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RIP, 9/92

DANZIG Back in Black by Steffan Chirazi p.54-56

     Sorry we're late; we got lost," says Glenn Danzig with a deliciously
malevolent grin--the same grin that would greet a joke or precede the
cracking of someone's skull.  But today nobody's uptight, and nobody's
frowning.  Clouds of thick, black skies did not follow Danzig into the Culver
City studio, only smiles and a beam of sunshine.  It's quite an entrance for
those who thought Danzig couldn't find light or laughter in a day.
     He's got good reason to be cheerful.  Danzig 3: How the Gods Kill is the
third in what is turning out to be a series of albums dedicated to walking
the path of taut, sweaty, sexy rock.  Special emphasis on sexy, because this
time Danzig has made an album hard enough for the lads to stomp and crash
heads to, yet steamy enough to raise hormone levels in rockers of either
gender; and nowhere is this more apparent than on "Dirty Black Summer," the
first single and video.  There's also a touch more exploration of the band's
roots and influences, with Glenn showing a Morrison-esque side ("I don't see
it like that, but my video director, Anton, says the same thing," laughs
Glenn) and paying homage to a certain '50s crooners.  And as for the rest of
the group now, as opposed to Glenn plus three slightly uncomfortable other
     Everything is right, right down to the cover art: The band managed to
get permission from famous surrealist H.R. Giger to use his painting "Meister
und Margerthia," complete with a Danzig dagger incorporated into the work.
We grab a side room to conduct the interview in, and I start out by choosing
songs and guessing there meanings.  "Godless seems to be a very direct
rebuttal of all the religious affairs," I say.
     "No, not at all," Glenn laughs, enjoying my misdefinition.  "My dad is
Protestant, and my mom is Catholic.  I went to a Protestant church, so there
was very little restriction.  If I'd been to a Catholic church, it would've
been a different story; but I never had any exposure to the Catholic church.
My friend and I were pretty much the only Protestant kids in the
neighborhood.  The rest were Catholic, and those kids were pretty repressed.
They had a lot of restrictions on what they could do.  Right now I feel that
the religious climate in this country is too intertwined with politics.  I
think a lot of people feel that way.  It seems like the religious right, or
whatever is in power, can force their own ideas down everybody's throat.
While I don't agree with everyone's religious persuasion, I think people
should be allowed to express themselves as they will.  The people responsible
for forcing this stuff don't go all over the country and meet people.  I do.
I go on tour, and I talk to people.  I hear people talking.  I think they're
underselling the country."
     What do the people Glenn talks to say?
     "They complain about how certain communities have religious factions
that organize record burnings.  They complain about the whole censorship
issue, and about how there communities want them to be little white-bread
kids.  Then they all get pressure from their parents, who don't remember what
they did as kids--that whole fucked-up thing.  Maybe it's just history
repeating itself with the rebellion and everything, but I think it's a little
more dangerous than that.  I don't like what organized religion has done to
Christianity.  It was never a lily-white, clean religion to begin with.  A
holy war's a holy war.  People died for a man who preached a passive way of
life.  I don't think they're keeping alive the memory of Christ.  I don't
think he would like people to be that way.  It doesn't matter to them though.
It's all about THEIR cause and what THEY want.  Religion shouldn't be a
reason for fighting and killing everybody.  Personal freedom, I could
understand if it had to come down to fighting for that; but not when you say,
'You're gonna believe what I tell you to believe, and unless you do it my
way, you're in big trouble.'"
     Does this climate of intolerance frighten Glenn?
     "No, because I'll lay my life down if I have to," he states
unequivocally.  "If it came down to my life or their life, and they're trying
to take mine away from me, they're dead.  I wouldn't even think twice about
     That might not be so easy.  A lot of places are turning into veritable
police states these days.
     Well, I think we pretty much have a police state in Los Angeles [this
interview was conducted before the April riots].  The gangs pretty much have
free rein here, and I guess that means the police must be in league them
somehow.  When you try to tell people who don't deal with it what it's like,
they don't get it.  This whole Rodney King thing [the black motorist beaten
by L.A. cops after he led them on a freeway chase] regardless of whether he
was committing a crime of not, I think they should have taken him into
custody.  No one knew what this guy was doing, and the whole situation was
clearly way out of hand about something totally different.
     "To me, the police are an outmoded idea in this country.  They are not
there when you are being attacked.  They are not there when the aggression is
being acted out on you, and so their presence is not a deterrent anymore.  If
a drug cartel or whoever wants to waste somebody, they'll waste somebody;
they don't care about police retaliation.  Why should they?  They probably
have more than the police!  It's a joke.  The police department is a joke.
