ROB ZOMBIE: Chats with a Mellow Mettler…
I am waiting to be connected to one of the most enduring faces in metal, bound for our fair shores this month for the first time in twenty years. Well known for his big music and even bigger public persona, I am somewhat nervous as he purrs’ “Hello”. I am quick to learn that this lion is rather more of a pussycat.
The last couple of years have seen a prolific output of music from Rob Zombie, his most recent album Venemous Rat Regenerist Vendor features a superb cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band” so I kick things off by asking why. “Well I have never done (a cover) before, I am always looking for new songs to add into the set list and as the music business dwindles it becomes harder to expose people to new music, so choosing a song that people are already familiar with seemed a good way to add.”
I ask him to elaborate. “It is the nature (of the music industry) now; nobody is buying music anymore, this means I can’t spend as much on producing music or videos which affects the product. I spend twelve months making an album and bam: someone puts it on the internet for free. It is hard to make a living and a lot of the time (an artist will be) flat broke or surrounded by millions of dollars.” He chuckles when I ask him how he makes enough to stay in the game; “Touring, which has always been my favourite part of making music, and you know I make movies too. I mean this (trend) is set to continue, I could sit and cry over it or roll with the punches.” Rob Zombie is most definitely rolling! I ask his advice to aspiring rockers and he says candidly, “When (you are) earning zero, well you have to learn to live on very little money. Record companies realise there’s no money so they offer these ‘360’ deals, where they will take a cut of your touring and merchandise forever. My advice is DON’T sign that deal!”
His visit to NZ to play at WestFest in February will see him share the stage with metal legends Megadeth and Korn. Big egos to be working with. He is quick to state, “Oh I have known these guys like, forever, we toured with Megadeth last year and they are nice guys. We toured with Korn for two months; they are nice guys too. I mean we are all friends. I think ego can be a problem with younger bands. We are older and personally I don’t give a crap. I’m just happy to be there (on stage) and still playing. I mean I wanna have a good gig, I want them to have a good gig. It’s not a contest.”
Surprised by a man so mellow and philosophical, I mention that this is in direct opposition to his fierce stage persona. He jumps in; “Look at any sports person: a boxer say. He may be mellow out of the ring but he’ll get in there and beat you to death. My music is an intense outlet, which enables me to be mellow. Yeah, it provides me that luxury.”
WestFest will see Zombie kick off a string of dates across Asia and the Pacific, then on to Europe and South America. How does he cope with it? “Touring has been a way of my life forever, I bounce back and forth between home and the road. I will head home for a break after Singapore (in May). My wife (long-time love Sheri Moon) comes with me sometimes, she will be with me in New Zealand.”
I close off our ten minute chat asking what he is most looking forward to while he is here “Well twenty years ago when we visited NZ we went to (Auckland) Zoo and my wife loved the butterfly garden. She can’t wait to go see them again.” So perhaps if you miss out on tickets to see him on the Wednesday night of the two-day metal fiesta that is WestFest, perhaps you will spot him at the zoo.