Rob Zombie

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY None NonePublished Aug 1, 2005

What are you up to?
I am rehearsing with a new band for Ozzfest.

What are your current fixations?
As far as music goes it's definitely this guy named Terry Reid. He's somebody I started getting into while I was making the movie and actually, three of his songs are on the soundtrack to The Devil's Rejects. He's still around making records, but I've been mostly listening to the stuff he made in the '70s. He's a forgotten English rock god who at one point was the first person Led Zeppelin went to for a lead singer.

Why do you live where you do?
I live in Hollywood and I live here for the reason that, for what I like and need to do, it's the centre of the universe: music, movies, TV, everything. I like being here, I like the excitement and being in the centre of where it all happens.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
A Clockwork Orange. It was probably 1980 when I first saw that and I've never seen a movie like that since. I had to stop and let my mind figure out what I just saw. It just blew my mind on the possibilities of what a movie could be.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
About a year ago I saw Buck Owens at the House of Blues. I'm a big Buck fan and I'm not sure how old he is, maybe around 80, but it was absolutely phenomenal. The guy could have been 50 for the way he was onstage; he sounded amazing, he played amazingly and he was just so gruff and tough it was mind-blowing to see someone onstage like that at an age where most people are dead.

What have been your career highs and lows?
Career low was early on with White Zombie, around 1986. We were touring in a van in the winter in Wisconsin and it was snowing and the van had no heat and we were driving to a show where only three people showed up and we had no money and no place to sleep, so we had to sleep in the van. We didn't even have anything in the van so we slept on these tires that we found and I was pretty much just lying there thinking, "Okay, it's about ten below zero, I'm sleeping on tires and I just played a show for three people. This really couldn't get any more pathetic." To make it worse, there was a knock on the window and it was the police telling us to move along - to where? We had nowhere to go!

Twelve years later, I remember playing a massive headlining show with a full Kiss-style fireworks display and it was just the most insane show from start to finish. Everything worked perfectly - there was so much fire, destruction and chaos. I thought, "It's never gonna get any better than this."

What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
One of the stupidest things that was said like it was supposed to be mean was right when White Zombie put out our first Geffen record. We were still touring in a van and nobody knew who we were, so we played a show for about a hundred people. We still did everything for ourselves like driving and loading equipment, and after the show these guys came up to us and said, "You guys are fucking sell-outs," and then went on a long rant. I was just thinking, "What are these guys talking about?" It was so baffling. We were a completely self-sufficient, pathetic band and these two guys were so passionate in their rant. That was one in my mind that is just so bizarre. We sold out - we made maybe 13 dollars that night.

What should everyone shut up about?
People should say whatever they want, I don't care, but I am sick of everyone being an expert on everything. Now with websites everyone's a fucking critic. People just live to hate things. I see it most in those who say they're fans of something. Like horror fans are so harsh about everything. When I was a kid I was just so fucking thrilled that it existed and to go see it and now it's like people equate having an opinion to mean it has to be a negative opinion. I get tired of hearing people that have no idea how things get done or made who get up on a soapbox to rant and rave.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I don't give up on things. If I say I'm going to do something I carry it through to the end. What I don't like is that I work too much and get too obsessed to just enjoy things, which is kind of stupid.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Nothing that I can ever remember. In every step of the way in starting a band or making movies, I never knew anyone at the time who gave me advice good or bad. It was always such a process of trial and error. I wish someone had given me advice - I'm still looking for it.

What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
Basically, the only reason people get kicked out of bands is because egos get out of control. That's what starts everything. If everyone can keep their egos in check, it's the funnest job in the world, but everybody seems to forget that and they start pissing and moaning about every little thing. My motto is I'm not gonna fuckin' do it if it's not fun and there's no reason why being in a band isn't the greatest job on earth. I don't really have an answer for the bed one.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Truthfully, I think of being cold because the first time I ever toured Canada, we were in Quebec in the winter and, having grown up in Boston and being used to intense winters, I just remember stepping outside of the bus and it was so cold. I had no idea it could get that cold. My face was frozen in seconds.

