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RIP, 7/90


DANZIG Into The Black
 by Steffan Chirazi

     In a large black-leather chair under exquisite wooden beams, with a
black cat wandering around and two more identical Russian blue cats sitting
quietly, Glenn Danzig is poised in front of my tape machine with far, far
less contempt than some say he has for such things.  If truth be told, I
really think Danzig enjoys the odd interview here and there, although the
condition for such a reaction is simple: don't ask stupid questions.  In a
circle where the plastic smile and the gooey handshake prevail with ferocious
hypocrisy, I personally find it a pleasure to deal with someone who would
obviously rather show me the door quickly than grease me with biz talk.
Glenn Danzig never did have any time for the shyster end of affairs, and
those feelings haven't changed.
     The new Danzig album that we are to discuss has no title yet, but there
are five finished songs, with five more probably mixed as these keys hit the
paper.  Some of the titles are pure, thick, utter and chunky Danzig: "777",
"Snakes of Christ", "Her Black Wings", "The Other Side", "Killer Wolf" - just
what the Druids ordered.  I won't get into them too much, as you can probably
buy the album right after reading this.  Suffice to say it's a fatter,
thicker and harder sound than the excellent Danzig debut.  Guitar fans will
not be denied some particularly obese Christ tones, whilst Danzig's voice
sways, swaggers and croons with its usual stamp of quality.
     There is also a home video out under the title Danzig, which is 45
minutes of complete and unashamed Danzigness sure to please all his fans.
But it is the album that raises the first question, and I wonder if Glenn
feels this to be a more logical progression from the Samhain days than the
last album, which, in context, appeared to take a slight step back from that
line.  "Well, I think the last record, compared to the last Samhain record,
is basically what we would've done anyway.  This is more Danzig.  The last
album had more of me in it, and while I write the lyrics and the songs, this
one had more of a band stamp on it.  Like when you see the band live, this is
much more of that kind of energy and power.  Everybody's much more
comfortable with each other now.  We've toured with each other, hung with
each other.  The rhythm section is much tighter.  It's just a much better
band, and that comes through on the album."
     I suggest to Glenn that maybe a piece of old fiction in particular might
have helped him garner the thick and almost Saxonian (as in historical, not
band) tones.
     "The album is very bluesy.  It's bluesy not in the sense that it plods
along, but I wouldn't say this is a happy album!  So anyone who's looking for
a pop album isn't gonna find it here, okay.  I would say it's a step back
only in as much as it's a step back to putting out a traditionally good
album as opposed to a trendy, forgotten-about-soon, disposable album.
This is a real record by a real band, and it just isn't about being crap.
And I suppose there are people who'd love to hear another Misfits or Samhain
album, but they're just not going to!  Just seeing the people who came to our
shows last year, it was people who really liked good records as opposed to
trendy bands.  I suppose, if we do get popular enough, those trendy people
will be coming to our shows, and I won't say that's a bad thing; I'll just
say that maybe I can turn their heads around about music, you never know."
     Those are the people who help you become a commercial success.
     "But I don't see things like that.  If I can turn a few heads around
with the music, then that's what I aim to do.  We don't make money now,
whatever anyone says about us selling out or this or that.  They don't know
what there talking about.  They don't know anything about the music industry
- the business side and the playing side and the rehearsals and the photo
sessions - they don't know any of that, so they're talking out of their ass.
The whole thing of it is, I do what I wanna do and nobody tells me what to
do.  That's it!"
     Glenn's lyrics paint some pretty strong pictures, and I wonder just what
the main motivation is.
     "Everything.  I'm trying to first satisfy my needs as a songwriter.  It
also has to satisfy the guys in the band.  It has to get the audience off in
some way.  The music and the lyrics should always complement each other."
     What about people who don't listen to the lyrics?
     "It doesn't matter to me.  That's they're initiative; they can do what
they want.  If they buy our record, and the overall vibe gives them what they
want, then I've done what I set out to do.  If they don't listen or read the
lyrics, them I wouldn't say they're missing it all, they're getting it one
level only."
     Did Glenn enjoy a better standard of interview last year, or was he
still inundated with people trying to turn him into this horror shlockfest
at the time?
