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RIP   Feb. 1994

DANZIG Demons Down Under
By Murray Engleheart

   "Someone wanted me to kill them," Glenn Danzig responded
casually when I asked about the most extreme request he'd ever
received from a fan. "That's happened on more than one occasion,
actually. I said, 'No that's okay,' and they said, 'No! Please
kill me. Then my life would be complete.' You get some weird
   Nothing that strange came up when Danzig did an in-store
appearance at Utopia Records in Sydney during their Australian
tour, though Glenn seemed to be expecting some sort of unwelcome
surprise. He appeared tense as several hundred fans filed slowly
down the stairs and along the counter, clutching items they
wanted autographed and imprinted with his royal black seal.
   Eight hours later he was a different man. Perhaps it was those
earlier suspicions and anxieties that fueled his magnificent
performance before a capacity crowd of 2,000 at Selina's during
the second of his band's two shows in the country. Glenn's not a
big guy in person, but onstage that night in full combat mode he
seemed huge. As a mark of respect, someone climbed through the
VIP section, which was level with the top of the PA, and dived
20-odd feet down into the pit as the band pumped out their
unsmiling black metal with an aura of malevolence so thick, you
could almost punch it. It was a good half hour after "Dirty Black
Summer" brought the Danzig experience to a close that the crush
at the front of the stage finally began to dissolve into the
   The intensity of the show was totally contrary to the no doubt
tongue-rammed-in-cheek clause in the band's rider that called for
a selection off well-educated young women who were not more than
a $5 taxi ride from the gig to be available after the night's
load out. At least I think it was an attempt at Spinal
Tap-ishness. Glenn's legendary and highly influential New Jersey
outfit the Misfits always had a thread of dark humor woven
through their work. Danzig, on the other hand, usually just seems
   "Well, I think it got a little more serious come [the
Misfits'] Earth A.D./Wolfsblood," Glenn explained. "Then with
Samhain it just got serious, and then, you know, it's time to
grow up."
   It was appropriate that Glenn had been watching a video of a
George Foreman fight just before we spoke. After all, looking and
acting physical is something Glenn does real well. Which is why a
story I'd heard about Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell beating the
snot out of him at a festival in Germany seemed a little, shall
we say, creative.
   "Basically, Def Leppard got in the way," Glenn said. "We
offered them a piece of the pie, and they turned it down. Nothing
happened. I've heard now that he says he beat me up. Believe me,
I'd know about it if I was beaten up. I'm a trained martial
artist in three, actually four, different styles, all of them
very deadly. Let's get real for a second and consider the source,
you know what I mean? If you told me it was some big
motherf?!ker... What happened was that they mouthed off and were
acting like rock stars. We called them on it, and they punked
out. They had their own little trailer section at that festival,
and they wandered into our area, and we went over to them. Who's
Vivian Campbell anyway? Has he got blond hair or brown hair?
Basically it was a scrap with all of them, and then later on it
was just the singer and somebody else, and they didn't want any
of it. We said, 'We can go for it right now,' and they said
they'd rather not, and that was the end of it. It never even got
to blows.
   "To be honest, I grew up in the streets," Glenn continued.
"Believe me, if anybody put a hand on me, they'd be history. We
actually got yelled at by the promoter and security because we
screwed with Def Leppard. They were like, 'We're trying to help
you out by putting you on these festivals, and here you are
starting a fight with Def Leppard, blah, blah, blah. You can
never do this again' I guess Leppard is just trying to save face
or something. Their career here is over, so I guess they're just
trying to get some press or something."
   If Danzig's recent history is any indication, their career is
anything but over. Up until the down time they had due to drummer
Chuck Biscuits' knee injury (and it's warming to note that, in
this day and age, drummers still injure themselves in the line of
duty), the band were hitting a serious stride on the road. Glenn
was still tingling from a show at Nuremberg in Germany.
   "That was really wild," he enthused. "We got everybody all the
way to the back of the place - 70,000-plus people - just going
crazy. It was great. We got an encore and everything."
