In November, Rob Zombie sat down for a media teleconference with journalists representing publications across North America. A transcript of the discussion was provided by Scoop Marketing.
Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun: ... wondering how long your association both personally and professionally with Ozzy goes back and what was that first meeting with him like for you?
Zombie: The first time I toured with Ozzy was '99 but I had met him before then. For some strange reason it was before — I don't even remember why. It was very early on, I mean it was '95 maybe or something maybe before then, and I went over to his house -- not the house that they had on the TV show "The Osbournes" but the house they lived in before that, the house next door to Pat Boone, and I don't even know why I was going over. ...I know that my manager, Andy Gould had been friends with Sharon Osbourne for a long time and I don't know I'm not even sure what it was all about. You know, sometimes you just meet people and hang out for no reason. And it was great, you know, I'd always loved Ozzy, loved BLACK SABBATH, and at that point it was very funny because it was me and Ozzy in his house and he played me the entire album he had made with Mark Hudson that was very BEATLES sounding and it's never been released but it was fantastic.
Scott Iwasaki, Deseret Morning News: ... music, film, TV hosts, comics, for you, what are the similarities of creating all the different things for the different genres?
Zombie: I mean, the main similarity is that everything you do has to somehow be entertaining. You're always thinking about the person who's going to see it... it's a weird balance. You're trying to create something you like first because if you don't like it ... how can you present it to somebody else and expect them to like it? And so, it's essentially the same thing... it's funny with the way things start, like you just come up with this crazy idea and then suddenly it becomes a reality, that's the excitement of it.
I mean, being on tour last summer it was like when "Halloween" was just floating in the air, this might happen, you know, doing the thing for "Grindhouse" might happen and they just start with just vague notions or phone calls and somehow when it turns into reality it's (unexpected). Oh, maybe there might be this Turner Classic Movie show, there might be this, it might be that. It always follows the same journey and it's just basically a whacky idea that you have to try to put it into motion.
Scott McLennan, The Worcester Telegram: I was wondering has there ever been an occasion of you coming up with songs that just don't fit the Zombie mold and what do you with them?
Zombie: Not really ... A lot of bands, I don't know how they do and God bless 'em, but they're always like, "Oh, we wrote 50 songs and we whittled it down to the best 12." I mean literally, every record that I've ever made — those are all the songs we ever wrote ... I think sometimes there are songs on the record that people maybe think don't fit, but I don't — I don't really care ... you never know what's going to work because every time I've had a song, the people have been like, "Oh no, that's the wrong direction you're going in." It always ends up being the biggest song for that record, whether it's "Thunder Kiss" or "More Human" or whatever. People always go like, "Oh, that's the worst song." So, you just have to go with your gut because everybody's always wrong.
Doug Pullen, Flint Journal: How do you assess the state of the industry right now and how does this impact you and what you want to do in the future?
Zombie: Well, it's a never-ending question ... everyone discusses it nonstop. I was just discussing it literally like a half an hour ago with (Zakk Wylde) downstairs in the lobby. I mean it's — that's the only topic of discussion and it is very strange because on one hand it seems like ... I don't know what's going to happen because CD ... probably in another year people won't even bother manufacturing CDs because it'll be like a cassette or an 8-track, no one will even want 'em. Yet somehow the amount of music, you know, people aren't — the downloads don't match record sales, so, you know people are mostly stealing everything. So, I don't know ... there's some change that's going to happen but nobody can figure out what it is...
The touring business is still really good but now you're starting to get these artists that are really raping and pillaging I think, the crowds, you know, and tickets are $200, $300, $400 and $500... It's just the industry seems to be eating itself and ... it's kind of bummer. We're constantly trying to figure out just what the hell is going on and how we can not... get swept up in what's happening.
Matt Munoz, Bakotopia Magazine: How much of the Hellbilly image and style you created for yourself and in your films (goes) to country music artists like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard or the like? And did you ever visit Buck Owens in Bakersfield while he was alive?
