Rob Zombie Discusses Being Hated On by Slayer Fans and Being “The World’s Biggest Cult Artist”,


In his latest ‘At Home With’ conversation on Apple Music, Zane Lowe is joined by Rob Zombie who discusses riding out quarantine from a farm in Connecticut, becoming friends with his heroes, being “the world’s biggest cult artist”, Alice Cooper as a mentor, why he stopped collecting posters, and discovering music from filmmaking. He also recalls the first time he met Ozzy Osbourne, how White Zombie was widely hated by most bigger bands and their fans when they started and much more!

Watch: https://apple.co/_AHWRobZombie

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Riding Out Quarantine On A Farm in Connecticut…

We live in LA and we live in Connecticut. And we left LA when things started getting weird and came to Connecticut. We live out on a farm. So even when I’m here on a good day, I don’t see anybody. So now I really don’t see anybody, but it’s fine. Well, when I first moved to Connecticut, I hated it and I was going insane. Like I needed to be in LA. I needed that all the time, all the time. And then I started getting used to it and then I started producing more and more work because of it. I would write more music, I would do more paintings. I would just write more scripts. And now I can’t even imagine it the other way. I had a screening room at my house in LA, which I never used. And I have one here in Connecticut, which we never stop using. So I don’t know, LA has a way of just wasting your time if you know what I mean.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Becoming Friends With His Heroes…

 

I find that weird sometimes, being very good friends with people that like… When I’m actually on the phone bullsh-tting with Alice Cooper, I’m like Alice Cooper ruled the world when I was some dopey kid in second grade. The fact that I’m on the phone and we’re like, “Hey, what’s going on? Yada, yada.” That’s always been weird to me. It’s less weird after 20 years. But early on, it was weird. I know a lot of people like that. And even today stuff will happen. Like someone will reach out to me and it’s just so weird. Like this happened just the other day. I really liked Lucha Libre and the original guys that made the movies like El Santo and Blue Demon. And out of the blue, Son of Santo just reached out to me and recorded himself in his mask saying how much he liked my new song.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About His Quest To Make White Zombie Not Sound Like Anyone Else…

 

When I first started White Zombie, I must’ve drove the band crazy. And I know I did because I didn’t want it to sound like anything. And the quest to not sound like anybody is very difficult because even if the drummer played a steady beat, I’d go, “What are you doing? Everybody plays that f-king beat.” Well, yeah, it’s kind of like a drum beat. But I was so cuckoo that you’re just like, “Well, let’s play everything backwards. Let’s play it upside down.” Because you’re searching for something. So when you hear a band like The Fall, I’m just like, “It doesn’t sound like anything.” And sometimes I’m listening, I’m like, “I’m not even sure if it makes sense, but it’s so fascinating and I love it.” And they’ve so many records and every time I listen to another one, and then I’m like, “They’re all good.” Yeah. I mean, he is a pretty belligerent character. I mean, I was really into in the early days, like music as art, not as something to make people happy for public consumption. Yet at the same time that I love The Fall, I would have completely loved Van Halen. It was always what I was trying to do is the war between those two things.

 

…when White Zombie started it was completely a mishmash band on the Lower East Side. Our goal was, if we could play CBGBs and somebody shows up, we did it. We’re successful. And then we did that so I was like, okay, next time, if we could play CBGBs, but on a weekend and a lot of people show up. But what happens, you just keep moving the goalpost. And then you start getting bored with stuff. Because as much as I love the Lower East Side, I love the art-rock scene of that time that, like Sonic Youth were the kings of. It felt very limiting. I felt like, so this is where it begins and ends? Well, let’s make a move. And the move at that point was there was a club in Brooklyn called The Moors where the metal bands would play. So we started playing there, and it was a nightmare. I remember the guys in the Cro-Mags were nice, have us open for them. So White Zombie comes out to a sea of skinheads looking at us like this is the worst thing we’ve ever seen. Which it probably was, but that became our new thing, being hated by metal bands. We got hated by Slayer fans and hated by Testament fans, and Anthrax fans. No, Anthrax was okay. But yeah, but we would always start doing metal stuff. But everybody hated us because we couldn’t play to the level of metal people yet, because they’re always so good. And the art-rock bands were so awful because you can… Not awful. They weren’t like, you know?

