RockNet Interviews Rob Zombie of
RockNet: Your old press releases used to say you were a couch potato. You look pretty healthy up close and personal.
Rob Zombie: I am healthy. It's one of those things where people think you're unhealthy and half dead. You can't really do what we do if you're half dead.
RN: Do you make some sort of effort to stay in shape?
RZ: Yeah, you kind of have to because as soon as you get sick, touring is a nightmare. Going on stage and trying to play a full show when you should be in bed is almost impossible. It's hard to stay healthy and it's definitely hard to find halfway decent food. "Once again breakfast at McDonalds!" What are you gonna do. I have those McSalads.
RN: You're a creative person, does your health affect your creativity?
RZ: It is amazing; if you have a few days of bad food, it puts you in a crummy mood. I got tired of eating garbage.
RN: For the first time in your career, you're playing places like Arkansas. Are there Bible Belt people telling you that you're hypocrites yet?
RZ: No. I think people think like that, but whether it's New York City, Nashville, or Tupelo, it always seems the same. It doesn't seem much different.
RN: C'mon Rob, hasn't anyone told you that you're Satanic?
RZ: People kind of ask that question, but I can never tell if they're serious. I never know how to respond to it.
RN: Do you realize with your makeup and energy, you look like jungle animals on stage?
RZ: (laugh) It's kind of weird. I feel pretty mellow most of the time, but when you hit the stage, it feels like you go nuts. You get an uncontrolled amount of energy. But luckily I have a place to get rid of it. I'd hate to think it'd be stuck inside of me all the time.
RN: Are you the kind of creative person who can't relax their mind?
RZ: I kind of wish it could, but I never can relax even if I'm lying in bed or half asleep. I'm like planning some other project everyday. I always write stuff, stick 'em in my pocket. I have a mini filing cabinet that I'm carrying on the road. I know a lot of them are ideas are I won't be able to get to for a year or so. I'll get to them eventually. I'm working on a couple of movie things. I never keep a daily journal of what I do, 'cause I never want to read it again. Once it's happened, it's good enough.
RN: Are any of your movie ideas going to be horror flicks like White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi?
RZ: Not necessarily. I don't know, there's all kinds of things I want to do. Someone offered me money to make a short film. I'm gonna do that and continue making our videos. We'll see where things go.
RN: Are videos a big, creative challenge for you?
RZ: Well, it all depends. Videos are kind of weird. They can be simple to work on or insane.
But the big thing when a video is a lot of work is you have to shoot it in such a short period of time. You have to get everything together, and you do it in one day. It takes a lot of organizing. If one thing screws up, your whole project is screwed. It's not like a movie, where something goes wrong, you can always re-shoot it. You gotta get in and do it and get out of there.
RN: So do you delegate people to do certain things at certain times like a relay race?
RZ: Yeah, it's really hectic getting organized.
RN: Which videos had the least and the most amount of people?
RZ: Well "Thunder Kiss" was probably the lowest budget video we've done. That was low-key and there were five extra people. But on the new one, "More Human than Human" had maybe 20 people. They all do things that people don't even notice. We do the whole thing indoors and people rig lights, changing film and all kinds of behind-the-scenes stuff.
You could do it with fewer people, but you couldn't do it as fast. There's a certain time element. Fewer people makes the work a lot harder.
RN: At the end of the "More Human than Human" video, someone's carrying a sign that says "The End is Near." Is that appropriate to the song or were you trying to be cool by using that?
RZ: What we were doing is we let loose some of our characters on Hollywood Boulevard and filmed them, mixing with the regular people kind of candidly. And for every goofy thing we did, there was a regular person doing goofy things - there were people with big signs and Jesus quotes. Strange things.
RN: Strange? These people were real. Don't you think that real life is becoming like the movies?
RZ: Especially if you watch these talk shows. Real life is way more bizarre than the movies. There are a lot of messed up people doing messed up stuff. The talk shows have a small portion of the population. But then you get out and travel and realize that most of the country is pretty bizarre - most people are sleeping with their stepbrother's mom's husband.
RN: Here's a statistic for you, Rob. One in every four teenagers has been either assaulted, attacked or abused somehow - and a chunk of the abuse came from their own parents. Can you believe that?
RZ: I'm sure it's true. Kids don't come to me, though. If anything, when they go to the shows, they're looking for an escape from any trouble they have like that. And the last thing they want to do is think about it. But sometimes when I do meet kids after shows, it's so obvious, they've got a lot of problems at home. It's hard to hide it sometimes.
When we do in-stores meeting 800 kids face-to-face, you realize every other kid's got a story, "this is for my neighbor who's in jail" or "I just got out of jail."
RN: More Human Than Human can be applied to these kids, huh? The song's got a Crow-like-vibe.
RZ: That's kind of like a general theme. That underlies what everything on the album's about. I think the whole band's come from that background. I think the more you get beaten down and get dished out crap in life, the stronger you become to succeed and overcome it all. That's kind of like a big thing in us.
RN: Did you feel stomped on in your career, or did you accept the rejection as something everyone goes through?
RZ: I never thought about it 'cause we were just doing what we were doing - we never did it with expectations of "Well, we're supposed to have what those people have. How come we're not getting it?" We never made music that was meant to be popular. We never felt particularly shafted about anything 'cause we were never particularly trying to appeal to anything. If anything, I feel it now more than ever.
Our record went top ten and is still selling really well. But there are a lot of magazines that want to ignore the fact that we exist. If it was a different band, they'd be jumping all over it. But with us they're praying that we go away.
RN: What magazines won't cover White Zombie?
RZ: More mainstream rock magazines that won't even mention us or review the record. It's pretty obvious who.
RN: No offense to a band like Poison or Warrant, but the kind of publications you're talking about are the magazines that prayed for a day when a band like you would come around...hip, underground, artsy, kind of punky.
RZ: I don't know what anyone thinks anymore. There seems to be a real trend to hide certain bands and over hype certain bands. There comes a point where no one really cares to buy that record. But the industry doesn't really care; it's kind of false right now.
RN: Well, the industry's always false. Do you know that you can't depend on the whims of the business. Are you going to depend on MTV the rest of your career?
RZ: You can't live or die by that stuff. When someone votes you "best band" today, they'll vote you "worst band" tomorrow. So it really doesn't matter. You gotta do what you do. Believe in yourself, no matter who does or doesn't. We didn't have an A&R person for two years. We broke ourselves by touring.
RN: Didn't Beavis & Butt-Head make you stars?
RZ: That really didn't do anything. No matter how hard you work, people always try to find an overnight success angle that they can exploit.
RN: Do you realize that you're going to offend these tastemakers of American rock and roll in the 1990s? When they read this, they're gonna set fire to White Zombie totem poles! They think they made you the stars you are today!
RZ: (seriously) It sounded like a fun story, so everyone blew it out of proportion. If it was easy as being played on some stupid show, I would have stayed home and watched the money roll in.
-Interview conducted by Bronx-based Ann Leighton