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Back from hell

Underground musical demon Glenn Danzig prepares for his introduction to the world of country.

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Back from hellDuring a career that's seen him front three diverse but equally sinister cult bands, Glenn Danzig has played at some truly odd venues. From the requisite seedy punk clubs he visited during the early days of The Misfits to a concert in Phoenix with his group Danzig during which he performed inside a wrestling ring surrounded by a mesh cage, this famously muscular metal icon has played at nearly every size and type of venue imaginable. However, his upcoming visit to Kansas City will put him in relatively close proximity to a creature he's never before encountered during a performance -- a mechanical bull.

Admittedly, The Beaumont Club has branched out in recent years, with shows by decidedly non-twangy acts, such as Sepultura and Slipknot, but the stage might not have experienced yet the type of sinister sensory overload Danzig promises. "There's going to be a crazy, intense light show," he says. "There's a drum riser with lights coming through it and gargoyles all over it, and then there's a thing I stand on with light shining through it, and there's lots of illustrations and graphics in the background."

During this phone conversation held on St. Patrick's Day (perhaps because of his substance-free stance, he was unaware that the holiday was in progress) from the office that houses his record label (Evilive) and his comic-book company (Verotik), Danzig elaborated on the difficulties that have kept him from delivering his moribund music and ornate live show to his rabid fans in recent years. After the release of Danzig 4 in 1994, the group broke off relations with its label, Def American, leading to a lawsuit that left the band free from its contract and able to sign with any label. The subsequent choice was one Danzig would come to regret. The group was preparing to release the industrial-powered Danzig 5: Blackacidevil when Hollywood Records caved to pressure from its parent company, Disney, which disapproved of the group's demonic image, and placed the record on the shelf. Like the Insane Clown Posse, another ill-advised Hollywood signee whose lyrics soon mortified Mickey and company, Danzig holds a bit of a grudge towards his former employers.

"It's a very fucked-up label, and the people that work there are idiots. They should all be assassinated, thank-you," he says with his trademark blunt brutality.

Like Ice-T, Public Enemy, and several other artists quite familiar with censorship efforts, Danzig eventually signed to an Internet-centered label, E-Magine Entertainment. In conjunction with Danzig's own label, E-Magine released Danzig 6:66, an eclectic album that ranges from Sabbath-style riffs to modern-metal sounds (Josh Abraham, who has also worked with Korn, Orgy, and Coal Chamber, engineered the album) to bluesy rock to sorrowful, low-key laments. The first single, "Five Finger Crawl," features a powerful bass line and showcases Danzig's distinctive roar. Despite the tune's potency, however, Danzig doubts that it can break through to regular rotation on MTV and rock radio, as the band's earlier hits, such as "Mother" and "Can't Speak," once did.

"What would have to happen is what happened with 'Mother,'" he says, referencing the live version of a track from the band's debut album that became a surprise hit in 1993. "They didn't want to play it, but it got to the point where they couldn't ignore it anymore. We'll see. Everything is definitely cyclical."

Thousands of old-school punk and goth fans are pulling for the cycle to turn in such a way that Danzig ends up back in front of The Misfits, the Ramones-from-hell group that sported spikes and extreme Eddie Munster haircuts while mixing hooks, harmonies, and horror-novel-caliber lyrics. A reformed version of the group, featuring bassist Jerry Only as the only original member, resurfaced and made several area appearances, including a memorable trip to Lawrence last fall, during which Gwar opened the show. But for most die-hard "fiends," as the band's fans are called, the new lineup doesn't measure up.

"To me, and to a lot of Misfits fans, the group broke up in '83, and the story ends there," Danzig says. "It's not The Misfits anymore, it's the Jerry Only show. People try to tell me what's going on with them, and I'm just like, 'I don't care.'"

However, Danzig doesn't shy away from his past. In fact, several of his current projects have him digging through the crates. In June, Evilive will release a Samhain box set, which features remastered versions of the previously released but hard-to-find material by this group, which served as a bridge between The Misfits' punchy punk and Danzig's The-Cult-as-fronted-by-Jim-Morrison brand of moody metal. The box will include rarities, a live disc culled from two shows, a video, and a 30-page comic book. Danzig is also in the process of compiling a double-live album taken from a decade's worth of shows by the band that bears his surname, including some footage that will be added during the current tour. Finally, the eclectic musician will re-release Black Aria, his classical album that floored fans and earned him a further degree of respect as an artist, as well as unveil a new album's worth of orchestral compositions.

As if his plate weren't full enough with musical endeavors, Danzig also has Verotik to keep him occupied. Specializing in comics full of nudity and violent themes, Verotik caters to a darker demographic than its peers. It's safe to say that the typical consumer of, say, Satanica, doesn't fit the stereotype of a comic-convention junkie hooked on Green Lantern.

"I started the company about six years ago because I hated all the other comic books that were out there, and I realized no one else was going to do the kind of comics I was going to do," he says. "It's just been crazy since then."

The insanity will only intensify as the year continues. Hustler Films has committed to a full-length feature film with Verotik character Grub Girl as the heroine, and another movie, this one depicting the animated adventures of Venus Domina, is scheduled for completion in the late summer or early fall. Of the latter storyline, Danzig says only, "It's really disturbing."

Any disoriented rodeo-riding line-dancers who happen to stumble into The Beaumont Club during Danzig's elaborate satanic revival will probably also feel compelled to use the word "disturbing," but for Danzig's legendarily loyal fans, who have been teased in recent years by aborted record releases and an unfulfilling Misfits pseudo-reunion tour, the reappearance of their idol should inspire an especially fervent type of celebration, one that might ultimately see the mechanical bull become the victim of a grisly sacrifice.

"Lots of times, promoters are scared to do our shows, so we have to then look for alternative places to play," Danzig says. "People don't want our crazy fans in their venues. But man, a country bar? They're going to love us. I hope they're prepared."

Contact Andrew Miller at 816-218-6781 or andrew.miller@pitch.com.

Danzig

Sunday, April 16at The Beaumont Club

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