October Feature, My Interview with Rob Zombie
It is no mystery that I have wanted to interview Rob Zombie for over 2 years. I can't tell you what an honor and surprise it was when he recently contacted me with his willingness and desire to do the interview. I was surprised, and pleased at his willingness to talk about whatever I wanted, with no limitations. In fact it was out of respect for him that I actually put limitations on the interview. There are some communications that went back and forth that won't be available here, I think the reason for that was the immense amount of respect I had for Rob Zombie before the interview, and the even more respect I have for him now after the interview. In some ways I found myself like the characters in the Creston Mapes Novels Dark Star and Full Tilt.
There were several things that impressed me during the time we were going back and forth with some of the questions. I was surprised to some extent at the polite nature of Zombie. While he alludes that he is a little calmer off stage than he is on stage as a performer in the interview, I find myself thinking he is more than a little different. Of course how could I know that with the brief time of having our exchange?
There are several things I am also more aware of after this process, Rob despite what many believe is person who takes his craft and talents seriously. One of the only times he seemed to become emotional about during the process was when asked about others perception of him. The truth is, this man has excelled at virtually everything he has become involved in, most recently movie making. He has had to overcome obstacles, and fight for the things he wants. He realizes the value of perseverance and sticking it out, another component that becomes abundantly clear during the interview process. In fact Zombie as a business man, and an individual developing their talent, understands the full value of hard work, research, and at the same time giving respect back to those before him who helped pave the road to success.
Some will look at this interview, especially those with strong religious convictions and have differing opinions of the spiritual significance. It becomes even more difficult when considering the obvious intent of Rob to not discuss spiritual issues. That said, I believe there is a great deal of spiritual significance to the interview with Rob. The value of respect of other people, respect enough to not get into a shouting or arguing match. One has to wonder what it has been in life that has caused this obvious effort to not address some issues, not just with Rob Zombie, but a whole host of others. "Don't argue religion or politics" is a polular saying among many families. Some, including myself, seem to think spiritual issues are prevalent in his music and film, yet a here is someone who wants the listener and viewer come to their own conclusions. From some, I imagine there is a big pat on the back of Rob for that effort. I think Rob values the ability of the hearer, or the viewer having the ability to reflect on and interpret the things they see or hear without being too preachy. It is like to the old saying from St. Francis of Assissi. "Preach the Gospel and if nessecary use words." While there may be obvious views that Rob has, he values the fans, and respects them enough to let them come to their own conclussions. Now I know this is going to offend many but it sounds in some ways like the way Jesus told stories. Tell the story, let the listener interpret it for themselves.
There are also lessons, albeit spiritual or natural that seem to come out with Rob. He understands the value of never quitting, sticking it out, going for the things in life one values. His life has been an example of that. How many of us could learn from that lesson? We have to at some point evaluate why it is some excel and others don't. The concept of believing in something so strongly that you refuse to give up on it has tremendous spiritual significance.
This whole thing started several years ago, actually when I first reviewed The House of 1,000 Corpses. A movie at the time which I didn't like that much, but have grown to appreciate it more over the years. It was then that I first made known my desire to interview Rob Zombie, I still hope to meet him someday, as the interview was not conducted in a face to face manner. My appreciation for Rob went back actually beyond House of 1,000 Corpses to the days of his band White Zombie. The love and appreciation for his art continued to grow until the release of The Devil's Rejects. It was after doing a blog where I reissued the review of The Devil's Rejects, and had done a blog on appreciating and respecting Rob Zombie titled, Am I Going To Hell Because I Love Rob Zombie and Sky Lopez, that Rob Zombie contacted me about doing the interview.
What are my opinions about Rob Zombie now? Truth is I am as mystified as ever, but then again, genius has a way of doing that to an individual. Not mine, but Rob's. I am impressed with the fact that he continues to mature and improve with his art, whether via music, Educated Horses is his latest release and it is brilliant, to film, his dedication and work on the upcoming Halloween is now becoming legendary. I have to say, I continue to be impressed and look forward to each venture he brings about.
I know some Christians will hate me for my views on this man and his work. That's okay, I won't hear anything I haven't heard before. Truth is though; I think my God sees beauty and value in Rob Zombie, as well as his fans. It is an audience often criticized, and seldom understood. Rob's audience is one who knows of the horror of life, the atrocities of society, and the hypocrisy within the religious establishments. Unfortunately those having an impact on life, the ability to change society, and the heart to change lives through religion, haven't addressed the issues in such a way as to reach these individuals who so much long for change.
