The Making of Rob Zombie: How "Some Stupid Kid" Became King Freak | Revolver

The Making of Rob Zombie: How "Some Stupid Kid" Became King Freak

"Monster metal" icon talks early days, new album and more with comedian Brian Posehn
robzombie_credit_justinborucki.jpg, Justin Borucki
photograph by Justin Borucki

Revolver's new Rob Zombie issue is available in a special collector's bundle featuring an alternate cover, deluxe slipcase and exclusive white vinyl "The Triumph of King Freak" 7-inch. It's limited to 333 so grab yours now!

"One of my greatest memories of hanging out with you is coming to a party at your house, and then across the street, we see Danny Trejo crossing the street and he's not wearing a shirt," Brian Posehn recalls to his friend Rob Zombie, who's laughing at the story. "He looks like somebody from one of his movies. And I'm like, 'Oh shit, Danny Trejo is coming to kill Rob.' Looking for a machete or a weapon or something in his hand. The fact that that guy was your neighbor ..."

Zombie jumps in to explain. "What it was is Antonio Banderas lived across the street. So one time, Danny's like, 'Let's go get Antonio!' He's ringing the buzzer. He's like, 'Come out, you fake Mexican!" and he's screaming it over the wall. But I don't think Antonio was home."

Such is the life of Rob Zombie, rock star, filmmaker, magnet to the weird and wild. Of course, it's not all celebrity-studded misadventures — particularly not now. The COVID pandemic has Zombie bunkered down with his wife and cinematic muse, Sheri Moon, at their other home in Connecticut, far from the particular surrealness of L.A. There since March, he says it's "the longest I've ever been stuck in one place ever in my life because usually there's a tour or something." There are no tours on the horizon, but there is a new album, his seventh solo LP and first in five years, coming soon: The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, 17 tracks of psychedelic horror-spiked boogie metal cooked up in Zombie's mad-scientist laboratory with longtime bandmates John 5 (guitar), Piggy D. (bass) and Ginger Fish (drums).

Ahead of its March release and shortly after Halloween, we reunited Zombie with Posehn, who is not only a friend but also a collaborator, having appeared as the ill-fated Jimmy in 2005's The Devil's Rejects and voiced the robot Murray in 2009's The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. "I feel like I am a terrible interviewer," the comedian comments of being asked by Revolver to do the honors. "But I was like, Yeah, I'd love to talk to Rob, so let's do this." Read an excerpt of their wide-ranging convo below.

BRIAN POSEHN The new song, "The Triumph of King Freak," is super heavy. Love the breakdown, that John 5 tone. Did you do this any differently with this album? Like, is this a COVID record?

ROB ZOMBIE No, it was already finished. It was done a couple years ago.

POSEHN Oh, really?

ZOMBIE Yeah. I like to make records over a long period of time. We'd work for a while, then we'd go on tour. We'd come back, we'd work for a while, then we'd go on tour, just live with the songs. And then just as I sort of thought, Oh, I'm going to put this out, we'll get rolling, is when 3 From Hell, my last movie, got rolling. So I'm like, Well, I'm not going to put out a record while I'm in the middle of making a movie because I can't do anything to promote it.

So I waited till the movie stuff was over, and just as we were getting ready to go again, that's when the COVID stuff hits, and I'm like, OK, we'll ride this out. We kind of looked at it and felt like, I dunno if we're riding this out, could go on forever. I was like, Let's just put the record out.

POSEHN That's surprising because as an observer, it seems like you've scheduled out your career. To me, it looks like you go, I'm going to do a movie now and then that's my next two years. And then the record comes out and then I tour that, and then another movie. So 3 From Hell wasn't something you were planning on doing?

ZOMBIE 3 From Hell, no, I was planning on doing it. Sometimes with studios, from the moment you meet and you're like, "OK, let's do it," to the moment that there's money in a bank account that you can make the movie is forever. And that's what it was like with 3 From Hell. It moves so slowly, just the process of making movies. Not the making part. Getting them funded and getting greenlit in a way that's actually real. Because everyone's like, "I got a buddy who's got a lot of money." No, you don't. No one has any friends who want to give you money to do anything. You got to do it the hard way and it takes freaking forever.

POSEHN Horror comedies — are you a fan? Obviously, you love horror, and I know personally you love comedy because you and I met because I was on Everybody Loves Raymond. To me, that was insane. [Zombie laughs] Rob Zombie is sitting around in his Zombie boots watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

robzombie_credit_justinborucki.jpg, Justin Borucki
photograph by Justin Borucki

ZOMBIE And Just Shoot Me — don't forget that, too. I was watching that.

POSEHN Are you a fan of Tremors? Are you fan of any of those where they ...

ZOMBIE I love comedy and I love horror, but I was never the guy to put them both together. You know? It's just not my sensibility, strangely enough. It seems like it might, but it's never the way I go. If there's things in a horror movie that are humorous, naturally, that's cool. I guess things like What We Do in the Shadows, that's funny and that was really good. It all depends, you know.

