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RIP   July 1989 (pg. 35-39)

DANZIG Tales From The Darkside
By John Sutherland

   The music is heavy, ethereal, commanding and, best of all,
timeless. What the band Danzig, and
even more specifically, Glenn Danzig, offer on their successful
self-titled album could easily be a
statement from the '60s or '70s. The fact that it arrived at the
end of 1988 and is carrying on well
into 1989 is purely an identifying mark on the calendar.
   With a cult following generated from both the Misfits and
Samhain - both hearty staples in a
different setting - Glenn Danzig now more comfortable doing what
he feels is undeniably his
calling. In many ways he creates a mysterious persona. Glenn's
lyrics are short profound lines that
he works hard vocally, and they offer plenty to discern. His
conversational tone is very similar to
his lyrical style unless it happens that you tap into a nerve or
mention a subject he is particularly
focused on.
   The assignment this time was to find out what Glenn Danzig is
all about, to get inside his head
as much as possible. Without a psychologist's couch, and talking
over AT&T lines to a hotel room
in Detriot, we had to make do.
   Mr. Danzig was surprisingly cooperative during this
conversation, responding usually with a
quick, short answer and often leading the discussion into areas
that at first seem inconceivable. A
lot has been made of the band's Metallica connection, and Glenn
handled that one first. "I
remember being at a CMJ convention a few years ago, and a friend
of mine told me that a couple
of guys wanted to meet me. It was right after Metallica had
toured with Venom, before Ride the
Lightning came out. James and Cliff came by to talk. Now I get
together with the guys whenever
they are in town. Kirk writes me letters once in a while."
   The connection goes a little farther than that, as many
magazines have captured James Hetfield
wearing Samhain or Misfits T-shirts in performance. Ever since
Metallica covered "Last
Caress/Green Hell" on their Garage Days EP, even more attention
has been focused on Glenn
Danzig - hardly a curse as more and more bands try to break out
in an already crowded
marketplace. "I like the way James writes," Glenn admitted. "His
lyrics aren't about stupid stuff.
He never writes shit like, 'I wanna rock and roll all night and
party every day.'" When confronted
with the statement that the music by Danzig and Metallica could
hardly be more different, Glenn's
response was filled with a little chuckle. "That's funny, James
thinks our stuff is the same." When
told that Metallica had been playing "Mother" in soundcheck on
their tour, he answered by saying,
"That's cool." It was also too great a temptation to relay a
quote attributed to Kirk Hammett,
during the Monsters of Rock tour last year. According to Kirk,
Metallica had reservations about
covering the Danzig songs from the EP live, thinking that the
audience might not be into it. When
"Last Caress/Green Hell" went down killer day after day, it
forced James to blurt out as he walked
off stage, "Damn, I wish I wrote that song!" to laughs from the
other Metallimen.
   With most of the compliments and clever stories out of the
way, it was time to dig at the Danzig
persona. To many, his musical tone and lyrical style seem very
dark and brooding "Not at all," he
said "I don't see the stories I tell or the themes I sing about
as dark at all. To me it's just what the
world is all about. It's reality. People who see it as dark are
just fools anyways, because you can't
have life without death. Without bad there is no good. The
opposites have to exist, and you might
as well accept the world the way it is, because you can't control
the way it was set up."
   These are strong words from someone with a unique vision, who
may have been typecast too
quickly by journalists who only see the shaded side of his
reality. "I'm not as fascinated by Gaelic
and Celtic cultures as people think I am," Glenn reiterated. "I
studied it [he also chose the name
Samhain for his band, which is a Celtic holiday for the dead
generally celebrated on November 1st
that was basically stolen as a holiday by the Christians and is
remarkably similar to what is now
Halloween], but I am also interested in many other things as
well. I've read about different
religions and how they are interpreted. In some Eastern religions
whatever you do will come back
threefold, and if you don't fear what is bad, you will be
condemned to return over and over again
before you reach salvation. I find subjects like that
interesting, as well as the missing chapters that
were taken from the Bible in the early days that would cast a
completely different light on
Christianity if people were exposed to them today." Those same
chapters, which tell of Chist's
adventures, weren't as pure as the edited manuscripts that
finally became the Bible as it is
accepted now. They also indicate how history can be twisted to
adhere to certain views that
historians feel compelled to control. The final verse of "Twist
of Cain" challenges this storytelling
technique by showing what many feel is both sides of the same
   Glenn came to these realizations through a personal search and
education that continued beyond
the mandatory public schools "I read a lot. My taste varies from
true crime, to martyrs, psychics,
telekinetic stuff, true history, to comic books." Comic books?
"Yeah," he said, laughing slightly.
"I like Animal Man, Batman - the concept behind it - Big Daddy
Roth stuff. I also love TV. I
know a lot of people don't like TV, but it gives you the world at
