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B-SIDE, April/May 1989

DANZIG Dark Arts
By Amy Beth Yates

   It all started with the Misfits. Who would have thought it would come this 
far? The Misfits were a trio from Lodi, NJ, formed in the '70's. They were the 
first to successfully mix horror movie imagery with punk music, a new terrain 
back in those days. The band certainly was popular when they were around, but 
now they have become legendary since their demise in 1984. When the Misfits 
broke up, leader Glenn Danzig went on to form Samhain, another band that 
collected a large devoted following, this entity departing from the living 
in 1986. Now, Glenn is back paving the way into man's inner workings with the 
simply named Danzig.
   "With the new record, people are more receptive. They know more of what 
I'm doing now," describes Glenn. "It's not sitting still. In other words, the 
Misfits were fine, then came Samhain and now Danzig. People are starting to 
understand that you can't live in the past. There are a lot of bands that 
just live off what they did. I guess that's fine, but then you become such an 
oldies band. The trick is to do something new that people will like. And it 
should challenge you as an artist. If it doesn't, you should do something 
   And judging from the history of Glenn Danzig, he's into challenging, be it 
with his lyrics or his outlook on man. The new Danzig record bears the 
distinctive mark of it's producer, Rick Rubin, the head of Def Jam records 
and producer of the Beastie Boys, and the Cult. It seems that Rick is more 
into working with veterans of the scene now, after propelling the fledgling 
Beasties into the world.
   "Rick came down to the New Music Seminar show we did and he wanted to 
sign us. And at the time we were talking to Elektra, Epic, Profile...his was 
just the best label for us to go with. He's president of his own label and 
he's the best as far as artist commitment. I didn't know who he was when he 
came down!" Glenn recalls. "The Beastie Boys album wasn't out yet. As a matter 
of fact, at one of the meetings I had with him, he played me the record 
(Licence to Ill). And he had just finished up the Slayer Reign In Blood 
record. When we got involved with Rick it was easily two years ago."
   Like many other artists, Glenn is running into a little legal problem with 
his past. Is it a coincidence that the release of Danzig and the re-release of 
Walk Among Us, a long out-of-print Misfits album, coincide?
   Glenn declares, "No. Slash Records planned it that way. And they're scum. 
We've tried suing them and everything. It's ridiculous. They say they never 
lost the rights (to Walk Among Us). My lawyer was like "That's bullshit! I've 
got the contract right here!" So basically what happened was we got WEA to 
stop funding the record. But Slash doesn't care-they're still putting it out 
with their own money. They say all they owe me is money, that's it. That they 
still have the rights, which is a load of shit. I just have to decide whether 
I want to pursue it and take them to court."
   What about the high price Walk Among Us was fetching before its re-release. 
Glenn doesn't have much sympathy for such, feeling, "That's kind of silly. I 
think a lot of stores saw a chance to make big bucks. And a lot of stupid 
people spent the money on it."
   And after the Misfits called it quits in '84, Glenn went on to form 
Samhain, a group that produced two albums and one EP. Glenn started Samhain 
(the pagan name for Halloween) with Eerie Von Stehlman, the only musician to 
follow him through to Danzig, he having been both bassist and drummer for 
others in his career.
   "Eerie was a friend, he was the photographer for the Misfits," notes 
Glenn. "We used to hang around together. As a matter of fact, the last two or 
three years of the Misfits I didn't hang around with those guys (Jerry and 
Doyle) at all. We just had nothing in common...Eerie and I would go to shows 
a lot. So that's how Samhain formed. And also we had a lot in common. 
Originally we were going to call Samhain Danzig, but we felt it was a little 
too Billy Idol-ish at the time. But me and Eerie talked, and we got Chuck 
(Biscuits, ex D.O.A., Black Flag, Circle Jerks) and John (Christ) in the band 
and it wasn't really Samhain anymore. I have a thing about how a band isn't
really a band after so many personnel changes."
   Glenn's lyrics were always a distinctive part of his music, delving into 
the darker side of the human animal. He once stated that his lyrics are 
mostly about killing and the end of the world...are they still?
   "Yeah. The lyrics on this album are like that. I'm trying to delve into 
other stuff a little more - like sexuality," he claims. "I write the songs 
like it's always been. I bring them down, we rehearse them and work them out. 
But I've always had this thing with the Misfits and Samhain. You have to 
write something as good or better than I'm going to write, (in order for the 
band to perform it.) To be dedicated to songwriting, you don't just pick up 
a guitar and write a song, and bring it to rehearsal. That's nuts. It's a 
craft, it takes a while to learn how to do it. I've said it a zillion times
and I'll say it again...for every song that makes it to rehearsal, I write 
10 or 15 that go into the garbage. It's dedication. And then people sit down 
and say "Am I that dedicated and objective that I can say something I wrote 
sucks?" I can do that," he asserts and who is going to question that?
   Glenn and his band just wrapped up a tour, and although Glenn doesn't like 
touring England, he still managed to enjoy himself and create some havoc when 
teamed with another band of bad-assed veterans. (And he does look like he 
could wreck some serious havoc!) "We did three weeks in England with 
Metallica, which was fun. We got into a lot of trouble," he laughs.  "Because 
you put us and Metallica together and you have a lot of trouble. We did your 
typical stupid shit. A long time ago I could drink almost anyone under the 
table, and then I just said "Fuck it." Nothing, no alcohol or anything. But we 
got around these guys and just start drinking and forget about it. We tipped a 
luxury Fiat over. The four of us, me, Eerie, James and a friend. I mean this 
was a nice sporty...we threw it over on its hood, not just its side! We picked 
it up and flung it over. That was a lot of fun," he laughs, adding, "and other 
silly things like that all along the tour."
   Some of which best remain unsaid! So speaking about the shows and touring, 
is Danzig performing any Misfits songs? Glenn answers with slight correction, 
"You mean Glenn Danzig songs? Yeah. We rework them just like we did in 
   So does he find the audience still holding on and asking for Misfits songs? 
Glenn replies, "That hasn't been happening. It filtered down a lot at the end 
of Samhain. I have kids coming up to me and asking "How come you don't do 'He 
Who Cannot Be Named' or 'Arc-Angle?' All these Samhain kids are coming to 
shows and asking why we don't do Samhain songs," he laughs. "Well, this is 
Danzig, you know! But also I've got kids up front singing along to every song 
off the Danzig record. I mean, I forget a line and all I've got to do is look 
at one of those kids to know where I am," he laughs anew. "It's really fun. 
And we're reaching a different audience now too.  And these kids know every 
line, note for note!"
   From The Misfits to Samhain to Danzig. A long career, with much more to 
come from this adaptable walk on the dark side musician. This time, however, 
the group had better remain stable cause picking another name in the future 
may not be so easy!