“Glen Danzig: He Ain’t No Goddamn Son of Bitch”
Interview by Dan Kapelovitz
When you think of New Jersey and rock ‘n’ roll, one name comes to mind: Glen Danzig. Danzig has been creating his unique brand of music since the ’70s when he was the frontman for the horror-punk legends the Misfits (with their underground hit song, “I Ain’t No Goddamn Son of a Bitch”). The singer next formed the band Samhain, which eventually changed its name to Danzig. In 1992, Danzig released an instrumental classical album called “Black Aria,” based on John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost.” Danzig has just released the follow-up album to “Black Aria,” called (what else?) “Black Aria II.” The record is inspired by Lilith, the apocryphal first wife of Adam (of Adam and Eve fame). Currently, Danzig runs his own comic-book line, Verotik, and has some possible movie projects in the works. He spoke to “High Society” about demon-fucking, UFOs and Roy Orbison.
HIGH SOCIETY: Let’s talk about your new album.
GLEN DANZIG: Which one?
HIGH SOCIETY: “Black Aria II,” the one your publicist has been sending out. Do you have another one?
DANZIG: “Lost Tracks” is coming out pretty soon, which is a two-CD set of unreleased Danzig tracks.
HIGH SOCIETY: Tell us about the “Black Aria II” album.
DANZIG: It’s an unofficial sequel to the first one, which was about “Paradise Lost.” This new one is about Lilith.
HIGH SOCIETY: So Lilith was the first wife of Adam?
DANZIG: It’s all mythology to me. I don’t mean just Lilith–the Bible and all of that. Basically, though, if you believe that stuff and in the canon, then this is the first wife of Adam. If you don’t believe that stuff, then you don’t believe the Bible. It was there; it was just excised by the people who decided that certain things that were written shouldn’t be in the Bible, and they took them out and pretended they never existed, not just the story of Lilith, but lots of stories.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you take the Bible literally yourself?
DANZIG: No, actually there are so many earlier versions of the Christian myth of a messiah, they just kind of stole it, but people even before them stole it. It was a story that was handed down centuries and centuries and reworked and rewritten. They don’t like hearing that. There’s a good primer book called “Pagan Christ,” and it will give you a good introduction to those stories.
HIGH SOCIETY: What is the story of Lilith?
DANZIG: Basically, the Lilith story is that Adam had a first wife, her name was Lilith, but she was created equally like Adam; she couldn’t be controlled. She was headstrong. She had her own opinion.
HIGH SOCIETY: Is it true that she refused to be on the bottom while having sex with Adam?
DANZIG: That’s bullshit. She was independent, so she was kicked out, and then–so they didn’t make the same mistake twice–they created Eve from Adam’s rib, whereas Adam was created from dirt and so was Lilith–they were both created as individuals. This time, they would create Eve from Adam’s rib so she wouldn’t be that independent. She’d always be a part of Adam.
HIGH SOCIETY: Doesn’t Lilith end up as a demon?
DANZIG: Adam still loves her, and she loves him, but they are not allowed to be together. She ends up getting banished and fucking demons and becoming a demon herself. There’s the Lilith killing rage, which is infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. People used to put little amulets around kids’ necks to protect them from Lilith; it’s crazy shit.
HIGH SOCIETY: Are there people today who still believe that Lilith exists?
DANZIG: In Europe, they are scared that kids are going to die in their sleep, and they make them wear the little Lilith amulet. I put it on my record; it’s a Lilith trap, basically, it lures her in, and she’s caught in the middle and can’t get out. It’s like a maze. I put the trap on the record cover. It’s folklore, just like anything.
HIGH SOCIETY: What does it say in Hebrew across Lilith’s stomach on your album cover?
DANZIG: That’s not necessarily Hebrew. Is it?
HIGH SOCIETY: It looks exactly like Hebrew.
DANZIG: That script existed before Hebrew.
HIGH SOCIETY: What is it then?
DANZIG: That’s not Hebrew. It may have been adapted into Hebrew.
