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Glenn Danzig Talks Blackest of the Black Fest, New Album + Misfits Reunion Shows [Interview]

Glenn Danzig
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Glenn Danzig was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. The singer discussed the massive plans for the intriguing Blackest of the Black festival, inspiration for the new Danzig album, Black Laden Crown, as well as what other music is contained within the Danzig vault! Check out the chat below:

How are you?

Good.

Well, here you are and obviously as always you have 10 billion things going on and so much great stuff. We heard about the upcoming Danzig album and got to talk about this Blackest of the Black fest because it looks tremendous.

Yeah, this year we’re finally upping the ante. We’re doing it with a couple partners now that will be coming in. We’ll do it the way I’ve always wanted to do it, which we’ve been building to so now it’s a two day fest. It’s not just bands. You’re going to get-

It’s an experience.

Yeah. There’s going to be rides. I got to pick the rides. We’re going to have Hell Hole. We’re going to have Spider. It’s going to be camping, overnight if you stay from Friday to Saturday. The plan is to have a haunted drive-in, tombstones. You can put your sleeping bag there and watch schlocky horror movies until you pass out. It’s going to be a whole thing.

Let’s talk about some of the bands. Obviously Danzig. You’ve got Ministry, Suicidal Tendency, Atreyu, Corrosion of Conformity, Vamps, Marduk, Suicide Silence, Venom, Devil Driver, Golf the Gourd, Discharge, Combichrist, Butcher Babies. There’s so many bands that are on this festival. Too many to mention. But, as you mentioned, Blackest of the Black, the tour, has existed before, but this is a whole different thing. This is a weekend festival.

Yeah. Originally it started out in 2003 as two shows. One in Phoenix [Ariz.] at the Mesa Amphitheater and of course at the now defunct Universal Amphitheater. And my whole idea originally was to have it kind of like this. But getting that support from a lot of people who didn’t really believe in it in the beginning was tough. And now, finally, after all these years people are ready to take a chance on it. There’s nothing like it.

You were talking about the fact that there’s camping. It’s not just like after the show’s over you go back to your tent and get tanked. There’s actually activities after the show.

Yeah. There’s activities. There’s a Castle Danzig you can go in. It’s kind of like a horror house, but not so … There’s a blood tub with one of my Verotik characters, Trachea, in the blood tub.

Oh my gosh.

We’re going to have the haunted drive in. It’s so much to do. And then there’s going to be exhibits and different things, so it’s more of an experience. Rides.

It’s got everything.

People have always complained that there’s nothing to do Memorial Day weekend. Well, now you’ve got something to do.

Black Laden Crown is coming out in May. It’s the first Danzig album of all new material since 2010.

Yeah, it’s a long time.

It is a long time. But it’s not like you’ve been not doing anything since then.

No. Skeletons came out about a year and a half, two years ago. But it was a covers record that I’d been working on forever. This is, I guess, technically, the first new Danzig material in seven years.

You’ve never really made albums based on a timeline, only whenever you’ve felt a creative spark?

You know what? I know that bands put out records now every year just to stay on the road. But I don’t give two … Let’s say, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I’ll change it up.

Well, what made you feel the need to make Black Laden Crown?

I just start recording and writing and I do it at my own pace. And when it’s ready to come out and I’m happy with what I’ve done then I set a release date. It’s my label. I can do whatever I want.

I’ve always been a fan of just the idea that, obviously, as a fan of a band I love it when there is music coming out every couple years. It’s cool, but not because you have to. I think it should be because you want to.

For me, I agree. It’s like if I have something say, I’m going to say it. But if I don’t, I’m not going to force it and I’m not just going to put out an album because the label wants me to put out an album or because I haven’t had a record out in a while. It’s going to be a terrible album if you do that.

No, I agree. That’s why sometimes records sound forced because they are.

They are forced, yeah. It’s a shame. I’m sure bands don’t really want to do that. I think they do it out of necessity maybe.

Glenn, throughout your career, you’ve sort of been really hands-on with all types of creative expression, more than just music obviously. How does art, photography and writing in turn motivate you musically?

I think it’s all connected. One affects the other and it can get you excited about the other thing. It’s good to step away, too, from music for a while and do something else so that you can come back to it fresh, at least in my case. But music, for me, first and foremost is what I do.

The last Danzig album was Skeletons, all cover songs, of course. Before that the last album was seven years ago. How much music do you make for your own fulfillment that never gets released?

A bunch. Yeah, so there’s probably at least four songs that I haven’t even done anything other than a scratch book on for this record. And they’re good songs, it’s just that the ones I picked I felt were better or the ones that didn’t make it, there may be a couple that I just didn’t have the time to devote to it because it was such a good song. I really want a great vocal for it, a great melody. They’ll have to wait.

Is there a Danzig vault of music?

There is, yes. There’s a lot of stuff left over from lost tracks that didn’t make it. There’s a lot of unfinished stuff. Then, of course, since that time, there’s tracks that didn’t make it to Deth Red Sabaoth. There’s cover songs that didn’t’ make it onto the cover record. I did a cover of Iggy Pop’s “Fun Time.”