Zombie: I never got to see him in Bakersfield. I got to see him when he would come to L.A. and I never even got to talk to him. Although I did have some contact back and forth with a lot of the guys in his band and we would deal with son some, the license, the Buck Owens — the Ranch Show for "Devil's Rejects" and he was nice enough — just sent me an autograph seven inch of "Who's Going to Mow Your Grass", which I used in "House of 1000 Corpses".
I always loved Buck Owens because that was the one thing I remember as a kid. I don't ever remember my dad liking anything, not just music, anything. But he seemed to love Buck Owens— "Hee Haw". So, we would always watch Buck Owens and Roy Clark, so yes, somehow "Hee Haw" was very influential in my life.
Gene Triplett, The Oklahoman: Could you give me Rob's top five greatest scariest horror films of all time?
Zombie: Well, (the films) I like aren't always the scariest... We played on Halloween, so (afterwards) we settled in on the bus and kind of had a horror movie marathon and it's always the classic stuff that I like the most, you know, like "Frankenstein", "Bride of Frankenstein", all the universal classic stuff I love and all the Hammer stuff from the '50s with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing ... A lot of '70s stuff, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Dawn of the Dead" ... the sort of ... more intense raw stuff. Those are always the films that I like the best. As far as the top five, it fluctuates nonstop.
Sally Steele, Vegas Rocks magazine: The last time you were in Vegas you talked about a show that you do with WHITE ZOMBIE out in the desert with flashlights...?
Zombie: Oh, yes. Yes, that was the first time I ever went to Las Vegas and that was like really early in our touring days where...you're such a small band you can't even play clubs in stuff and no one will even book you, so you meet other bands and there was this band. I don't remember the guys' names...who were in the band. but the name of the band was DOOM SNAKE CULT, and they somehow knew about us and they're like, "Oh, come to Las Vegas, we'll setup a show." And they set up a show, which I guess they did this all the time — in some sort of like concrete drainage ditch in the desert, and they had brought a generator and to power the amps and they built a big bonfire so we could see, and that's where we had the show, and it was bizarre.
Joan Khalaf, The Shorthorn: Do you have ... a routine going on with him (Ozzy) or, I mean when you guys hang out maybe after the show or something?
Zombie: Well, nobody ever hangs out ... I see him sometimes but you know, it's like he's in his room, we're in our room. We do our thing. They do their thing, boom, boom, boom. Like, it's amazing how often you don't see anybody. Like you can literally go for a week and not even -- except for onstage.
And so, everyone's doing their thing. The shows are so consuming that you're not really hanging out. You're kind of doing your thing and trying to get it together. Today I ran into somebody from his band downstairs in lobby of the hotel, but...usually you see somebody at dinner or here or there but, you know, everybody has their life. It'slike everybody's like 17 years old, like, "Hey, let's all hangout." You know and nobody does that.
Ron Cassie, The Frederick News-Post: What kind of imagery is going to be at the show at the Verizon Center, what kind of things are you're bringing as a filmmaker, visually, that make the live performances spectacular?
Zombie: The live shows have always been totally visual. I mean, the movies maybe get more influenced by shows but you know, we went back. I have a huge warehouse of all the stage sets from over the years. I kind of piece together something totally different that we never had before. You... always just try to put as much into it ... I want it to be a show I like, you know, if there's anything that movies teach you is just to pace of things ... you want to have a big beginning and then bring it down and bring it up, and bring it down and have pacing and different things, so that when the show is over, you go, "Oh yes, they did that and they did that and they did that."
Sometimes concerts are, you see a band and you know whatever they've done in the first five seconds is what they're going to do for the entire hour. It's never going to fluctuate ... I like to put a lot variety into it, where's there's a little something different for every song visually to latch onto or mood-wise or changing, just so it — it's more like a show than just a concert...? So, yes, no it's — it'll be a very visual experience.
Joseph Scott, Scene Magazine: Based on "More Human Than Human" was a "Blade Runner" reference, has sci-fi ever tickled your fancy as far as making movies?