HIGH SOCIETY: Does it have a name?
DANZIG: Do your homework. What am I, your fucking teacher? There are so many misconceptions about so many things. Sometimes when I’m talking to people, it’s frustrating because I’ll tell people stuff and they won’t believe me. People know so little; it’s not their fault. I’m not saying they are dumb or anything, so much has been kept from so many people for so long. It’s a shame.
HIGH SOCIETY: What does it say in whatever language it’s supposedly in then?
HIGH SOCIETY: You can’t reveal that?
DANZIG: I could tell you if I wanted to, but I don’t want to.
HIGH SOCIETY: Didn’t you just say it was a shame that people are kept from information?
DANZIG: You can go look it up.
HIGH SOCIETY: How should I look it up? I can’t type letters that look exactly like Hebrew but aren’t even really Hebrew into Google.
DANZIG: That’s right. You can’t. You can’t type it into fucking Google.
HIGH SOCIETY: Moving on, then. What’s the language that goes around in a circle on the album cover?
DANZIG: That’s the Lilith trap.
HIGH SOCIETY: With no lyrics on the album, how are listeners supposed to learn about Lilith through the music?
DANZIG: I didn’t say that. They can learn about Lilith by just doing research. It’s not a hidden story; there are tons of books about Lilith, by psychiatrists, by everybody. When they did the Lilith Fair, that’s why they used that name. Some of the female independence groups have championed Lilith because of her independence.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you think many feminists will be into your new album?
DANZIG: I don’t know. I don’t care. I didn’t do it for them. I did it because it’s an interesting story that I’ve always been interested in.
HIGH SOCIETY: How do you convey the story without lyrics, just via the music?
HIGH SOCIETY: But if someone had never heard of Lilith, they wouldn’t be able to tell that the album is about Lilith.
DANZIG: That’s not true. That’s kind of a narrow vision.
HIGH SOCIETY: Are you telling a narrative with the music?
DANZIG: The mood for me, because it’s piece to piece to piece, basically does move along with the story; that’s the way I did it. Hopefully, people will understand it, or just dig it. They don’t have to understand the story; they can just listen to the music and enjoy the music.
HIGH SOCIETY: Did you play all of the instruments?
DANZIG: I did pretty much all the instruments. There’s a girl, a classical singer, who did some of the female vocals.
HIGH SOCIETY: Your first classical album, “Black Aria,” did well on the classical charts.
DANZIG: It hit number one. It doesn’t mean that many records, but it’s a cool thing.
HIGH SOCIETY: Are any of your fans upset that you don’t sing on these classical albums?
DANZIG: No, actually, I put the first one out because most of the fans had heard that stuff–or some of the stuff at least–as intros to the Danzig live set or on home video. They just wanted to hear more of it. I didn’t think it would be successful. I just put it out for the fans. I didn’t give any free copies to the press. I didn’t do any advertising on the first one. I just thought I’d sell a couple thousand of them to the die-hard fans. I put a disclaimer on the back, saying, “Hey, if you think you are buying a Danzig album, a rock record, this isn’t a fucking rock record. Don’t buy it if that’s what you think you’re buying.” The fans really liked it. It was a little different, but it was still dark. I think they’re gonna like this one too.
HIGH SOCIETY: What’s going on with your film?
DANZIG: There’s a bunch. We’re in preproduction now with the “Ge Rouge” movie, which is a turn-of-the-century New Orleans voodoo story, plus I’m writing all of these other scripts. We’ll see what happens. It’s Hollywood. One day you have a deal; one day you don’t.
HIGH SOCIETY: You were offered the role of Wolverine in the “X-Men” movie?
DANZIG: A couple of times.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you regret turning it down?
DANZIG: No. I don’t even know if I would have got it. At the time, when I met with the last team that ended up doing the movie, they basically told me, if I got the role, I would have to leave for Canada for nine months, and I was just about to start the European leg of “Satan’s Child” and then go right into the American leg, which was three or four months total. And I said, “I can’t do that, because I got to do this.” I hadn’t been on the road for about three years at the time so my band was itching to get back on the road, but I just said, “I can’t do it, even if you give me the part. I gotta do this. And you’re telling me I can’t break away for a month here or a month there. I can’t do it.”
