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Concrete Foundations; December 10, 1988

Def New Music

by Maria Ma

  With the release of their self titled debut album DANZIG are establishing
themselves as the bridge between hard rock/metal and punk. Not only a debut
for the band but also for producer Rick Rubin's new label Def American
distributed through Geffen Records. Singer Glen Danzig is well known as the
leader of the MISFITS and SAMHAIN -two seminal bands that paved the way for
many of today's metal outfits with such classics as Beware, Three Hits From
Hell, Walk Among Us, and Initium-as well contributing to the Less Than Zero
soundtrack. Upon SAMHAlN's demise in 1986, Glen and bassist Eerie Von formed
DANZIG with veteran drummer extraordinaire Chuck Biscuits and guitarist John
Christ. Recently we spoke to Glen about his views on religion, the metal
scene, record labels and ROY ORBISON...

  CF: How did you arrive at the present line-up?

  GD: The old band, SAMHAIN, was playing at the New Music Seminar and were
scouting labels. We wanted to go to a major label after our third record, and
Rick Rubin was there. Basically, he came in after our set and said "I want to
sign you, you guys are great!" So what happened was, we weren't happy with
our guitar player and I was doing most of the guitar tracks in the studio,
which was stupid 'cause he was the guitar player and he should've been doing
it. Rick said, "You guys need a new guitar player" and I was like, "Tell me
about it!" So we decided to go with Def American because that seemed the best
thing to do.

  CF: But you didn't have Chuck Biscuits with you at this time, did you?

  GD: No, we had a different drummer. What happened was, we were having
try-outs for a guitarist and all along, I had wanted another drummer but Rick
thought we could make do with the drummer we had. That wasn't the case, so
Rick asked me who my first pick drummer would be and I said "Chuck Biscuits,"
who I knew from other bands like BLACK FLAG, CIRCLE JERKS, D.O.A., and who's
an incredible drummer.

  CF: So SAMHAIN basically broke up because of the Def American deal?

  GD. Right. Eventually with two new members, it just became a whole new
band. It wasn't the same band anymore, and the music was different.

  CF: So is being on Geffen working out for you?

  GD: So far, yeah. We'll see what happens, it's pretty early. It's too early
to say anything, but I've met a lot of the people there, and they were
generally interested in helping the band, which is good. It's strange that
the bio they put out said SAMHAIN broke up in 1981, cause the MISFITS didn't
break up until 1983 and SAMHAIN didn't split until 1986. That's really weird,
but there are a few people who know our past history.

  CF: In a lot of ways, the MISFITS and SAMHAIN were the forerunners of the
present-day metal scene. What do you think of the scene these days?

  GD: It's stagnant, it's incestuous. (laughs) It sucks. SLAYER, you know, I
 never thought were incredibe or anything until the last record when they
changed direction and got into the slower, heavier riffs. The riffs were more
evil, they had more to say than "We're just another fast speedmetal band."
They've proven that there's more to them than that, you know, "we're not
gonna just do what our fans want us to do, we're gonna flex our wings." And
they did that with the new record, and I think that's brave cause it's kinda
easy to go along with what the fans want. There are a lot of good riffs on
that record and I think they should be commended. Not many bands would do
that, they're just content to ride the tide.

  CF: Do you think black metal in particular owes a debt to hardcore?

  GD: Oh sure. I always thought punk and hardcore had a lot to do with real
metal. Now, I'm not talking about stupid, soft metal like BON JOVI, I'm
talking about BLUE CHEER, MOTORHEAD, stuff like that. Real metal, early BLACK
SABBATH, you know. Not like JUDAS PRIEST or DEF LEPPARD or any of that soft
crap. And I was always into real metal; the first band I was ever in was half
originals, half BLACK SABBATH covers.

  CF: What band was that?

 GD: That was a band called TALUS. There's a band called that now. Basically,
I always saw the connection between hardcore and metal although a lot of
people didn't until later. The MISFITS, of course, were a horrot metal band,
or a horror punk metal band, or whatever. As far as hardcore, we were the
first band to experiment with speedmetal, not just the hardcore form. I would
say the MISFITS probably pioneered that, and we got a lot of flak for that
too. People were like, "Why are you mixing punk with metal?" or this and
that, and I never saw when the two weren't connected. To me, they were always
connected. They were both about power, rebellion, violence. Same with
SAMHAIN, and with me and Eerie- we wanted to fuse punk with metal and just
come out with something very heavy, so heavy that people would either hate it
or love it. And then with the "Novembr Coming Fire" record, we wanted to get
a little more into songwriting.

  CF: Do you think METALLICA's covets of "Last Caress" and "Green Hell" have
helped you guys out in any way?

