SECONDS #8, p.20-21, January 1989 --------------------------------- DANZIG The Jack the Ripper of rock, GLENN DANZIG has used his legendary cult status to create one of the most savage bands to date. BY STEVEN BLUSH When the sun has set, everything turns black. Black as coal, black as night, but not nearly as black as GLENN DANZIG. Mean vocalist extraordinaire, Glenn's been working his lurid horror business for almost a decade now. From his immortal roots with the MISFITS to the "Gothic Elvis" sex-trip of SAMHAIN to the well-defined mean-as-hell sonic barrage of the band DANZIG, this screamin' demon from Lodi, N.J. has long had a bloody axe to grind with his unsuspecting public. Cult icon and punk/metal purveyor, Glenn Danzig's done it all on his own terms, which is supposedly the aspiration of all artists. His self-titled LP on Rick Rubin's Def American label is metal the way it oughta be; loud, mean, heavy and UGLY. His bad boy persona carefully developed and protected over the years, Glenn has never pretended to care for any of the scenes or movements he's seen come and go. Somewhere between Blood Orgy of the Slie Details and High Voltage-era AC/DC. Danzig's never let down his guard. The fact that Glenn's never "done it for the kids" or acted like a regular beer-guzzlin' guy has large part to do with his legend. Some people've called him a bratty, unfriendly, creepy kinda guy, but that's way off base-he's just leary of all those people who suddenly want to know him just because of his happenin' band(s). And with good reason. The cult of Glenn is pretty enormous. But why has this wizard of gore garnered such a manic following? Why are kids insane enough to pay $200 for one of his early releases? "Because we write good songs," replies the modest astro-zombie. "I mean, I write good songs. That's it. A lot of people just aren't able to write a good song-they think anything they write is good. I don't do that. Also, maybe a lot of people are into what I'm writing about." A major reason for Glenn's popularity is the element of strong pop hooks in his ultra-heavy songs. While most heavy bands try to be beat you into submission at speeds well above the speed limit, or conquer you with some sort of half-baked message, Glenn's searing black magic melodies stick in your head like a bad acid trip. He's obviously proud of his impious deed. "Sometimes I go for that but sometimes I don't. I always try to make songs memorable. There's hooks, but they're not like fuckin' Abba or anything." Indeed, it's unfair to compare this metallic Shaman's music to mindless radio drivel. Mr. Danzig is a man committed to his deeply-personal (hellborn) beliefs. His interest in the darker side isn't just some sily stage gimmick derived from comic books. "My interest goes way deeper than that," sneers the twister of Cain. "It's not comic booky at all. Maybe with the Misfits it was a little bit, but not really. I mean, stuff like "Devil's Whorehouse" has absolutely nothing to do with anything you'll see in a comic book. It's not a sick fascination with the darker side either. Most of the things I sing and write about are all true-to-life. A lot of people don't beleive me, but it's true, whether they want to realize it or not. "The demons which possess Glenn Danzig's inner psyche are responsible for his blood-curdling, larger-than-life stage persona. Behind that patented devilock of hair, he's quick to defend his fiendish image. "Image is a strong point of any band," Danzig retorts. "I mean, whatever you wear on stage, that's your image. Metallica comes out wearing t-shirts and jeans, that's their image. How the public perceives you, that's your image. Whether or not you have an outlandish one, that's another story; I don't think we've ever had an outlandish image. A lot of bands don't care, they're like every other band you hear. That's the problem with a lot of hardcore bands, and a lot of metal bands too. They all look like each other, they all sound like each other; there's nothing to differentiate them from each other. So why would you want to see them or collect their records? I want to do something different than that." As deep and wicked as he's thought to be, there must be a lighter and less serious side to Glenn Danzig. Right Glenn? "I guess there is," says the ghoulish one. "But even when I'm fooling around, my sense of humor is pretty sick. I mean, I laugh when someone breaks their nose or breaks their face, that's funny to me. People who are whiny and their lives are hell, I find that real funny." Sam Kinison he isn't, but Glenn's legacy of brutality is well-documented. After things went sour with the Misfits, he put together Samhain, his metal- edged mission for unholy passion. In his own words, Glenn describes what that unique outfit was all about. "It was probably the first real attempt to cross metal and punk. Some people like COC might have tried to do it before, but Sam Hain was based more on darker shit-the lyrics were real important-it was something Eerie and I wanted to do. I just wanted to get away from the lighter stuff... The "Gothic Elvis" tag that doesn't upset me. That's okay. But if someone said that Sam Hain were "Gothic Thrash," that would piss me off." What I've always liked about Glenn and his respective bands is that they look like a bunch of bad seeds, the way a rock band is supposed to be. He strongly identifies with the outlaw element of rock; it seems most bands these days have lost touch with that vile side. "Sure, because that's the way we approach things. I mean, your typical record company band now has puffy hair and faggy clothes. That's not us at all. We don't shy away from