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“So, Mr. Zombie,” we dared to asked the apparently crazed heavy metal rocker, feeling a little like a zombie ourselves on a recent Monday morning. “What is really going through the mind of Rob Zombie? Is it like we see on stage or on the screen?”
“I suppose. It’s hard to say,” was all Rob Zombie could offer.
Let’s figure this: It takes a bizarre mind to conjure up some of the stage frights that Rob Zombie is featuring in this “American Witch” tour, which hits North Little Rock’s North Shore Riverwalk on Friday, July 7: Oversized, mechanical skeletons, band members who have a dead look about them (and we don’t mean Grateful Dead), and gore aplenty, blending with the power metal screaming out of the speakers.
“It’s going to be nuts,” Zombie says of the show. “It’s just going to be total overload, total f****** overload.”
Rob Zombie headlines the “Edge Fest” show, sponsored by the local modern-rock radio station “The Edge” 100.3. Others on the mega-bill of metal are Anthrax, Shinedown, Trapt, Evans Blue and Halestorm.
The Edge is passing on the Riverfest Amphitheatre on the Little Rock side and setting up a stage where Riverfest the past few years has enjoyed large crowds for rock shows. Gates open at 4 p.m. and Halestorm starts the rocking at 4:45 p.m. Tickets are $35 through Ticketmaster and Area 51 in advance and $40 at the gate.
“I toured with Anthrax a long time ago, when I was in White Zombie, back in around 1991,” Zombie said from his home base of Hollywood. “Being outside is tricky, we’re always at the mercy of the elements. We have a lot of video screens on the stage. I love playing outside. We toured last summer in Ozzfest and the coolest day was 100 degrees. So your heat isn’t going to bother us.”
Zombie is on tour mainly because his soaring film career as a director is on a short break, he said. After the “American Witch” tour of several similar-sized cities and mostly outdoor facilities, Zombie goes back out with Godsmack later in the year.
But, he’s doing all this with an eye toward film.
After Zombie’s success directing “House of 1,000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects,” he’s been tapped to direct a remake of the original “Halloween” that made Michael Myers a haunted household name.
“About six months ago, around the Academy Awards, I got a call from Bob Weinstein’s office at Dimension [Films], asking me if I would come in and talk about projects,” Zombie said. “I get calls like that a lot now, but they threw the idea about me doing another ‘Halloween.’ I thought about it a couple of days and said, why not?”
So, he’ll write it and direct it. Zombie expects the project to take a year, if all goes as planned.
Unlike Hitchcock or M. Night Shamalyan, Zombie doesn’t do cameos in his freaky films. But his movies seem to fit his persona. He’s also working on the full-length animated project “The Haunted World of Superbeasto,” due out in late fall.
“I really like all kinds of movies,” he said. “I started out making horror movies, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now, but not where I necessarily want to stay. I really like intense movies, so down the road it could be a crime movie, or a Western movie, a really intense Western.”
He said he grew up enjoying the films of Martin Scorcese, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg in the 1970s. What he looks for in favored actors, he says, is more of the “character” kind, naming Paul Giamatti and Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton. “I’d like to do something with Billy Bob.”
Zombie surprised some in Hollywood, not just in directing films but in sticking with them.
“I take making films real seriously, I just don’t want to direct something just to say I directed it,” he said. “When I first started, people thought I wasn’t serious or it was a one-time thing. A lot of people try to direct films one time and don’t go back because it’s pretty insane. But I love it.
“Even where there are problems, you don’t mind them. I want to keep doing it. I was meant to do more than one film.”
But Zombie plans to keep his hands in music and touring. After “The Devil’s Rejects,” he worked with longtime producer Scott Humphrey from last Halloween to Christmas in the same studio where he recorded the last two Zombie records, “The Sinister Urge” and “Hellbilly Deluxe.” The result was the CD “Educated Horses” with such songs as “Death of It All,” “Let It All Bleed Out” and the first single, “American Witch.” Four of his previous seven albums have gone platinum and three others went gold in sales.
“I still enjoy both things,” he said. “I had some time off. I had finished the last movie, and coming off a movie you have a year and a half or two years of solid work, it really never ends. You’re pretty burnt out at that point, not that you don’t like it but you need to get away from it. Some people take a typical vacation. For me, going on tour is a typical vacation.”
Zombie’s been through Central Arkansas before, but don’t quiz him about it.
“I really don’t remember anything about anywhere,” he admits. “We roll in, get sound-checked, play the gig and roll out. The whole country is one big blur.”