 

I mean, I thought Sonic Youth were brilliant, so I’m not knocking him. But he wasn’t shredding some solo that you’re like, “What the f-k?” But I wasn’t looking for it. Yeah. So it was an evolution, and it just kind of happened naturally. It didn’t happen… It was a really half-a–ed plan that somehow happened. And Mike Judge and Beavis and Butt-Head have a lot to do with it. Truthfully.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Getting Nervous…

 

Now nothing bothers me ever. Nothing. People are like, “I get nervous.” I don’t get nervous going on stage. I don’t get nervous doing anything, I just don’t care. The last time I was nervous, and I was really, really nervous that actually the feeling freaked me out, was when I had to induct Alice Cooper into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wasn’t nervous about what I had to do, I was so nervous that it wasn’t going to be good and I would disappoint him. And he’d be like, “Why did that… Couldn’t we have gotten somebody else?” You know?

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Being Attracted To Quality…

 

Well I mean, I just think that I’m attracted to quality. You know what I mean? Like if something’s good, it’s good. There’s nothing I don’t like if it’s good. I will obsess over the The Allman Brothers as much as I’ll obsess over Buck Owens or the Misfits. If it’s great, it’s great. And sometimes it’s not about me. I mean, what I do sometimes has nothing to do with just who I am. I mean, that’s what I do, but what I love is so much more. That’s why when people are like, “Oh, you must see every horror movie.” I got, “No, I don’t give a sh-t,” because most of them I don’t like. They’re crappy, so why do I want to waste my time? If it’s good, I’ll watch it.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Being “The World’s Biggest Cult Artist”…

 

Well I heard something the other day, and I don’t remember what it was in reference to. But it was Quentin Tarantino was quoting Pauline Kael. And I can’t remember what they were discussing, what he was referencing. Something she said like, it’s the movie between the movie. And I feel like my horror movies lie between the horror. I care about all the other stuff. You want to make in the movie it’s time to do a bloody scene, ah, boring. It’s all the weird chit-chat and nonsense with the characters in-between the horror that I love. That’s what I obsess about. And that’s how I am about most things. I could just film the characters being weird forever and just get into their lives, and just skip right over the violence. Because that’s just like, eh, you know, that is what it is. So it’s sort of the horror between the lines, I guess. I guess that’s where I’ve always lived, between the lines. I always feel like sometimes, I say this to my manager. I go, “I feel like I’m like…” and I mean this in a really good way. I get to be the world’s biggest cult artist. Because yeah, play arenas and make millions of dollars. But you kind of still feel like nobody knows who you are. It’s awesome.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Marching To The Beat Of His Own Drum…

 

Maybe I’m just a stubborn person, or maybe it’s just who you are. But there are moments that come up in your career where I know I’m detrimental to myself because I know I’m doing the thing that won’t be as popular. No problem. I remember when we signed to Geffen Records, everybody complained about the album title, everybody complained about what the first single was called, everybody complained… And I go, “I don’t give a sh-t. This is what we’re calling it.” I never cared. I think it became just that even though when I talk about punk rock, people think, “That guy’s not punk rock,” but it becomes that punk rock mindset of, “F-k you, I don’t care. I’m going to do it my way, and I don’t care if it’s popular.” And a lot of times, I know, even when making movies, you go, “Well, if you put this person in your movie we’ll get wider distribution,” but I go, “That person’s completely wrong for it,” And I know I would want to kill myself. That’s why when I would hear bands crying, “The label made us act glam.” I’m like, “Go f-k yourself, give me a break. You’re a grown man. You don’t want to wear lipstick, don’t f-king wear lipstick. Give me a break.”