trouble. And we're not a college band trying to get attention by being weird eithet." A testament to his legacy is the fact that he's never really followed the trends. While Glenn's received fanatical cult acclaim, he's never pretended to be underground or alternative. His move to the big time is a natural progression and he's never looked back. "See, I never felt that any of my bands were underground," he claims. "If people like what I'm doing now, great, if they don't, fine. In thebeginning, nobody liked the MIsfits, at least no one in the New York scene. Eventually, people began to hear us and like us. With Sarn Hain it took a little while for people to catch on, but not as long as it took for the Misfits." Glenn's worked hard to keep his following intact. But when Metallica covered the Misfits' "Last Caress" and "Green Hell" on their Garage Days LP, everybody in the music business wanted a piece of the Danzig action. Labels flocked to the cult hero, offering loads of sugar-coated deals. But true to his beliefs, Glenn signed with the man who he felt showed real interest in his music while not making any bullshit promises: Rick Rubin. Rick's production expertise combined with his long-term commitment to his acts was exactly what the frontman needed. It seems like he's made the correct decision. There's been extremely high expectations placed on him, his Metallica contact somehow meant to translate into millions of records sales. While the Danzig LP has sold into six-digit figures at press time, a tremendous amount of copies for any debut release, a lot of so-called industry experts are disapointed that he didn't have a gold or platinum album off the bat. In fact, if he'd signed with one of those other labels, he'd probably've been incorrectly marketed and dropped by now. Were the expectations too high? Remember, Misfits records sell for so much money 'cause there was only one or two thousand of each of 'em pressed in the first place. "Well, we'll see," opines the Elvis of metal. "Rick and I approached it as 'Let's just make a great record and work on the band.' When I first talked to Rick, I told him that any band that's worth its weight didn't rnake it on their first record. I mean, it took AC/DC four albums before anyone even knew who they were. When we talked with all the different labels, we decided to go with Rick because of the long-term commitment. We told him that it was gonna take two or three albums before he's gonna see any real amount of sales, and he was cool about it. That's what we were looking for, someone who was into us." Another reason Danzig went with Def American was Rick's willingness to put serious money into recording and production. "Yeah, Rick's great that way. The deal we set was we didn't care about advances, we just wanted as much money as we needed to make a great record. When Eerie and I started Sam Hain, we said that we wanted to have a major recording contract within two years, and establish a strong fan base. And within two years we signed with the best label we could possibiy go with. Rick Rubin was the best deal we could get, he understands exactly what we're doing." With one LP under their belt and a rousing reaction to their recent warmup slots with Slayer and Metallica, the Danzig band is gettin' better every day; tight and defined yet brutal and uncompromising, and taking the world by storm. As a musical unit, Eerie, kingpin punk drummer Chuck Biscuits (ex-DOA, Circle jerks) and newcomer axeman John Christ clearlv comprise Glenn's best line-up to date. While lots of people talk about how great the Misfits were, the factis that they were a pretty sloppy live band. I asked Glenn if he felt that the Misfits lived up to their legacy in retrospect. "On record, sure, but not live. There was a time when the Misfits did live up to their legacy live, but not during the last two years of the band. A lot of people don't realize that. I'm not gonna bad mouth the Misfits; at one time, the Misfits were probably the greatest band around. That we were sloppy live wasn't my fault, which we proved with Sam Hain and Danzig. When we first stared doing Sam Hain, a lot of people I'd worked with in the past said, 'Wow you've got a real band now.' That was the main consensus. There was less bullshit, less cartoony shit and more of the real thing. I mean, it didn't matter how tough or wild I was on stage, I had the two comic book characters beside me, and it just had to end." Does Glen feel that the Misfits became a parody of themselves in the end? By the time of Earth A. D., they were playing faster than most of the bands that worshipped them. "Oh yeah, I didn't like the Earth A.D. record at all. The songs were just plaved too fast. Whereas certain songs like "Earth A.D." were meant to be played fast, others like "Devilock" weren't meant to be like that, and it all ended up sounding like one long song. That's due to the fact that the guys in the band couldn't play. I couldn't get them to slow down. I mean, a lot of people swear by that album--it's like their bible--and I don't like it at all. I prefer other stuff. I want to re-do some of the songs that record like "Bloodfeast," "Queen Wasp," and "DEvilock"--slow 'em down a little and bring the vocals up. Maybe I'll do that soon. So with things definitely on the up-and-up, what should we expect in the future from Glenn and his evil horde? It seems there's little preventing this death-come-ripping outfit's reise to the top of the metal world. "Expect the unexpected. Whatever we feel like doing is what we'll do. I'm sure it'll have a hard-driving rhythm to it, but I don't know. We'll see with the next record." Indeed we will.