For 13 years Rob Zombie has been carving
out a strange legacy of music in the world of rock, beginning in 1985 with the
formation of his brainchild White Zombie. From the start, White Zombie was a
bizarre hybrid of hardcore/punk aggression, Lower East Side art-damaged and hard
rock thunder. As if that weren’t enough, these fixations were filtered through
Mr. Zombie’s love of classic horror/sci-fi films, trash hot rod culture and
generally, all things on the dark side.
Zombie oversaw every aspect of the band’s journey from their early independent releases to their major label albums. He created the band’s unique visual style, designing everything Zombie: album art, T-shirts, stage shows and music videos. This was a man obsessed. "I never saw it as work; I love doing everything," insists Zombie. "How else can you realize a complete vision?" After five independent releases, Zombie’s efforts paid off in 1990 when the band signed with Geffen Records.
White Zombie’s major label debut, entitled La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1, was issued in 1991. The band toured long and hard, playing more than 350 shows and eventually hitting pay dirt: The album spawned a hit single, the Grammy-nominated "Thunder Kiss ’65," and went on to sell two million copies.
In 1995, White Zombie returned with Astro-Creep: 2000. The album rose to Billboard’s Top Ten and stayed there for two months, remaining firmly in the Top 200 for 89 weeks. Astro-Creep: 2000 gave the world "More Human Than Human," an infectious, Grammy-nominated hit.
Also in 1995, Rob Zombie won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Hard Rock Video for the self-directed clip for "More Human Than Human." Soon thereafter, Astro-Creep: 2000 was certified triple platinum.
Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds, a full album of Astro-Creep remixes by some of the hottest mixers in the field, followed quickly on the heels of that success: The disc went platinum.
As the Astro-Creep tour was winding its way around the world, Zombie somehow found time to indulge in a few special projects. First off was a duet with his childhood idol, Alice Cooper, for the soundtrack to the hit TV series "The X-Files." Zombie remarks of the collaboration: "Working with Alice was a dream come true. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be Alice." The song, entitled "The Hands of Death," was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was up against another Zombie offering, "I’m Your Boogieman," from the platinum soundtrack to "The Crow: City of Angeles."
While on tour, Zombie also began working with "Beavis and Butt-head" creator Mike Judge on a key scene for the film "Beavis and Butt-head Do America." Zombie designed the classic hallucination sequence for the film between gigs. "Mike was looking for an idea for a hallucination for Beavis," he recalls. "He wanted something that was like the ultimate rock video. I suggested that Beavis should go to hell, and Mike loved the idea." For many, this scene of Beavis hallucinating was a highlight of the film.
Zombie was then sought out by none other than The King of All Media – Howard Stern. Stern wanted to duet with Zombie on a song for his upcoming movie, "Private Parts." "I’ve been a big fan of Howard for about 13 years," says Zombie, "so being able to work with him was an honor and a pleasure." The thumping "The Great American Nightmare" resulted; it became a theme song for both Stern and Zombie. "Private Parts," meanwhile hit #1 at the box office, as did the soundtrack, which has been certified platinum.
Zombie next began work on his most ambitious album to date: Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International. The disc was produced by Scott Humphrey (Metallica, Mötley Crew) and Rob Zombie. Work on the album began in August of 1997 and was completed 10 months later. Hellbilly Deluxe (released Aug. 25, 1998) is a wild musical and visual journey through the mad, mad, mad world of Rob Zombie. "This is no small, self-indulgent album filled with whining about deep feelings," Zombie declares. ‘This is a full-blown evil raging beast – a total Zombie extravaganza."
Hellbilly Deluxe entered the Billboard charts at #5. Soon after Zombie hit the road in support of the album, boasting one of the largest stage shows in rock music, Zombie incorporates state-of-the-art lights, sound, video and pyrotechnics.
Over the next year Zombie played to over a million fans worldwide and went on to sell over three million copies of Hellbilly Deluxe, certifying the album triple platinum. The song "Superbeast" also chalked up yet another Grammy nomination for best hard rock performance.
Upon returning home, Zombie released an album of remixes from Hellbilly Deluxe called American Made Music To Strip By. This album includes songs featured in the hit movies The Matrix and End of Days. This album is quickly approaching gold sales status.
In April of 2000, Zombie began working on his writing and directing motion picture debut, "House of 1000 Corpses" for Universal Studios. The film features such cult stars as Academy Award Nominee Karen (Five Easy Pieces, Nashville) Black, Sid (Spider Baby, Shaft) Haig and Michael J. (Bonnie and Clyde) Pollard. Production on the film wrapped in April of 2000, but was soon found by Universal Studios to be "too dark and disturbing for release under their corporate releasing guidelines." Zombie is now in the process of moving his bizarre vision of horror over to a new distributor.
This delay did not slow Zombie down; he quickly entered the studio to begin work on his follow up album, The Sinister Urge. "Getting back into the recording studio was a welcome relief from the grueling movie schedule," Zombie explains. The record was once again co-produced by Scott Humphrey and boasts an impressive list of guest players including: Ozzy Osbourne, who lends his vocals to the track "Iron Head." Also contributing are ex-Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, DJ Lethal and the Beastie Boys’ Mix Master Mike.
Unique to this new record is the inclusion of a horn section and a thirty-piece orchestra. The orchestra can be heard on the songs "Demon Speeding" and especially "Bring Her Down." Zombie explains, "I wanted to bring in these new musical elements in order to achieve a larger, more dramatic sound . . . it really transformed those songs from rock songs into action movie soundtracks." Zombie continues, "Everything was done live in the studio . . . there is no computer trickery, it is real and raw.