     "Things didn't really change that much," he sighs resignedly. "The
people that did wanna talk about the darker horror aspects of it and make it
like, 'Whooo, this is Glenn, he's evil,' yeah, they still did that, but I
don't really care.  Obviously they'll never be able to paint me in a really
pleasing light, but overall things haven't changed on that front."
     Of course questions veer towards video, now that Glenn has joined the
video-damned of MTV.
     "Three videos banned by MTV. 'Am I Demon' was never even serviced to
MTV, because I have a girl humping a demon on a cross - so forget that.
'Mother' was censored to hell, and then there's 'She Rides,' which is
probably the tamest of the videos.  I mean, if they'll play all these other
videos by Aerosmith and others, which are ten times worse than the 'She
Rides' video, then it just says to me that we're doing something that they
don't want people to see.  We're doing something that's not disposable rock
music - especially visual.  They'd rather paint us as great corrupters."
     Is there, at this stage, that you show things, like sex, on MTV?
     "No, I don't think that has anything to do with it.  It's a simple case
of, 'Are they selling a lot of records?  No?  Okay, well don't take a chance
with it.  Is it selling?  Yes.  Will other people play it if we don't?  Yes.
So play it."
     Is MTV intelligent enough to cop the attitude and vibe of something more
than it's content, or is it just down to how much T&A or violence there is
     I've seen Aerosmith videos where there's people looking like they're
screwing.  In Madonna videos people have got stabbed, murdered.  I mean, to
have a Catholic deity come to life, kiss Madonna, roll her onto a pew and
basically look like he's screwing her; then she has stigmata on her hands,
and there's crosses burning like the Klu Klux Klan.  But of course the
'Mother' video or the 'She Rides' video are worse than that.  It has nothing
to do with any shit other than record sales.  They can't afford not to play
Aerosmith or Madonna videos, and they can afford not to play mine.  I asked
a while back to talk to one of the MTV censors to find out what offends them
in my videos that is not in these videos, but of course the aren't going to
talk to me.  I hope that one day we can circumvent MTV.  It's getting cheaper
to buy videos.  Our home video will be reasonably priced, and I think it's
viable, that in the near future, TV could be bypassed.  That's the whole
thing about doing what you wanna do - nothing should get in your way.  If it
does, you go around it when you come up against it."
     I turn the conversation around to the Danzig bookshelves (featured in
the home video) and ask him which of the numerous titles has proven to be the
most constantly inspirational.
     "They all have.  And that's only a fragment of the whole deal.  Just
look at all those titles, and you'll know exactly what's goin' on.  On the
video I hold up a book at the end that is called The Occult Roots of Nazism.
Many people probably don't know that Hitler was using occult advisors when he
was winning the war.  A lot of people find that hard to understand.  It's a
fact of knowledge, whatever it is, is usable, and so most people would rather
not know anything.
     "It's frustrating being in an industry where there are people who are
interminably stupid and dumb.  They don't know how they got their job or what
they're doing.  They just go through the paces.  I had an argument with one
person at a record company, and I said, 'Aren't you concerned?' 'That's not
my job.  My job is just to do this, and that's what I do.'  I was like,
'Don't you wanna make your company better or help run it better or something?
Doesn't it make you think, Gee, whatever I do on my end, that problem's
always gonna be there, unless it's solved, all the work I do is gonna end up
down the drain?'  They didn't care.  They just 'did their job'.  That's very
frustrating, because you know that they're only there for the paycheck and to
hang out with rock stars.  I mean, there are some very cool people at Geffen
- there really are - and then there are the 'Oh, yeah.  I saw David
[Coverdale] yesterday.  He's fine,' or, 'Joe came in.  He's cool.'  I mean
Rick's [Rubin] right on the money all the way through, y'know?
     I wondered if in the years he's been involved in the industry - from the
early days and Plan9 Records right up to now - has Glenn Danzig ever been
totally disillusioned by the music business, or has he been able to insulate
himself from it?
     "First of all, you have to decide weather you want to do it, because
this is the way it is, and it ain't never gonna change--at least not in the
foreseeable future.  So what you do is, you work with cool people such as
Rick and just do the best you can.  You learn very quickly or you die.  You
keep on getting screwed over.  It's survival of the fittest."
     After years of keeping fit, Glenn Danzig has maintained and surpassed
with his latest vinyl.  Must be down to training.