Metal guru

Glenn Danzig: He sees a red door and wants to paint it black.

Glenn Danzig's tales from the abyss might be coming to a theater near you

What would happen if you put Glenn Danzig and Tori Amos in a room together?

There wouldn't appear to be much common ground between Danzig, the muscle-bound, middle-aged lord of dark metal, and Amos, the ethereal piano songstress. But genre distinctions aside, Danzig and Amos approach their work from the same angle. They share a freakish obsession with mythology and make it the foundation of everything they create.

Amos tends to playfully humanize her mythological subjects: God is little more than an aimless man in need of a woman. Danzig, however, doesn't play around. He sees demonic figures lurking around every corner and hiding in every pantry. The relentlessness of his accounts from the black abyss can seem laughable at times. Doesn't this guy ever spend a day at the beach? Doesn't his house have any windows?

Apt questions, but say what you will about his black mesh shirts and Neanderthal visage, Danzig comes by his obsessions honestly. Since his youth, this son of a Catholic father and Protestant mother has gorged on a buffet of pre- and post-Christian texts dissecting the spiritual destiny of the human race: Dante's Inferno, Milton's Paradise Lost, Gnostic scripts, and Biblical and pre-Biblical arcana.

"You start seeing where a lot of the messiah myths originated from in pre-Christian religions all across Eurasia," Danzig says. "You can see it all being rehashed and refried and served up in different ways."

Religion fascinates Danzig, but it also repulses him, as he described in the anthemic 1992 track "Godless": "I can't believe in all your pain/under the draining of a Christian deity's blood." So it's hardly a surprise that this self-starter subscribes to the John Lennon "I just believe in me" credo.

"I have no religion, really, except myself," he says. "I believe that the person who makes things happen is me, and to rely on someone else or some other thing to make things happen is retarded. I've always said whatever people want to believe is fine as long as it doesn't hurt other people or infringe on other people.

"Organized religion I have a problem with because usually it corrupts and perverts, and it becomes like follow the leader. They're threatening you, and then you have to donate money to keep their bureacracy going." More than 25 years into his career, Danzig has two sets of fans. The first set fondly recalls his stint as the frontman for the seminal punk band the Misfits. The second set knows him as the metal guru he's been since 1988, a Hollywood vampire with Jim Morrison's pipes and a taste for grinding guitar riffs.

By his own wildly ambitious standards, Danzig's new album, Circle of Snakes, is unfettered and homespun, ending a seven-record conceptual cycle in which all his albums had numerals in their titles (Danzig 5: Blackacidevil, Danzig 6: 66 Satan's Child). And it's so bluntly unproduced it could easily be mistaken for a demo - exactly what Danzig had in mind.

"Basically, I was done with my seven-record cycle, which I'd envisioned right from the beginning of `the band` Danzig," he says. "So there was no more numerology, and I basically wanted to clear the air and strip it all back down again. I also did want to counter, in a lot of respects, the new metal thing, to say, 'Here's the real metal, motherfucker.' There's no bullshit here, no little gimmicks. Just a band playing obnoxiously loud music."

According to Danzig, his Circle of Snakes tour will be his last for a few years, while he concentrates on creative projects: directing a self-penned horror film, running his comic book empire (Verotik), and releasing Black Aria II, a sequel to his 1993 classical music debut.

Slated for a summer release, Black Aria II centers around the mythological character of Lilith, a feminist symbol who became the namesake for a wildly successful all-female concert tour that ran from 1997-99.

   Danzig with Kataklysm

Wed, Mar 9
$16 (advance);
$20 (day of show)
Lonestar Pavilion
1174 E. Commerce

Danzig not only dabbles in different media, he demands complete control over every aspect of his work. So it was probably inevitable that his highly successful partnership with headstrong producer Rick Rubin would end bitterly. Rubin's finely tuned commercial sense helped early Danzig tracks such as 1988's "Mother" leap off the radio, but the two men ultimately clashed over Rubin's accounting practices.

"We'd always had some problems as far as getting paid and things like that," Danzig recalls. "But eventually, when he told me that I'd have to sue him to get paid and that I shouldn't take it personally because it was just business, that's when I decided I was leaving."

Before then, Danzig managed to get one of his songs recorded by Johnny Cash for the Rubin-produced American Recordings. Danzig says that after Rubin approached him with the songwriting offer, he wrote the track, "Thirteen," in a mere 30 minutes.

"I had to go down and teach `Cash` the song," he says. "He was recording at Rick's house, and I didn't know, but Rick had the tapes rolling and we were singing it together. `Cash` was a great guy. As famous as he was, he was really humble and really nice. Incredible voice - when he started singing it just filled up the room."

Danzig concedes that his interest in non-musical ventures stems at least partly from the fact that he finds it harder to convey his ideas in song form. The problem, as he defines it, isn't that his ideas have become too complex to compress into a verse-chorus format, but that he has simple points that he wants to make, and he's usually made them by the end of the first verse.

"My sense of communication has become so honed," he says. "To the point where I have to make the song last longer because I say exactly what I've got to say so quickly. I have to step back and make it not so concise."

By Gilbert Garcia