Seven years after his last full album and on the twenty fifth anniversary of the seminal How The Gods Kill Danzig is back with another slab of the dark and dangerous. The new album Black Laden Crown, Verotik comic books and the chances of some more Misfits shows were all discussed with Gary Trueman.
Your new album Black Laden Crown is the first for seven years. Had you been writing material for it for some time or did you sit down and write it shortly before recording?
“Well I’m always writing but in 2010 when we did Death Red (Sabaoth) that was a pretty big record for us and we ended up doing a lot of touring for it for many years. In the meantime I was working on the Skeletons record and while I was starting to finish up that I started laying down tracks here and there for this new record. “
Seven years is quite a time in terms of the way music has moved forward in the way it’s recorded. The new record is pretty raw so did you go for all the new technology or do you record in analogue?
“Yeah I still record in an old studio in Hollywood and I hate really antiseptic, clean, no feeling records. I really hate them. For me it’s got to sound like a cross between how we sound live and a studio record. I hate records that just sound like a studio record and then you go and see the band that are so different live. I hate it. That’s what I try to do, I try to take advantage of being in the studio but try to make it sound as live as possible. If people dig that then they’ll probably dig the record. If they don’t then they probably won’t and they’ll go and listen to some crappy record some kid did on his pro tools system in his living room…..and he can get the fuck out of my life.”
It sounds like it was quite a comfortable recording experience for you?
“Yeah. I like everything to just flow. If I went into somewhere and I was uncomfortable working there then I wouldn’t work there. I’ve got to be relaxed and comfortable and enjoy myself. I don’t do stuff that I don’t enjoy. Recording a record is a lot of work but it can be a lot of fun too.”
Black Laden Crown, the new album is as you said as close as you can get to how you sound live. That’s obviously something the better bands look to set out to do. Were there parts of the album where you battled a bit to make it sound how you wanted?
“I’m still not happy with the bass guitar sound. I wanted it to sound like old records were when the record comes on your dashboard shakes from the bass. I’m still trying to perfect that. “
That old sound you used to get on vinyl which is making a huge come back. Is it coming back strong in the US as well?
“Because I run my own label I do deals all over the world and we’re selling a lot of vinyl which is great because that’s how I started my label. There were no cds back then so I love it. I don’t know if we’re selling more vinyl than cds but we’re selling a lot more vinyl than we used to.”
You’re getting to see all the cover art in a much bigger format now too as a result. Just like it used to be.
“Well we do our cds like they’re little records. I still love the cd format but I love vinyl too. I always make a point of making sure our cds open up like a record. Packaging is important to me because it lets you know about the band. People that just download songs I don’t know if they really get the whole experience. For a band that’s been around for a long time like us I think people want to see cool new images and lyrics and all different stuff and they want to hold the thing in their hands. That’s how I am, unless I have to I really don’t like buying stuff online, I’d rather be in a record store looking at the record, holding it up and buying it.”
Record stores have a unique smell to them as well, you can almost smell vinyl.
“Haha, yeah especially the old ones because we have a lot of record stores here in the states and you just go in and you’re smelling vinyl. There’s just something cool about seeing all that stuff in front of you too, so you can peruse through it. Online it’s just on a TV screen. Get the fuck out of the house and go to a record store.”
We’re around the 25th anniversary of the How The Gods Kill album too. Have you found that you hold on to a lot of your older fans or are they mostly new younger ones?
“All of the above. A lot of people that have listened to Danzig are still listening to Danzig and then we are getting so many young kids at our shows it’s just amazing. We’ve had kids come to a show and say they’ve never been to a rock concert before and I’m like where’ve you been? They’re totally blown away by the energy.”
Do you find that where many years ago you were either into metal or punk or whatever and almost couldn’t listen to more than one genre without being cast out but now music fans are much more eclectic in their tastes and more open about it?
“I think there are still people like you’re talking about but there are people too that are a little more open minded and then there are people who are very eclecti8c in their tastes. Growing up in the New York area there were only a couple of metal bands you could listen to without getting your ass kicked and that was Motorhead and Venom. But if you showed up at a hardcore show with a metal or punk t-shirt on you’d probably get your ass kicked.”
The t-shirt thing is interesting because we have shops here in the UK such as Primark selling Misfits shirts, and Guns N Roses shirts and there’s all these people walking around and half of them haven’t got a clue who the bands are. But is it a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe they’ll check the band out because they think the shirt looks cool?
