Rob Zombie Talks Filmmaking, Upcoming Album, Alice Cooper + More
Rob Zombie has done a masterful job of juggling his music and film careers over the last decade plus and the multi-tasker recently found a few moments to chat with ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie about how he goes about making movies, the confidence he has in the music he’s making these days and more. He also shared a little bit about the evolution of his friendship with Alice Cooper over the years. Check out the chat below.
Now that you’ve got a few films under your belt, what’s changed about the way you’ve made movies compared with your first one?
It’s hard to say, experience has everything to do with it. The first film was just the ultimate learning curve. You go into it and you know nothing, no matter what you think, you know nothing. You really learn how things function and how they work and I applied most of that to my second film, ‘The Devil’s Rejects.’ That’s why I think it’s a much more solid effort. But as time goes on you just try to be, the key thing — it sounds so boring but you try to be more efficient because time, the two things you never have enough of when you’re making a movie is time and money. You try to figure out a way to maximize that as much as possible. That’s really the thing I try to do. Even though the budgets of the films could get smaller, you can’t tell by watching the films because I’m just smarter with how I can actually make the films. It’s more like nuts and bolts stuff.
As you’ve developed as a filmmaker, have you discovered any aspects of the movie making process that you’ve been able to carry over to the recording studio?
Not that I can think of. It might be the other way around, if anything. They’re such different animals. The difference is, music is so much more spontaneous. That’s why I still like to play shows because it’s spontaneous. It’s only going to happen at that moment, you’re not going to do it again. Whatever happens, happens and it happens once. Whereas a film is very meticulously put together. It’s the furthest thing possible from spontaneous. The only thing that carries over from both is an understanding of pacing. I try to pace the live set like you would pace a movie. You want to have a big opening, an interesting middle and a big ending. I think that’s the biggest thing, but that’s just a three-act structure which is very common in any sort of situation.
Rob, you recently joined Alice Cooper onstage in Connecticut. What it is about Alice that never gets old in terms of his influence on you?
I just love Alice. I’ve always loved Alice Cooper. At first, as an artist when I was a little kid I can remember as far back as second grade listening to Alice Cooper. That seems to crazy because I know second graders, I have nieces and nephews in second grade, and they are certainly not listening to Alice Cooper. They maybe are just discovering the soundtrack to ‘Frozen,’ or Katy Perry. I was kind of ahead of the curve. I’ve loved Alice ever since I was a little kid. We’ve been friends for the past 20 years, so I always go see him because I just want to hang out with him. I really like him, his wife and the guys in his band. They’re just good friends, more than anything else.
I’m friends with all the guys in Motley Crue, so to go down to see the Alice Cooper / Motley Crue show is great to see all those people. Once a fan, always a fan. I love the songs. Especially, he always plays the ‘Ballad of Dwight Fry’ which is one of my absolute favorites. He’s just a great guy. That’s one of the things I love about him when someone is a great guy you just always want to be there for him.
What’s the coolest prop or piece of memorabilia from one of your movies that you own?
From any of my movies, I pretty much own everything. At the end of every movie, early on things were just getting thrown in the garbage so I literally took everything. I don’t even know why. But at this point anything that used to be on screen in any of my movies, I probably have. I don’t know what for. They don’t seem so extra special to the — it’s almost like a piece of a scrapbook. I have all the MIchael Myers masks and costumes and all the costumes from ‘Devil’s Rejects,’ all the knives and props, dead bodies and all this crap. I don’t know, it’s all pretty interesting. Pretty cool. I have so much of it I actually could probably make an entire museum just out of that stuff.
You should! What makes you confident enough about your upcoming album to state it’s your best ever?
I don’t know. You just have that moment in time when you’re writing songs, you’re playing and this record — I hate talking about this stuff because it sounds like absolute nonsense. When was the last time you ever interviewed anyone from any band ever and they told you this isn’t their best album. It’s a cliche thing, right? But I really felt with the last album, ‘Venomous Rat’ that somehow, you don’t consciously think you’re off the tracks and you’re veering off — you’re just making music and you’re doing your thing. You don’t see your life from the outside point of view that other people will view you in your music. But I felt like with ‘Venomous Rat’ that somehow we had gotten back on track, it actually felt that way. LIke, wow! This feels like it did years ago.
This record is just continued further down that road where it feels like you’re inspired. You don’t feel like, ‘Ah God, we have to write some more songs.’ Every song seems different and exciting, it seems like the old days. There are just certain songs that we just cannot wait to play live that you just know are going ot be part of the show. You just have a weird sense of it. Kind of like when we finished ‘Dead City Radio,’ and that when we play it in the show it gets as big of a cheer as if we played ‘Dragula’ or some old song. You just have that moment in time where you feel like you’ve hit that same nerve with a song, and this record has a lot of that.
I think, in a funny way, everyone is always complaining about the record business and complaining about illegal downloading. I don’t care about any of that stuff. In fact, in a funny sort of way the fact that nobody buys records doesn’t bother me. In fact, I feel like it’s freed me. I never did anything to sell records, per se, but when you take that pressure away 100 percent, I swear to God you get more creative because it doesn’t matter anymore. That’s really been the case, I’m happy to give it away for free. I don’t care. I just want to make it, play it, get crazy with it and I think this new climate is — I hear a lot of musicians crying about it but for me, it’s re-energized us.
Do you think in specific terms of how a song will come across in the context of a stage production when you’re writing it?
Not really. Once the song is more formulated and you can listen back to it, you’ll have that moment where you’ll go, ‘Oh my god! This will be so great to play live! I can just see the crowd reacting.’ I don’t really think of that as i’m writing it. Usually as I’m writing it, the only thing I’m thinking is, ‘Jesus Christ, I hope I can think of something.’ Every time you write a song, or actually every time I go to make a new album you just think, ‘Is there another 11 songs in my head?’ Every one you make gets harder because you don’t want to repeat yourself but you want to do what people expect from you on a certain level. It does really get hard after a while.
That’s why I’m so excited about this one because I feel like we’re not repeating ourselves but we really hit upon something that I think the fanbase can get excited about. When that happens, yes you feel this will be a live track to play. Usually as we’re writing it, not so much.
It just seems like when you see the band perform live everything is so big, larger than life and epic and I just wonder if that’s something you think about in advance or if it just sort of happens.
Now I’m thinking about it, now the record is pretty much finished, I came up with an idea for one more song that I want to do but other than that, it’s done. So yeah, there’s an opening track and I’m like, this is totally the intro. You can hear this playing before we come out on stage, this is definitely the opening song. Yeah, now I can visualize it as a stage show. Now the songs are in my head, there’s a certain point where that does start happening for sure.
Thanks to Rob Zombie for the interview. Look for his ’31’ horror film and possibly a new album coming in 2015. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.