photo & text by nacrowe
the genius of WHITE ZOMBIE was their ability to create a cohesive, all-consuming visual and aural world that made constant references to obscure corners of culture from KUSTOM KAR CULTURE and COMIC BOOKS to classic SCI-FI and MONSTER MOVIES to independent HORROR / SLASHER FILMS. basically diving into their world, and by that i mean mastermind ROB ZOMBIE, was an education into an appreciation of UNDERGROUND ART and the COUNTER CULTURE where GEORGE ROMERO, RIDLEY SCOTT, JAMES WHALE, KENNETH ANGER, THE KUCHAR BROTHERS, JOHN WATERS, STANLEY KUBRICK all preside and are repeatedly celebrated.
part of me wonders allowed how ROB's time as a production assistant on the likewise eclectic PEE-WEE's PLAYHOUSE: which had NICK PARK (WALLACE & GROMIT), DANNY ELFMAN, THE RESIDENTS, GARY PANTER (JIMBO'S INFERNO), VAN DYKE PARKS, TIM BURTON, CRAIG BARTLETT (HEY ARNOLD!) and MARK MOTHERSBAUGH (DEVO) among many others working in collaboration.
in my opinion ASTRO-CREEP: 2000 - SONGS OF LOVE, DESTRUCTION AND SYNTHETIC DELUSIONS OF THE ELECTRIC HEAD (GEFFEN, 1995) is the zenith of ROB ZOMBIE's career and artistically his most successful artistic achievement to date. his later celebrated filmography and string of solo records all seem to point back to this record and the one before it, LA SEXORCISTO: DEVIL MUSIC VOLUME ONE (GEFFEN, 1992).
for me growing up, this was a huge record. just visually i remember being amazed by the artwork which was defiantly not kid friendly. i recall having to sneak in copies borrowed from friends past my parents. so right off the bat listening to this record was almost an act of defiance as a kid. i mean now i totally understand why it is entirely responsible to shield an 11 year-old from adult themes, but such was the era i grew up in. with the internet and conduits like YOUTUBE and SPOTIFY, i don't know how you could possible do such as a parent now but that is another discussion entirely.
the music itself is what people now refer to as GROOVE METAL, a fairly riff-based extremely heavy that is not that dissimilar from that of peers in PRONG and PANTERA. sonically what separated them was their cut-up aesthetic for utilizing snippets from films and odd instruments to create a vibe. unlike their peers, WHITE ZOMBIE and specifically their guitarist JAY YUENGER, were the masters of setting up songs almost like little films. there is a cinematic structure to the songs where an atmosphere is introduced and establishes a setting where the chorus or a big-riff delivers the payoff. tracks like "I, ZOMBIE," "ELECTRIC HEAD, PART 1 (THE AGONY)," "GREASE PAINT AND MONKEY BRAINS," "CREATURE OF THE WHEEL," "SUPER CHARGER HEAVEN" and, of course "MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN" did this in spades. those songs absolutely crush because of that cinematic buildup and payoff. i would argue that this element is what has been missing from ROB's solo efforts, as those structures seem clipped and abbreviated whereas on ASTRO-CREEP: 2000 and LA SEXORCISTO they breathe and seemingly come about organically to great effect. i may be naive, but i attribute that lost element to the dismissal of YUENGER when ROB forged his solo career shortly thereafter.
when i think about ASTRO-CREEP: 2000 i cant help but feel that it is the true embodiment of the "more is more" mantra of songwriting. same with the visuals and the stagecraft. i would describe it as what ALICE COOPER would want to see if ALICE COOPER grew up listening to ALICE COOPER. its complete sensory overload. and that is essentially why i love this record. its almost too much. you really have to just submit and be taken for the ride. case in point is my favorite song on the record "BLOOD, MILK AND SKY" which takes you on a journey deep into the heart of a depraved psyche im not sure i want to visit. its an ambitious record during a time when the stakes seemed to have been lowered and ROCK AND ROLL became more pedestrian and approachable. this stuff wasnt tangible. this was some MT. OLYMPUS music.
stil a favorite to this day that i highly recommend. well worth the effort.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i think people are aware enough of the innovative and controversial shenanigans that have taken place on the HOWARD STERN SHOW over the years. it is pretty amazing that he is being finally recognized in his late career for his singular interviewing skills, i'd even argue that his shows now are among the best of his career. just wish he'd stay off those lame network talent shows.
regardless i think often overlooked as well are the number of amazing music performances that have taken place on his radio show, mostly of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK, METAL and CLASSIC ROCK variety including the likes of CHRIS CORNELL, JOHN FOGERTY (CREEDANCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL), FIONA APPLE, DAVE GROHL (NIRVANA/FOO FIGHTERS), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), ROB ZOMBIE (WHITE ZOMBIE), DAVID BOWIE, PERRY FARRELL (PORNO FOR PYROS / JANE'S ADDICTION)
definitely check some of these out and see what i mean.