Rob Zombie ‘Bucks’ The Industry
(Rob Zombie on the set of Halloween, 2007)
By Matt Muñoz, Bakotopia.com Editor
A glimpse into the mind of Rob Zombie is sure to reveal more than its share of influential figures, not to mention monsters, ghosts, Ozzy, KISS, Buck Owens, and “Hee Haw” ...
Buck Owens? “Hee-Haw?”
“I always loved Buck Owens because that was the one thing I remember as a kid,” said Zombie via telephone from Rapid City, South Dakota, a tourstop on the current Ozzy Osbourne / Rob Zombie ‘Monster 40’ tour.
“I don't remember my dad liking anything, not just music, anything. But he seemed to love Buck Owens’ ‘Hee Haw’ (TV show.) So, we would always watch Buck Owens and Roy Clark. So yes, ‘Hee Haw’ was very influential in my life.”
Coming back to scare the rocks off the Rabobank Arena after eight years on Monday, Nov. 26, with the “Prince of Darkness” himself, Ozzy Osbourne, at 7:30 p.m., Zombie is also out promoting various projects including his first live CD, appropriately titled “Zombie Live.”
“I had been wanting to do this for many years,” said Zombie, 42, of his decision to release a live album. “I recorded a lot of shows over the years. Different things would happen, and I would shelve it. This time everything seemed solid, and I knew it was the best sounding band I’d had. We recorded it last summer.”
Zombie’s career has been anything but “dead” over the past two decades. After a mult-platinum run with his band White Zombie from ’85-’98, the multi-talented solo artist, whose real name is Robert Cummings, has managed to become one of the most recognizable figures in popular music, movies, TV, and comics.
“Everything you do has to be entertaining,” said Zombie of his over-the-top creative nature. “It’s funny the way things start, like you just come up with this crazy idea and then suddenly it becomes a reality - that’s the excitement of it. You’re always thinking about the person who’s going to see it.”
Originally a dread-locked, rocking mad doctor surrounded by a cavalcade of b-movie monsters and demonic temptresses through most of his musical career, Zombie has added “movie director” to his list of occupations.
Directing his own music videos, the jump to the big screen came in 1999, when he directed “House of 1,000 Corpses.” After getting off to a rough start due to problems with distribution and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the film was released in 2003, soon becoming an instant cult-classic.
“Corpses” is the story of a crazy family of deranged killers who victimize those unlucky enough to have their car “suddenly” break down near a roadside attraction starring an evil, fried chicken-cooking clown named “Captain Spaulding.”
The popularity of the film helped to spawn a sequel - 2005’s “The Devil's Rejects,” featuring key cast members from the original movie, many of whose acting careers were subsequently revived thanks to Zombie’s idea of bringing the ’70s “grindhouse” exploitation flick style back to life, complete with figures from that infamous Hollywood period.
“I love being able to help them because there are so many people like Sid Hague and Bill Mosley (‘Captain Spaulding’ and ‘Otis’ from ‘Corpses’). They’re just great actors and so underappreciated,” he said. “When I was trying to get (Sid) for ‘Corpses,’ he had retired. We had to try to find him. Now to see how much the fans love him and how he’s more popular than ever, it’s great.”
Listen and watch closely during both films and you’ll also hear Buck Owens singing “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass,” a favorite of the movie’s killer clan, as well as a snippet of “Satan’s Gotta Get Along Without Me” from the 1966 “Buck Owens Ranch Show” - both personal favorites of Zombie's.
“I never got to see him (Buck) in Bakersfield, but I got to see him when he would come to LA,” said Zombie. “I never even got to talk to him, but I did get an autographed seven-inch of the song, ‘Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass.’”
Most recently, Zombie shook up Hollywood again with a re-make of John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic “Halloween.” The film debuted at No. 1 when it premiered this past August, and to date has grossed over 69 million dollars worldwide. The success of the film may finally have gotten industry “suits” to take him seriously as a director.
“‘House of 1,000 Corpses’ is released, and people were like, ‘Oh, this rock guy is goofing around,’” explained Zombie. “‘Devil's Rejects’ everybody liked, so then, ‘He's serious.’ Now with ‘Halloween’ it’s totally rock solid serious. I think people get it now. It’s not a joke.”
If battling the politics of tinseltown wasn’t enough, Zombie also finds it hard to deal with surviving as an artist in the digital age, where illegal downloading and greed reigns supreme throughout the music industry.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, probably because in another year people won’t even bother manufacturing CDs, no one will even want ’em,” he said.
“The downloads don’t match up with the record sales, so you know people are stealing mostly everything. The touring business is still really good, but now you are starting to get these artists that are really raping and pillaging the crowds and tickets are $200 - $500. The industry seems to be eating itself, and it’s kind of a bummer.”
Despite the perils of the industry, which seem to outweigh the torment suffered by victims in his films, Zombie continues to have success in an area of more importance - his marriage to Sheri Moon.
Moon’s statuesque beauty has become a familiar face (and body) in most of Zombie’s projects, including all three of his films, but it was her role as the maniacally laughing killer “Baby Firefly” in “Corpses” that made her a bona-fide “scream queen.”
“We love working together,” said Zombie of working closely with his wife through much of his busy career. “We’re always busy together. She’s out on tour now dancing in the show, and I think that’s why things have worked out great is that we’ve always incorporated the work into our lives, because if not then you never see each other. Collaborating on these projects always makes it more special and that’s why we do it.”
Sherri Moon will also be “heard” as the voice of “Suzi-X” in Zombie’s upcoming animated film, “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto,” a homage to animator Ralph Bakshi, best known for adult animation classics “Fritz The Cat,” “American Pop,” and “Wizards.”
“Superbeasto” features the ever-popular “Dr. Satan,” whose voice is played by actor Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”) and also features the voice of Danny Trejo (“Halloween”) who plays “Rico.”
In the film, “El Superbeasto” is a down-on-his-luck Mexican luchador who fights against the evil Dr. Satan along with his sultry-sidekick, played by Moon.
The movie, although finished and ready for release, is missing one potent element - music.
“That’s the only aspect that’s not finished,” said Zombie. “The problem is I have too many projects. So now, I’m on tour, so as soon as I get off we’ll go home and that’ll be finished.”
At this time, there is no release date set for the adult comedy cartoon, but Zombie hopes to have it out soon for those awaiting the latest Zombie treat.
Back to work as a touring musician with one of his childhood idols, Ozzy Osbourne, the future looks bright for Zombie, whose demeanor is not one of say the evil “Capt Spaulding” with a penchant for pain, but rather a humorous, hardworking music and fan geek, who understands the value of having such a rabid fanbase.
To show his appreciation, Zombie promises his Bakersfield show to be an even bigger feast of eye candy like his films and videos designed for nightmarish fun the whole family can enjoy.
“100 percent entertainment overload.”
Ozzy Osbourne / Rob Zombie LIVE!
-Monday, November 26th
-$49 - $79
Story originally printed in Bakotopia Magazine, issue 15, 11/15/07