 1000 Corpses wrapped in 2000. It came out in 2003. “Get­ting the movie made was easy. Get­ting the movie re­leased was a night­mare,” says rob. he doesn’t say it, but the sub­text is clear: that’s hol­ly­wood for ya, baby.

that wasn’t even his worst ex­pe­ri­ence, though. that came a few years later, when he was work­ing on his 2007 re­make of clas­sic 70s slasher movie Hal­loween and its se­quel two years later. two of the money-men in­volved be­hind the scenes were Bob and har­vey We­in­stein, own­ers of the We­in­stein com­pany. You might have heard of them.

“that was the worst sit­u­a­tion when it came to med­dling,” he says, an­noy­ance creep­ing into his voice even now. “Par­tic­u­larly Bob, who is the per­son I dealt with day to day. they treated ev­ery­one like they were id­iots – the di­rec­tors, the ac­tors, the as­sis­tants, the pub­li­cists, ev­ery­one. It was soul­suck­ing. And it was 100% a power thing.”

he pauses when we bring up the ob­vi­ous. “I wasn’t aware of what would come out later, all the sex­ual stuff. I had no deal­ings with har­vey at all. All I knew is that Bob We­in­stein was a ma­niac.”

You’ll not be sur­prised to hear that Zombie never clicked into the hol­ly­wood ma­chine. he made a hand­ful of friends in the in­dus­try – Ni­co­las cage was one of the few – but hated the three-ring cir­cus that came with moviemak­ing. “I don’t like go­ing to par­ties, I don’t like go­ing to pre­mieres, I don’t like do­ing any of that stuff. It’s not my thing. I’m not a schmoozer.”

When it comes to rob’s track record on the sil­ver screen, if there’s one thing that unites his films, aside from gore and frights, it’s that they’ve been roundly cru­ci­fied by crit­ics. House Of 1000 Corpse’s rat­ing on in­flu­en­tial movie re­view ag­gre­ga­tor rot­ten toma­toes is 19%, the same as his sec­ond Hal­loween movie. his first Hal­loween movie fared bet­ter, with 25%. his high­est rated film is The Devil’s

Re­jects at 53%. An im­prove­ment, but noth­ing to have Steven Speil­berg quak­ing in his boots.

“I re­ally don’t care about bad re­views. I don’t read them,” he says. “there used to be movie crit­ics that knew a lot about film and they were in­formed. Now I’ll read things and go, ‘these jack­asses don’t even know shit about movies. It seemed like they started watch­ing movies three weeks ago, it’s fucking stupid. It’s one big suck-ass bullshit thing.”

Be­sides, he says, he got used to shitty re­views early on. A few years ago, he picked up a life­time Achieve­ment-type award from one US mu­sic mag­a­zine.

“And I got on­stage, and I’m hold­ing this award. I say, ‘When White Zombie’s first Gef­fen record came out, your mag­a­zine re­viewed it and said, ‘this is the worst band ever.’ So thanks for this award.’”

If re­views don’t faze rob Zombie these days, it sounds like noth­ing else much does ei­ther.

“When I was a kid, I was in­se­cure about every­thing. then one day I just re­alised, ‘that’s fucking stupid’ and de­cided to flip the switch. You have to go through life do­ing these things with com­plete con­fi­dence. Peo­ple come up to me all the time and say, ‘What’s your ad­vice for some­one try­ing to break into the busi­ness?’”

And what’s your an­swer?

“Well, as soon as some­one asks me for ad­vice, I feel like they’re ask­ing me for a short­cut. So I feel like they’re al­ready fucked, ’cos there are no short­cuts. But I go, ‘If you don’t mind be­ing told that you fucking suck by com­plete strangers all day long, this might be the busi­ness for you. Be­cause that’s what it’s like.

And I said that be­fore in­ter­net. Now it’s a hun­dred times worse.”

So what ac­tu­ally scares rob Zombie, King of hor­ror?

“I don’t re­ally think in terms of be­ing scared in those terms. What scares me is that peo­ple are be­com­ing so eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated by bullshit. that’s scary. this new thing where some­one can ba­si­cally say some­thing that makes no sense, but be­cause some­one said it, it has va­lid­ity. ‘I can fly and walk on wa­ter, and you have to be­lieve it be­cause I’ve said it.’ No we don’t. You’re full of shit. It goes back to Pt Bar­num: ‘there’s a sucker born ev­ery minute.’ You like to think there aren’t more suck­ers born ev­ery minute. But there are.”

Af­ter we fin­ish talk­ing, rob Zombie will go back to his edit­ing suite to re­sume work on 3 From Hell. that will keep him very busy for the next few months, and when that’s done he will move his whole set-up to los

“I DON’T CARE ABOUT RE­VIEWS. IT’S ALL SUCK-ASS BULLSHIT”

“EV­ERY AL­BUM I MAKE, EV­ERY MOVIE I MAKE, IS A STRUG­GLE”

An­ge­les to fin­ish off every­thing that needs fin­ish­ing off on the film. once that’s done, he will re­fo­cus his at­ten­tion on the new al­bum. he has al­ready recorded it, but there’s no point putting it out there un­til he can de­vote his whole at­ten­tion to it. In true hol­ly­wood fash­ion, he’s not giv­ing out any spoil­ers about the record.

“What I will say is that ev­ery time you start a record, you go, ‘Je­sus christ, does this ever get any fucking eas­ier?’” he laughs. “ev­ery record, ev­ery movie, they are all a strug­gle.”

Strug­gle or not, if the young rob Zombie could look into the fu­ture, he’d be im­pressed by what his older self has checked off his to-do list. Form a band? tick. Be­come a rock star? tick. Make a hor­ror movie? tick, tick, tick. What am­bi­tions does rob Zombie have left to achieve? he thinks.

“I’ve worked with most of the peo­ple I wanted to work with,” he says. “I guess the am­bi­tion is al­ways want­ing every­thing to be big­ger and bet­ter. how do I make this al­bum bet­ter than the last one, how do I make the next show big­ger, how do you get 20,000 to come and see you next time you play rather than 15,000?”

Do you ever take a mo­ment from work­ing to think about what your legacy is go­ing to be?

“No. I don’t look back, ever. It’s, ‘Fuck it, it’s done, I’m on to the next thing.’ life’s not worth liv­ing if you feel the best is be­hind you. that’s just de­mented. I al­ways look for­ward.”

Is there a part of you that se­cretly wants to be ac­cepted?

“Ab­so­lutely not. ‘Ac­cepted’?! I don’t even know what that would mean. If ev­ery­one loved what I was do­ing, I’d be think­ing, ‘Aw man, I’ve made some­thing re­ally fucking generic and bad.’”

Be­cause that, in the eyes of this eter­nal out­sider, would be the most hor­rific thing of all.

ROB ZOMBIE’S NEW AL­BUM WILL BE RE­LEASED NEXT YEAR VIA NU­CLEAR BLAST. 3 FROM HELL WILL BE IN CINEMAS NEXT YEAR.

A baby-faced White Zombie at New York’s cBGB’s in 1987. rob is on the right

rob Zombie and his Michael Myers, tyler Mane

rob has no time for soul-suck­ing mega­lo­ma­ni­acs

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