Interview: Rob Zombie Talks “Get High” And Howard Stern

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For Rob Zombie, the rest of 2016 looks like this; his new record, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser was released this past Friday, a 46 date tour kicked off on Saturday and then the theatrical release of his new film, 31 is scheduled for the fall.

For the music, the new record is a collection of 12 straight-ahead rock songs that Zombie describes as his heaviest and most artistic music to date. The massive tour is a combination of co-headlining with Disturbed, co-headlining with Korn and festival dates. And 31, is an independent horror film that Zombie wrote and directed. It was debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it received very high praise.

Though Zombie has seen unprecedented success in both his music and film career, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Whether its working on an album, touring, writing, shooting a film or releasing a live album, Zombie continues to channel his creativity through these various platforms.

In the midst of it all, Zombie had the time to speak with Alternative Nation during release week, where we discussed his process in navigating through the various projects, his catchy new single “Get High,” and our mutual admiration for the one and only – Howard Stern.

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One of the first things that jumped out at me when listening to the new record, was how great the audio quality was. The mix and the production are really impressive. It’s a perfect balance, not over-produced and straight forward.

That’s great to hear. We recorded the record at my house. The goal was to make it sound good obviously, but keep it raw. I’ve kind of done that with my last two records. I felt for a while there, the records were sounding too polished. So with this record especially, the goal was to not overwork it and make it sound too good. Make it sound powerful, but not slick.

You have a very unique album title with – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. Where did that come from?

The title came from the record. We finished the album and afterwards I sat with it and I tried to see in my mind what the record sounded like to me. That’s how I came up with the title. It’s not based on anything else except how the record sounds to me.

With all the projects you have going on and the various artistic worlds you dip into, is music a different expressive outlet for you personally? Meaning, are your songs also written from a fictional, story-telling place, similar to film? Or is music more of your personal outlet to write about individual matters?

Music and the films are kind of similar in a sense that they’re fictitious, but within that, I’ve put my actual thoughts on things. It’s usually masked among other craziness. It’s not like, this song is about “this” and that’s very obvious so I’m going to sing it in a particular way so the message of the song is very clear. I don’t really do that. I hide the message of the songs behind all the craziness. That’s what I’ll also do in movies a lot of times.

When were these new songs written?

The songs are all new, but the record as a whole was written over the course of a year. I didn’t want to just go into the studio for eight weeks straight and just hammer out an entire album. I feel like your ideas run dry. So what we would do is, we’d get together for a couple weeks, maybe three weeks at the most, we’d work on the album, then we’d take a break and we’d go on tour for a couple months. When we’d come back, we’d work on some more songs then go on tour again and bounce in and out of the studio like that. When you do it that way, the songs never sound the same. A song like “Wurdalak” was written with so many interruptions between it that every time we’d go back to it, our ideas would be so different. When you lock yourself away in the studio and all you do is record, by the time you get to track 11 or 12 you might be repeating yourself. This way I knew the songs would always stay fresh.

Do you ever overlap projects? When you’re submersed in music, do you still mix in film work or do you prefer to stay isolated in that given project?

I don’t overlap because it’s impossible. Whenever I’m doing film, it’s so encompassing that I don’t even think about music. You wouldn’t even know that I was in a band. With movies you have pre-production, the shooting and editing. It takes so many hours out of the day. I can’t even think of music, I don’t listen to music or do anything with music. I am just completely submersed in the films.

With the first single, “Get High,” it certainly has that hard-driven, punk feel to it, but I love the off-tempo, slowed down and melodic solo. It caught me off guard at first as I wasn’t expecting such a change, but it adds a new dimension to the entire song.

I always like things to be different. I never think – OK, here’s the guitar solo part and here is when it should come in. Music can be very predictable. You hear a song and you know, here comes the guitar solo and it’s exactly as you expected it would be more or less. So we tried within the very short song format, which is barely two and a half minutes, to keep it fresh and different so it’s not predictable. That guitar solo is one of them. Actually that solo is run backwards. Now when we play live, John just plays it backwards. That’s what gave it such a trippy feel.

You have an extensive tour you are setting on that takes you through almost the entire summer. How do you feel about touring after all these years?

Touring is the best part about being in a band. That’s kind of what the whole point is. Making records is OK and all the other stuff is OK, but really the reason we got in it in the first place was to play music. Play live, that’s the point. Every time we get out on tour it’s a reminder – oh yeah this is why we do this. We don’t do this to make videos or any of that other stuff, we do it because of this.

I’ve heard you describe a lot of your work as an art package, not just a collection of songs. Is the new record a prime example of that with the album artwork, packaging and video to go along with the release?

Yeah, I always look at is as a big art project. To me, the album art, the stage show and what’s in the video is just as important as the song itself. It’s all one giant project. For this album, we’ve already filmed six videos. I really believe in this record and I want to keep it alive with a lot of content to keep the fans excited.

As a side note, I think we have a mutual admiration for Howard Stern so I have to ask about your experience with Stern? From a writer’s standpoint, I happen to think he’s the greatest interviewer of all time.

I’ve known Howard now for almost 21 years. I first met him when I went on the show. I was a big fan of the show, I always thought he was brilliant. I agree, I think he is the best interviewer. Especially when he’s being very serious. One of the best interviews I think he ever did was when he had Frances Ford Coppola on the show. It was just phenomenal. Not a lot of interviewers would take it serious enough to really talk to the person. But he does. Sure he makes jokes and stuff and gets them off guard, but he gets them talking. I’ve been on the show a lot and it’s hard to stay on your guard because there’s something about him that gets people talking. He’s the best at that for sure. Doing his intro song together was great too.

For tour dates and more visit: robzombie.com

Watch Rob Zombie’s new video for “Get High”

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