Interview: Glenn Danzig talks Elvis, his covers album, and his legacy ahead of Rock and Shock appearance
Having turned 60 years of age over the summer, on a day that was no doubt dirty and black, Glenn Danzig couldn’t be criticized for resting upon his laurels, of which there are many. Yet with a four-decade career that saw him front the iconic Misfits before striking out on his own, first in Samhain and then in a band on which he bestowed his surname, the metal man in black shows zero signs of slowing down.
Late next month, he has a covers album due out titled Skeletons which will feature the singer taking on tracks by Aerosmith, ZZ Top, the Everly Brothers and, of course, Elvis. In fact, he already has a full album of songs by the King in the can, appropriately dubbed Danzig Sings Elvis. Add that to an upcoming Danzig album of all new material (the band’s tenth) and a guest appearance on the show Portlandia, and it’s clear that age truly is nothing but a number in Glenn’s world.
Vanyaland caught up with Danzig earlier this week ahead of Saturday’s show at Rock and Shock in Worcester to talk about the upcoming reissues project for the Danzig albums, his enduring and still evolving legacy, the possibility of another covers record and the age old question, how exactly do you pronounce “Samhain?”
Michael Christopher: You just played New Orleans, a city for which you’ve always had an affinity. Do you approach the gigs there any differently?
Glenn Danzig: Well, we haven’t played there for a while, so we played until they kicked us offstage.
When you do go down there, are there any favorite haunts you visit?
We just walk around, enjoy the city and eat some great food.
The PR people said you should do this stuff for Sirius, because I listen to Sirius XM all the time because regular radio sucks big dick. So I listen to it all the time and they said you should come do something for Elvis radio, and it worked out great.
And you premiered your cover of “Always On My Mind?”
Yeah, so we premiered a cover of “Let Yourself Go” from this covers record, and then we also played the world premiere of one of the tracks from Danzig Sings Elvis that we just finished up. So yeah, I played “Always on My Mind.”
When is the Elvis EP finally gonna come out?
Well it’ll probably be a full album. I was working on the next Danzig album and we had some downtime so we recorded it. But I don’t know… hopefully it comes out sometime in 2016.
You’re playing Rock and Shock this weekend, and in music there are certain bands that just immediately fit in with horror, and Danzig is one of them. How conscious of an effort, even back to the Misfits, did you make on aligning the music with the horror genre?
It was just stuff that I was into and I wrote about and most of the lyrics were more of a socializing role or bent in pertaining to the horrors [in life] or in stuff that I read. Some people are into cooking, and I’m into that type of stuff.
When you do something like Rock and Shock, do you go to any of the panels or do you look for collectibles or anything like that?
No [laughs]. I don’t even know anything about that; it’s a date for the Blackest of the Black for me, that’s all I know.
Doyle (a.k.a. Wolfgang von Frankenstein, former Misfits guitarist) is playing this date — do you guys plan on rolling back the clock at all and doing a Misfits’ set?
Ummmm… not, not right now.
Skeletons comes out next month, and the tracklisting is incredibly varied. You won’t typically find covers of Black Sabbath and The Everly Brothers on the same collection. How did you go about not only choosing the songs, but putting your own spin on them?
Well, how I choose the songs is songs that I would have loved to have done. Basically they’re the songs that I like and basically choosing ones where it, “What can I do with it?,” and make it more my own.
Was it hard to narrow it down to those 10 in particular?
Yeah, it’s not easy, but you know… I’m pretty happy with the ones we did.
Now, I know this one isn’t even out yet, but can you see this being the beginning of something you revisit in the future? Will there be a Skeletons II?
Oh… I don’t even know. It took me so long to getting around to recording this one [laughs]. And I’m doing so many other things, and next is the Danzig record.
Speaking of that, you’ve got a reissues project coming up on Evillive, is it just going to be the Danzig records?
Yeah, it’ll just be the Danzig records and we’ll be doing them on vinyl.
One of the things I’ve always wanted to ask you, is it “Sam Hain” or “Sah-win?”
It’s both. The Celtic pronunciation is “sah-win,” and the American pronunciation, of course, because Americans don’t speak Celtic, is “Sam-hain” [laughs].
There’s been a lot made of the “Danzig Legacy” shows that you did featuring music from all three bands you’ve fronted. At nearly 40 years in, are you surprised that not only do you have a legacy, but that you’re still relevant, still talked about and still being discovered my new generations? Because it’s not something every artist experiences.
No, it’s great. Actually one of the reasons I originally signed with Rick Rubin, because so many labels were trying to sign me then, was that he understood that. I don’t want just two records that are gone, I want people to be coming back to my stuff years and years later like all of my favorite artists like the Velvet Underground and on and on. He said, “That’s exactly how I see it.” So I signed with Rick.
ROCK AND SHOCK FEATURING DANZIG + SUPERJOINT RITUAL + VEIL OF MAYA + PRONG + MANY OTHERS :: Saturday, October 17 at the DCU Center + Worcester Palladium :: 11 a.m. doors, all-ages, $40 to $45 :: Ticket info :: Facebook event page