I Talked With a Zombie

White Zombie's frontman on Disney World, KISS and Pee-wee's Playhouse.

In some ways, Astro-Creep: 2000 is more of the same; it starts with creaky Phantom of the Opera sound effects and features songs such as "Electric Head" and "El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama." But from a sonic perspective, the package is more substantial than its predecessors. The driving rhythms and processed drums (played by Tempesta, the third Zombie skinsman) at times recall Ministry, but the sound is put at the service of much more accessible material. "Super-Charger Heaven" (remembered for the chanted hook "Devil-man! Devil-man!") is teen exploitation of a most enjoyable type; it makes a listener feel as if he's just been overwhelmed by a fresh infusion of hormones no matter what his age.

This accomplishment is not one prized by most critics, who largely dismiss White Zombie out of hand. Which is fine by Rob. "They'll probably never pay attention to us," he mutters, "and by the time they ever do, it'll be all over, anyway."

Maybe not. Few would have predicted two decades ago that the biggest concert tour of 1996 would star the reunited members of KISS. This development puzzles even Zombie, a rabid Gene Simmons fancier in his wasted youth. "It's a weird thing," he concedes. "I went to see them somewhere in Kentucky, and it was just weird. It was like going back in time or something to stand there twenty years later and watch exactly what I remember from when I was in fifth grade. It was just really bizarre."

It'll be sometime during the first quarter of the next century that we'll learn if White Zombie achieves a similar comeback. In the meantime, Zombie is finally comfortable enough with the sales of Astro-Creep: 2000 (two million copies and counting) to take some time off, beginning in September. Among the projects on his agenda are the writing down of numerous ideas for movies that have been floating around in his brain cavity since the Seventies. Zombie won't spill any of them right now--"I hate talking about stuff in advance unless it's a surefire thing"--but you can be sure it won't have anything in common with the summer megahit Independence Day. "I'm not really excited to see it," he grouses, "because I know exactly what it's going to be. Some brainless piece of crap where you're supposed to go 'Wow' every five minutes.

"I hate most movies these days," continues Zombie, who's contributed to the soundtracks of such cinematic milestones as Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls, Brainscan, Judge Dredd and the upcoming sequel to The Crow, "because I know they're all crap. They're all just big-budget pieces of dog shit. Anything I do would be better than that."

Is Zombie at all worried that by taking an extended hiatus, his audience will outgrow him? If he is, he's not admitting it. "We were never really a part of a wave of music, like that whole Metallica-Megadeth scene," he says. "So when people come and go, it doesn't really seem to matter to us. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't."

Still, he recognizes that times have changed since White Zombie first walked the earth. "In general, we get audiences that are more straight-looking these days. That's the average look for kids: short hair and baseball hats. Back then, if you went to a rock concert, every single person had long hair, and it looked really different. Now it's hard to even guess what concert you're at by looking at the crowd." He pauses. "It looks the same as Disney World."

Pantera, with White Zombie and Eyehategod. 8 p.m. Monday, July 29, and Tuesday, July 30, Red Rocks, $22.75, 830-TIXS. (Second show sold out.)

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