  GD I don't know if it's helped the band much. It's hard to say. I mean, has
their cover of "Am I Evil" helped DIAMOND HEAD? I'm sure them wearing our t
shirts has helpd raise more consciousness than the cover of the song. It's
hard to say, I really don't know. (laughs) I don't really live outside of my
own world, you know? I don't go to big metal concerts or anything, sol can't
say. I guess maybe in a way, it has helped us out.

 CF: How influential was Rick Rubin as far as the arranging and overall sound
of the songs on the new record?

 GD: Pretty influential. I'd say about 25% of the album is Rick Rubin. I
wanted a producer, I wanted that other voice. Originally when we signed, we
wanted to see if we could work together, if he was open to my suggestions,
and if I could listen to what he was saying about stuff other than
songwriting, like how the band was handled, cover art, the whole direction of
the band. And it just turned out that we had a lot in common, that we were on
the same wavelength, and it was really good. I'm glad we signed with him.

 CF: So was it through him that you got involved with the Less Than Zero

  GD: Yeah. This guy asked me who I listened to, and I said "Roy Orbison."
ROY ORBISON is real dramatic stuff. I remember saying how he's got one more
serious gold, maybe platinum, album left in him; he's just waiting for the
right producer. And this guy called me up one day and said, "I've got this
soundtrack and I'm going to use ROY ORBISON. Do you want to write a song for
him?" cause he had writer's block or something. So I said "YEAH! I'll do it!"
I wrote the song especially for him. Me and Rick did a demo in the studio,
sent it out to him, he loved it, I went ovet there and taught it to him, and
we worked on it in the studio. It turned out really good even though it was
really rushed; we could've added more tracks to it. When I listened to the
"Less Than Zero" stuff, I only listened to like four songs: PUBLIC ENEMY, ROY
ORBISON, my song, somebody else's. I was very apprehensive about doing the
song that I did because it was originally  written for a girl to sing. And
when we played the demo for the people at CBS they went, "Oh, get this guy to
sing it." And I was like, "Well, I don't know, I don't usually sing this kind
of stuff, although I love this kind of music." Like the RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
and stuff; I wanted them to get BILL MEDLEY and they were like, "Oh, that
guy's over, he's probably a loser somewhere" but in actuality, he's a
behind-the-scenes guy who produces records and stuff. Three weeks after "Less
Than Zero" came out, BILL MEDLEY had the #I song in the country (laughs). But
yeah, BILL MEDLEY's one of my favorite singers.

 CF: The images in your songs are pretty much in the horror / gore category.

 GD: Well...l don't know about that. They're more on the religious side.

 CF: Well, it's not like STRYPER.

 GD: Wait a minute, let's get something straight. STRYPER are religious only
in the sense that...l mean, they're just trying to put one over. I don't
believe STRYPER are sincere in the least, I think they're one of the phoniest
bands in the world. The fact that they put a "777" banner onstage sometimes
during their shows just ptoves they don't know what they're talking about. If
they knew the meaning of "777," they wouldn't put that up because it's not
anything nice.

  CF: So what does "777" mean?

  GD: Armageddon!! (laughs) You know, like "666," well, they put "777." They
don't know what they're talking about, they're just jumping on the religious
bandwagon, like they're "metal for Christ." But they're just trying to get
one over, and I hate bands like that. And they're a hairspray band too.

  CF: Do you want to talk about the images in your songs7

  GD: Sure. Especially since SAMHAIN came into being, they're very religious.
They focus on religions that, while practiced today, were practiced before
even Christianity and Judaism. They're the original religions. You know, if
Hitler had conquered the world, we'd both be talking with German accents
right now, and Nazism would be the religion right now, and everything else,
Christianity and Judaism and whatever, would have become the non-religions.
Because something's knocked down, or forgotten, doesn't mean it's not valid.
I mean, SAMHAIN is the original name for the pagan Halloween. It's actually
Celtic, which the Christians wanted wiped out because it had too much power
and it went against what the Christians wanted to bring in. I have these
books, like "The Forgotten Books Of Eden," which were excised from the Bible,
and just yesterday I picked up another book which has the lost books of the
Bible. It's got all these sayings and prophesies by Jesus that the Christians
took out because they thought it didn't fit into the direction they wanted
the Bible to take. The Bible is actually Abridged Jesus.