your fingertips, even if it is
misused a bit."
   It's easy to interpret Glenn Danzig as a complicated man
twirling his spoon in a big pot that is
spinning the other way. He may also be just as simple and direct
as many think he is mischievous.
A talented artist, he conceived the album designs for his past
bands. A cunning songwriter, he
wrote most of the songs you hear on the albums he's been involved
in and played much of the
guitars until he found this righteous band in time for the Def
American release. When asked if he
had to swing any deals to get the musicians he needed, he simply
said. "Nope. I didn't have to
steal anybody from another band. They were all available and
ready to work." This same brutal
honesty also leads to many of the reasons why Glenn Danzig is at
the level he is. "It took me a
long time to get this together," he said.
   He also welcomed the help of producer Rick Rubin, who got his
two cents in. I'd say Rick had
about 25% input on the record," Glenn admitted. "We listened to
what he had to say, and if we
didn't like it, we didn't use it. But then anything he offered
that we liked, we used." It may be
more than casual curiosity to wonder why Mr. Rubin was so
interested in getting involved with
Danzig. First he took the time to pursue Slayer, the hardest and
most demonic metal concoction
available at the time. Later he took a fancy to the Cult,
previously known as the Southern Death
Cult. Now he is working with Masters of Reality, and soon with
Trouble. A very interesting metal
roster, to say the very least, and one that Danzig fits on very
   There is more to the Rubin connection and story which came out
when Glenn took the time to
divulge some studio details. "We over-recorded," he confessed. "I
recorded one song that is an
acoustic song. I'm not really playing; I'm banging on the guitar
and singing along in a voodoo juju
kind of way. Rick has it in the can. He can release it if he
wants too. There are also a couple more
songs sitting there that we didn't put out. I write a lot of
songs, and I throw away a lot of songs."
   More mystery is added to the equation, as any serious Danzig
fan would have to wonder what
Glenn would sound like entertaining voodoo land with only a
guitar that he may not play
properly. It all adds to the legend that is building. Glenn
Danzig casts shadow and light from a
perspective that is unique and interesting, but also very
occultish. Unlike many who would or
could be labeled easily, it is not a shallow dig to find out
where his head is really at. Sometimes he
says things that are seemingly universal, and other times he says
things that cut across the
accepted standards and are blatantly blasphemous. "I really don't
pay much attention to what is
going on," Glenn says. "Unless I hear something I like, I won't
listen to much." Many musicians
practice the same philosophy, absorbing all they can while
learning, then not paying much
attention as they become creative. Danzig searches for
interesting and seemingly obscure topics in
literature to research. "I'll admit I am interested in a lot of
things that people don't know about."
   Is this any attitude for a band that has to conquer other
markets? With a million amps in the
bedrooms of America and bands sprouting up in every garage,
dreaming of world domination,
Glenn Danzig sees his mission as a real domestic affair. "As long
as we sell records, I'm happy,"
he said. "Most bands sell a lot of records, and it's quite the
opposite of what they expect. The
more records you sell, the more pressure on you to do better.
I've slugged it out in clubs for
years. I could do it some more, but I'd probably get tired of
   Will Danzig make their mark in the trendy land of England,
where gossipy tabloids suck you up
and spit you out at their leisure? "No, I hate England," he said,
revealing an experience he
obviously regrets. "I went there with Metallica, and the only
reason I did was because I thought if
we could go over with someone we liked, we'd have a blast.
England and Europe are like
third-world countries to me. I hated the people and the food.
Food is supposed to taste like
something, not like cardboard.
   "I like overcast days. England has plenty of those, but I have
no desire to go there again. It
doesn't matter if we are big there and successful enough, I don't
want to go to England." This may
seem like a strong statement, perhaps too strong in this metal
marketing community that has been
pulled tight like a drawstring on a pair of sweatpants. Glenn
Danzig doesn't shop at the store that
sells those garments. He prefers to experiment at his own pace in
life, drawing on knowledge
gained early in his lifetime. "Kids have to experiment with
life," he said adamantly. "If people try
to keep them away from doing things, they will never learn.
Nobody can learn for you. A little
guidance is cool, but telling people what to do is not cool. I'm
sure our parents didn't like to be
told what to do, so why should we like it? Being rebellious is
what being a kid is all about. It's
funny, because they don't want kids to go crazy, but they want us
to buy crazy things."
   There's a lot to be said about Glenn Danzig's brutal logic and
evaluations. There's probably even
more to think about. "I wanted to make a record that would sound
great to people ten years from
now. I think we've achieved that," Glenn said. We should
challenge him to his own test and whip
out the CD in ten years time and see if "Mother," "Twist of Cain"
or "She Rides" makes as much
sense then as it does today. Methinks it will. Meet you in the
next decade, and don't be late!

