Rob Zombie returns to the stage after 12 years

  • The List
  • 11 February 2011
Rob Zombie: Return of the living dead

Master of schlock rock and horror movies set for UK tour

Schlock rock and horror movies go full circle as Rob Zombie returns to the stage after 12 years, finds Henry Northmore

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil for the blues to Alice Cooper and Kiss, there are some musicians that become more than human; they step beyond reality and enter a nether world where fact and fiction blur. ‘It’s not like you create a persona that you want to become, it’s almost like the persona is the real you,’ laughs the surprisingly erudite and easygoing Rob Zombie, a man who transforms into a seething mass of dreadlocks and corpse paint as he hits the stage. ‘When I was younger and I had to wear nicer clothes so I could keep some crappy job, that was the fake me. I get to be the real me.’

First crawling from the shadows fronting metal act White Zombie in 1985, he went solo in 1998 with Hellbilly Deluxe. His speciality? Schlock horror images torn from the silver screen mixed with a relentless industrial metal stomp. Following up with The Sinister Urge and Educated Horses, he returned with Hellbilly Deluxe 2 in 2010.

Now he’s back from beyond the grave with his first UK tour in 12 years. Unsurprisingly, Zombie’s live performances are bloody, heavy metal theatre. ‘Unlike a lot of bands, we’re bringing our full US show to the UK,’ says Zombie. ‘Financially, that’s suicide, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to stay away for 12 years then come over with nothing, so we’re bringing everything: our giant robots, explosions, video screens and all the crap that we use, so it’s a huge, colossal spectacle.’

Unlike most musicians, he’s had a valid reason for his extended leave of absence. ‘It’s taken me a pretty long time to get back to anywhere,’ he says. ‘I haven’t been outside of the US for a long time. The thing that’s got in the way of my worldwide touring is making movies. A movie from beginning to end, even a quick one, is a year-and-a-half of your life. Somehow the years just slipped away.’

He’s achieved the near impossible, going from a hugely successful music career to becoming a respected director. Pillaging his horror roots with previous films House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, then a remake of John Carpenter’s Halloween (plus a sequel), he is due to start work on his next project The Lords of Salem (‘it’s a witch movie’) later this year.

‘I can’t wait,’ he says about the tour. ‘I’m very into it because the band I have now is my favourite band I’ve ever had, so I’m glad we can return on top form.’

The new line-up is a metal fan’s wet dream, featuring John 5 (Marilyn Manson) on guitar, Piggy D (Wednesday 13) on bass and Joey Jordison (Slipknot) on drums. ‘I was tired of being in bands where nobody could get along. White Zombie was a band that had personality problems all the way through and by the time the band got huge it was just miserable. And I quit that band, started again and then the band I had with Hellbilly and the next album, I was like, “Here we are again, we’re playing sold-out shows and everybody hates each other”.’

Zombie devoted himself to his work as a director and wasn’t even sure he’d ever return to music: ‘But I met John 5 and we just hit it off and that re-inspired me. Every lead singer needs that right-hand man guitar player. It was like being a kid again and starting the whole thing over.’

Rob Zombie, O2 Academy, Glasgow, Sun 20 Feb

Rob Zombie

The master of shock rock and metal takes a break from directing horror films to get back to the UK.

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