Oh, wow. That’s cool.

Me and Tommy [Victor, guitar] did a really good job. The guitars are very heavy. And stuff like that. I think I did another track with Cherie [Currie] because they wouldn’t let us use the track with Cherie, the publishers, which is a drag. It came out really good too. She did it onstage with us, though, at Universal.

Glenn, tell us about the song “Devil on Highway Nine.”

This is a cool song. I wanted to do a driving song, just crazy driving, pedal to the metal song. And this is it.

Is this Highway Nine in New Jersey?

It’s a highway on the East Coast. Yeah. It’s a pretty long highway.

I was just thinking it was Route Nine on New Jersey. It goes through the whole state.

Yeah. That’s it. Highway Nine, Route Nine, whatever you want to call it.

Blackest of the Black Fest is two days of music, mayhem and camping and watching horror films and getting the crap scared out of you and just having a blast. That’s what this looks like to me. You might actually get me camping. I’ve never been camping and I think this kind of thing might make me actually go camping. Sort of like…

It’s not going to be like …

Are there porta-potties or what’s the deal?

Oh, I don’t know about any of that stuff. But I would imagine they’re going to have some kind of facility for people. I don’t think you’re going to go out in the woods like a bear.

Let’s go back to your music. Given your love of Elvis, making an album called Danzig Sings Elvis was probably a really special project for you.

It is. I kind of got the idea because I remember that singer and vocalists used to do records that where so and so sings just all this person’s songs or all songs written by this person. They never happen anymore. I just said I want to do a Danzig Sings Elvis record. But of course, it’s not like … I’m not trying to be Elvis. It’s my versions.

Of course, yeah.

A lot of it sounds like almost Skeletons record. The last track is Evely Brothers cover where they strip down, kind of creepy, eerie sounding sound track-y. A lot of it sounds like that. Some of it’s traditional, though.

What kind of a connection do you need to feel to a song to make it your own?

For me, I’ve got to really relate to it, not just lyrically but the vibe. For me, with Elvis it’s easy because I relate right away to his vocals because I don’t have that high, screechy metal voice. I have a deeper, more sing-y voice and not so, what you would call, traditional metal. But I didn’t start in traditional metal. I mean, really, I started out in kind of metal punk band. It’s a little different. There were no rules really.

With any covers that you’ve ever done, you clearly make it your own. You’re not just like covering the song.

That’s important to me. I got to make it my own otherwise it’s — If you try to just copy the song, it’s always going to be judged against the original. I’ve said this before. And people have heard the original so many times, they’re just going to go, “Ah, this is terrible. I like the original better.” You got to make it your own and put your stamp on it.

Let’s talk for a second about the Misfits reunion shows. They were something that people didn’t expect to happen. What type of sentimentality did you feel planning it and then actually doing it?

Well, I don’t know that we really planned it. I think, Michael at Riot Fest was just persistent. At the time Jerry [Only, bass] and I, over the years, have had a lot of different battles. Most of them legal issues that we’d resolved. We decided that if we were going to do it, maybe this is the year to do it. A lot of people, famous musicians are dying. Everyone is getting older. If we’re going to do it, want to do it at the level people want to see it at. I don’t want to come out in a wheelchair and do it. I would never do that. But, we’re all still in really good shape and we just decided, “Okay, let’s do these two shows.”

I wanted to talk about the Portlandia stuff that you did, which was amazing. People don’t normally get to see that sort of side of you. That must have been a blast to you.

It was a lot of fun. I’d just gotten off tour and I was only home like a day or two. I got this email from Fred [Armisen, creator]. He’d gotten my email from Rob Zombie. He’s like, “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you. We want you to do this episode. We already hired somebody else, but we’ll fire them. Can you do it?” I’m like, “Well, send me the script. Let me see.” He sent me the script and it was a lot of dialogue. A lot of it didn’t make it into the episode, but I was like, “It’s pretty cool. I would like to do it. It’s pretty funny. Can I come up in a week and do it?” They go, “No, you got to be here tomorrow morning at six in the morning.” I’m like, “What?” “You got to fly up today.” I’m like, “What?”

So you did it?

I ended up just biting the bullet and doing it. Yeah. I had to learn all my lines that night in the hotel. And then in the hospitality trailer before going out and doing it.

Well, it came out great. It was hilarious.

Yeah. It was like five pages of dialogue with just me and him because Carrie’s not really in that thing. It’s just me and Fred. Those characters are really cool, the weirdos. Obviously inspired by metal, black metal people. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

I think it was great. There seems to be sort of a darkness to the way people perceive you. Why do you think people have trouble imagining you live a normal, everyday life?

I didn’t know that they didn’t think I lived … Obviously, I’m not living some nine to five mutant life. But I’m living the life I want to live. I think people should just live the life they want to live, whatever it is as long as it’s not Isis or something.

Thank you so much for being a guest on the show once again.

My pleasure. Anytime, you know that.

Thanks to Glenn Danzig for the interview. For more information on the Blackest of the Black festival, click here and to keep up with everything the band is doing, follow them on Facebook. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.

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