Welcome Back: Glenn Danzig

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Owner of one of the most distinctive voices in rock, Glenn Danzig has been making music for over 40 years, first with iconic New Jersey ‘horror punks’ Misfits, then doom-punk ‘supergroup’ Samhain and, since 1987, simply as Danzig.

Johnny Cash, Metallica, Roy Orbison and Guns N’Roses are among the artists who’ve covered his songs in the past, and now, on Skeletons – the tenth Danzig studio album – the 60-year-old singer is showing his own roots by tackling tracks from artists who’ve inspired him, from Elvis and Sabbath, to Aerosmith, The Everly Brothers and ZZ Top. “It’s not just intended to show where I’ve come from, it’s a celebration of music in general,” he promises.

How did you narrow down your myriad influences to just 10 songs on Skeletons?

Well, there’s so many artists that I love: I had to have Elvis and Black Sabbath on there because without those two there’s no Danzig, and after that I had to think about songs that I could make my own, songs I could bring new dimensions to. These are the artists that made me, so obviously I wanted to do the songs justice.

People might not hear a whole lot of evidence of an Everly Brothers influence in your previous work.

Maybe they should listen more closely. I approached that song [Crying In The Rain] much differently than the other tracks, because I wanted to make it more creepy and haunting, so there’s no drums really, it’s just me, a piano and guitar. It’s one of the tracks I’m most proud of.

It’s been five years since the last Danzig studio album, so why return with a covers collection?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a jillion [sic] years, so finally I decided to do it. There’s a new Danzig album coming out next year – that’s eighty per cent done – and a Danzig Sings Elvis record, which was originally supposed to be an EP, but it just mushroomed. I’ve also got the first film I’ve directed coming out, based on the comic book Ge Rouge, a voodoo story. The next year or so is going to be busy.

There’s no ‘classic’ punk rock songs on Skeletons, which is a little surprising since you came from the hardcore punk scene.

Hey, just remember we created punk: I know you guys hijacked it and did something really cool with it, but America gave the world punk! [Laughs] Well, I’ve covered the Germs before, but I consider The Troggs, whose A Girl Like You I’ve covered here, just as punk as the Pistols or The Clash. Anyone who knows me, knows there’s more to me than punk rock.

Do many people know who Glenn Danzig really is?

Um, some people do, most don’t. But I’m not going to start going on Facebook or Twitter to start showing anyone the ‘real’ Danzig. I don’t have time for that shit. It’s funny to me: if you walked up to a stranger on the street and asked personal questions about their life they’d tell you to get the fuck away, and yet they’ll go on social media and happily put all their shit up for the world to see. That’s crazy to me.

How many times per year do you get emails asking you to reunite the Misfits?

I don’t really do the email thing either, so people would have to ask that to my face. The smarter ones have learned to
stop asking!

Classic Rock 218: News & Regulars