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Interview with the Zombie

Courtesy photo
Horror rocker Rob Zombie and his band will extend the Halloween season with a show in Huntington Saturday.

WANT TO GO?

Korn and Rob Zombie

WHERE: Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $45

INFO: Call 800-745-3000 or visit www.ticketmaster.com

_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's probably not a huge surprise, but horror rock king Rob Zombie had a busy time this Halloween.

For Zombie, who performs Saturday at Huntington's Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Halloween lasted for three weeks while he oversaw the Great American Nightmare: a huge attraction in Los Angeles that includes three haunted houses based on his films "House of 1000 Corpses," "Lords of Salem" and "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto," as well as nightly concerts.

Zombie sighed, then said, "I'm always working Halloween. It's like asking Santa Claus what he does at Christmas."

Rob Zombie has been bringing the spooky season to locations year-round for going on 25 years now, but he really broke out on the national music scene in the early 1990s, first with White Zombie and songs like "Thunder Kiss '65," "Electric Head, Part 2" and "More Human Than Human," before going solo by the end of the decade. His pulpy horror and sci-fi movie-inspired songs contrasted with the dominant sound of the era that was led by bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains.

Unlike some of the other recognizable performers of his generation, Zombie avoided jail, rehab and the morgue.

"I guess I learned from other people's mistakes," he said. "I mean you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that heroin isn't going to work out too good for you. I think we figured out heroin was bad with The Velvet Underground."

Zombie isn't preaching. He isn't against partying, but he's seen what happens when the party becomes more important than the show.

"It's not fun watching your favorite band fall down or slur through the lyrics and sound like sh--," he said. "For me, I look at what I do -- music or movies -- as art, and I never wanted to do anything to interfere with that. I mean it's great to party. It's great to be in fame, but I never wanted that to affect the show: the show always had to come first.

"I think a lot of people who ended up in a bad way forgot that."

But that's just how he sees it. Other performers can do what they want.

Zombie sounded a little surprised at his own longevity and the people who come to his shows these days.

"Obviously, we have older fans," he said.

And it's not uncommon, he explained, for people to tell him they've seen the band 50 times or that they first saw him with White Zombie 20 years ago.

"But that front row is always packed with kids," he said. "And they react the strongest to the new songs. Sometimes, we'll play the old songs, and they'll look at us like, 'What the hell are you playing?' Even if we're playing the hits."

Zombie wasn't complaining. He said he never wants to fall into the trap of being in a band that gets by on playing its old hits.

"It doesn't have to be a rule that the best days were the early days," he said.

He's proud of the new stuff -- particularly the songs off his latest record, "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor" -- and said the musicians on the road with him with are the best he's ever had.

It's all still fun.

"That's the motivation behind everything," he said.

What isn't fun to Zombie is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year. That freaks the rocker out.

"I see Black Friday stuff on TV and I go, what the f--- is wrong with people?" he said. "You look at these people herd themselves into Walmart like runaway sheep to buy a bunch of crap they don't even want."

At least, he can't make any sense of why they'd do that. He sure wouldn't.  Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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