 

When White Zombie ended, it wasn’t fun anymore and I didn’t like being there and I thought to myself, “Man, we’re going to play sold-out arenas and I feel miserable every night about this,” but people think, “Oh, it’s his ego. He thinks he’s such a big shot. He’s going to…” No, I didn’t. I just wanted to be happy doing it, and I was very content to go on my own and play places that were 10 times smaller and just enjoy the process as opposed to being miserable on a tour bus by myself, or something. So it’s whatever. I think you see it with people all the time, you just do what you do, and you’ve got to know yourself to some extent, I guess. I don’t know.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About His Relationship With Ozzy Osbourne and Recalls The First Time They Met…

 

Ozzy is great. I’ve known Ozzy for a long time. We’ve toured together for the first time maybe 20 years ago but I met him before. The first time I met Ozzy was really weird. I’ve told this story before, but not in a long time. And I don’t know. I went to his house, I don’t remember why. And that was where I met him, at his house, and I thought, oh, it’s going to be a bunch of people. My manager will be there. Sharon will be there, whatever. It ends up to just me and Ozzy by ourselves. I just met him. He’s like, “Oh, Rob, I want to play you my new record.” So he puts on his new record, I think he’s going to play one song maybe. He plays the whole album looking directly at me, singing most of it. And I’m simultaneously thinking, “This is awesome, and this is so uncomfortable, I don’t know what to do” I get into those situations a lot, unfortunately, it seems. Yeah. Ozzy is great. It sounds so pretentious, but just the way it goes, I’ve been on… A lot of times, we’re on a private plane together and Ozzy will tell you the best stories, but I can’t tell, because it’s throwing other rock people under the bus, but they’re good stories.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Alice Cooper As A Mentor…

 

I’ve always hoped to have a mentor-type figure with music and movies. You have this idea that that’s going to happen and it hasn’t really happened. The closest I got to something like that was with Alice Cooper. We’re very similar minus the religious stuff, and even as a kid, I was like, “Why do I feel like I could really get on with that guy?And we’ve had some conversations and there’s a lot of stuff about us that’s real similar. And when I was going solo, I called him up and we talked about it a little bit because he had done basically the same thing with Welcome To My Nightmare. And he was telling me the reasons for it, and I was like, Yeah, I just realized it’s not just me, it just happens sometimes.” Things come to an end and what, are you going to stop? A lot of us become like lifers, this is what you do, and unfortunately, a lot of times it feels like you were trying to sabotage other people, but you’re not because the whole band’s on a level field. It goes away. Everybody can do whatever they want. You’re not doing something to damage somebody else.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Staying Motivated During The Early Years…

 

…the hardest part is when you’re first starting, like say White Zombie, we had at least seven solid years of nobody giving two sh-ts that we existed on any level. So around that time, every day you wake up and you think, “What is the f-king point? This is absurd,” and then you go to rehearsal. It’s really weird. And I would think that every morning. I’m like, “Again?” And then, you go to rehearsal. So it’s like a sickness. You feel like you’re a junkie for some drug, and you feel like… I don’t know. I guess you just have to suffer the misery to get through it, and at times it does seem miserable. It’s not like, “Oh, the old rock and roll,” because you’re driving to Wisconsin in the snow, sleeping in the van with no heat to play a show for two people who don’t know who you are, to get paid $6 to drive to the next show and do it again. After a while, what the f-k? That’s why I would never tell anyone I was in a band back in the day if they didn’t know. If they were like, “Oh, are you in a band?”, I’d go, “No, I am not,” because it was embarrassing. I’d be, “When I’m in a band, you’ll know, maybe. But this is not being in a band yet. This is being a homeless guy with instruments right now.” This is what this is.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Routine and Being an Early Riser…

 

I mean, it’s been fluctuating through this lockdown nonsense or pandemic because things are different, but I get up super early. I like to get up when it’s still dark and work, because I feel like that’s… After the fog clears with a cup of coffee, that’s when the ideas come. As the day… If there’s something in a script or a song that I cannot figure out at the end of the day, and I’m like, “This has to make sense.” In the morning I go, “Oh, of course, just move that scene there and put that there and then it makes perfect sense.” I think your brain is just clear. And, I always say, because even if it’s still here in the morning and, “Well, it’s time to feed the dog. Time to walk the dog.” You’re already getting other stuff into your head that starts, “Yep I’ll just eat breakfast and I’ll go back to it.” But, the phone rang and then you just derailed. But, the first couple hours of just sitting by yourself in the dark working man, you could really crank out some sh-t, fast. I mean the days seem to go by so fast. It seems like, “Oh, I woke up, I worked. Breakfast. I did one thing. It’s lunch. One thing. Dinner. Wheel of Fortune’s on now I’m tired.” Like the day just going so fast that I’ll be lying in bed and I’ll just go, “Can you believe we’re back in bed already? What the f-k happened?”

