With such a legacy intact, I was nervous, to say the least. I was one of only two people who were approved to interview Rob and all day countless journalists had told me how lucky I was, because despite their revered sites and names, they hadn't been chosen. Chosen was the word thrown around a lot and I couldn't figure out why it was me who was picked and not the others. Sitting across from Rob Zombie sent a wave of nausea and shakes over me due to the fact that this man's work had pretty much defined my childhood, from his music being some of the very first I heard, to his movies being my first horror films.
Then he smiled. He smiled, and held out his hand and said it was great to meet me, and all of my fears melted away. He wasn't the lord of metal anymore. He was a man who wanted to tell me his story. He wanted to tell me about his new adventures and he didn't even mind the fact that the catering people and every journalist and photographer in the area was surrounding us open mouthed at the fact that a tiny Goth teenager like me was sitting within arms-length of one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. After speaking with Rob for a little while, I can tell you he's one of the greatest people I've ever had the honor of meeting.
NUVO: Can you give me some insight into the evolution of the band's new characters?
Rob Zombie: You say the characters?
NUVO: Yeah, like how the face paint changed and the costumes changed too.
Zombie: We never really think of it that way. Everyone has sort of concocted their own thing; we never discussed it, which is kind of funny. The only person I ever discussed it with was Ginger, because he kept doing different things all of the time and most of the time they looked pretty stupid. [Laughs] But, one night he did the upside down cross, I go, "Ginger, just stick with that!" Because, he needed a little guidance. I mean, look at him; of course he does! [Laughs] But other than that, everyone does whatever, you know? It's funny, I never thought of it as characters. Interesting. [Laughs]
NUVO: Could you tell me what the next single is going to be?
Zombie: Well, "We're an American Band," is the current single that just came out and I don't know what the next single is going to be. It might be "Ging Gang Gong." I don't know, everyone seems to like that one. Everybody can decide what song they like the best. Maybe, "Ging Gang Gong."
NUVO: I like that one, it's probably my favorite from the new album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.
Zombie: I like that song just because it's a pain for radio programmers to say it and stuff, so it's funny. Listening to everyone stumbling over the words. [Laughs]
NUVO: What about Mayhem fest pushed you to make the "Dead City Radio," video? I had heard you were bored with music videos in general.
Zombie: Yeah, I don't really like being filmed, myself. I have no desire to be an actor, or anything like that. When it would come time to make videos, I don't mind making videos, I just don't like being in them. So, for many years we just were making live videos, because I just didn't feel like doing them anymore. Whereas in the past I did, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed making videos before I made movies. Because that was what made me happy. Once I started making movies, then I really didn't feel like making videos, because I was enjoying making movies.
So, for this video, I just thought, "Well, we'll just suck it up and try to do something fun." [Laughs] But once again, I usually just gather all of my friends together and get a bunch of weird stuff and see what happens. I don't really plan them that far in advance, because I, um, I just don't. Usually everyone just shows up on the day and they say, "What are we doing?" and I'm like, "You! Get on that horse, you're going to be in the ape suit, pick up the radio, and stand over there!" and they're like, "Okay, what's this about?" No one ever really knows what's happening. And most of the other weird characters are just the guys in the band. There's an astronaut fist pumping and that's John (guitarist John 5). I always do my best to embarrass all of my friends.
NUVO: Is that how you usually do music videos, just on the fly, if it's not a live video?
Zombie: Yes. Pretty much, I mean, sometimes some of them are pretty planned, like say the "Living Dead Girl," video, I don't know if you've seen that one.
NUVO: Of course, of course.
Zombie: That one was very planned out, because all of the sets had to be perfectly constructed and it was all supposed to look like this old silent movie. So that was very planned. A lot of them aren't. I mean, a lot of them I just do on the fly, because, what the hell?
NUVO: Whatever hits you at the moment of filming?
Zombie: [Laughs] Pretty much. Like, I sort of think of a whole bunch of stuff in advance and it's in my head, so I have ideas, but I just don't ever sit down, because usually the record company wants you to write it all up and submit so they know what's going on and I just refuse to do that. I'm like, "Don't worry! Something will happen!" [Laughs] It's been driving them crazy for twenty years.
NUVO: I do that to my boss! She'll ask me what questions I have prepared and I always say, "I don't know, I'll figure it out five minutes before it happens!"
