Eye Magazine, 5/13/93 --------------------- Is Glenn Danzig rock's rebel angel or... THE DEVIL, YOU SAY? By Chris O'Conner Am I Beast, Am I Human, Am I Just Like You? --Danzig, Am I Demon?' He'll always raise the question, extend tha bait on barbed trident, and God-or Satan-knows he's been doing it for nigh on 15 years now. Fifteen years and three bands spent walking down the left-hand path of rock'n'roll, exploring a lyrical hellscape of fallen angels, black-winged seductresses and crawling snakes of Christ, of constructing albums titled LUCIFUGE and HOW THE GODS KILL and his own iconography-a devil's skull leering from the centre of an inverted cross-and Glenn Danzig's still taunting the Inquistion. Still raising the question-is he demon? Well? A former teenage gore freak from Hellhole, N.J., who'd form the Misfits, put "Astro-Zombies" to something that sounded like the Ramones being pulled limb from limb by opposing hearses, and then side with the monsters: "Exterminate the whole fuckin' race"? Who'd name his second band in honour of the day druids took their sickles to the virgin faithful, who'd drench himself in blood for an album cover that the art department was sickened to print? A guy with the barbarian physique normally found airbrushed on the sides of 70s custom vans, and known to do the Conan stomp on any gig-goers dumb enough to mess with him? Glenn Danzig, the Devil you say? Well, they say the Devil hath powers to assume a pleasing shape, and they don't come much more disarming than Glenn's phone manner-a kind of animated ramble-rant, part Brooklyn cabdriver, part Mets-freak-at-the-ballpark, delivered not in the basso-profundo Elvis rumble you'd imagine, but this Joe Rolling Rock Joisey drawl. He laughs easily, says Y'knowhatImean' a lot. He could be any be-tatted hipkid scouring the Silver Snail for HAUNT OF FEAR back issues. And in fact he'd much rather talk about comics; how he digs NEW GODS, SPAWN and HELLSTORM, how he met art gods Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby, how he's working on his own comic with FAUST's Tim Vigil. And politics-Great American Frontier, Rugged Individual politics. He distrusts Clinton ("MTV had the Rock the Vote things, and they had Clinton on, and Al Gore on, but nobody mentioned anything about Tipper Gore"). He'd rather see Ross Perot running the Great Satan ("He's an individual who can't be bought, who wanted the country back on track and had exact plans on how to do it"). His five-minute rant on gun control, can be summed up as "They don't want honest people to have guns when they decide to pull a fascist coup. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd rather be wrong than right and not have a gun to protect myself. How's that?" Fine with me, Glenn: you're the one with the sidearm. But what I really want to talk about is theology-God, Lucifer, the PARIDISE LOST parallels you drew with LUCIFUGE... "There's nothing about the Devil on LUCIFUGE." He says it with choirboy innocence, amused I'd even ask such a thing: "Did you drink the communion wine, Glenn?" "Did you name your CD after the Father of Lies?" "The name Lucifuge means 'sleep of light,'" he says, trace of a laugh creeping in, "so I dunno what you got out of it. So here we go, Devil's Plaything' is about love." He stops the tour short, decides I've been sufficiently stymied. Relents: "The one song that's the most about the Devil is Pain in the World' and that's just a dab here and there." Understand: Glenn Danzig is never certain of the Devil, certainly not on the latest HOW THE GODS KILL album. The being that stalks "Bodies" and "Anything," a dark stranger with unholy sweets in one hand, final damnation in the other, is never identified. "All this world/And its glories/And its sins/I will give it all/To you/Take my hand." Is it Lucifer? Jesus? Danzig himself? "That's fantastic!" he laughs, happy with the reading. "You shouldn't know: it should be left to your imagination. Some things don't have to be so cut and dried, especially a song, and just because something like 'Godless' is clear cut-organized religion burns a lot of people-doesn't mean everything has to be. Let the music take you places it wants to take you. Close off those avenues and it's not gonna take you anywhere but one little place." So it's not about choosing sides, the dark or the light, the left or the right? "Is there one side or the other? Only if you make it out to be that way, and whoever said that? I never did." All the little tin popes and wind-up fanatics... "Yeah, but that's them. So? That doesn't mean that's the way it is. You just don't play their game. You subscribe to what they say, you play their game, ant they're gonna win. Because it's their rules." Don't misunderstand: the legions of the damned are pretty pissed at him, too, mainly because of his mercenary status. See, they'd love to enlist him, if self-appointed commander Glen Benton of Deicide is anything to go by: some months ago