When you hear the name Rob Zombie, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
His Grammy-nominated metal music? His former hit band White Zombie? Or what about the gory horror films he’s directed — House of a 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, or even the 2007 remake of Halloween and its sequel? Maybe you think of his animated feature, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Or maybe you think of the Woolite commercial he directed. Yes … a Woolite commercial.
Zombie has his hand in so many varied projects, he says his life is scheduled for the next three years.
“When it comes to directing a television show like CSI, or a comedy special, it just sounds so fun, and like such a cool thing to do, how could I say no? I mean there have been phenomenal projects that have come to me that I’ve had to turn down just based on time … I try to do everything, I really do, but sometimes it just comes to a point where I’m like that’s impossible. I can look at my schedule and be like ‘I am screwed until 2014,’” he says. “People are already trying to book me tours based on the next record that we haven’t even written yet.”
Fresh off the second European leg of his tour promoting his latest album, Hillbilly Deluxe 2, Zombie and his crew of miscreant musicians are making a stop in Victoria during the final leg of The Hell On Earth tour with Slayer, this Tuesday, Aug. 2, at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
“I know so little about [Victoria],” he says. “I don’t even know if I’ve been there.” But he does know he likes playing shows in Canada.
“It’s awesome. We love playing Canada. I mean, it’s always been wonderful. It’s really hard to describe, too, because you feel the difference as soon as you cross the border. The shows are different and I’m not really sure why. It’s just a different vibe. It’s always great. We love it.”
They’re even having new costumes made specifically for the Canadian dates. “To show our love of Canada,” he says. “I don’t want to give it away now, but it’ll be pretty obvious when everyone sees it.”
But even more intriguing is that Zombie admits to creating his own outfits and doing his own makeup before each show. “The tradition of the theatre is that you have to do it yourself,” he says. “That’s always been the way. It’s the key … to achieve the look I’m going for isn’t too difficult.”
The band starts to get ready about an hour and a half before each show. “I don’t like to start getting in the groove too early because sometimes it’s like you just peak, like you’re so ready to go, but shit, we’ve still got 45 more minutes, and then your adrenaline is all up and you just start coming back down.”
Zombie and classic metal rockers Slayer will each be treating the audience to a full headlining set during Hell On Earth, and San Francisco’s thrash-metal band Exodus has been confirmed to open all 12 North American shows.
The two bands haven’t toured together since 1999’s Ozzfest.
“You can expect no less than ‘hell on earth,’’ says Slayer’s Kerry King. “Total sonic annihilation and a visual bludgeoning. Bring your own body bag.”
Zombie adds they haven’t left anything out as far as production is concerned. “We’re bringing everything! Everything we’ve ever done is gonna be jammed up in there, you know, pyro, video, flaming robots, explosions, you name it, it’s all there. Nothing’s missing.”
With a new drummer, Marilyn Manson’s former drummer Ginger Fish, joining the fold recently, Zombie says the band’s sound is closer to the recordings than it’s ever been.
“Probably out of all the drummers that we’ve had, Ginger plays the most accurate to the recording, so it’s the least strange transition that we’ve ever had. He’s very focused and he was listening to every record and every live tape and everything that he could find to really nail it down so the transition wasn’t weird,” says Zombie.
Former drummer Joey Jordison of Slipknot left the band just before the European tour. “Joey stayed with us for about a year, but we always knew he was temporary,” says Zombie. “There hit a point where Slipknot was done their vacation, they were going to be on tour at the same time we were, so obviously, we always knew that was priority and that he was going to go do that. Because of that we had to find someone who would be permanent, not just a fill-in guy.”
Zombie says Ginger was the perfect fit.
“It’s great, because the requirements of what we need are not, um, it’s a lot.
“You need a lot. It goes without saying that you need to be a really talented musician, that’s obvious. But you need someone that you really like being around and someone who, most of all, gets the concept of what you’re doing. And a lot of people don’t. That’s just not who they are.
“They may be a great drummer but they’re a conservative person or they just don’t get it, or not even just get it, I want someone that not only do they get it, but they’re into it and it’s not fake.
“I didn’t want to just get some drummer guy and just try to put him in wacky clothes and say, here he is! What’s great about Ginger, he’s already that type of person, he’s been in bands of that style, so he was a perfect fit. Like I said, it was like he was always there. It was very cool.”
While Zombie is known for shock value in his musical endeavours, he’s also known for the traumatizing nature of his films. After the Hell on Earth tour, Zombie will head into preproduction on his sixth feature film, The Lords of Salem, with the producers of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
“It’s sort of a modern day ghost story based around the mythology of the Salem witch trials,” says Zombie. “The basic background story is set in factual stuff, but with that I take license and spiral it off into other directions. It’s a different type of movie for me. A lot of the movies I’ve made have been more these physically violent type of films and this is more of a super dark, supernatural psychological type film. It’s very different.”
Preproduction begins in September and filming starts in October. “We won’t be done with the film until sometime next summer, so maybe (it will be released) fall 2012ish,” he says with hesitation. “After the movie’s done we’ll roll into the next record, and that will roll into the next tour … but I’m not too sure when that will be.”
Zombie says being able to try his hand in different aspects of the entertainment industry allows him to keep pushing the envelope.
“I like being able to do new things. For me, I always like trying things that are unexpected or not what people would think you have any interest in what so ever, instead of grinding out the same thing over and over,” he says. “It keeps everything a challenge because you’re always walking into a situation where you don’t have any previous knowledge, and to me that’s important. That way you never stagnate.”
And that’s where the Woolite comes in.
“It never crossed my mind to do a Woolite commercial, or any commercial for that matter. I turned it down at first, several times actually. It didn’t work out in my schedule and where they wanted to shoot it was really, really inconvenient. So I just kept saying ‘No, not interested.’ They kept moving the dates around and moving the locations until it was so easy that I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’
The commercial depicts a creepy figure by an old house in a field afflicting punishment on clothing with various torture devices.
“The way it works is there’s an ad agency that pitched this concept to Woolite and I guess they had been going back and forth over it for like a year. And once they had sort of agreed to it, then they came to me. The final commercial has a lot of things in it that wasn’t in the concept that I added in myself, the look of it, the feel of it, the style of it, but the basic premise of some guy out in the woods torturing clothes, that was already laid down. The way it looks and feels and plays out and the devices and things, that was stuff that I added in.” M
Hell on Earth tour
Rob Zombie with Slayer
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 7pm
Save On Foods Memorial Centre
$69.50 (General Admission Floor)$69.50 (Bowl)$59.50 (Back)$39.50 (special promotion)