“I think it depends. I mean, strangely we got an order from HMV for Danzig t-shirts. That was a shocker to me, I was like really! I think in some a way it’s really cool because it’s almost like you’re invading sacred ground, you’re going places where people told you you’d never be able to go. In that way it’s cool.”
We’ve already touched on album art, you also run an adult comic line too, Verotik. How did you get into that?
“In the 70’s a lot of the comic artists got tired of working for the mainstream companies so this whole underground thing started. It was all black and white and got a lot of fans but I just got tired of seeing the same old superhero crap. Every night I’m talking to fans on the tour bus and a lot of them are comic fans and they’re complaining too about comic books being so childish and the indie comics were great but they’re black and white. So I decided I was going to start my own comic company and kinda help the American comics market grow up a bit. I love comics from all over, from Italy and Japan and they have all kinds of comics for all generations of people and we didn’t really have it here. So I just decided to do Verotik, full colour comics with some of the greatest creators around doing crazy stuff. And we’re still going.”
There’s a darkness to your comics with a horror theme running through them. Is that just a natural extension to your music?
“Yeah, also I think a lot of it is based on reality. It’s really the world that we live in, I’m just talking about stuff that’s here or has been here. It’s not like I created it, like war, murder, political intrigue and what have you. That stuff has always been here and always will be here and I’m just talking about it in my way. “
Grub Girl was adapted into a movie. Are there any others that this might happen to?
“Hopefully. It’s so retarded here in Hollywood. You have a project green lit and then a month later it’s gone. I’m thinking I’m just going to start doing it indie like I’ve done with my label and my comic company.”
So if you had to pick one illustrator, who would you pick as your absolute favourite?
“The guy I work with right now, Bizz, Simon Bisley. He’s from the UK. I think he started out over at Titan doing Judge Dredd and Slaine and all that kind of stuff. Then he started doing American comics like Lobo. I was following his career and I knew his agent and had him do a Danzig record cover. He’s been working for me at Verotik and my label ever since.”
If we could touch on something that happened last year. You played on stage again with Jerry Only and Doyle in a couple of Misfits shows.
“That was something people had been trying to get us to do for a long time but unfortunately Jerry and I had our issues. In the last two years we had resolved a lot of those and so we started talking about if there was a possibility of a couple of shows happening. We were thinking if we’re going to do it we should do it now and not later. We’re all pretty healthy and in pretty good shape so we ended up deciding we would do these two shows.”
Do you think the timing was a lot to do with people getting older and getting a bit more mellow and mature and willing to move forward? Water under the bridge
“I think for me legally we had resolved some things and that’s when the dialogue started happening. It’s nice to resolve problems, problems are never good. There’s always a solution you just have to find it. You see people like Bowie and Prince dying young. The Bowie thing came out of nowhere, Prince too. You start thinking if we’re going to do it we should do it now, not later. Misfits is a very high energy, loud and fast show. You’ve got to be in good shape to do it and to do it right. I think we did it at the right time.”
It was obviously amazing for the fans but how did it feel to you being back on stage with those guys again?
“It was a lot of the same stuff where I couldn’t hear a word I was saying because it was so loud. It was wild watching all the people going crazy.”
Is there a possibility that you’d do some more shows together?
“I think I’m going to wait and see. I wouldn’t be opposed to it if it was done a little differently, so I can hear what I’m singing. We’ll see. I’m not saying no.”
Obviously you do a lot of interviews so what’s the worst question you’ve been asked – apart from this one?
“Haha, there are so many, and luckily we haven’t had any in this one. I used to get really pissed off and want to kill the person but now I’m just like meh! Move on, or I’ll just hang up. If I’m not digging the interview I’ll just tell the person I’ve got to go. I think if it’s a good interview you’re getting in your pertinent questions and you’re getting them to talk more than they would normally talk. Journalism is like music, it’s a craft and there are good people at it and there are terrible people at it. It’s always good to get an interview where you just start talking. That’s what it’s about.”
If you could go back to a point in your past and change one thing is there anything you’d like to do differently?
“No, I’m not one of those people. I think everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t change anything because it would change who I am right now. If you go back and change something it changes everything in the future too. If I went back and changed something in the past it would change everything that has happened up until now and I wouldn’t want to do that. No time revision for me, I’m happy where I am.”
Interview by: Gary Trueman