Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images Move out of the way because Beyonce is playing…
- Posted on Jun 29th 2010 5:45PM by Lonny Knapp
Glenn Danzig has fronted a legendary punk band, found commercial success as a solo artist, released a record that debuted at the top of the Billboard Classical chart, and written a song for Johnny Cash. With thirty years of music under his skull-buckled belt, it's hard to believe he's never sung a duet.
But Danzig recently teamed up with Melissa Auf der Maur to record 'My Father's Grave,' from the recently released 'Out of Our Minds' (aka 'OOOM'), allowing him to finally cross that off his to-do list.
Auf der Maur, who played bass for the likes of Hole and Smashing Pumpkins before branching out as a solo artist, said the project was the result of a life-long admiration.
"I have loved him since I was a teenager and I always hoped to meet him," Auf der Maur tells Spinner. "I wanted to invite him into my world, so I did something that I had never done before: I wrote a hero a song. It was a ritual and a dedication."
The ballad relates the story of a woman who finds healing through a conversation with the man that dug her father's grave. Channeling the spirit of Danzig, Auf Der Maur wrote the tune and recorded a demo singing both the male and female parts.
"I've listened to his records enough times to feel very connected to his writing. I picked up an acoustic guitar, closed my eyes and thought, 'What would Danzig do?'"
The next challenge was to get her song into Danzig's hands. Rather than jump through hoops with his label and management, she approached the singer directly.
"I wrote my first official 'Dear Danzig' fan letter and I sent it to the P.O. box of his comic book company," she said. "Everyone told me it wouldn't happen, but wearing my heart on my sleeve has worked before."
In the '90s, when Smashing Pumpkins rolled into her hometown of Montreal, she sent a letter to frontman Billy Corgan requesting an opening slot for her band. Surprisingly, Corgan responded, adding her band to the bill. Soon after, Corgan introduced her to Hole mastermind Courtney Love, who happened to be in the market for a bassist -- and the rest is rock history.
This time, however, she was beginning think her letter was lost in the mail -- until Danzig called her personally.
Danzig tells Spinner he had never recorded a duet simply because nobody had ever asked. Apart from Johnny Cash, who recorded Danzig's 'Thirteen' for the Rick Rubin-produced 'American Recordings,' the burly singer has logged few collaborations.
"I'm pretty selective about where I put my name and what I do," Danzig explains. "It wasn't that she wrote it for somebody to sing, and if I didn't do it she'd get somebody else to do it. Melissa really wanted me to sing on it, so I did it."
Danzig, who recently released 'Deth Red Sabaoth,' his ninth solo album, is now in his mid-fifties, yet remains the embodiment of the punk rock's DIY ethic. Without a trace of rock-star bureaucracy, he agreed to appear on Auf der Maur's record.
"There were no managers, no contracts, no lawyers and no money -- just a song and two people collaborating," Auf der Maur says. "This mysterious and mythological man that I have looked up to since I was a teenager was more down to earth than anyone I have ever worked worth. He was incredibility generous."
Rather than swapping files and recording in separate studios, the pair scheduled a session in a Los Angeles studio. Standing in the vocal booth trading stanzas with Glenn Danzig was a dream realized for Auf der Maur. Few heroes live up to longtime fan's high expectations, but Danzig didn't disappoint. She described the rock icon as a consummate professional and compared his vocal prowess to the likes of Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.
"Every take was beautiful and it was total rock utopia for me. The song is everything I could have dreamt about sonically and emotionally," Auf der Maur says.
With his massive biceps, jones for the blues, and fascination with the occult, Glenn Danzig comes across as some sort of muscle-bound, heavy metal devil worshiper, but when asked his opinion of the track, he couldn't be more chivalrous.
"I think it turned it really good," he says. "If she's happy, I'm happy."