  CF: A lot of people are going to misinterpret this, of course. Maybe record

  GD I really don't give two fucks (laughs). I mean, I love selling records,
but I want to do what I want to do. Record chains are great, and they move a
lot of records, but it's not my full concern. It might be Geffen's or your
full concern, but...I mean, there's no swearing on the record or anything. If
they want to keep me from my right to freedom of speech, then I'll just have
to get a militia together and KILL THEM!! (mucho laughs) I mean, I'm not
fucking with them, they shouldn't fuck with me. Actually, I shouldn't get
down on the Christian religion. There are people who are trying to get the
excised chapters back into the Bible. Martin Scorcese's come into a lot of
scrutiny lately because of his interpretation of Jesus Christ. If anybody
should know about Jesus Christ's life or whatever, he should, because he went
to seminary school. How many people on the street can say they went to
seminary school? That's his argument now, like "Well, who are you? I went to
seminary school! I studied these chapters!" You know? That's what I'm getting
at, there are all these people who don't know what they're talking about. I
learned a long time ago that you shouldn't talk unless you know what you were
saying. You go and do some research, you learn something, great. If

  CF: Are you Christian? By that I mean by denomination...

  GD: That's not Christian (laughs) I don't really know what I am. But I know
one thing, I am religious, not in the 700 Club sense though. I really hate
that. People should just...I don't care what people do, they should do what
the fuck they want. They should just use common sense. Because you know
what's right or wrong, there's universal good and bad for everybody. There
are things you should just not do to other people. Of course, you have
personal choice, but you shouldn't transgress against certain rules. Not
rules so much as freedoms for every person. There are universal good and
bads. Everyone-deep down, mentally, psychologically-knows what's good and
bad, and when they go against that, they know it. You don't need God or
anybody else to tell you, you know.

  CF: Like a built-in sense of right and wrong.

  GD: Exacty. You know. Like when you feel bad after you've done something
wrong... that's what I'm trying to say.

  CF: Do you think violent Iyrics incite violence?

  GD No. I think that the music itself is either violent or not violent, and
we particularly play violent music. But there are other bands who don't play
violent music and they still get violence at their shows. I don't know what
exactly causes violence at shows but I think there is an element that just
goes to shows to look for trouble. It's the whole social climate of the
times. You can go to a hockey game and see a million fights so it's not
really just music. The big arena over here in Jersey, which is Brendan Byrne,
is thinking of banning hockey games. They've said that metal shows are no
problem, they've only had like two incidents of violence at the last metal
show, but at the last hockey game they had sixteen outbreaks of serious
violence where they've had to call security in to break up flghts. At
wrestling matches out on Long Island, I've seen several different fights that
had to be broken up at one time. That's what they look at, not the music; a
full house is a full house. It doesn't matter what's being done on stage,
whay they care about is what goes on in the seats. As far as they're
concerned, hockey and football are more violent than rock concerts. Of
course, you also have the rap shows on Long Island where people actually get
aced. You know, that's fucked.

  CF: You have a video out of Mother. What's that like?

  GD: Wild. MTV has approved it, the two program directors love it. We're
waiting for their Board Of Censors And Standards to approve it or whatever.
We have one censored version that I already did and that's the only one
they're gonna get. If they don't take it, they can go fuck themselves.

  CF: What did you have to censor?

  GD: Basically there's a girl and I rip a chicken over her (more laughs) but
you don't actually see any of it, it just cuts to the blood shooting on her
stomach. I mean, you don't see me ripping a chicken apart, I didn't actually
do that. We had a chicken handler there and I like animals a lot. What
happened is the blood on the stomach starts spreading and I do an upside-down
cross on the girl's belly in blood. I don't know what's going to happen. We
did an extra version where the blood only shoots down for about a quarter of
a second, just enough to kinda see it. And then we shoot to something else.
So I mean, it's the only one I'm doing, if they don't show it, I don't care.
They show stuff like the Nightmare On Elm Street 4 thing where the dog comes
over and pisses on Freddie's bones. If they're going to give me shit about
this, which was done in black and white, well, I don't want to hear it. I
mean, they show the muscles and blood and skin and tissues forming back on
Freddie's bones. If they give us a hard time I'm just going to be like "What
do you mean?!" Cause when a record does start selling, they'll play the video
like it's the greatest thing in the world. I think that's where MTV's at, I'm
not sure. I didn't see the GUNS N' ROSES video in heavy rotation till they
started selling big numbers. It had been relegated to Headbanger's Ball. The
whole idea for us, especially with me and Rick, was to create a record that,
twenty years down the line, would still be played. Like a real classic album
that stood the test of time. And we did it, or I hope we did it.

  CF: What are Danzig's plans for the future? Are you going to tour some

  GD: After we come back with METALLICA, we're going on a tour of our own.
After that, we'll see what happens, maybe some dates with other bands, big
arena shows. It all depends on sales of the record, as you said before, money