Interview and Live Photos By Robert Cavuoto and Dhruv Kumar
Twitter : @RobertCavuoto
Vault Date: 2012
Rob Zombie has been terrifying audiences since 1985 not only on stage as a musician but as a cult horror movie director. He is a seven-time Grammy-nominated recording artist who has sold over fifteen million albums worldwide and directed multiple horror films, including House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and the re-imagined Halloween 2.
In 2010 Rob released the long-awaited Hellbilly Deluxe 2, and the gates of hell were wide open for this macabre musician. A tour with horror-rock legend Alice Cooper ensued for “The Gruesome Twosome Tour” and now in 2012 Rob is now embarking on another US tour with Megadeth before heading to the studio to start working on a new album in June.
I had a chance to interview Rob in New Jersey before the opening night of his tour to discuss what fans can expect at their live show, the preparation needed to put on their spooktacular show and to gain some insight into the next Rob Zombie album.
Robert: White Zombie toured with Megadeth in 1992/93. How does it feel to get back together with them for this new tour 20 years later?
Rob Zombie: It feels weird how much time has gone by now that you mention it. It feels like it was a couple of lifetimes ago. I’m glad that everyone is still here!
Robert: How is touring different now compared to when you when in your 20 and 30s?
Rob Zombie: It’s more fun now. It was always fun to do but back when I was younger in White Zombie, we had a lot of internal turmoil that ruined the touring experience. Many bands have experienced that, and I think it comes from being young, stupid, and not appreciating what’s happening. As you get older, you appreciate how great it really is. Now it couldn’t be better; it’s a blast all time.
Robert: What do you do to keep yourself satisfied with touring after all these years and keep something that can be routine, fresh?
Rob Zombie: I think it has to do with the personnel in the band. The main thing for me is being in a “band.” In White Zombie, it was a group but with too much internal turmoil. When I started as a solo artist, I never had the right people giving it the feeling that it was a band. It wasn’t until John 5 joined that I found the person to have that musical comradery. It’s fun because it becomes a group effort. It’s fun being a part of something with other people. The guys are all great, and I’m always in a good mood. Back in the day, the tours would go on forever; now, they seem to fly by; “That’s it; we’re done??? Shit” [laughing].
Robert: What can we expect on this tour compared to previous tours?
Rob Zombie: This is the stage we took to England for the Download Festival. It’s our last go with it until we break it down and rebuild it next year. Unfortunately, we don’t have any new songs because we haven’t started the album yet.
Robert: When you head out on the road, how long does it take you to get up to speed when rehearsing for a tour?
Rob Zombie: We rehearse more than most bands, and we are pretty tight. We rehearsed for three weeks even though the songs sounded perfect after the first day. After a week on the road, the show gets into a groove. I don’t know if the audience can feel it, but we can physically feel it. It’s just the demand of what the show takes on. After that first week, you feel like you can play it forever.
Robert: When people come to a Rob Zombie concert, you know you have to give them the hits like “Dragula,” “More Human Than Human,” and Thunder Kiss ’65”, but you also sometimes play lesser-known songs like “Creature of The Wheel” from the White Zombie days. Do you plan to keep surprising fans with some deeper cuts on this tour?
Rob Zombie: We keep all the staple songs that people want to hear, plus we have about ten or fifteen alternates. They include some old White Zombie songs like “Electric Head Part 1” and “Black Sunshine,” which we never really play. So, we go out with the set and sometimes pull in the alternate songs as we never know what’s going to work. The song “Pussy Liquor” is an obscure song off the House of 1000 Corpses movie soundtrack that fans have always asked us to play. We figured nobody knows that song because it was only on the soundtrack. One night we decided to play it, and it was huge. We haven’t stopped playing it since. You just never know. I think people just like the title, too [laughing].
The fans are always changing, we have the fans that have been with us since the beginning, and we also have a surprisingly young fan base whose favorite album is one of the newest ones. You get some fans who want to hear the obscure White Zombie songs, but as time goes by, I’ve noticed that the demand is less for them. When we play them, and I look out into the crowd, you can tell that they have no idea what song it. Usually, within five seconds of playing it, we can tell, “We’re not playing that again!” [laughing].
Robert: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Rob Zombie: Nothing in a superstitious way. If you asked the band, they would say my pre-show ritual is me saying an hour before the show time, “I don’t feel like playing tonight!” I always say it. [laughing]. I’m just so tired, and there is nothing more I want to do more than go back to the bus to get something to eat and watch a movie. As I slowly start to get ready, I begin to feel less grumpy and start cranking the music. Then by show time, I peak, and I’m ready to go on. It takes me an hour to get into the mindset of going up on stage.
Robert: When you go into the studio on June 1st, will you have songs mapped out, or are you starting from square one?
Rob Zombie: We have about 30 songs that are 50% there. I don’t write complete songs in advance of going in the studio anymore. I find it easier to work in the studio rather than go to a rehearsal space and jam until we have written something. We did that with White Zombie, and I dreaded it. We would jam and jam and jam; I would be like, “Jesus Christ” let’s write some fucking songs already. So now we get right down in the studio to business to write songs, and it’s more fun and efficient.
Robert: Is it too soon to tell what direction the album will take on?
Rob Zombie: Anything can change, but the goal with this album is to make a heavy, dark, groove-oriented album. Besides liking that kind of stuff, it’s great for playing it live.
With MTV and radio being meaningless, the only thing that matters is playing live for your fans! We want to make an album that’s great to play live. If you get a radio hit, that’s great, but nowadays, that’s not the goal anymore.
Robert: You are doing a web series on YouTube’s Nerdist Channel; how did you get involved with it?
Rob Zombie: Chris Hardwich, who I have been friends with for a long time, is at the heart of it all. I put Chris in my first movie House of 1000 Corpses, and a small role in Halloween 2. He started putting this Nerdist Channel thing together and asked me if there was any kind of show I would be interested in doing. The idea is still evolving.