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"When did entertainment get so fucking unentertaining?"

[What a total charmer ROB ZOMBIE was. Showed me round some great Hollywood cemetries ('look, here's the grave for Mel Blanc - yeah I know, can't believe it doesn't say 'That's All Folks!'') and had fun with him in full zombie-make-up running around the Sunset Strip wax museum scaring kids until we were ejected by humourless security guards. Hung out with him and Ozzy in Alburquerqee and on to San Antonio later for Metal Hammer but that piece is long-lost.]


"First you gotta realise everything is fucked. Then you start building . . ." 

(©1998, I'm guessing roundabout Halloween,  MELODY MAKER) 
EVIL SUPERSTAR

"'Tis the season for evil and devilment to rear their ugly heads! Yank Metaller ROB ZOMBIE kicks off the horror show ..."

Watch MTV in the US right now and amid the lamentable coveyor belt of mediocre divas, pre-pube ganstas and three trillion rock bands called FLANNEL, there's just about the most damn entertaining three minutes you'll see all year.

Featuring a dreadlock-laden Jesus lookalike haring around in a customized hearse, a fishnetted supervixen lambada-ing with Satan, a giant vampire robot breakdancing in a cemetery and enough Z-grade exploitation flick strangeness to satisfy every schlock-jockey on earth, it's ex-WHITE ZOMBIE frontman ROB ZOMBIE's self-directed video for his new single, a homage to Grandpa Munster's spooked up jalopy "Dragula". And it's the daftest, cleverest, most instantly thrilling rock'n'roll moment of '98.

"Blame television," explains Rob Zombie, thankfully not wearing his scary contacts as he turns on the charm in his Hollywood office. When I was growing up, I'd get up in the middle of the night just to watch farm reports. That's how addicted to television I was. And all the tv shows seemed to have a pop slant to them back then. The Banana Splits kicked ass. The Patridge Family rocked liked fuck, The Monkees ruled, and even The Munsters had a really cool episode where Herman became a fucked up rock-star and deserted the family for a load of teenage groupies.

"For me, rock'n'roll was just another cool thing to add on to TV, comic books and snuff movies. By the time I'd grown up on this endless diet of visceral junk, both fictional and factual, rock music had to be just as theatrical and extreme, had to compete with the luridness with all that stuff that had desensitised me so much. When your mom takes you to see A CLOCKWORK ORANGE at age seven, you get a warped view of life."


The roots of Rob's spanking solo album, "Hellbilly Deluxe," (subtitled 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International"), aren't hard to dig out. In between monster truck'n'tractor meets, all-day wrestling shebangs and larking around in cemeteries (Rob's hometown in Massachusetts was once afforded"The Worst Place to Live in America" by Life magazine- "There was a "'We're Number One' party in the town hall," Zombie proudly tells me), the young Rob Straker* killed time by helping his folks out at the local carnival.

"It was just work for us, but the images have stuck in the music. I'm obsessed with all that strange, perfect, fucked-up Americana that 's disappearing so fast now. That's what the sleeves (spot-on sideshow geek posters and lethally accurate B-movie flyers) and the live shows are all about. Bringing showbiz back to the sick freaks who perfected it, not the hippies and nerds who run shit now."

You talking about rock or movies? "Both. Everything's so fucking crappy now isn't it?" he suddenly realizes. "When did entertainment get so fucking unentertaining? I remember loving the movies, getting excited by TV specials, seeing and hearing something new every fucking day that you just had to tell everyone about. Now, it's like why bother seeing anything when you know it's just going to be a crock of crap anyway?"


"You can't get excited cos you just know how shit everything's gonna be. Blockbusters have ruined films (as Rob learned during his involvement and subsequent stormy break with the making of the "Crow 3"), too much money has ruined the music business and no one can take a popular risk any more. There's just a chronic constant underestimation of the audience and the destruction of good old-fashioned middle-of-the-road entertainment like I do."

Say whut?

"I do! Trouble is, it's like you only have two choices now. You can either be sappy saccharine anodyne morally unimpeachable tax paying simpering idiot and be popular or you have to go to the other extreme, alienate the entire planet apart from your household pets and really self-consciously set out to shock. I don't see why you can't be popular and extreme, over-the-edge, but still there to entertain all the ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls. My stuff is animated by a love for this shit, others are just ripping the piss. In the tradition of PT Barnum and William Castle, I'm just a good American showman, here to entertain the folks some." His face doesn't crack, but his eyes twinkle like Willy Wonka's . Fuck, this man is onto something.

A self-confessed workaholic, Rob has so many things on the go (his own "scary surf" punk label, ZOMBIE-A-GO-GO whose current signings are The Ghastly Ones and The Bomboras, bringing out his first self-illustrated comic book, continuing to direct movies and videos when he can, as well as touring the UK soon), it seems daft to ask him if the mighty White Zombie will ever return. But I do, cos "Thunderkiss 65" still shreds me and you both. White Zombie are over forever and that's my final word. Its not as if the world mourned our passing, we ain't the fucking Beach Boys, and who the fuck who want to hear a dozen people who don't know each other play songs they can't remember any more? I'm sick of compromise: with my new band and with the new album, I've just been indulged totally and I love it. I like being able to pursue my own course and triumph or fuck up on my own terms."

And what a triumph it is. White Zombie were all about turning Rob's obsession with B-movie horror, superheroes, hot-rods and big, dumb metal into a complete worldview (winning fans and pals like Howard Stern, Alice Cooper and Beavis & Butthead in the process). With "Hellbilly Deluxe", you get the new testament, with eye-poppin', ear-perforatin', slabs of mondo-bizarro metal informed by a lifetime's obsession with trash and its demented worship. Image if John Waters had been into Kiss, and you're getting close to just how good "Hellbilly Deluxe" is.

"Bands should always have fun!" Rob booms with adolescent glee. "If you don't enjoy it, why bother? It's no coincidence that it's precisely those bands who whinge the most about being rock stars who look like the most dressed-down stumblebum boring fucking bozos on stage. Wear far too much make-up and behead a few farm animals and creative angst just doesn't last. I can strongly recommend it."


As Rob pops in his white Linda Blair contacts for the photo shoot in a suitably scary Hollywood cemetery and before his pussycat sweetness completes the transformation into demonic horror, I ask him if he considers himself a model citizen. No, but you have to stand up against the tide of encroaching blandness. Not enough bands are actually doing anything any more, y'know?" So what are you doing beyond the cool sounds and visuals?

But's that's all there is! Don't you see? Nobody's making the effort showbiz requires any more. Making people sit up and go strange awhile. There's just this engulfing deterioration in everything. Dumbness that knows it's dumb. All the moneygoes into tired shit cos the people in charge are ponytailed clueless old scum. That in turn tells people if they wanna get anywhere , they can't make waves, can't believe or trust in their own imagination

"Fuck all that 'We know how things work' shit. All that people care about is if something sounds cool, looks cool, fucks yer head up. Everyone thinks everything 's already been done, so Hollywood and the music biz are just turning into karoke: remaking and remodellling and restoring. Fuck that. Fuck remakes of 'Psycho' and 'Carnival of Souls' and 'Carrie'. First you gotta realise everything is fucked. Then you start building."

Spot on, Rob Zombie's alternative universe is the grooviest, coolest, ghouliest place on planet pop right now. Come on in. The flames are lovely

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