Rob Zombie – Interview

Rob Zombie

Scared sh*tless by Rob Zombie. And we got an interview, too!

You are always busy, what are you up to now?

Working on the next movie and various comic book scripts I’m trying to finish.

Do you take on these new projects for the creativity or business?

None of it is ever business. Projects come to me all the time and I’m not interested. Everything is so much work that you have to be excited to want to put in all the hours with virtually no payback sometimes.

Is it a blessing to have all these creative outlets even if it takes away from the music?

It’s great. I don’t even care if it takes away from the music. These are all things I’ve wanted to do.

You usually think of Greatest Hits records come at the end of an era or long after a band is gone, is there a reason you wanted to release it now?

I just think it was the time. It had been quite a while; we were writing and recording for twenty years. It seemed like a good time to repackage it now. Some kids wonder “is Rob Zombie the same guy who was in White Zombie” so I thought it would be a good starter kit.

Does it seem like twenty years have passed?

Yes and no. Sometimes I think back and find pictures and it seems like another life and another person practically.

What’s it like to have kids just discovering your music now?

It’s great. As a kid so many of the things I loved to death I got into late. I wasn’t into the Beatles when they were relevant and broke up when I was five. I remember when I first started to do things people wondered how long it could last, but everything lasts forever. I’ll pick up the paper and read about these punk rock bands no one thought anyone cared about are still on tour a year later. It’s great.

Is it amazing to think twenty years from now that kids might be buying the greatest hits album?

Yeah, and you really do things for the moment and never think it will last. But it’s great to think it is possible. I think it is possible because kids on the website just bought White Zombie records we made twelve years ago.

Was it tough to pick the tracks because it will be the leaping pad for kids?

I kind of picked what I thought the songs that jumped out, the singles and fan favorites. There are songs that are more obscure and I didn’t think those really fit in, maybe for a box set where we put every fucking little thing you ever done.

Ever thought about doing that or is it too tedious?

I think there is enough White Zombie stuff that it would fill its own thing. This was sort of a little of everything.

Fans are always hungry for groups that they love. Like the Beatles releasing Let It Be… Naked.

Especially when there is a shortage of it; the Beatles, anything they do people die for. Three years ago when we opened up for Black Sabbath and here were these fifty year old guys playing songs they wrote thirty years ago and you have young kids going ape shit.

It’s amazing how music today doesn’t seem to have the staying power like it once did.

Yeah, lots of pop music does not. It’s a thing of the moment and when you hear it today its like ‘uhhhhh’.

Like you wouldn’t be listening to Wham today?

Yeah, you might like it as a joke or because you liked it then, but there isn’t a whole new generation discovering Wham.

I wonder why rock and hip-hop are the rare music that holds that timelessness.

It’s lifestyle music. It’s not like some secretary who likes some pop song, but can’t name who the band is; where as a heavy metal fan is into every aspect of it. We’ll see if rap holds up to that. Run-DMC seemed to be the Led Zeppelin of rap.

If someone told you twenty years ago that you’d still be doing this what would you have said?

It just didn’t seem feasible. When you start you start in such a humble place. You are just a bunch of kids. White Zombie was a bunch of kids with the worst equipment playing in a basement. But that is what is so great about it. There is no reason to think that you can’t do it. That is what is so great about this. House of a 1000 Corpses, if someone said ‘do you think you could win an academy award for it?’ but ten years later who knows? You just don’t know where things go. That is what is so cool about it.

Have you always had goals or was it just fun and that kept you going?

There are always new things that get me excited. It’s never been about making money. Some of the projects that I’ve gotten most excited about don’t have that benefit.

I know you directed the White Zombie videos, did you have experience?

I always wanted to make movies as a kid. We’d always make movies with a Super-8 camera. It was this big honking one that was black and white and silent. I always wanted to do it and when it came to make videos the label would hook me with these people and I thought ‘I’m not going to hand my career over to this cornball’. Then the videos became a really good training ground for my next move, features.

Was 1000 Corpses on your mind for a while?

Not really, but a film of that vibe had been on my mind. I didn’t really have a movie in mind. I am usually so busy with whatever that I don’t have a golden project on the shelf. Usually when its time to make a record I make a record. The opportunity sort of came up to make one so I developed the vague idea I had.

You do film and music, major movies have become pop music, especially scary movies. They aren’t scary anymore.