Zombie: Exactly! Because, you know, those people that sit down and ask me questions like, "So, how's Mayhem going?" and I'm just like, really? You had to think of that question? [Laughs]
NUVO: I usually just take notes, just things to talk about, never really fully formed questions.
Zombie: Yeah, just go with the flow! [Laughs]
NUVO: You guys are doing the Rock Against MS show, I heard.
Zombie: We are? [Laughs] Which one's that? I don't even remember! No one even told me!
NUVO: Oh. Well, apparently you are!
Zombie: [Laughs] Yes we are!
NUVO: Are there any other benefit shows that you'd like to be a part of, or other charities?
Zombie: Yeah, I mean, the big charities that I like to support are always for animals. Because, for the most part, people aren't so good. I don't care about people. [Laughs] But, animals I'm really big on, anything to do with animals. Like, even on this tour, there's a charity for, it's a puppy rescue charity. What it is, is a lot of the soldiers when they've been in Afghanistan and Iraq, they'll find these dogs on the streets and they sort of take them in even when they aren't supposed to, but when they get home, they can't bring them. It's too expensive.
So, we've been raising money so that they can bring their dogs' home. If not, then they'll just have to throw them out onto the street again. People just shoot at them and kill them over there, like no one really cares about stray animals. They just treat them like crap, not that people don't treat animals like crap here too. Any kind of animal thing is what I'm into.
NUVO: The Great American Nightmare showcase houses, what kind of things from your films will fans recognize in the houses?
Zombie: There are three haunted houses; one of them is based on House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. What it is, is just one long murder ride, where you can kind of-
NUVO: [Makes alarmed face and sound]
Zombie: Right? There's going to be serial killers walking around and chasing after you on that one. And there's an El Super Beasto one where it's in 3D, so you have to wear 3D glasses and it's going to seem as if you are walking through kind of a perverted cartoon. Yet scary! And then we're doing a Lords of Salem one, which is really weird, I still don't understand how this one's going to work, but you go through it with a black hood over your head so you can't see. So, we're trying to take away everyone's senses, because then people start to really freak out.
NUVO: I wish I could go, but I have a heart condition.
Zombie: See, I wouldn't let you. It's not for the weak of heart.
NUVO: I would love to just see the wrestling and the concerts though.
Zombie: [Laughs] Well, you can stand outside and watch the other people have heart attacks and laugh at them!
NUVO: Personally, I'm hoping someone craps their pants. Honestly, I am.
Zombie: [Laughs] Somebody will! People can get-because sometimes I'll hide inside of them and I've done it before and scared people. It is the funniest thing to watch people be genuinely scared of me; you can tell that they are. They're like, "I just peed my pants!" It's the best thing in the world!
NUVO: Kind of like when Ozzie did the whole wax museum trick, where he took his figurine's place and when people tried to take pictures or walk by it, he'd go, "Boo!"
Zombie: Except the funny part is, I think Ozzie was peeing his pants! [Laughs]
NUVO: Is the Great American Nightmare going to become an annual thing?
Zombie: I think, I mean, it depends on the success of it. If it's successful, we'll do it again. And, next year, if it's successful enough, we want to take it to other cities. You know, not just California. I mean other states.
NUVO: How long has it been in production? It sounds like it's just ridiculously detailed.
Zombie: It's been going on for, jeez, I don't know. We started maybe eight months ago, working on it perhaps. And what's good is that John Reese, who runs Mayhem tour, and Kevin Lyman, who runs the Warped Tour, are involved, so everyday we've been working on it, you know. So, it's been it's been pretty painless actually.
Rob Zombie's latest album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is out now. This October, catch Rob Zombie's horror showcase, "Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare" showcase, featuring concerts from the likes of 3OH!3, Wallpaper, Blood On The Dance Floor, HeavyGrinder, Kottonmouth Kings, Twiztid, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Ozomatli, The Used, William Control, DJ Bl3nd, DirtyLoud, One More Time (Daft Punk Tribute), The Vandals, TSOL, The Dickies, Duane Peters, Emilie Autumn, Doctor P, Zomboy, Terravita, Evol Intent, Motionless In White, Butcher Babies, Ghost Town, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Andrew W.K., Mod Sun, Beware Of Darkness, Dirtyphonics, Fei-Fei, Rob Zombie, Eagles Of Death Metal, Powerman 5000, and 45 Grave. There will also be sports entertainment from the pro-wrestling sensations Lucha Libre USA, Metalachi.