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SECONDS #8, p.20-21, January 1989


The Jack the Ripper of rock, GLENN DANZIG has used his legendary cult
status to create one of the most savage bands to date.


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
  "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.