Scott Gries, Getty Images Danzig is celebrating 25 years of Danzigdom with a…
- Posted on Aug 27th 2010 1:00PM by Lonny Knapp
Mathias Nielson, YouTube
"It's like the old saying: the more things change, the more they stay the same. And you can see the cycle coming around," Danzig tells Spinner. "I put a record out and take it to the people -- it's the same as it's always been for me."
Throughout his long career, the mainstream media have largely overlooked Danzig. But his brand of dark metal has nonetheless survived on a loyal fanbase and old-fashioned hard work.
"Many bands that get tremendous amounts of press and hype never succeed in making a lasting career," he says. "But bands that don't get played on radio and are written off by major media, like Danzig and Slayer, are still around and doing incredible business."
While recording his recently-released ninth solo album, 'Deth Red Sabaoth' -- his first in six years -- the former Misfits frontman went to great lengths to capture the organic sound he finds missing from so many of today's digitized rock records.
"I wanted to make an old-school '70s record with a contemporary feel," says Danzig. "I went out and bought some old Kustom Tuck and Roll bass amps with 15-inch speakers, and we played guitar through them. It's an old trick from the '70s -- if you want a really heavy guitar sound, hook up your guitar through these old bass heads and huge speakers and it just sounds dirty, noisy and great."
Besides writing the tunes, Danzig laid down the majority of the bass tracks, played drums on track 'Black Candy' and released the record on his own Evil Live imprint. Now in his mid-50s, the New Jersey native exemplifies punk rock's DIY ethic. He produces the majority of his records and doesn't hide his distaste for big-name record producers.
"It's my record, and my name's on it, and I'm not gonna let some loser do it," he says. "I'm not going let some guy wreck my record and then say, 'Sorry, bye, I'm off to wreck another artist's record.'"
Despite that attitude, he credits legendary producer Rick Rubin for launching his successful solo career. In 1988, Danzig was the first artist released on Rubin's then-newly minted Def American Records label. At the time, mainstream radio and MTV were trumpeting hair bands like Poison and boy bands like New Kids on the Block. Meanwhile, Rubin's label fostered the careers of such diverse acts as the Beastie Boys, Slayer, and the Black Crowes. Danzig applauds the producer for investing in what he calls 'real' bands.
"Rick's bands were all dirty, loud and obnoxious," he says. "But he was good at finding bands that were going to hang around for a long time."
Throughout his career, Danzig has indulged his diverse interests while never alienating his fan base. His ventures into classical music, 'Black Aria' and the more recent 'Black Aria II,' each landed in the Top 10 on the Billboard Classical charts. As well, he parlayed his love of graphic novels into the successful adult-themed comic book publishing company, Verotik. And in 2009, he had a minor hit when 'Thirteen,' a song he wrote for Johnny Cash, was featured in the hit film 'The Hangover.'
Danzig cut his teeth in the exploding New York hardcore scene of the late '70s, but unlike many of his contemporaries who have long-since hung up their leather jackets, Danzig continues to enjoy a thriving career. So what's the secret to his longevity in this fickle music industry?
"I think I'm in a category all my own, and I don't know that anyone does what I do," he says. "I just do what I do, try to keep it exciting and fresh, and keep people interested. It's not easy to have a thirty-year career."