HIGH SOCIETY: You played yourself on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” Are you going to do more acting?
DANZIG: Because I’m a musician, and that’s how I make my living, I can be choosy and picky about what I do. I’m sure if I were an actor, everything that I got offered I would do, but I get all this stuff I just don’t want to be in it. I doubt I will be in that much more, unless someone offers me something really cool.
HIGH SOCIETY: Would you star in your own movies?
HIGH SOCIETY: People say that Lilith is a succubus, a demon who takes the form of a female and has sex with men as they sleep.
DANZIG: One of her aspects, yeah.
HIGH SOCIETY: Have you ever had a succubus experience?
DANZIG: No, not really.
HIGH SOCIETY: Have you ever had any mystical or supernatural experiences?
DANZIG: What do you call mystical or supernatural? Just living, just the human body functioning, if you think about it, it’s pretty fucking supernatural.
HIGH SOCIETY: Have you seen any ghosts?
DANZIG: Oh, yeah, of course. My life is very different than everybody else’s life. I’ve known it since I was a kid so it’s not some big revelation to me.
HIGH SOCIETY: Did something happen to you as a kid that made you realize this?
DANZIG: You experience things that other people don’t experience. You are more in tune with things that other people aren’t.
HIGH SOCIETY: What do you think of UFOs?
DANZIG: I think that we are not the only living creatures that occupy this whole universe.
HIGH SOCIETY: Have you ever seen a UFO?
DANZIG: I don’t know if it was a flying saucer, but back East there was a radio tower there, and we always would get buzzed by UFOs, and when I say UFOs, I mean unidentified flying objects; no one knows what it was.
HIGH SOCIETY: What do you think of Satan?
DANZIG: It depends on which Satan you’re talking about, because there are so many versions of it. Different religions have their own version of it; some people don’t even have a version of it. As an independent character, a voice of rebellion, a voice of challenging the status quo, it’s probably the best role model out there.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you think there’s an actual being called Satan?
DANZIG: I don’t believe or disbelieve. I’m open.
HIGH SOCIETY: I heard that one of your assistants freaked out and became a born again Christian.
DANZIG: That’s what I had heard. But at the end of the day, I think that was a weird phase they went though and then they went all crazy again like a month or two after that. It wasn’t an assistant; it was someone I hired to edit the Verotik line. That editor got all mixed up on drugs.
HIGH SOCIETY: What do you think of drugs? Are they good to experiment with?
DANZIG: It depends on the drug. And I can’t tell you not to do it, and I can’t tell you to do it. I would say, if you are going to do it, you should do it when you are younger and not older. Your body can take it better, and I think older people tend to use drugs as a crutch, and younger people tend to just do it to have fun. I think mentally you don’t really care so much about it when you’re younger; it’s just something fun to do because you’re bored. When you’re older, I think you do it because you have problems. It can be a little more addictive, more of an escape.
HIGH SOCIETY: Did you get to meet Roy Orbison when you wrote a song for him?
DANZIG: Yeah. I first went over to his house in Malibu and we practiced the songs, and then went into the studio for a week or so doing the track. He’s a nice guy.
HIGH SOCIETY: Same with Johnny Cash?
DANZIG: It was similar. I think Cash was darker, but not any less a Southern gentleman, which is what they were. You would never realize that they thought they were stars; they were just so humble and nice.
HIGH SOCIETY: How did those songs come about?
DANZIG: With Roy, Rick Rubin asked me if I knew who Roy Orbison was, he was thinking of putting him on some record. I said, “You got to.” He said, would you write him a song, because he was having writer’s block at the time. I said, “Fuck yeah, I would write a song.” With Johnny, he had heard the song I wrote for Roy and asked if I was available to write something for him and they called me up and asked if I knew who Johnny Cash was, and I said, “Fuck yeah. Of course I know who Johnny Cash is, you retard.” And they asked if I’d write him a song, and I said, “Hell, yeah.” So that was really cool.
