Rob Zombie talks about writing and directing “The Lords of Salem” and new album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”

Rob Zombie is one of the founding members of the band White Zombie, but is notable for his solo act which spawned hits like “Living Dead Girl” and “Dragula”. While still working in music, he turned his sites over to writing and directing films. He has written and directed films like “House of 1000 Corpses”, “The Devil Rejects”, “Halloween (2007)” and “Halloween II (2009)”. His latest film, “The Lords of Salem”, is his most real and dark film to date. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Rob about the film and also his newest solo album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what or who were you major influences when you were written “The Lords of Salem”?
Rob Zombie: There wasn’t really one thing in particular. Truthfully, the biggest influence for me is that I wanted to make the type of midnight film I remember watching when I was in high school. Back in the day before you can get your hands on everything, I used to have these film books. I used to look at photos from movies like “Suspiria” or “Eraserhead”. I used to say “Fuck, I got to see these movies!” The feeling I would get when I would watch these movies was so special since they were so unique, odd and unlike anything mainstream. I wanted to make a movie that was like that. If you go to see “Lords of Salem” you are going to see something that isn’t what you wouldn’t typical expect to see at the movies. It takes it you to a whole other place. On a grand scale, that was really the inspiration that I wanted to make something like that.

MG: In terms of directing, did you learn any new tricks on this film?
RZ: Well I learned more patience, I think. It is very easy to be impatient when you are making a movie. I learned to just slow the camera down, slow the actors down and let the movie breathe. I wasn’t worried about the audience getting bored or restless, those qualities sometimes can help a movie. It is very easy to make a movie fast paced and keep people interested but sometimes that detracts from the certain mood you are trying to create. Sometimes you need the movie to drag in order to pull people down with it. That was something that I learned on this movie.

MG: The budget was $1.5 million; what was your biggest challenge working with that?
RZ: Everything! [laughs]. Everything was huge challenge. We had no money for anything. The cheapest movie that I have ever made in my life cost $7 million (which was “House of 1000 Corpses”). I was not used to be down in the no budget range. So as we were shooting, I was constantly re-writing the script and constantly changing things. So every second of the day was a challenge.

MG: The witch burning scene was very intense; tell us about shooting that scene?
RZ: We shot that whole scene very quickly, in fact it was done in one night. We had no time. Once again, I had come up with this great plan for shooting the witch burning scene but then I realized that we only had an hour to shoot. I set up one grand shot that I thought would have the most impact and then just went for it. My big goal was to not make it ever look like we didn’t have any time or money. That was what I was always trying to hide.

MG: How did you get genre legends like Patricia Quinn and Meg Foster, who had quite the transformation, on board?
RZ: It was fantastic. I have always loved Patricia Quinn because I was a huge “Rocky Horror” fan. I loved her in everything that she has done but she also hasn’t done a lot. She also hasn’t done a lot recently. But I always wanted to work with her. I had met her over dinner about 15 years ago talking about a movie that never happened, so I had always had her in my mind from day one. Meg Foster was someone who I always thought was cool and very beautiful with those piercing eyes, but I didn’t know if she would be right of this film. I wasn’t sure at first. So I got her on the phone and after talking for about an hour, I know that she would be perfect. She totally understood and got the film.

MG: Being a musician yourself; tell us about working with John 5 on the score?
RZ: He was great to work with on this film and obviously I have been working with John now for over eight years. I know how talented he is, not just as a guitar player but also a musician. It was very easy. I conveyed my ideas and what I was thinking and he executed them perfectly. He was great on this film.

MG: Tell us about the composition of The Lords music track?
RZ: That one was tricky trying to figure out what that track would be. John had worked on a few things and it wasn’t just right. I remember one day we were on the phone together, I was on the east coast and John was on the west, and we were just humming little weird melodies back and forth to each other on the phone. It was then that we found the sound that we were looking for. Neither of us can remember who came up with it first but we just knew we had it when we heard it.

MG: Horror fans are the toughest of any genre fan; what do you think they will appreciate the most within “The Lords of Salem”?
RZ: What I would appreciate most about the film is that it is different. I think that horror fans are tricky. They are all different kinds of people. Sometimes they are not the first ones to embrace something different. But again all of those films that I spoke love as a kid, those weren’t embraced at the time either. So I purposely made a film that would be a tough sell to people…but that is why I made it. I think it will be split. Some people will love it to death and some people just won’t get it.  But that is ok with me since everybody cannot get everything!

MG: Your new album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” is heavy and dark; tell us about the inspiration behind this album?
RZ: Well I think the movie and album sort of played into each other. I was doing them both around the same time. I had an editing room in my house were we edited the movie. Then we moved the editing room out and moved in a recording studio. I went right from one to the other. I think the vibe of the two projects sort of melded together. I wanted both of them to be weird and unique and that was the goal for me.