You see, I didn't find Rob, even though he didn't talk about it, despising of Christians, he did after all contact me, but I find him thorough his music and film, confused, hurt, and conflicted with the way some within the extremes, whether political, or religious, use their faith and beliefs to oppress and judge others. In fact, that message in some ways is consistent with many Christians who chose to carry out the mission of Jesus, something entirely different than what we see through extreme religious and political groups who chose to judge as opposed to love. Yea, I believe Rob, and his followers, recognize what is happening in society, they comment on it, and make film about it, and many flock to it to listen and watch because they agree with the message. It is a message that unfortunately many of us within Christendom agree with, but it is also a message that our commonality is often not observed by either side because of the harm that has been done in the past. In some ways it is a war, a war that will have winners and losers. It is one where eternal decisions will be made on both ends of the spectrum, some right, some wrong.
Enough of my ramblings, bottom line, I still hope to someday meet Rob Zombie, face to face, person to person. Why, because I value him. I believe God values him and loves him. I can imagine Jesus, sitting down with Rob talking about movies, having a drink, doing all kinds of things that would upset some within the religious community. I would like that opportunity as well with Rob. I know Rob appreciates those making an impact on the things he loves, and in return many of us have that same appreciation for Rob for the way he has impacted our lives in a positive way, whether people chose to accept that or not.
Now, what a pleasure it is to share with you, a wonderful moment in my life, my 1st interaction with Rob Zombie. I will forewarn some, I promised Rob I would run the comments without edit, while the language don't offend me, some language may offend the readers of this blog. I do believe it important though, that the interview be published as the conversation really happened.
Mike Furches (MF): Hey Rob, first off the bat, what an honor to get to do this with you. Hope you know that and I sincerely appreciate the time. I want you to feel as free as humanly or Zombie possible in answering the questions any way you want. If something offends you say so, and we'll go from there. Truth is I admire you for being the artist you are. I've been listening to you and following you for years so this is definitely a treat. I think you know what I think of you from my recent article Am I Going To Hell Because I Love Rob Zombie and Sky Lopez, but also because of my review of The Devil's Rejects which I just re released for October.
One thing I would like to ask, and part of that is to be honest with you. I first reviewed your film House of 1000 Corpses and frankly at the time didn't like it that much. It was with some reserve I went to see The Devil's Rejects. What I found was a far more mature film, and a deeper richer story. What happened between the making of those two movies? By the Way, I have since gone back and seen House of 1000 Corpses several times and like it much better and understand it much better, but again, The differences on development for Rob Zombie during that time, what changed?
Rob Zombie (RZ): Well, it's as simple as 1000 Corpses was my first film and nothing can prepare you for that experience. Corpses was a film made on passion not knowledge. It was complete trial by fire, but at the same time was an amazing experience. Basically I took what I learned on that film and applied it to Rejects. As I will take the experience on Rejects and apply it to Halloween.
MF: Is there a different approach to making a movie like Halloween because it is a horror classic, as opposed to Rejects or Corpses? How much has Carpenter been involved in the process and how did your role in the film come about? Also, could you tell us some about El Superbeasto and what to expect there?
RZ: Yes and no. I mean you can only do it as you see fit, but at the same time you are working against peoples preconceived ideas of what something should be. Basically you gotta do what you think is right. John isn't involved at all. He has his own projects to worry about. One day I got a call to have a meeting with Bob Wiemstein and he tossed the Halloween idea my way. The rest is history.
El Superbeasto is a filthy, monster sex comedy. People should expect to laugh their asses off.
MF: I have always considered you very creative, freakishly in a good way I should say even from the days of White Zombie and obviously back to your early work with Paul Reubens. You have always had that since of creativity apparent in your work. I certainly believe you have created characters in House of 1000 Corpses (HOTC) and The Devil's Rejects (TDR) that will become icons in the horror genera. Can you share some about the creative process of how those characters came to be?
RZ: Who knows where anything comes from? I basically create things I would like to see. Whether it be a sexy blonde killer, a psycho foul-mouthed clown or a Charles Manson wannabe murder and bring them to life.
MF: It is obvious you have a love for Horror and dark subjects, who have been your influences in both your film and your music? I have to give an add on for one of my favorites if you could also comment on, the king of Zombies George Romero of Night of the Living Dead Fame?
RZ: I love Romero. DAWN OF THE DEAD is one of my favorite films. Not because of the gore and zombies but because of his detail to his characters trapped in these situations. Obviously, I cast Ken Foree for this reason.
MF: Are there any others out there that are favorites?
RZ: Tons. As far as film directors go I love Martin Scorsese, John Ford, Arthur Penn, Jack Hill and so on.
MF: I don't know if I have seen this or not, only brief glimpses, but what was it like growing up as Robert Cummings and then ultimately becoming Rob Zombie? If you can touch on the similarities and the differences and how you got there?
