“We had a blast on that tour and that’s why we’re returning. As soon as we did it we were ready to come back. I don’t even know who else is playing though, to tell you the truth!” This year’s show will be a fresh interpretation of the Zombie worldview compared to last time. “It’ll be different…I don’t remember what exactly we did last time because we’ve played so many shows since then, but it’ll be different. Different show, different songs, different anything.”
So what goes into putting on a show like this? Obviously not everyone who’s in a band and is reading this will have the budget and the practical means to put on a show of such a scale, but how does it go from a concept to the stage?
“There are many things. A lot of times I’ll come up with an idea even when we’re making the record. I can visualise it. I’ll come up with a crazy idea like, ‘Oh, I want to make a 14-foot-tall boom-box to stand on.’ And then I go to my friend Wayne who has built all of my stage props and worked on my movies, and then we work out how to build it, how to ship it, how to pack it – the mechanical parts are sometimes the hardest. Some times you can visualise it and build it but that doesn’t mean it fits! Sometimes the rooves are too low and we can’t actually use it. There’s a lot of thought that goes into something like that.”
Australian audiences often miss out on all of this great production stuff altogether due to the expense of touring down here, but Zombie would rather not stiff the fans out of getting the full show, even if it means taking a financial hit. Even then, sometimes fate gets in the way. “It’s such a drag because in the US is where we do our biggest shows and it’s so expensive to ship it. It costs more to ship it than it does to build it in the first place! And it’s always the case that when we ship it, even if it arrives in time it gets damaged and we can’t use it anyway!”
So in terms of being a performer, are there a lot of cues to hit, during a show like that, or is there scope to get lost in the moment?
“I mean, it depends. Last summer we did this thing called the Mayhem tour and there were a lot of cues because there was so much pyro and so many giant props that it was almost like a Broadway show. And I kind of hated that after a while because you can’t really get lost in the moment – there are so many moving parts. But on the last tour we just did, a co-headlining tour with Korn, we left all that stuff at home and we did a rock tour without all that crap. And we did great. I think the band is actually better without it because you can get lost in the moment and you can use the stage differently, which you can’t really do when you have all that other stuff because it gets in the way. I thought all the fans would complain but no-one ever mentioned it. It was unbelievable!”
Zombie occupies an enviable position where he’s been able to make a career for himself in which he’s free to both celebrate and participate in what he loves – monster movies, shock rock, Comix iconography – whereas the majority of kids who grew up obsessing over that stuff never made the leap to turning it into a career.
“Everything that I love, that I now do, it never seemed feasible that you could do it for a living,” he says. “When I was a kid, being a fan of Alice Cooper and KISS, it didn’t seem like you could do that. It seemed like this larger-than-life personality. It didn’t seem like you could do it. Same thing with movies: you’d see Raiders of the Lost Ark or Close Encounters of the Third Kind and it didn’t seem like you could do that. It seemed like, ‘Oh, special people do that.’ And I didn’t live in Hollywood, I didn’t live in New York City, I didn’t live anywhere or have any access to anybody connected to show business at all. And it really wasn’t until I discovered punk rock around 1981 or so and started listening to The Ramones and the Dead Kennedys: punk rock made me think, ‘Oh I could do that.’
“And then it just becomes baby steps. Every day you see new possibilities of where you can go to it. To get from Point A to Point B seems like an impossible journey, but there are a million steps in between. And it’s totally possible! The funny thing is that most of the people who do these things that we’re talking about are from tiny towns! If you have the passion, it will happen. Most people don’t make their dreams come true because they’re not passionate enough about it and they quit. They’re not bad at it, they just quit!
“As soon as somebody asks me, ‘What’s your advice for someone trying to do, whatever, fill in the blank’, I go, ‘The fact that you asked me that question tells me you’re never going to do it because you’re already looking for a shortcut’. The person who’s going to do it is already doing it. They’re not asking anyone’s advice. I didn’t ask anyone’s advice. I just do my own crazy thing because I love it.”
BY PETER HODGSON