MG: Where do you find time to tour, making films and also new music?
RZ: That is all I do man! Where do I find time for anything else is more the question…[laughs].

MG: Do you still plan on directing “Tyrannosaurus Rex” next? What else is in the cards?
RZ: No, that project isn’t happening anymore. What is happening next besides the two we just spoke about is that I will be doing a lot of touring. I headline the Mayhem Fest 2013 tour, which is starting in June and that will go for a while. But the next film project I got is called “The Broad Street Bullies”, which is a true life sports film about the Philadelphia Flyers… which is totally different!

CD Review: Rob Zombie "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor"

Rob Zombie
“Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”
T-Boy Records/UMe
Producers: Rob Zombie
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Rob Zombie is back with a brand new solo album titled “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”. This is the veteran shock rockers 5th solo album and the follow up to his 2010 album “Hellbilly Deluxe 2”. The album features 11 original tracks and 1 off the wall cover produced by Zombie himself that contain his signature over the top horror fueled sound.

Though the title “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” is quite a mouth full the album continues the long tradition of Zombie albums that date back to the late 80’s.  Sonically “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” is pushed to the very edge of sanity and at times boils over in to insanity. Every conceivable sound layer seems to be utilized providing a different listening experience almost every time you here it. Songs such as “Lucifer Rising” feature driving guitars and thunderous drums while tracks like “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” feature haunting vocals and lingering samples that permeate in the airiness of the track. The album also features an interesting rendition of the Grand Funk Rail Road classic “We’re an American Band” which I found to be quite entertaining.

Though “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” may not measure up to some of Zombie’s previous work, it is still a pretty impressive piece seeing that both Zombie and guitarist John 5 were splitting time between working on this album and Zombies next film “The Lords of Salem”. A must have for hardcore fans however if you are looking to get in Zombie’s music this is not the album to start with. Fans wanting to pick up a copy of “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” will be able to do so starting on April 23rd.

Track Listing:
1.)    Teenage Nosferatu Pussy
2.)    Dead City Radio and The New Gods of Supertown
3.)    Revelation Revolution
4.)    Theme For the Rat Vendor
5.)    Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga
6.)    Rock and Roll (In a Black Hole)
7.)    Behold the Pretty Filthy Creatures
8.)    White Trash Freaks
9.)    We’re an American Band**(Grand Funk Railroad cover)
10.)  Lucifer Rising
11.)  The Girl Who Loved The Monster
12.)  Trade in Your Guns for a Coffin

Film Review “Re:Generation Music Project”

Directed By: Amir Bar-Lev
Starring: Skrillex, DJ Premier, The Crystal Method, Pretty Lights, Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, LeAnn Rimes, Dr. Ralph Stanley
Distributed by: D & E
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

In “Re:Generation”, acclaimed director Amir Bar-Lev (“The Tillman Story”, “My Kid Could Paint That”), has gathered an incredible amount of musical talent for a documentary that is well suited for the iPod era.

The main concept of this film is a simple one. Five popular DJs are partnered with musical genres they rarely if ever work with and each is expected to create a whole new track in a matter of days. This leads to pairings as unusual as electronic music artist Skrillex with the remaining members of The Doors and Pretty Lights with country legend Dr Ralph Stanley. The set up could be the conceit of a reality show to exploit the differences between generations but both the artists and filmmakers smartly recognize that this is not the goal here. Instead we see professionals getting honestly inspired by their collaborators. Taking on classical music, New York-based DJ Premier is especially fun to watch as he’s taught how to conduct the Berklee Symphony Orchestra. His piece stitches together rapper Nas with eleven classical works from Mozart to Brahms to wonderful effect.

The starriest of collaborations is the jazz work created by producer Mark Ronson in New Orleans with Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Dap-Kings and Zigaboo Modeliste. In a piece themed to gumbo, Ronson perfectly captures the spirit of the project when he says “You mix it all up in a pot and see what works.” In an age where people walk around with entire musical libraries in their pockets, this sentiment is clearly already accepted by modern listeners. Using available technology to create actual seamless blends like these is the natural next step.

Adding to the talent on display is the fact that the doc is beautifully shot. You can feel the excitement of the working studio through Bar-Lev’s fly-on-the-wall footage. When the final products are eventually performed, the sense of accomplishment is palpable as Bar-Lev cuts between the isolated artists recording and the wild, entertained crowds. It’s remarkable to see concert goers open to artists they may never have encountered otherwise. One can only hope the DJs take the inspiration they found during this film and continue to work outside their comfort zones.


Related Content