As a heavy-metal musician and film director ( House of 1000 Corpses and 2007's Halloween remake), Rob Zombie scares the bejeebers out of his audiences. Now, as he readies himself for a tour of Canada, he says we've nothing to fear - except fear-mongering (and monotony) itself.
You're touring worldwide, you just directed a scary Woolite television commercial out in Vancouver and you'll begin shooting your next movie, Lords of Salem, this fall. If someone were to ask you what business you're in, what would you tell them?
The shortest answer would be the entertainment business. Everything I do, whether it's a movie, a record or a show, comes down to that.
The entertainment business, same as Justin Bieber and Clint Eastwood. Could you narrow it down?
I wouldn't be more specific. I would find a reason to walk away. I've always hated talking about myself. In the early days, when nobody knew about our band [White Zombie] I thought, 'You know what, when the band is big enough, they'll know about it.'
Your dislike for talking about yourself might make this conversation a bit difficult.
This is different. This is an interview.
To get back to your business, I would say that you're in the shock and fear business. The current climate seems to be ripe for that kind of thing. Do you agree?
Television news in the United States has gotten into real fear-mongering. I really feel like it's become bread and circuses. People are given cheap, crappy entertainment to keep them occupied, and the news keeps them scared so they'll listen to what they say. But the world is not as scary as they want you to think it is.
Your tour with Slayer is called the Hell on Earth tour. What's your concept of hell?
There's no hell. There's no afterlife. That's another thing that keeps people out of their minds.
The idea that there's nothing to look forward to after you die would be frightening to a lot of people in the world, don't you think?
Look at the world - it's amazing. This is it, man. Enjoy it. People think that when they die they're sent to a better place. No. Get with the program - it's all happening now.
What's your definition of hell on Earth, then?
To me, hell on Earth was back when I had a crappy job, watching my life tick away. I worked at a bank, running documents through a microfiche machine for eight hours a day. I can see how a person could walk in with a gun and just start shooting. It's enough to make you crack.
You're scaring me, Rob Zombie.
What I'm saying is you gotta do what you like, or what's the point of living? But I think the whole system is set up to stop you from doing what you like. Ever since you're a little kid, people are telling you, 'Don't do that.' It's a bummer. It really is.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Rob Zombie and Slayer's Hell on Earth tour plays Toronto's Heavy T.O. Festival, Saturday; Winnipeg, July 27; Saskatoon, July 29; Calgary, July 30; Edmonton, July 31; Victoria, Aug. 2; Vancouver, Aug. 3.