This article was originally published in April of 2008.
Gravel-throated shock-rocker Rob Zombie has never kowtowed to popular notions of good taste, but what really makes him a maverick is that he's as deft with a paintbrush or movie camera as with a microphone. In 1985, the Massachusetts native formed White Zombie while attending a New York City design school. The band's original style was more noise-punk than robo-boogie-metal, but even the group's earliest releases featured the singer's psychedelic fantasy art, graphics that would define White Zombie's B-movie horror look for the duration of their career.
Zombie's first foray into filmmaking was designing and providing artwork for the hallucination sequence in the 1996 feature Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, and his songs have always contained audio samples from schlock films of yore, such as Russ Meyer's '65 classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! His own blood-splattered cinematic oeuvre — House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, and a 2007 reimagining of Halloween that broke Labor Day box-office records, have established him as a bona fide Hollywood player, while his sober wit and appreciation for music keep him grounded when it comes to talking with his fans. When Revolver presented your questions to him, he took to them like a gravedigger with a shovel. "They're no worse than the usual questions," he says, laughing. "In fact, they're probably better."
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE SEEN A FAN DO? — JENNIFER MARTINEZ
ROB ZOMBIE The one thing that always stuck in my mind is a bunch of years ago some radio station was having one of those contests like, "Whoever can figure out the wackiest thing to do with our station call letters gets backstage passes!" And this one guy thought the best idea he could think of was to carve it into his chest with a razorblade. So they bring this guy backstage, he's bleeding all over the place. And I just thought, Well, that's a bit much. And the radio station's like, "Hey, here's Kevin, our contest winner!" And I'm like, "Great! Take him to the hospital. Sew him back up." Ridiculous.
YOU HAVE SOME OF THE BEST LIVE SHOWS BECAUSE OF YOUR AMAZING PYROTECHNICS AND STAGE SETS. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUNNY STORIES ABOUT THESE COMPLICATED CONCERTS? — RICHARD TABER
Unfortunately, it's never funny. It's always just either dangerous or frustrating. [Laughs] There's never been a sort of a Spinal Tap–funny situation. Because pyro's never funny. It either works right or somebody gets hurt.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT A NEW STUDIO ALBUM FROM YOU? — SIMON
Well, we're working on it now. We're on tour, but we're writing songs every day. As soon as we're done touring, we're going to start working on it. Right now I feel inspired by everything, truthfully. Even though everyone's running around screaming, "The music business is dead!" I think the record labels are dead but the music business is alive and well. I feel like I have the best band with the best musicians with the best guys I've ever had, so I really feel the most inspired I've ever been to just go in and make the best record ever.
HOW IS WORKING WITH YOUR CURRENT LINEUP DIFFERENT FROM WORKING WITH THE OLD MEMBERS OF WHITE ZOMBIE? — GRIMM SPECK
The guys I have now are superior musicians, for one. Just phenomenal. Frankly, the guys in White Zombie never got along, so that's difficult, to say the least. When we recorded Astro Creep, no one was even in the studio together at the same time because no one was getting along. So, to have a band of four guys who get along great and are best friends makes a big, big fuckin' difference. With all the last few records, I would write 'em with Scott Humphrey, the producer. The band that would tour was never really the band that would play on the albums, until now. Now the four of us are writing together like a band. That's kind of what's reinspired the whole thing. Especially John 5, who's just a guitar machine. He never takes his guitar off. Plays it all day long, plays it onstage, and the first thing he does is carry his guitar into the hotel room and play guitar all night.
WHAT'S THE STATUS OF THE WHITE ZOMBIE BOX SET? — ED DONNELLY
The box set is just sort of sitting there, and I've been so busy with movies and now being on tour that I haven't had one second to work on it. So I have no idea when — or even if — it will be finished.
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED A REUNION TOUR WITH WHITE ZOMBIE? — JUSTIN LONGLEY
Uh, no. Haven't thought about it, and it just won't happen. Some bands like to reunite and some bands don't.