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Titling His Albums…

 

I’ve always done that, but it seems like recently people are always talking about it. I’m like, “That’s weird, I always kind of did that.” But I got sick of seeing albums, so I go, “That’s the same title as this other guy’s album with all the words you had also title your album Let’s Rock?” Like, “You couldn’t think of anything else?” So I always want to make sure it doesn’t sound like anything else, but then I don’t really title it till the record’s done. And I have all these titles of keep shifting because I’m like, “It doesn’t seem like the record yet.” It’s really weird. Like, what does the title mean? It means the sounds coming off of that record. That’s how I look at it.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Discovering Music Through Filmmaking…

 

…what happens a lot of time is I discover a lot of music too, when I’m making movies because you have a scene in a movie and you’re like, “Oh, what would work here? What would be the thing?” So you’re always going through music and songs. And even when I don’t use them, which I didn’t use any War in my last movie, but that’s when I started getting into them because it was like, “Oh, that almost fits. It’s almost right, but not quite right.” So that was why.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music How He’s Spent Time In Quarantine…

 

It’s really funny. I mean, in certain ways, I feel like I’ve done a lot of stuff during this time. Written more music, written more scripts, I’ve never stopped working, so that was kind of nice. And when the shutdown for us started, I was like, “Please don’t let it in too soon.” Because it was nice to be forced to stop. Because usually my life is like finish directing, go on tour, come back, start the movie, finish the movie, edit the movie, go back on tour, start the… There literally is never a break ever. This is the longest I’ve ever been home in my entire life. So that was kind of nice at first. And then it’s just starts getting a little weird because I remember exactly the last time I saw the band and we rehearsed, it was March 11th, we were rehearsing March 11th and then we’re going to rehearse the next day. And the next day I was like, “Eh, I feel kind of sketchy being at this rehearsal space, all these people now.” Because it was just starting to really hit the news. And so that’s kind of weird you know? And that worries me too. Just the time going away. You know nobody’s getting any younger, but whatever that’s everybody. It’s a funny thing. I get annoyed sometimes when I hear other people talk about it. So I don’t want to talk about it too much.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music About Hoping To Tour Soon…

 

Well, we definitely want a tour. We definitely love playing. You know, that’s the one thing every night, we really love it. And we really appreciate that we get to do it. We really feel that way. Because you never know when’s your last show? You really don’t. But I really don’t see any touring until 2022 at the earliest because 2021’s f-ked for touring anyway. Maybe there’ll be a few isolated shows people might be able to get to, but there’s no touring, no way. I’m just like, “I just want to get back on tour before I turned 60.” That’ll happen I’ll be happy.

 

Rob Zombie Tells Apple Music Why He Stopped Collecting Posters…

 

I am not a compulsive collector anymore. I used to be. The reason I stopped is kind of a sad story. But collecting is sort of like a sickness because you somehow… Like, you’re never going to get everything. I don’t even know why you’re trying to get it in the first place. But I have so much stuff. The big thing which you can’t see from an angle here was vintage movie posters. That was the big thing I would sink all my cash into. And my other collecting friend was Johnny Ramone from the Ramones. He was another psychotic collector. And the day he died, I remember being over his house and he had died. And I was just like, now what? I swear, I never bought another thing after that. It just seemed like, who cares? And I stopped talking about posters with people. I stopped buying them. It was just like, I don’t know. You don’t realize how much the collecting is connected to a friendship with someone until they aren’t there anymore. The last poster I bought was… It’s over there somewhere. It’s this giant French Wolfman poster. But actually Johnny bought it and he had it in his house. This was the week he died anyway. I don’t know what exact day it was. And I went over his house and he made me hold it up so he could see it. He was sort of bedridden at that point. I wasn’t sure why he’d even bought it. And then he sold it to me that day. And I remember him saying so clear, “Ha Rob, right now, you’re the fine, proud owner of a fine French Wolfman poster.” But it was like in that last second, I think in a way… Nobody wants to die and I don’t think anybody could believe, especially him that he was going to. So he was still collecting right up to the last second. It was very strange.