Rob Zombie Still Thinks Everything Is Boring, Especially 3D
It’s no wonder Rob Zombie isn’t impressed by the Hollywood luster of 3D. The worlds he’s created have always been larger than life and right in your face. Whether he was prowling the stage with White Zombie in the ’90s, exploring new realms of sound and vision as a solo artist from 1998 onward or channeling his strange, horrifying ideas onto film with ‘House of a 1,000 Corpses,’ ‘The Devil’s Rejects,’ and the first two ‘Halloween’ remakes, Zombie has always exerted maximum effort to shock, repel, amuse and enthrall audiences. Not only has he given 100 percent to everything he’s undertaken, he has often juggled two or three projects at once — and he has rarely dropped the ball.
Right now, Zombie is out on a North American run of his tour with Alice Cooper. At the same time, he’s planning his next movie project, ‘The Lords of Salem.’ And before he launched the tour, he was writing and recording new tracks for the reissue of last year’s ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2,’ assimilating Slipknot and Murderdolls drummer Joey Jordison into the Zombie pack. And all of that is on top of putting together plans for Universal Studio’s ‘Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses in 3D ZombieVision’ Halloween maze. With All Hallows Eve fast approaching, Noisecreep pinned down Zombie to talk to him about touring with Cooper, the three new Zombie songs, the surreal DVD featurette ‘Transylvanian Transmissions,’ how everything is boring and why he’ll never shoot a full movie in 3D.
You’re out on tour with one of your childhood heroes, Alice Cooper. That must be fun.
It’s great. It’s one of the best tours we’ve ever had. And even Alice said, “Man, this is one of my favorite tours, ever.” Because it’s hard to find touring partners. It’s hard to find bands to put together where the crowd loves everything. Sometimes they love one band and they’re totally bored during the other band, and it just makes for an awkward night. But with the two of us, it’s a great match. We’re totally different, but we’re coming from the same mindset. Our approaches are different, but similar in certain respects. And it’s really just an evening of nonstop entertainment.
When did you discover Alice Cooper?
The first record I ever got was an Alice Cooper record, and I was in third grade. Some kids get a Barney record; I got an Alice Cooper record, and the rest is history. And when I was little and I was an Alice Cooper fan, there were so many weird rumors surrounding the music that this insanity just spread like crazy. The rumors became bigger than the reality, and it just became this legendary thing. So I was instantly hooked.
Have you shot any golf with Coop?
No. I feel bad for Alice because everyone asks him about golf, and I can feel him cringing inside. People talk to him about it like it just happened, and he’s like, “I know, I’ve been golfing for 40 years.”
Slipknot and Murderdolls Drummer Joey Jordison now seems fully integrated into the Zombie lineup.
That’s a great thing. You can’t just stick someone in there who doesn’t get it. And Joey gets it. He’s such a perfect fit. And he really gets what we’re doing. We’ve never really had that. We’ve had great players, but it’s great having the mindset on the same page. It makes such a huge difference. Whatever was going on with our last drummer Tommy Clufetos going over to play for [Ozzy Osbourne], it’s over and it worked out a million times better for me.
Joey recorded on the three new tracks on the reissue of ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2.’ What was that like?
It was great. I’m glad because we’re not looking at Joey as a temporary guy who happens to be here. He’s a really integral part of the band, and that’s what he wants to be. Obviously he has Murderdolls and Slipknot, but as he’s here right now, he’s totally 100 percent part of it. So being able to get some new songs recorded with him was great for morale.
Will he tour with you through 2011?
I just take it one tour at a time. We’ve already talked about him coming with us for our European run, which starts in February, so he’s with us for a while. However possible, if possible, we want to make it work as long as he can, and he does as well.
How many new songs did you work on for the reissue of ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2’?
We actually did about nine songs, but we only finished three of them. ‘Everything is Boring’ is the most straightforward. Everyone who has heard it says, “That’s the first song where I feel like I really understand what you’re saying.” I’m always complaining that everything’s boring. “Ah, the music business is boring, movies are boring, TV is boring, everything’s boring.” And I just thought the phrase was so funny. So I just took all my complaints and took it to music. Usually I keep my feelings to myself, but on that song I let it all hang out.
When bands release expanded editions, they usually tack the new songs at the end. But the new track ‘Devil’s Hole Girls and the Big Revolution’ now opens the record. Why?