HIGH SOCIETY: Have you ever considered doing Roy Orbison songs, or other older covers?
DANZIG: I thought about doing a cover record for a long time. The Misfits were going to do a Roy Orbison cover, but we never did. If I ever do a cover record, maybe I’ll put one on there.
HIGH SOCIETY: What other songs would you cover?
DANZIG: It would probably be the weirdest, most eclectic blend of stuff.
HIGH SOCIETY: I heard that when you went on tour with Marilyn Manson, they kept trying to get kicked off the tour so they would only play two songs and then quit before you were ready to hit the stage, and all of this other crazy stuff. Is that true?
DANZIG: No. I don’t think they ever only played two songs. They played full sets.
HIGH SOCIETY: Did they get kicked off the tour?
DANZIG: No. Who said that?
HIGH SOCIETY: I just heard a rumor about that.
DANZIG: That’s bullshit; who told you that? The only bands that ever got kicked off the Danzig tour was Powerman and Disturbed. Disturbed didn’t show up for one or two shows so we kicked them off. They were the opening act anyway so it didn’t matter. And Powerman, similar, they just started to act like assholes on the road, so they ended up getting dumped half way through the tour, and we took out Cold Chamber.
HIGH SOCIETY: What do you think of porn?
DANZIG: It depends. Porn is just like any other medium; there’s good and there’s crud. There are people who do a good job, and there are people who don’t do a good job. I know they just did Ed Lee’s Grub Girl, which is one of our characters off of Verotik. They just did that as an adult movie, directed by Craven Moorehead.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you have a favorite porn star?
DANZIG: It changes all of the time, because they come and go so quick.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you still get a piece of Misfits merchandise?
DANZIG: I own my brand and Jerry owns his, and I kind of oversee Doyle’s little thing of Misfits stuff.
HIGH SOCIETY: Was it true that they couldn’t use the name “Misfits” because that was the name of Jem and the Holograms’ rival band on the cartoon series “Jem”?
DANZIG: No. If there was a lawsuit, they would have lost because we had the name way before that. That’s all Internet bullshit, dude. You live on the Internet too much, man. You have to look out in the real world.
HIGH SOCIETY: Well, I’m in the real world now, and I’m going right to the source, and I’m asking you.
DANZIG: That’s Internet crap though. Actually, I think they got scared of getting a lawsuit from us, and I think they just ended up not using it anymore. I think the show was such a disaster anyway that they just canceled it all.
HIGH SOCIETY: That was supposedly why the Misfits hadn’t played for a long time.
DANZIG: No, the Misfits had broken up. Those guys didn’t come back around until ’95 or ’96 because they thought there was a dollar to make. That’s really what it was all about.
HIGH SOCIETY: Will the original line-up of the Misfits ever get back together?
DANZIG: The thing that Doyle and I did last year was probably the closest you’ll ever see to anything like that.
HIGH SOCIETY: You don’t get along with the other members?
DANZIG: Well, it was really only Jerry, because we had so many drummers. And I think Doyle was the only stable guitar player we ever had, and I think he isn’t talking to his brother [Jerry] at all. It’s not gonna happen.
HIGH SOCIETY: Are you sick of touring?
DANZIG: Yeah. I’m not sick of playing live; I’m sick of bouncing around on a bus and humping around my shit.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do you have any weird fans?
DANZIG: Yeah, I have a lot of weird fans. I have a lot of nice fans. I would have to say for the most part they are all pretty nice. I do have that weird little percentage that are nuts. I don’t want to escalate it by telling you what they do. Let’s say that some of them go beyond the fan thing and take it a little bit crazy.
HIGH SOCIETY: Do female fans ever think you are talking directly to them?
DANZIG: I would guess some of that happens. I usually try to be nice to people, and as long as they’re nice to me, I’m nice to them.
(This article first appeared in High Society Magazine)
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