Metal Maniacs Metallica Special, 5/90 ------------------------------------- DANZIG: A HELLUVA GUY By Marina Zogbi There are few artists of the metallic persuasion who have stirred up as much curiousity and speculation as Glenn Danzig. The shroud of mystery that surrounds the guy is as much a result of his closely guarded personal life and purposely kept low profile as it is his dark and powerful music. Add to this the widely contradictory reports from those who've met or worked with Glenn and we also have a big question mark in the personality department (although this writer has always found him to be personable and generally cool). Whatever murky things you may have heard about Mr. D., one thing emerges crystal clear: his undeniable talent and influence as a musician. Possessed of a powerful, blues-tinged voice and obsessed with things horrific and deathly, Glenn put together his first "serious" band circa 1977: Misfits. A bunch of suburban New Jersey boys, they were a punk band with a difference. Glenn's tunes combined often poignant melodies and catchy choruses with ghoulish subjects, frequently incorporating a bit of wit (see "I Turned Into A Martian" and the mournful "London Dungeon" with its admonishment "Make sure your face is clean now, can't have no dirty dead."). Others, like the early "Bullet" and "Die, Die My Darling" are genuinely sick in lyrical content. It was a really wild combination, this great booming rock n' roll voice belting out songs about corpses and zombies. Quite unlike anything else that was happening at the time, the Misfits garnered a large, loyal following mostly by word of mouth and distribution of several singles, EPs and five official LPs on Glenn's own label, Plan 9. (There are, however, many bootlegs floating around.) First LP MISFITS WALK AMONG US (released 1982) is currently unavailable as there is a lawsuit pending. (An illegal reissue of the record appeared last year; Glenn sued.) but EARTH AD, EVILIVE and LEGACY OF BRUTALITY are still out there as is a very cool 20-track recently issued compilation entitled simply MISFITS. The two best known Misfits tunes are probably "Green Hell" and "Last Caress," lovingly covered by Metallica on GARAGE DAYS RE-REVISITED. Around 1983, Glenn disbanded the Misfits and put together Samhain (which included ex-Rosemary's Baby member/current bassist Eerie Von) moving toward a heavier, more metallic sound. They released one EP "Unholy Passion" and two LPs, INITIUM and NOVEMBER COMING FIRE before disbanding in 1986. At this point, Glenn "wanted to do different, more serious, better songs." Not content this time with local talent, he recruited guitarist John Christ from Maryland and celebrated ex-Circle Jerks, D.O.A. & Black Flag drummer Chuck Biscuits to join him and Eerie for what would be his most accomplished project yet: Danzig, the band. Mega-producer Rick Rubin who'd been interested in Glenn since Samhain days, signed them to his newly formed Def American label. Around this time, Glenn contributed his talents to another Rubin record, the soundtrack for LESS THAN ZERO. On it, the late Roy Orbison sings the Glenn-penned "Life Fades Away" (a big thrill for the longtime Orbison fan) and Glenn himself sings the title track. DANZIG, the record, was released in late summer of 1988 to much critical and popular acclaim. In turn sinister and harsh, haunting and beautiful, it stands as one of the most outstanding LPs released in the '80s. Danzig live became the show to catch, the band often playing with a brutal intensity that left audiences feeling breathless and shattered. By the time you read this, a longform home video should be out containing the controversial (uncensored) clips for "Mother" and "She Rides" along with "Am I Demon" and "Twist Of Cain," plus backstage tour footage and an interview with Glenn. Next up, a second Danzig LP tentatively titled 777 due for release in spring or summer of 1990. (The title track received enormous crowd response when performed live last summer). In addition, Glenn is also planning to produce an LP for St. Louis band King Horse, who opened for Danzig on a couple of midwestern dates last tour. Glenn's not a big fan of many current bands, so it should be interesting to hear the one outfit he chose to work with, newly signed to Caroline Records (who happen also to distribute Misfits and Samhain vinyl.) And that, dear readers, is the dirt on Danzig.