We just wanted to do a fast, heavy song where everybody could just go off to open the record. I re-sequenced the record and I redid the record. It’s almost like the director’s cuts of the album now. Because you’re right, a lot of these special editions just feature some new songs at the end thrown on that were maybe just leftover tracks. And to me, that just sort of smacks of, “Ah, here’s some crap that was lying around.” We didn’t want to do that. We tried to write the three best songs on the record. And we re-sequenced it and did some things.
You modified ‘The Man Who Laughs.’
Yeah, we took the drum solo and flushed it down the toilet and put something new in there that works way better for the song. We made it a whole new experience.
Is the new song ‘Michael’ about Michael Myers from the ‘Halloween’ movie saga?
I realized I’ve sort of written songs about each movie I’d done, but I had ignored the ‘Halloween’ movies. But then we got inspired and did ‘Michael,’ and it’s kind of a cool, weird dark song.
You said you worked on nine new songs. Do you have plans for the other six?
There’s no plan. We have them sitting there. Some of them are half recorded. When we reconvene in the studio, we’ll take a look at them and see how we feel about ’em. But there’s definitely some good stuff there that I wish we had time to finish. We just literally ran out of time. We only had a week. And we were cutting the documentary, shooting the ‘Mars Needs Women’ video, cutting that and recording that. So a week goes by quick. So you start out going, “Hey, let’s do nine songs.” Then it’s, “Maybe seven … no five … I think we can finish three if we really try.”
The reissue comes with a pretty cool video.
There’s a live video of the one time on tour when me and Alice got on stage and did ‘School’s Out.’ And there’s a ‘Mars Needs Women’ video. But the best part of the DVD is this thing called ‘Transylvanian Transmissions.’ It’s a tour documentary, but we wanted to do something different. We didn’t just want interviews with the band and a little behind-the-scenes footage. That’s not what touring is about. Touring is a weird experience, because you’re always all over the place. You find yourself in the middle of nowhere at a truck stop at 5 AM just doing weird things.
So it’s kind of like a David Lynch film. It’s this weird documentary that captures the surreal feeling of waking up every day and not being sure what day it is, what time it is or what city you’re in. And the only thing that has to make sense in your life is being on stage. Everything else doesn’t matter. So I wanted the documentary to capture the feeling where the normal parts of your life become surreal and demented, and the being onstage is the only thing that makes sense.
Did you direct ‘Transylvanian Transmissions’?
Essentially, yes. We gave everyone in the band cameras and we were all filming constantly … there were large sections I would film at 5 AM, when everyone else was asleep, and other people would film in the parking lot. We were filming everything all the time, because everyone has a different perspective. And I had an editor cut that together on our break. It was crazy, because we were half on tour and half recording, and I was running back and forth between the two things as always.
You’ve been heavily involved in Hollywood, so maybe you can explain what’s going on with the 3D phenomenon. Ever since ‘Avatar,’ it seems like everything — even children’s movies — is in 3D, which is funny since 3D used to be reserved for crappy movies that no one would see if they were released conventionally.
As with everything, the business is in a panic, so every time someone thinks they’ve figured out, “This will get us through the next quarter,” that’s what they do. And they’re converting all the theaters to 3D. God forbid if everyone gets sick of 3D, they’ll be f—ing screwed. I’m already sick of 3D. It’s funny — all the A-level stuff is now 3D. You couldn’t go to Comicon this year without tripping over an A-level celebrity. All comic book-related geek material, you can’t make a movie without jam packing it with the biggest stars. It’s so funny the way things have gotten.
Do you think the A-level celebrities are essential for these big budget 3D children’s movies and action flicks?
Ah, I don’t think anyone actually cares. In some ways, I find it can e distracting. It’s cool if someone’s appropriate, but I don’t think it matters. People are gonna go see ‘Spider-Man,’ no matter who the f—‘s playing Spider-Man. It just doesn’t matter.
Will your next movie project, ‘The Lords of Salem,’ be in 3D?
Nope. It’s fine, but the problem with 3D is the process of how you have to shoot it dictates the film. I like films to look a little more gritty, raw and organic. But 3D has to be very slick and sharp and clean in order to work well. That’s why animated movies work the best in 3D. And that’s not what I want.
It’s the same thing with music. I’ll listen to music that sounds like it’s recorded kind of badly, and I love it. I don’t want everything to be super slick and digital. That doesn’t make it more exciting for me. In fact, it all starts seeming the same after a while. That’s the problem, the industry becomes like sheep. They go, “Oh, that person’s doing it. Let’s all do it.” And once everyone’s doing it, now that’s boring, too. I don’t want to go see a movie like ‘Crazy Heart’ in 3D. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think I would have enjoyed ‘Taxi Driver’ more if it was in 3D.