What is your vital daily ritual?
I don't really have one; I like to do things differently, which drives my wife crazy because she is very ritualised. I purposely do things differently just for the hell of it.

What are your feelings on piracy, internet or otherwise?
It's a bad thing, obviously. It's hard to discuss that point because the people doing it don't get why it would be a bad thing. The casual person who is trading things with their friends is just fine, everyone used to do it as a kid - you have a record that someone else can't afford to buy, so you tape it for them. That's normal, it's just the piracy thing has gotten out of control. It's kind of hard for some people to understand but it's a drag if you just spent a year of your life working on an album and you're so proud to put it out and somebody somewhere stole a copy of it and put it on the internet where a million people download it for free or sell it in the street. Unfortunately, the way they try to fight this is by suing people or just raising the prices, so it hurts everybody on all fronts.

What was your most memorable day job?
Working on Pee Wee's Playhouse as a production assistant when I lived in New York, in about 1984 or '85. It was cool because I was a fan of Pee Wee Herman from the early HBO specials and at that point Phil Hartman was on the show along with a bunch of other good people. It was cool.

How do you spoil yourself?
I don't really spoil myself because I don't buy expensive clothes or cars. I guess the only way I will spoil myself is with convenience. I will overpay for anything to make it more convenient and I will pay not to stand in line.

If I wasn't playing music I would be:
I was writing comics for a long time and maybe I would do that full-time. Or sometimes I think it would be fun to handle the careers of other people doing that stuff, because I do like working with other people and helping them along.

What do you fear most?
The only true thing that I ever fear, because spiders, snakes and flying, that stuff I don't care about, but when swimming I have a fear of sharks. I feel it is always justified, as witnessed [recently] with two shark attacks. I always feel bad when that happens but also good because it proves my point - stay out of the water.

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Pretty much anything. Doesn't take much.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
I was hanging out with my manager, Andy Gould, who at the time was handling Lionel Richie. He wanted to stop by Lionel's hotel room once to say hi, and we walked in and the only person in the room was Steven Seagal. There are certain people you don't expect to be in the room and I walked in and just saw him there. It was very surreal.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Groucho Marx, because from all accounts of what I've read he was incredibly funny all the time. I guess I'd serve him whatever the hell he wanted.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
For a long time I think she probably wished I was doing anything else, but at this point she's very happy.

Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
I think a shark attack would be pretty good, as long as the shark finishes the job. It's when just he takes a piece of you and leaves, that's scary. If he's gonna finish the job, well then it's a pretty good story.

Known to most as a devilish purveyor of heavy rock, with two films in two years Rob Zombie is eclipsing his music career and becoming a full-fledged movie director. Shocking audiences in 2003 with his bleak homage to '70s horror films, House of 1000 Corpses, Zombie now offers a second film featuring the same lovable, over-the-top, sociopathic family. The Devils Rejects is not a sequel to House, but a completely new and shocking story featuring the same colourful characters.

"I purposely tried to make the movie so you didn't have to see the first film," he says. "I think it's a complete stand-alone movie; there may be little in-jokes that you might not get, but they're not important to the structure of the film." Rejects finds the murderous Firefly family on the run, killing everybody in their path in a gloriously shot '70s style crime/revenge film with a dab of spaghetti western. Zombie hesitates to call it a horror, saying, "It's a very horrific movie and there are horrific elements. If you're a horror movie fan you'll enjoy it, but I don't consider it a horror movie, as people would use that term." And for those who felt a little cheated by House's perplexing and disappointing ending, this time out Zombie has delivered a grand finale that ensures maximum closure. "I thought that part of the problem I have with movies is that they never end and always just set up for the next movie. It's very depressing to never see a powerful ending — it's always just ‘Here we go again.' I didn't want it to turn into a franchise or a whole bunch of movies so I wanted to definitely end it."
Cam Lindsay

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