Horror movies, there used to be two kinds. Well in the early days there were Dracula and Frankenstein, but in the ‘70s there were these nasty sorts of movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which were smaller films and the major studios, were making the same sorts of movies like the Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. And then in the ‘80s they hit upon Freddy and Jason and got a different vibe. They sugar coated them up and they became more poppy and friendly.

When did the laugh track fall into horror movies?

There is this weird thing where people will say horror and comedy go hand in hand, but then that same person will say that the Exorcist is the greatest movie ever. There isn’t one funny moment in that whole movie. That is what I find so funny. The movie most recently that caught that same sort of thing was Seven. There is nothing funny in that movie. People just expect some homicidal maniac to say something funny. Or maybe the maniac says something funny because of whatever, but since when does the victim mouth off to the killer?

I just watched Dawn of the Dead and I dreamed about it for days. And these nightmares were me trying to find a place to hide. Movies don’t do that anymore.

I think people are trying to get back there a little bit; the success of 28 Days Later might help. But there was a real hardcore audience, but not a lot of money. So the studies wonder how they can water it down and make even more money. It’d be like what would happen if Hollywood took over porno; ‘if we keep their clothes on and they didn’t have sex we’d be able to sell it to a lot more people’. The essence is gone.

What do you think the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is sacrilege or what?

It is and it isn’t. I think the first film is genius, but I’m willing to give it a chance because some of my favorite films are remakes. That would be like saying after Karloff there could never be another Frankenstein. But if they made it just for the bucks then it’s a drag. But if it is a good movie then I’ll be the first to admit it.

I want it to scare me. That’s all I want.

It won’t ever have the impact because you know what the hell is going on. With the first one you are like ‘what the fuck is going on, this hitchhiker guy is cutting his hand open and taking a picture?’ but now you are waiting for Leatherface.

I think that when critics saw your movie they seem either conditioned or not interested in being scared anymore.

A lot of the movies we are talking about like Chainsaw Massacre, they weren’t critic favs. Now they are classics, but at the time people thought they were garbage.

We didn’t care as kids what critics said.

Hell as kids’ critics didn’t even matter, I don’t even know if I knew they existed. I think when I first saw Siskel & Ebert that I knew about it. I remember when a local guy on TV reviewed Phantasm and he said it was the worst movie he had ever seen and it was a piece of crap. They were showing scenes of it and I thought it looked bad ass and I went and saw it. It was great.

What do you think about the pirating of music and film?

The pirating thing is bad. The people it hurts the most are the ones you least think it hurts. It’s not the big Britney Spears albums that are being pirated; it’s the indie bands that don’t have two cents to their name. Pirating movies, pirating anything… if you could walk into McDonalds and eat free everyday it wouldn’t work. You can’t expect people to keep making these things because the money isn’t there. You see it happening already and you see it happening right now. Records labels don’t want to spend money because they are so sure everyone is going to download the record. I understand why some kid in his bedroom in Wisconsin think downloading songs couldn’t hurt anyone. True fans will buy the cd or go see the movie after downloading, but to say it doesn’t affect anyone – come on.

I remember making tape copies as a kid, but if I really dug something I had to buy the tape because I wanted to read the band lyrics, see the pictures and read the thank yous.

Me too. I don’t download anything. I think it’s a generational thing. They can’t even fathom buying a record. They ask me to sign a record and its something they’ve burned. It’s not quite the same thing, kid. I’ll sign it, but… I see kids who have a cd case with 90 cds and they are all burned. That generation doesn’t get it.

I don’t get it either. I couldn’t wait to get the music and the artwork.

Hell now they download all the artwork and print it on their laser printer. The internet is a great thing, but it can really fuck you.

+ Charlie Craine


  1. […] Hip Online caught up with Rob Zombie and asked the veteran rocker if someone told him twenty years ago that he’d still be doing this, what would you have said? “It just didn’t seem feasible,” Zombie responded. “When you start you start in such a humble place. You are just a bunch of kids. White Zombie was a bunch of kids with the worst equipment playing in a basement. But that is what is so great about it. There is no reason to think that you can’t do it. That is what is so great about this. ‘House of a 1000 Corpses’, if someone said ‘do you think you could win an academy award for it?’ but ten years later who knows? You just don’t know where things go. That is what is so cool about it.” Check out the entire interview here. […]

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