Glenn Danzig: Underground auteur talks about photography, the future, and Cleveland’s Dead Boys
by Pete Kotz
on Thu, May 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM
Glenn Danzig’s DNA is splattered all over the dark underworld of punk, hardcore, and heavy metal. And while his work may be footnotes to the musical mainstream, what footnotes they are.
Danzig’s 1992 instrumental Black Aria album topped Billboard’s Classical charts, and last year’s sequel cracked the top ten, landing between Itzhak Perlman and Andrea Bocelli. Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison performed songs he wrote. And Rick Rubin (2007’s Grammy winner for Producer of the Year) produced the early albums from Danzig’s self-titled band, which are slowly receiving recognition as rock classics. Not bad for a Jersey guy who made his first marks as a tattooed punk, singing uptempo horrorcore tunes like “Astro Zombies” in an Elvis croon.
Learn more about his 30-year recording career in this week’s Scene, which takes a look at the new Lost Tracks of Danzig collection. And read on for exclusive online excerpts that didn’t make it into this week’s story:
Scene: Does The Lost Tracks of Danzig collection empty your vaults?
Danzig: No. There’s still more. No one’s gonna hear that other stuff, though.
Scene: Do you still shoot photos yourself?
Danzig: We’re talking about doing a Danzig photo book, which would just be tons of photos from the beginning till now. Back in the punk days, shots now, shots on the video sets, hanging out on tour. Kind of a nice, cool book. Maybe there’ll be some really cool photos in there. I have photos I took back in the day of Sid [Vicious] on stage and the Cramps backstage with the original lineup, and Richard Hell, all these people. Pictures of the Damned, from a three-night stand at CBGB’s, where the Dead Boys opened up. I hated the Dead Boys, I thought they were an awful, poseur band. I had to sit through them to see the Damned. Then I didn’t get many Damned pictures. The bassist was too wasted to play, and he wrecked everything.
Scene: How do you demo something like Black Aria 2’s “Lamenta Lilith”, which had female vocals?
Danzig: I didn’t demo it. We just called up the engineers and rolled the tape… It’s like any song: You hear the song in your head, and you try to visualize it, and you go out there and try to teach the girl how to sing what you want her to sing. I laid down the tracks, and then had the girl start singing to it. She couldn’t do it, so then I would come in and do a vocal track for her to sing to, so it progresses - you just do whatever has to be done to make it happen. I’m going to do a 3.There are two subjects it might be about. But if I do it about this one - I might just do it about Hell - it’s going to be very crazy: lots of jazz chords, dark, creepy, symphonic jazz chords. Like Hell, my version. And I might not do that; I might do something more ethereal.
Scene: Will there be a ninth Danzig album?
Danzig: Yeah. I’ve been working on some Danzig stuff. But hopefully sometime in 2008, I’ll go into the studio and start laying down some basics. -- D.X. Ferris