Interview: Glenn Danzig

The horror-punk legend on  Deth Red Sabaoth , comics, and vast global conspiracies
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  June 21, 2010


There was a moment, while I was on hold on the phone as Glenn Danzig was being summoned by his publicist, where I was a tad intimidated. And not just because I was about to talk about one of the more legendary and divisive figures in the history of punk and metal. No, it had more to do with the fact that, having seen and read numerous interviews with the man, I knew that he doesn’t suffer fools. In the end, was I a fool? Well, I probably should have known not to use the word “occult” to describe his lyrical bent (that is, unless I wanted to get a few awesome tirades to spew forth).

Glenn Danzig is a busy man, even as he works his way through his mid-50s and his fourth decade in music. He has a new Danzig album out this month, the band’s ninth, the oddly titled Deth Red Sabaoth (Evilive/The End), as well as a book of song lyrics titled Hidden Lyrics of the Left Hand, illustrated by UK comic-book legend Simon Bisley. He is also touring for the first time in six years, a quick nine-city jaunt that sees him coming to Boston’s House of Blues on the 21st. For such an active rock warrior, I kind of expected Danzig to be somewhat blustery and aggro. But Danzig was a lot more soft-spoken than I thought he’d be; he also tends to chuckle to himself quite a lot. This last part I was prepared for, having seen it in action in all the interview sections of the 1988 Danzig home video that came out on VHS around the time of his first solo album. In these segments, Danzig tends to come across as cagey and confrontational, but always laughing at the absurdity of other people’s opinions. Such it was with my conversation with him, which I hope comes across here -- it’s not so much that he’s funny, as that he finds everything around him so absurd. It is clearly the driving force behind so much of his artistry: essaying human civilization and having an internal guffaw at how everyone is getting it wrong.

Oh, one last thing before I get to the interview: I talked to him for a bit about his book collection, which is a reference to a scene from the 1988 home video. In the scene, Danzig lets his guard down as he gives a tour of his personal book collection. Inexplicably lit as if next to an indoor swimming pool, Glenn walks the offscreen inquisitor through tome after tome, cracking himself up over the obscurity of such concepts as the lost books of the Bible and the existence of werewolves. Don’t laugh, folks: have you done the research Danzig has on these topics? I’m going to guess not.

BOSTON PHOENIX: OK, I’ll cut right to the chase: with your new album, it seems that you have a different approach, what with you playing bass and drums on a few tracks—
GLENN DANZIG: I do that on all the records.

Excuse me?
I do that on all the records. That’s nothing new.

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