Music preview: Rob Zombie shines up the metal
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If all goes as planned, when Rob Zombie hits the road later this year, he'll arrive with the follow-up to 2010's "Hellbilly Deluxe 2," which included such theatrical new concert staples as "Jesus Frankenstein" and "Sick Bubblegum."
The metallic horror rocker has a June 1 date in the studio after this tour, which hits Stage AE today. It will be the first time in the studio with these current Zombie-ites: former Marilyn Manson members John 5 (guitar) and Ginger Fish (drums) and bassist Piggy D.
"The best group of people I've had, probably, ever," he says in a phone interview. "Everything feels right, the personalities, the level of musicianship. This feels like the right time creatively to do it. Sometimes you make records, not that you force them out -- 'cause it's pretty easy to force songs out -- you kind of go in there and write songs even if you don't feel like it.
"I just feel with the band and the moment and the way the whole scene is right now with music, it's an exciting time to make a record because hard rock and heavy metal has been ... I feel like it's been pushed back underground for the last couple of years. Even if you're playing arenas, it still feels pushed underground and I feel like it's making a comeback, gaining a little more prominence, like it used to. For a while there, it was rap and pop and country. Started to get the feeling like 'Do you people just hate rock music or something?' But it doesn't seem like that anymore. So that's why I'm kind of excited to make a record again."
Not that the metal crowd was all that distracted by pop, rap or country. For the most part, metal fans have been faithful about turning up for the live shows, where they get the opportunity to bang into each other.
"And that's usually where it excels, 'cause rock bands can deliver it live, whereas a lot of pop acts, you watch the Grammys and it's pathetic sometimes," Zombie says. "You know, 60-year-old Bruce Springsteen comes out and he rocks and whatever pop star of the moment comes out and lip-synchs through some pathetic performance and you're like, 'Really? Is this what it's come down to?' "
Last summer, Zombie put on a full-blown theatrical rock spectacle before a rough-and-tumble crowd that had also turned out to see metal legends Slayer in the opening slot. A year later, Zombie, who is also busy with post-production work on his latest movie, "Lords of Salem," returns with another of the Big Four thrash bands, Megadeth, on his first tour with Dave Mustaine's band since the early '90s when he fronted White Zombie.
"It should be a great show," Zombie says. "I don't think who you tour with matters that much anymore. From my perspective, it's always the same."
No notable difference between a Slayer crowd and a Megadeth crowd?
"I don't think so. If there is, I can't tell the difference."
Zombie might just know, as he did take a daring run last year through the heart of that metal throng. In Pittsburgh, he made it in one piece. How crazy does that get?
"That's why you gotta keep moving," he says. "By the time anyone even notices you're there, you're gone. It's usually fine. You can't linger too long, that's the key."
First Published May 16, 2012 12:00 am