RZ: I always knew even as a kid that I wanted to be part of everything I was a fan of. I couldn't be satisfied by just standing on the sidelines watching. I wanted to become friends with all the people I loved and admired. How I got from there to here is a long slow process of never giving up on anything ever. If you really want it, you can get it. Problem is most people quit too easy.
MF: Was there a single event or series of events that helped get you over the hump?
RZ: No single event. The excitement of creating new things is what drives me.
MF: One of the things I love about your work, which I think can be evidenced by all facets, especially your directors commentary on HOTC, is your since of humor. Most people see you in a serious role all of the time, almost in a dark capacity. What do you think are some of the differences between peoples perceptions of you and the real you?
RZ: I really don't know. Since I don't know what people's perceptions of me are. One thing is for sure I certainly didn't achieve anything by being wasted and fucked up as some would like to think.
MF: I guess another way to look at this, how different is the Rob Zombie we see on stage in a concert from the Rob Zombie sitting at home working on movies?
RZ: Same exact guy, just a little more calm.
MF: One of the things I am impressed with is that not only do you have a sense of humor that a lot of people may not realize is there, but you are someone who thinks about your material. For example, your songs, movies, and comments in the past seem to indicate that you have a lot to say in life. What is it that Rob Zombie wants to let his fans, and those in the world know?
RZ: I really don't ever try and impose a message onto the fans. I think the beauty of art is that you can discover your own message. But if I had to say something it would be, "Do what you want with your life and don't listen to anyone. The people around you always try and stop you because they are afraid that you will succeed.
MF: Has Rob Zombee succeeded up to this point in his life?
RZ: All I ever wanted was to be able to not have a crap job. So the answer is yes.
MF: You have always been observed by many as being a person on the dark side, even at times associated with dark spiritual concepts, even according to some Christians, the Occult. You certainly address a lot of spiritual things in your movies, and certainly in your music. I know you read the review I did and I stated in it that I don't think anyone would see a more spiritual movie than TDR. I think that still holds true, I would even consider your recent CD Educated Horses as a very Spiritual effort, by the way a great CD. I know a personal question, but share some about the spirituality of Rob Zombie and where it comes from?
RZ: I believe in the power of one's own free will to achieve anything.
MF: In TDR, and even some of your songs there seems to be a conflict with what I would call "Traditional" or "Structured" Christianity. Truth is I think we both in many regards have some of the same feelings but with different conclusions. I actually loved the struggle in TDR with Sheriff Wydell and the execution of vengeance in relation to his faith. How much is Sheriff Wydell in TDR like what seems to be popular Christianity or Christian actions today?
RZ: Let's face it. The world is in bright living color. But some people want to live as if it is black and white, right or wrong. I thought rather than make Wydell a classic hero I would make him a man pushed to the limits of his own beliefs. At the same time I wanted to show our villains as human, even funny and charming at times. Life gets complicated and sometimes it is almost impossible to know who to side with.
MF: I actually think you carried out this effort brilliantly in Rejects. Did you get any negative response on this character conflict you created either before or after release of the movie?
RZ: Not really, some people complained that there was no one to root for. Whatever, that's sort of the whole point.
MF: This is a biggie, and again, hope you know I ask the question out of respect because I value your thought. Even if we disagree on the point, I think I can learn from you. I also know because I have been in contact with many of your fans who can't believe I love your stuff think and wonder the same thing. Here is my question though. What is Rob Zombies thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ, and specific to the person of Jesus Christ in comparison to Christianity? On this question, you obviously paint incredible pictures on the dark side of evil. As a follow up to this question, how do you see the evil you present in comparison or contrast to the person of Jesus?
RZ: Ya know if there is one thing I've learn over the years is that it is best to not discuss Religion or Politics. It always ends in broken noses.
MF: (laughing) I tend to agree, why do you think that is that it almost always ends up in the broken noses?
RZ: I think because it upsets people to question their faith in things be it Jesus or George Bush. It's easier to just get angry.
MF: I know the future looks bright right now. There is a new animated film coming out, you are working on Halloween for 2007, and the more music and a DVD release of your last tour. Tell us what we can be looking for and what to expect?
RZ: There are a million projects but right now I am 100% concentrating on Halloween. I want this film to blow your mind.
MF: I know you are a fan of Carpenter and he has blessed the effort. Can you tell us how that makes you feel; knowing that one of the masters supports what you are doing?
RZ: It's awesome. I first met john on the set of Escape from LA. He was very cool and took the time to hang out with me and show me around the set and stuff. To be working on Halloween is almost a surreal experience.
MF: Rob, thank you again so much for the chance to ask these questions. I really do want to value you and do you justice. In all seriousness, blessings to you and thanks.
RZ: Thanks to you.
Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
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To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.