POSEHN It's just not a tone you would like to try yourself.

ZOMBIE No, it's not really my thing. When somebody would go like, "Oh, you always have to mix comedy." Then why are all the horror movies considered the absolute best totally devoid of humor?

POSEHN Oh, yeah. There's not one laugh in Chainsaw. [Laughs]

ZOMBIE Chainsaw, Exorcist, Shining, The Omen, Carrie. "You got to have comedy to cut the tension." I don't want to cut the tension — it's hard enough building the tension! You know that firsthand, that scene in the motel room with Priscilla Barnes and Bill Moseley, I don't want any humor. I don't want to cut the tension! I want the tension to drive you crazy.

POSEHN This is a weird one: So when White Zombie started, were you already calling yourself Rob Zombie? At what age did you come up with the persona?

ZOMBIE I think the Rob Zombie thing started around ... It was in White Zombie, and it was pretty early on. But it was sort of more started with people calling me that, not me calling myself that.

POSEHN Because your band was called White Zombie, so they're like, "Hey ..."

ZOMBIE They don't know your last name so they start calling you that. That was some time in the Eighties that that started.

POSEHN Alice Cooper, is he your favorite, or do you like KISS more?

ZOMBIE Alice came first for me, for sure, because he was first.

POSEHN Was there ever an epiphany of, like, I'm going to do that but heavier? I'm going to do the new version of that?

ZOMBIE No. I was just some stupid kid that didn't think he was going to do anything. [Laughs] I can't imagine having that epiphany sitting in your bedroom. I shall be the next whatever!

POSEHN Knowing you personally, you seem way more driven than the stupid kid. I can't even picture you. I feel like that's who I was. I didn't know what the fuck I was going to do till I got to junior college even. Then stand up, I sort of just fell into it.

ZOMBIE I don't think I had a clue about anything. From birth through high school, I was just like any idiot. I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't particularly motivated. I didn't care about anything. I mean, I cared passionately about the stuff that we like, and it always comes back to make my life good. Whatever, movies, comics, art, you know. But then, it wasn't until I moved to New York City to go to college that it sort of changed because you're stuck in a shit small town and then the epiphany came by going to New York City, being there for one second, you go, "Oh my god, where I grew up is not the world. This is the world." This explosion of everything all at once.

I think it was punk rock and CBGBs that did it more so because like most people, punk-rock bands make you feel like you can do it, too, because if you're a kid watching Led Zeppelin, they just seem like they're from another planet. You're like, "Yeah, I'm going to do that." Oh really? But punk-rock bands make it seem a little more doable. And then when I was going to CBGBs seeing a lot of bands, I was like, "Well, they're terrible — I could be at least that terrible." But then once I started, I'm super competitive so then that's when it got crazy. I was never satisfied. OK, well, we have to move to this venue, then we have to get bigger, then we have to do here, then we have to do this. But it wasn't like an all one-time thought. It was just like any kind of climb — one hurdle then you see the next and you go, Hmm, that looks doable. Let's go for that one.

robzombie_3_credit_justinborucki.jpg, Justin Borucki
photograph by Justin Borucki

POSEHN When did your other interests come in? Because you were a comic book and horror movie guy — was that always in your songwriting?

ZOMBIE It was always kind of there. Having a band is funny because it's just like comedy in the sense that, band guys don't say this, but comedy guys always say, "Finding your voice." You're getting up telling jokes, but who are you and how do you become that guy and your persona? It's the same thing with bands. You have all these crazy influences, you don't know how to put them together, you don't even know what that means, and you're trying to figure it out. And that's really what it was.

My big complaint with bands — if I have to be complaining — is just, I keep hearing that bands hire people to write their songs. So how do you ever become a band?

POSEHN I don't know. Same thing with comedy. You could have somebody else write your jokes.

ZOMBIE Yeah, and you're out there telling jokes about, "When I was in prep school playing lawn darts ..." Like, what?

POSEHN It is true about the persona thing because a lot of comics I know — and I did it myself — where before you find yourself, you're doing other people. You are going out and you're like, Oh, Rick Ducommun did this bit or [Andrew] Dice Clay. When I started, those were the big guys. So I was not like myself when I started. I was trying to be like Dice a little and a little bit like [Sam] Kinison, and it was kind of a mess because I was this long-haired kid that worked in a record store and I didn't have that much confidence. But onstage, I was like way more attitude, and it was false. And then I sort of found the other thing, my real energy.

ZOMBIE That's exactly for me, too. I was a very shy, withdrawn person. I wasn't the least bit outgoing. The first time I ever stepped onstage and played with a band was at CBGBs with White Zombie. And why I didn't think I was just going to step onstage and just stand there like a deer in the headlights, I don't know, because I didn't, but I'd never done it before. And I think there's something where — and probably anyone would say it because we all have to become something — it's like your whole journey is destroying the person you were that you'd never actually wanted to be to create the person that you're supposed to be. Seems like the whole journey.

Read the full interview in Revolver's latest print edition.