he rumbled at me about how "Glenn Danzig should just declare himself a Satanist." Which makes Glenn Danzig mad. Mad as all hell... "Look, the only thing I know about Deicide is the guy burns upside-down crosses into his empty head. Who is this guy? He's nobody, and anyone who's an individual isn't gonna listen to him. I tell people to think for themselves, to find their own way in life. I wish Glenn Danzig would do this.' Fuck him! I have to say something to vindicate him?!" His fire and brimstone cool suddenly. Then, wearily, "It's not just that. They finally printed something in our new bio, which talks about Baudelaire and his interpretation of Satan, how he's basically just a rebel." If Danzig believed in a Devil, it'd be this one, the rebel angel of Baudelaire and Milton. Not Deicide's, not a goat-headed cartoon magic- markered on some adolescent zitfarm's Math text, but a proud individualist tired of divine dictatorships, who just got some bad PR from his former boss. If Danzig believed in a Devil... "Yeah, exactly. Everything's conjecture: life, death, everything. I have no problem with religion, it's just when it tries to dictate people, y'know? To put it in another perspective, this could be a world that fits on the end of a pin in some bigger world. Can you tell me it isn't? You don't know, and because you don't you should keep your mind open. Who are you? Did you become God while I was sleeping? And what is God, anyway?" And what is Glenn Danzig, then? A free-thinker, obviously; an individualist, most importantly. But is he demon? To the dogmatists, the fundamentalists, the comic-book satanists-to anyone who'd condemn his work to a prefab heaven or hell-he's the their worst nightmare: Do what thou wilt is the whole of his law. HORROR BUSINESS A Brief History Of Danzig Glenn Danzig has always been the dark star of the underground/alternative universe, maybe never burning as brightly as Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins or his other contemporaries, but there all the same, a guiding light for those drawn to the darker side. And across three bands and 15 years, following nothing but his own will and...ah...peculiar interests, Danzig's exuded an influence that probably outshines any other band's from that era: the Misfits, Samhain, Danzig...everything Glenn does has a distinct atmosphere, imagery and identity, not so much bands as living, breathing entities. So herewith follows a brief guide to the beast, along with recommended exhumations from the crypt: come step inside his nightmare. THE MISFITS: Formed in the late 70s, the Misfits were the bad seed planted in the decaying rathole of Lodi, N.J., nurtured on JFK conspiracy theories and TALES FROM THE CRYPT. They were the horrible consequences of being adolescent, antisocial, and having too many rotting zombies in their reading material, and they rocked out like the Ramones fronted by Ed Gein. Their depraved genius in songs like "Hatebreeders" Mommy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?" was to lure unsuspecting innocents in the with speed and catchy melodies and then, come chorus time, have them singing along to tales of murder and dismemberment (like on "Skulls" and Glenn's cheerfully barked "hack the heads off little girls..."). This was bubblegum from the mouth of a week-old corpse. Later, they'd more or less mutate into a hardcore band and lose the sick fun for more serious devilry ("Demonomamia," "Devilock"). Recommended: WALK AMONG US for the best initiation, LEGACY OF BRUTALITY for previously unreleased/re-recorded songs. EARTH A.D./WOLFSBLOOD for the devil-in-a-blender stuff. SAMHAIN: Don't know what happened to Glenn in the mid-'80s, but his music grew darker, moodier and more atmospheric. The singalong slayfests and cheerful goriness were replaced by aggressive dirges and pagan imagery: even the Misfits' goofy-grinning skull mascot grew fangs and evil-looking horns. Funtime was over, and Glenn seemed to drive the stake thru the old Fits legacy with brooding remakes of "Horror Business" and "Halloween." (Side note: everyone, including Danzig himself, calls the band "sam-HANE" but if you want to druidic about it, it's pronounced "SAU-wun".) Recommended: NOVEMBER-COMING-FIRE DANZIG: Here's where it gets really scary-Glenn forms a metal band and names it after himself. Fears of a new Dio were battered into tiny fragments, though, with their 88 debut, a thing of hypnotic, snake-hipped evil that showed up all other metal attempts at Beelzebubbery for the Marvel Comics satanism it really was. Baudelaire and Milton helped; so did the unholy power of their line-up: Eerie Von from Samhain on bass, legendary hardcore drummer Chuck Biscuits (ex-Black Flag, Circle Jerks and DOA) and guitarist John Christ, origins unknown but sounds like he has an encyclopedic knowledge of SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH. Which can only be a good thing... Recommended: DANZIG, LUCIFUGE, HOW THE GODS KILL.