Also from Rip, 7/89

The Video They Didn't Want You To See!
By Del James

   The First Amendment, out guaranteed right to freedom of
speech, is often tested by standards
and censors. Those who decide what is viewed, read and listened
to are a minority affecting the
majority. Our land's forefathers spilled blood to get us this
privilege. We have to exercise our right
to use it. It's frightening when the Ayatollah Khomeini decides
that he doesn't like a fictional book
and places a bounty on Salman Rushdie's, the author's, head.
What's even more disturbing is that
we as Americans did nothing about it.
   On a much lighter note, Danzig's "Mother" video raises several
questions about the issue of
censorship. Was enough tact used by the artist, or did MTV - who
refused to run the video until
the sequences they found risque were removed - violate Danzig's
right to express themselves?
MTV mainly objected to a mock satanic ritual where a chicken
appears to be ripped in half by
Danzig frontman Glenn Danzig. spilling blood onto an eager
female. Perhaps MTV's position of
social protection is a valid one. Perhaps not.
   "As far as I'm concerned, this is a pretty tame video," says
Glenn Danzig. "It was done in black
and white. Maybe that freaked 'em out. It was done like the
classic German horrors of the '20s
and '30s, like Nosferatu. Our video for 'Mother' portrays
something in a manner that MTV found
upsetting. The song is actually about teen rebellion, and
thinking and finding things out for
yourself. When Ozzy or Motley Crue do a video, you can tell
they're not really serious. When
Danzig does a video, it makes you wonder. MTV told us that they
didn't want to deal with the
hassle. That's their position, you know, after the Geraldo thing
and whatever. So it was either edit
what they didn't like or not have it aired."
   The Satanic sequences were rather amusing, if a bit cheesy. In
my humble opinion, the video
was neither too disturbing nor too grotesque, but then again, I
rubberneck at car accidents and
thought Clive Barker's Hellraiser a fine piece of cinematic
macabre. So what does that say about
my, or anybody else's, for that matter, opinion? Absolutely
nothing. If you want to experience
something really upsetting that shows the world at its lowest and
most inhumane, you can freely
tune in at 6:00 and 11:00 to the nightly news. What is more
disturbing than any "risky" rock video
is that some unseen force has the right to dictate whether or not
we ever get a chance to make
decisions for ourselves.