Zombie: I love science fiction movies to death. That was one of my favorite things as a kid except they sort of just evaporated. The sort of post-"Star Wars" fallout ... pre-"Star Wars", there (were) so many great plans, fiction movies and post-"Star Wars", it was just like action movies in space.
I love science fiction movies, but I like more serious ones. I always loved, like, "Blade Runner", "Silent Running 2001", all those movies are just fantastic. But you just don't really get that anymore. Everything became like "Total Recall" or something. But yes, it's unfortunate you know. I'd love to something like "Alien" again.
Jeff Niesel, Cleveland Free Times: WHITE ZOMBIE started out as more of a noise band and kind of evolved into...what it evolved into. Can you talk a little bit about your musical evolution over the years?
Zombie: WHITE ZOMBIE just started, however ... never a master plan. You want to have a band. You get a bunch of people together. You... sort of know more what you don't want to do than what you do want to do, sort of. Like, you know only (that) you like all these types of music.
None of really fit together... Yes, we sort of started in this sort of like underground art damage scene with bands like PUSSY GALORE and LIVE SKULL and SONIC YOUTH and that whole world, but that was never really our thing. I like those bands, but at the same time, I liked VAN HALEN as much as I liked SONIC YOUTH.
So, there was always that other side, we're like, "Well, but we want to long hair and you know, kick ass too. We're not really not college guys who want to stare at our shoes," so there was always this -- we never fit in anywhere and then we started playing metal shows. (But) we weren't metal enough because ... we were touring with MEGADETH and ANTHRAX and they were like so metal and we were like, "Yes," and now we just look like a bunch of freaks. So, we never made sense. It wasn't until finally we just had to — things just came around onto our wacky terms that it all made sense. But yes, we never fit in.
Alan Sculley, Last Word Feature: Well, no one's asked specially about "Halloween". I'm curious, what made you feel that you could do justice to that film, and what sort of things did you think of right off that told you yes, this is something we can do?
Zombie: Well, my first thought was... I wasn't really sure. But then I went back and watched "Halloween", the original, a bunch of times and thought, you know, the main thing is why I think movies can be remade or redone or re-whatever, is if you have really strong characters at the core of it and you have a really basic story. And that's what that movie had.
I was looking at it like you have this great character, Michael Myers, this iconic character that's on the level of Frankenstein these days, and you have such a simple story. And when you have such a simple story, you could just vary off of it so much that I thought ... it's totally doable. And ... I used to have a more like, anti-remake opinion of things and I thought it was a really kind of stupid way to look at things because it's so many films that I love that are remakes that would never would exist if everybody had that attitude.
I think it only works if you feel like you have an inspiration to do and just not because if the project is there. Because there were several other projects that came to me before "Halloween", and they all remakes and I turned them all down because I just didn't have an ounce of passion for the projects and it would have been a drag. But with this one, you know, looking at it and thinking, well you know, Michael Myers, he's a pretty clean slate. You can almost do anything with him. That's when I knew it was worth approaching.
Laura Hauser, The Orion: Rob, what specifically do you think really makes a horror movie great? Is there one element that will get you every time?
Zombie: Its always about the characters. It's not about the blood and the guts and the gore because that doesn't do anything for anybody, and for me it's the character. And going back to talking about "Jaws" ... that could have been just some (bad) movie about a big shark, but the characters, the three characters ... on the ship, with Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss were just so incredible and so believable that you were so swept up in their journey that you felt like you were on that boat. So, any tiny little thing was terrifying and I think that's what it is. The same thing with "The Shining" or any great horror movie: the characters are what's compelling, not the the violence or anything like that.
Sally Steele, Vegas Rocks magazine: Rob, I want to know what kind of kid you were growing up. Were you a geeky outcast that watched horror movies or were you popular?
Zombie: I was not popular. I hated everybody and didn't want to be there. I was just disgusted by everything. I was basically the same person I am now, except, smaller... Angry. I was an angry loner.