Some things are just meant to go together.
Apple pie and ice cream. Abbott and Costello. Danzig and Halloween.
When the calendar hits October, it seems like Glenn Danzig’s appointment book kicks into overdrive.
And with good reason—the man has become nearly synonymous with ghoulish pursuits, fueled by his fascination with horror and occult imagery, and his status as leader of three legendary bands with dark sonic blueprints: Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig.
With a musical career spanning more than three decades, Glenn Danzig shows no sign of slowing down.
Recently, he revived his namesake metal band and embarked on the Blackest of the Black tour of U.S. cities, which includes an NYC stop on October 21 and a Halloween double-bill with Rob Zombie.
Danzig is also ready to unveil his long-discussed, all-covers record, titled Skeletons, slated for a late November release.
Fans poking around online might have already heard the album’s version of “Devil’s Angels Theme,” from the 1967 Roger Corman cult film, or viewed the record’s eye-popping cover photo, which features Danzig in full skull makeup alongside former porn star Kayden Kross.
Skeletons will also feature covers of Black Sabbath, Elvis Presley, ZZ Top, Everly Brothers, The Troggs, and more.
In addition to his musical ventures, Danzig is knee-deep in work right now for his adult comic book company, Verotik. The Aquarian caught up with Danzig as he prepared to head out on the road, and asked him about his flurry of current projects.
How did you land on the song selections for Skeletons? What is it about these tunes that inspire you?
They’re songs that I felt would lend themselves to my style. I also felt I could bring a new element to them, and put my stamp on them. That’s really all there is to it.
When you’re covering another artist, is it challenging to bring that fresh element to the song, rather than just do a straight copy?
It can be, but usually I’ll have an idea going into it. I’ll hear a song, but then I’ll hear it differently in my head. And then I think, this is pretty cool and what I’d want to do with [the song].
The cover art you recently unveiled for Skeletons was pretty striking—talk about your concept for that.
One of my favorite album covers was Bowie’s Pin Ups. At first, I didn’t know what I was going to do for the cover, but I knew I was calling the record Skeletons. Eventually, I had this idea that I would do a take on the Bowie Pin Ups cover, but I’d put myself in my old skull-face, and the girl would be in skull-face, too. It would be a model-like kind of look. So, it’s like David Bowie if he were much darker and creepier. (Laughs)
What was it like putting on the skull makeup for the first time since your Misfits days?
It was fine. We did it right before the photo shoot and everybody was like, “Whoa!”
When you’re covering a song that might be more obscure, like the Devil’s Angels theme, you’re potentially introducing fans to something they weren’t aware of before. It’s cool to think that it can open up new interests for them.
Yeah, that’s one of the things I like to do also, is maybe turn people on to different stuff. Like I don’t know how many people actually know about the Nuggets records that came out in the ’80s, but it’s all psychedelic garage rock and pre-punk. I did a track by The Litter, “Action Woman,” on the new record, which is a great song. Stuff like that.
It’s kind of incomprehensible to me, growing up with stuff like the Everly Brothers, that there are lots of younger people out there who really don’t know who the Everly Brothers are. But with a newer generation, that’s how it is. It’s cool to think I might actually be turning people on to stuff they might not have been aware of.
Have you ever heard any feedback from artists that you’ve covered, for example Black Sabbath or ZZ Top, on what they think of your interpretation of their songs?
Not yet. For the songs on the new record, people probably haven’t heard them yet. But I’ll find out, I’m sure. (Laughs)
In addition to the covers album, I know that you’re also working on a record of all new Danzig material. Any timeline yet for the release of that?
There’s not a timeline for it. It’s about 80 percent done. When I get back from this tour run we’re doing right now, I’ll start finishing it up.
And regarding your comic book company, I understand you have a new title, illustrated by Simon Bisley, coming out just in time for Halloween?
I’m actually trying to get it to the printers before I leave [for the tour]. But we’re waiting for Simon Bisley to deliver his last couple of pages. We’re hoping it’s going to make it. That’s what I’m doing between rehearsals for this tour, is trying to put this comic to bed and get it to the printer. Hopefully we’ll get these last pages from Simon and it’ll be out in time for Halloween.
It’s definitely a busy time for you right now, with the tour, two new albums, and the comic book.
Yeah. The whole Halloween time of year is usually pretty busy for me.
Danzig and Halloween make a perfect pairing.
(Laughs) Pretty much!
I always find that a lot of Glenn Danzig fans are unaware of the fact you previously wrote songs for artists like Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. What was it like working with those legendary performers?
First of all, it’s an honor to even get asked to write those songs. The thing that struck me about both Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, when I met them and taught them the songs, was how humble and talented they were. But also, both Roy and Johnny, when I was teaching them the songs, we weren’t in a recording studio with microphones—it was just me and my guitar and them with their guitar—and their voices just fill up the room. Their voices were so loud. I was blown away, like “wow.” It was really cool. And both guys were extremely nice.
When you’re writing material for someone else, as opposed to a song you know you’re going to sing yourself, how does it change the way you approach the song?
Well, for Cash it was easy because [I wrote it] based on my idea of who Johnny Cash was. When I played it for him, and he really liked it, it was just icing on the cake. To have someone like Johnny Cash say, “I love the song, thanks for writing it for me,” it’s an honor.
You’re about to kick off the Blackest of the Black tour. Will some Skeletons material be appearing in the set lists?
We’ll be doing some of those songs, yeah.
What are you hoping fans come away with from these fall Danzig shows?
I want fans to come and lose their minds and have a great time, and forget about any bullshit that’s going on in the world, or in their personal life. Come to the show, lose yourself, and go crazy.
So, you view your shows as escapism.
Yeah, pretty much. Forget about all the other bullshit, just come to the show and have a fucking great time.
Danzig will perform at the PlayStation Theater in New York City on October 21. For more information, go to danzig-verotik.com.