Rob Zombie on Pee-wee's Playhouse, and how he's not on tour to party and to fuck around
Rob Zombie originally came to prominence with his first band, White Zombie. With a penchant for campy horror imagery and music that was the perfect mutant blend of an industrial aesthetic with trashy metal and punk, White Zombie was one in a handful of bands that crossed the alternative-rock world and the metal world at a time when the former was going out of vogue. After the band broke up, Zombie embarked on a "solo" career under his own name. Over the past decade or so, he has also become something of an acclaimed filmmaker, starting with his classic debut House of a Thousand Corpses and its far less cartoonish sequel, The Devil's Rejects.
Zombie has since made a worthy remake of John Carpenter's horror milestone, Halloween, and he is on the verge of releasing his next venture into cinematic darkness with Lords of Salem. Whether he's trying to entertain and amuse you or utterly disturb you, Zombie knows how to get under your skin.
Currently Zombie is on tour with Marilyn Manson on the Twins of Evil Tour. In advance of their Colorado tour stop next Tuesday at 1STBANK Center, we caught up with Zombie and talked about his collaboration with Foetus, his stint on Pee-wee's Playhouse, his commercials, his favorite classic horror movie monster and the importance of professionalism behind the scenes.
Westword: How did you meet Jim Thirlwell, and why did you want to work with him on that demo you did for Geffen?
Rob Zombie: Jim Thirlwell...I don't know when I met him. I was a fan of his work. I really liked all the Foetus work and Wiseblood. It was just the Lower East Side New York. You know, everybody was around: Jim Thirlwell, Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, all those bands. White Zombie was just part of that scene back in the '80s.
I don't remember when I met him, but I do remember going over to his house. He lived in Brooklyn in a really cool loft. When we got the money to make our Geffen demo, I thought his records sounded brilliant, so that's why I wanted him to produce it. I didn't have a copy of it, but the only song that survived from the demos was "Thunderkiss '65." Everything else we never used.
A few years ago you did an interview with Jimmy Fallon and you talked about having worked on Pee-wee's Playhouse. Other than being kind of a drag, what was the nature of your job on the show?
Nothing interesting, really. It was a cool job to have. But I was probably nineteen years old. It was everything from delivering stuff to doing little crap work around the set. I don't even know if I was a P.A. Whatever is just below a P.A. I'm not even sure it counts as below a P.A., but that was my job. Lowest rung on the ladder -- that would be [the title I give myself for that job].
It was cool, and I liked it. Besides being a fan of Pee Wee Herman, Phil Hartman was on the show. William Marshall, Blacula, was the King of Cartoons. There were all kinds of people I really liked on the show. So it was pretty exciting.
What's your favorite classic movie monster?
I think my favorite is Frankenstein's monster, probably because it's so iconic. I think when I was a little kid, I would have said King Kong. But I think Frankenstein just because I loved everything about it. The design is the most classic design. It just seems like Hollywood to me. If you think Hollywood you think, you know, Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe and Frankenstein.
Also, I like the character. Even in my movies I always want to make the monsters...That was my whole pitch for my re-make of Halloweenmy take on it. I always saw him as Frankenstein.