Why should I pay taxes for someone who's not even gonna be there when I need
them?  I'll buy myself a gun and carry it around with me.  If someone screws
with me, I'll blow their head off.  Done!  Taken care of!  I don't have to
call a cop who says, 'Can I take your name?  We can't come right now.'  I
have to wait while someone's trying to get into my house and maybe kill me?
I'm gonna dust those people myself.  And then I'm the one who will be getting
into trouble!  Look at it: someone's illegally entered you property - broken
into your house - and if you hurt this person, they can turn around and sue
you.  Where's that bullshit from?  You're supposed to wait until you or
someone you know has been harmed - because they're obviously up to no good if
they broke into you house - and then call the police?  That's bullshit!  I'll
take my chances.  As my [martial arts] teacher said, 'Better to be judged by
12 than carried by six.'  Which is true, because at least then you have a
chance to defend yourself; whereas if you take their way, you're dead!"
     Does all this mean that Glenn Danzig, an avowed appreciator of urban
life, could be contemplating a more to the country?
     "The only problem I have with big-city life is the police.  I know I can
defend myself.  Not everyone who owns a gun is crazy and will shoot people,
which is another thing the government would like you to believe, as they want
to see all handguns out of private citizens' hands.  They don't want a mass
population with guns organizing an uprising.  While there are clearly people
who shouldn't have guns, clearly some people should.  Just because some
maniac goes into McDonald's and shoots 20 people doesn't mean that everybody
with a gun will, or else the millions of people who do have guns would be in
McDonald's shooting each other, and we'd have nobody left!  The person who is
crazy and goes on a killing spree is gonna do it anyway.  They'll get a gun
from anywhere they have to and shoot people.  If people want guns badly
enough, they'll get them regardless of the law, because money buys
everything.  If you want something in this country, and you have the money,
you can buy it."
     Okay, anyway, back to the record.  The song "Anything" sounds to me like
what "evil" would say to people if "evil" could speak.
     "Why do you say 'evil'?"  Glenn demands.  "Everybody always wants to get
ahead in life; some people do it one way, other people do it another way.
'Anything' means basically what it says.  The way you take it is the way you
see it; so for you it's about 'evil' talking.  I like hearing different
interpretations of the song.  It's like seeing inside your head.  That song
could be about--and this is just one senario--someone who's frustrated with
one way of life they've been trying and not getting anywhere with, so they
try another way of life.  'Let me try and fulfill a promise that someone else
made to you'--that could be anything you want it to be.  It could be evil.
It might not be.  That you see it a evil tells me where you are at."
     Alright.  "Bodies" seems to be about a godlike figure who's gone off the
rails and is trying to get people on its side.
     "Once again, it's a song that could mean many different things.  It
could be a religious thing or a Jeffrey Dahmer-type thing...."
     But when Glenn wrote it, what did it mean to him?
     Both things, really.  I like to make my songs very simple and straight
to the point.  I don't like to use gender in my songs unless absolutely
necessary.  This way a girl or a guy can get from the song what they want out
of it--unless I'm singing to a girl, in which case the gender obviously
becomes necessary.  So 'Bodies' is basically about everything, many things,
whatever you want to get from it, but those two earlier thoughts are what
started me off."
     Let's try another.  "How the Gods Kill"  seems to concern a search for
power and immortality, and how such things can become attainable.
     "Okay, basically this one was a search for knowledge and an
understanding of oneself.  Once again you've given the song your own
identity, which is how it should be.  Very few people understand that I do
these songs so that they will take on a personal feeling for people.  That's
why the videos are hard to do, because I don't want to give people the story.
When I direct the videos, I think they come across the same way the songs do-
people can make of them what they want.  When another director does a video,
it becomes what they see of the song."
     So the songs begin with a basic scenario and then.......
     "Yes, a basic scenario, very simple lyrically.  There's kind of a
direction there for people to follow, but ultimately the song is for people
to relate to as they will."
     It must be said that for every Danzig fan who spends hours trying to
decipher the lyrics' hidden meanings, there is another person who finds them
ridiculous and overblown.
     "In simplicity there are complexes," Glenn says.  "That's what this
comes down to.  Anything that is very simple will always have a certain
complexity attached to it, if only because people think, 'Well, it can't be
that simple.  There's gotta be more to it than that.'  That's what it is with
my lyrics.  Sometimes they are simple, but everybody looks for the other
thing.  It may not be the other thing; it may be exactly what's there.
     Our verbal wrestling match at an end, I retreat to my car with a
spinning head.  Straight answers may not be Glenn's forte, but he sure can
talk a good game.  Whatever you think of him, his personality and passion for
what he believes in a are the key to his group's continued success.  He's not
particularly of this earth, and damn proud of it.