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Rob Zombie has been carving out a strange legacy of music in the world of rock, beginning in 1985 with the formation of his brainchild White Zombie. From the start, White Zombie was a bizarre hybrid of hardcore/punk aggression, Lower East Side art-damage and hard rock thunder. As if that weren't enough, these fixations were filtered through Mr. Zombie's love of classic horror/sci-fi films, trash hot rod culture and generally, all things on the dark side.
Zombie oversaw every aspect of the band's journey from their early independent releases to their major label albums. He created the band's unique visual style, designing everything Zombie: album art, T-shirts, stage shows and music videos. This was a man obsessed. "I never saw it as work; I love doing everything," insists Zombie. "How else can you realize a complete vision?" After five independent releases, Zombie's efforts paid off in 1990 when the band signed with Geffen Records.
White Zombie's major label debut, entitled "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1," was issued in 1991. The band toured long and hard, playing more than 350 shows and eventually hitting pay dirt: The album spawned a hit single, the Grammy-nominated "Thunder Kiss '65," and went on to sell two million copies.
In 1993 White Zombie returned with "Astro-Creep: 2000." The album rose to Billboard's Top Ten and stayed there for two months, remaining firmly in the Top 200 for 89 weeks. "Astro-Creep: 2000" gave the world "More Human Than Human," an infectious, Grammy-nominated hit.
Also in 1993, Rob Zombie won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Hard Rock Video for the self-directed clip for "More Human Than Human." Soon thereafter, "Astro-Creep: 2000" was certified double platinum.
"Supersexy Swingin' Sounds," a full album of Astro-Creep remixes by some of the hottest mixers in the field, followed quickly on the heels of that success: The disc turned to gold.
As the Astro-Creep tour was winding its way around the world, Rob Zombie somehow found time to indulge in a few special projects. First off was a duet with his childhood idol, Alice Cooper, for the soundtrack to the hit TV series "The X-Files." Zombie remarks of the collaboration: "Working with Alice was a dream come true. Ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to be Alice." The song, entitled "The Hands of Death," was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was up against another Zombie offering, "I'm Your Boogieman," from the platinum soundtrack to "The Crow: City of Angels."
While on tour, Rob Zombie also began working with "Beavis and Butt-head" creator Mike Judge on a key scene for the film "Beavis and Butt-head Do America." Zombie designed the classic hallucination sequence for the film between gigs. "Mike was looking for an idea for a hallucination for Beavis," he recalls. "He wanted something that was like the ultimate rock video. I suggested Beavis should go to hell, and Mike loved the idea." For many, this scene of Beavis hallucinating was a highlight of the film.
Zombie was then contacted again by the producers of "The Crow" film series. Having loved the spooky, psychedelic video Rob directed for "I'm Your Boogieman," they commissioned him to write the script for the next movie in the series.
Within weeks of completing the screenplay, Rob Zombie was sought out by none other than The King of All Media – Howard Stern. Stern wanted to duet with Zombie on a song for his upcoming movie, "Private Parts." "I've been a big fan of Howard for about 13 years," says Zombie, "so being able to work with him was an honor and a pleasure." The thumping "The Great American Nightmare" resulted; it became a theme song for both Stern and Zombie. "Private Parts," meanwhile, hit #1 at the box office, as did the soundtrack, which has been certified platinum.
Zombie next began work on his most ambitious album to date: "Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International." The disc was produced by Scott Humphrey (Metallica, Mötley Crüe) and Rob Zombie. Work on the album began in August of 1997 and was completed 10 months later. "Hellbilly Deluxe" (released Aug. 25, 1998) is a wild musical and visual journey through the mad, mad, mad world of Rob Zombie. "This is no small, self-indulgent album filled with whining about deep feelings," Zombie declares. "This is a full-blown evil raging beast – a total Zombie extravaganza."
Along for the ride were John Tempesta (White Zombie) on drums, Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails) on guitar, and other friends, including Tommy Lee. Explains Zombie: "Tommy played on two songs, 'Resurrection Joe' and 'Meet the Creeper.' He really brought a killer, heavy sound to those tracks."
The album boasts a deluxe 24-page booklet. "It's a welcome relief from the less-is-more school of thought," Zombie opines. "I grew up in the heyday of cool record packaging. I would stare at the record for hours. Now, you open a record and you get nothing. I always feel cheated."
The booklet presents artwork from Mr. Zombie, with a little help from some of his childhood heroes: Master monster painter Basil Gogos created the striking cover; Marvel Comics legend Gene Colan lent a hand as well. "I grew up worshipping the artists at Marvel Comics, and Gene was my favorite," Zombie reveals. "His work on 'Howard the Duck,' 'Dracula' and 'Dare Devil' is unsurpassed." The booklet also features a contribution from hot new artist Daniel Brereton.
Rob Zombie takes this enthusiasm for vehement visuals to the stage when he tours. "I really want to do something extra special, something to top all my previous shows," he says. Those who've experienced Zombie live know this is no mean feat – Zombie performances have become legendary for their "more is more" mentality, incorporating state-of-the-art lights, sound, video and pyrotechnics.
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