NEW YORK — It’s becoming harder and harder to define Rob Zombie.
The theatrical rocker who began his career with the ‘80s shock-rock band White Zombie has reinvented himself as a contemporary horror film master with new classics like “House of 1000 Corpses,” its sequel, “The Devil’s Rejects,” and the recently released, “The Lords of Salem.” And when the latter became the victim of budgetary constraints, Zombie turned to the written word for a more elaborate account of his witches’ tale in a novel version of “The Lords of Salem” released in March.
Zombie then turned his attention back to music with his fifth studio album, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.” Released last month, he plans to support the record with a summer tour of the states, and an appearance at the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil.
Zombie will switch gears again as he tackles some mainstream fare with “The Broad Street Bullies,” a movie that covers the aggressive nature of the Philadelphia Flyers and their assault on the NHL culminating with back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in the 1970’s. Zombie will write, produce, and direct the film.
Recently the 48-year old Zombie sat down with The Associated Press to talk about his music, movies, and whether he’ll ever bring his sound and vision to the Broadway stage.
AP: How hard was it to transition from producing a movie to recording an album?
Rob Zombie: “The record was done at that point but what I did was I finished ‘Lords of Salem,’ I finished editing this movie in a barn, stripped the editing bay out, and moved the recording studio in. Went right into recording the record and just stayed away from California where we normally would record. We were out in the sticks. Stayed there for a couple months and this is the record we made and much like ‘Lords of Salem’ in a sense even though the projects aren’t connected I feel they both have the same free spirit of like not worrying about you know, ‘Oh, is this what anybody expects? Is this what anybody wants?’ I always feel when you think that way that’s usually when you do the best stuff because when you’re not concerned.
AP: Your movies and music have a lot of fans here, but it seems you’re appreciated more overseas. Any idea why?
Rob Zombie: I read this quote from Woody Allen and he was referring to the way Europeans have embraced cinema compared to Americans where in America you’re only as good as your last thing is the way that they’ll look at you, whereas in Europe you’re only as good as your best thing. So, if the best thing you did was 20 years ago they’ll still treat you like that’s where you’re at. It seems like that’s just a different thought process. Americans are more like, ‘What’s new? What’s the next thing?’ Out with the old, in with the new perhaps. Over there you just feel that in the festivals and the shows are just bigger. Everything about the movie is a little bigger, a little more intense, and a little fanatical.
AP: You grew up a (Boston) Bruins fan, and are now doing a movie on the Flyers.
Rob Zombie: Someone just came to me who had the rights to the story and didn’t know I was a hockey fan. He had seen “The Devil’s Rejects” and for once, someone could look past the subject and just at the film. He said: “This movie feels like it was made in that time period. This movie has the spirit of what I can see a ‘70s hockey movie.” And that’s how it happened.
AP: So you want to be known as more than a horror director?
Rob Zombie: This reporter called me up one time and said: “These new horror directors, we’re going to call them the ‘splat pack,’ we want to talk to you about that.” I said I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I didn’t get into directing to be part of some club with a weird name you made up.
AP: There’s apparently much more to you than meets the eye. Music, horror movies, now a sports history flick. Do you have any plans to do a Broadway musical?
Rob Zombie: I’ve had this idea for a while...at one point I started making a few moves to get it going. I really thought my first film “House of 1000 Corpses” could work as like a Broadway musical because I feel like it has those elements of ridiculousness that could translate to the stage of somewhere between “Hairspray” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” on stage because it’s just the characters are that ridiculous, the scenarios are that ridiculous, it just feels like that. As things change... I look at Broadway the way I do Las Vegas and I used to go to Las Vegas and it always said Sammy Davis Jr. on the marquee and now it says Motley Crue just like you come to Broadway and you used to always see “Annie Get Your Gun” and now it says “Spider-Man,” it’s like the crowds just change and I feel like soon, maybe in 10 years or 20 years, there will be a group of people that now are bringing their kids to Broadway like “Oh, ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ musical. Let’s go see that.” It sounds ridiculous, but I feel that it could happen.”
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