LOOKING AT THE ARTWORK FOR YOUR WHITE ZOMBIE ALBUMS, DID YOU HAVE A CRAZY OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION OR DID YOU JUST TAKE A LOT OF DRUGS? — BOBBY
I never took any drugs because I was always afraid of damaging my brain. [Laughs] I'm real protective of my brain. No, I just have an insane mind that never stops working and makes it very difficult to sleep, because it never stops. That's my advice to everybody: If you want to do stuff, don't damage your brain. Anyone I know who does tons of drugs does not do anything—except lying around the house eating fucking Cheetos. They're not creating jack fucking shit. Hey, maybe the Beatles did drugs and made great records, but you know what? If you're already a fucking genius to start with, then maybe you can do drugs. But if not, I don't recommend it.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL TO LEARN FILMMAKING? — EDDIE STONECHILD
I never went to school for anything, really. So I didn't learn anything from anybody. I figured it all out by myself. I made films as a kid with a Super 8 camera. And then from there, I made music videos and finally broke into movies. But really, it's just like anything else, you just watch and learn and deconstruct things and understand and read about it. You become your own school, essentially.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT A PREQUEL TO HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES AND THE DEVIL'S REJECTS? — RON FERRELL
No, I never thought about a prequel for two reasons. Usually, I find prequels completely uninteresting, because you already know the end results; you're just going back and telling some early stuff. And the other thing is I feel that the characters in those movies — the actors that played them — are so instrumental to the characters that I can't really go back and make them play their younger selves now that they're 10 years older from when I filmed them before. It just wouldn't work.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO MAKE FEATURES ON THE CHEAP? — ANTHONY JARVIS
Uh, it's not gonna happen. There's no advice. Everybody makes it in different ways and different hows, and everybody I know just does their thing. I never asked anybody for advice. Just work hard at what you want to do. And nothing good comes cheap. [Laughs]
WHY DON'T YOU CONTINUE THE HALLOWEEN SERIES? — TYLER
I just did the one, and that's all I'm ever gonna do.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE PICKS FOR HORROR MOVIES? — PHAT PAT
Well, all my top picks are usually pretty conventional, because usually the best films are obviously the most widely seen films. But a lot of people maybe don't even have classic films in their libraries, so that's what I say. Go out and buy all the classic Universal stuff if you don't have it. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man. That's the stuff people should have first, because that's all the best stuff. There's a lot of great films. One of the reasons I cast Sid Haig in House of 1000 Corpses was because I really liked him in this movie called Spider Baby that this director Jack Hill made that Quentin Tarantino talks about a lot. He's great, Jack Hill. The films he made were really amazing. I can't even think of others. I probably have like 15,000 DVDs, so it just becomes a blur in my mind. Because my essential thing is I just buy everything, because I want to see everything. [Laughs]
WHAT KIND OF A PERSON WERE YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL? — ELYSE
I hated school. Hated everything about it. So I was a pretty miserable person who couldn't wait for it to end. Couldn't relate to anybody. Didn't care if I did. Didn't matter. Counted down the seconds till it was over, till I was free. [Laughs] I graduated, but who cares? It didn't mean anything. Everything I learned was worthless. And I can't remember any of it anyway.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RIDE AT DISNEYLAND? — JASON
Well, I always was obsessed with the Haunted Mansion. It's just the greatest. Probably the first time I went on it was in 1971 or something, and it just blew my mind. I don't think it's changed at all. I think it's exactly the same. When they built all the original rides at Disneyland or Disney World, whatever, the guys they hired were so brilliant that — like, Pirates of the Caribbean, they never changed. I mean, they changed 'em a little bit, they added Johnny Depp in, but the design work is just brilliant. Those guys are geniuses.
WHAT BANDS DO YOU LISTEN TO RIGHT NOW? — ARIEL FLORES
Basically what we do on tour is we don't listen to music so much as we watch it, because we have TV in the dressing room all the time, so we're always watching. Every day is a different concert movie or a rock movie. Anything from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple to god knows what. Whatever we can find. We had the Who's Amazing Journey in heavy rotation for about a week. [Laughs] We kind of get stuck on things.
HOW DO YOU GET BIG IN A HORROR-THEMED BAND WHEN HORROR PUNK AND PSYCHOBILLY ARE SO UNDERGROUND? — JAKE TEAL
Well, they're really not. If you think about it, Alice Cooper started it all. He was very horror-themed. And at one point Alice Cooper was probably the biggest act in the world. People forget, but Alice Cooper was playing not arenas, but stadiums. Massive! It's always been hugely popular. Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and even Led Zeppelin always had dark themes, so that's always been hugely popular. I don't think it's the theme, it's more the type of music. I mean, except for maybe the Stray Cats, rockabilly's never been huge. I don't think it's really the horror thing, it's probably the musical style.
IF YOU COULD PERFORM A DUET WITH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE: CRISPIN GLOVER, MR. T OR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FRED GRANDY (A.K.A. GOPHER FROM THE LOVE BOAT)? — JASON
Mr. T for sure. I pity the fool that don't want to do a duet with Mr. T.