   And Danzig wasn't even headlining! Thankfully there were no
misguided connections drawn between the band's
testosterone-fueled New Power Order and the neo-Nazi sentiments
filling too many German hearts and minds at the moment.
   "We have a big following in Germany," Glenn said. "We've had a
big following there for a while. Our audience is pretty varied. I
would never put a restriction on who was allowed to come to our
shows. I know people are always like, 'Well, this isn't
politically correct,' but people are people, and if people want
to come to our show, they're allowed to come to our show.
Everybody should be allowed to come."
   The other red-letter day on the Danzig calendar was, of
course, October 31, 1992, at Irvine Meadows in California, when
the band recorded four cuts that became part of the leathery,
chrome-plated blues hell of the Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP. You can
bet a lot of people attended the show that Halloween night not
only to feel the cement shudder beneath their feet, but also in
hopes of bearing witness to something less... tangible. They had
the right idea. If demons were to be sighted during any band's
performance, it would be Danzig's.
   Glenn got interested in the dark side "when I was a little
kid," and he admires the old man downstairs as a rebel figure -
much like James Dean - more than anything else. Couple that with
Danzig's metallic blues base, and we're talking about music that
comes off like a thunderous update of the 1936-37 recordings of
blues godhead Robert Johnson, particularly his "Me and the Devil
Blues" and Hellhound on my Trail."
   "I've listened to blues since I was a kid," Glenn explained.
"I was in a couple of bands that were blues bands - just garage
bands. We played out a few times."
   Glenn's Elvis-from-beyond-the-grave vocals are used to their
full effect on Thrall-Demonsweatlive, in a version of the King's
"Trouble" that's sure to once again kick-start all the rumors
that Glenn really is the dark embodiment of the lord of
   "We've been doing that song forever," Glenn shrugged. "Even
Samhain used to it. Eerie [Von, guitarist] and I had this band
before Danzig, and we used to do 'Trouble' too. We've been doing
it for encores ever since Danzig started, and our fans just kept
bugging us to put it out."
   Is Glenn an Elvis fan?
   "I like some stuff. Eerie, actually, is the real Elvis fan. He
has a big Elvis collection. I just like his voice. He's got a
good voice."
   I asked Glenn which he was more taken with, Elvis's music or
his myth?
   "I don't know, because to me he's just a good singer," he
chuckled heartily. "He did things before a lot of other people
did them, and that was kind of cool."
   Henry Rollins' description of Glenn as "one serious
motherf?!ker" was also mighty cool. I passed this compliment on
to Glenn, and he loved it.
   "One serious motherf?!ker?" he laughed. "Well, you know, Henry
is Henry. Sometimes people ask me about him, because we know each
other. The only thing I can say about Henry is, Henry is Henry.
Either you like him or you don't like him, and that's the way he
likes it. I kind of like it that way too. I don't ask people to
like me or not to like me. I don't give two f?!ks, you know what
I mean. It's like, the point is moot. It doesn't matter to me.
   Despite his tough-guy persona, Glenn reckons that he still has
a capacity for love and affection that hasn't been beaten out of
him yet.
   "Love is cool," he said. "Put it in perspective though. There
are other things besides love. There's a time for you to express
your feelings of love, and there's a time to express different
feelings and emotions, whether they be anger, hatred, violence -
whatever. Approach each situation as it comes up."
   Taking things as they come is pretty much how Glenn got into
music in the first place. He "just fell into" and started out as
a roadie. He'd always liked singing, though at one point his
heart was set on being a comic-book artist. It was the impact of
punk that made him finally chuck the pens and drawing pads
forever and pick up a microphone.
   "I'd been in bands long before that, but the punk thing for me
was like, yeah!" He said. "I hated all those mid- to late-'70s
bands. America has had punk music ever since the '60s. It was
just kind of louder than the other stuff. There'd been a real
punk scene in New York since 1973, with loud guitars and snotty
lyrics. For me it was, 'This is what I really want to do'"
   Danzig - it doesn't get much darker than this.