RIP Feb. 1994 --------------- DANZIG Demons Down Under By Murray Engleheart "Someone wanted me to kill them," Glenn Danzig responded casually when I asked about the most extreme request he'd ever received from a fan. "That's happened on more than one occasion, actually. I said, 'No that's okay,' and they said, 'No! Please kill me. Then my life would be complete.' You get some weird ones." Nothing that strange came up when Danzig did an in-store appearance at Utopia Records in Sydney during their Australian tour, though Glenn seemed to be expecting some sort of unwelcome surprise. He appeared tense as several hundred fans filed slowly down the stairs and along the counter, clutching items they wanted autographed and imprinted with his royal black seal. Eight hours later he was a different man. Perhaps it was those earlier suspicions and anxieties that fueled his magnificent performance before a capacity crowd of 2,000 at Selina's during the second of his band's two shows in the country. Glenn's not a big guy in person, but onstage that night in full combat mode he seemed huge. As a mark of respect, someone climbed through the VIP section, which was level with the top of the PA, and dived 20-odd feet down into the pit as the band pumped out their unsmiling black metal with an aura of malevolence so thick, you could almost punch it. It was a good half hour after "Dirty Black Summer" brought the Danzig experience to a close that the crush at the front of the stage finally began to dissolve into the night. The intensity of the show was totally contrary to the no doubt tongue-rammed-in-cheek clause in the band's rider that called for a selection off well-educated young women who were not more than a $5 taxi ride from the gig to be available after the night's load out. At least I think it was an attempt at Spinal Tap-ishness. Glenn's legendary and highly influential New Jersey outfit the Misfits always had a thread of dark humor woven through their work. Danzig, on the other hand, usually just seems dark. "Well, I think it got a little more serious come [the Misfits'] Earth A.D./Wolfsblood," Glenn explained. "Then with Samhain it just got serious, and then, you know, it's time to grow up." It was appropriate that Glenn had been watching a video of a George Foreman fight just before we spoke. After all, looking and acting physical is something Glenn does real well. Which is why a story I'd heard about Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell beating the snot out of him at a festival in Germany seemed a little, shall we say, creative. "Basically, Def Leppard got in the way," Glenn said. "We offered them a piece of the pie, and they turned it down. Nothing happened. I've heard now that he says he beat me up. Believe me, I'd know about it if I was beaten up. I'm a trained martial artist in three, actually four, different styles, all of them very deadly. Let's get real for a second and consider the source, you know what I mean? If you told me it was some big motherf?!ker... What happened was that they mouthed off and were acting like rock stars. We called them on it, and they punked out. They had their own little trailer section at that festival, and they wandered into our area, and we went over to them. Who's Vivian Campbell anyway? Has he got blond hair or brown hair? Basically it was a scrap with all of them, and then later on it was just the singer and somebody else, and they didn't want any of it. We said, 'We can go for it right now,' and they said they'd rather not, and that was the end of it. It never even got to blows. "To be honest, I grew up in the streets," Glenn continued. "Believe me, if anybody put a hand on me, they'd be history. We actually got yelled at by the promoter and security because we screwed with Def Leppard. They were like, 'We're trying to help you out by putting you on these festivals, and here you are starting a fight with Def Leppard, blah, blah, blah. You can never do this again' I guess Leppard is just trying to save face or something. Their career here is over, so I guess they're just trying to get some press or something." If Danzig's recent history is any indication, their career is anything but over. Up until the down time they had due to drummer Chuck Biscuits' knee injury (and it's warming to note that, in this day and age, drummers still injure themselves in the line of duty), the band were hitting a serious stride on the road. Glenn was still tingling from a show at Nuremberg in Germany. "That was really wild," he enthused. "We got everybody all the way to the back of the place - 70,000-plus people - just going crazy. It was great. We got an encore and everything." And Danzig wasn't even headlining! Thankfully there were no misguided connections drawn between the band's testosterone-fueled New Power Order and the neo-Nazi sentiments filling too many German hearts and minds at the moment. "We have a big following in Germany," Glenn said. "We've had a big following there for a while. Our audience is pretty varied. I would never put a restriction on who was allowed to come to our shows. I know people are always like, 'Well, this isn't politically correct,' but people are people, and if people want to come to our show, they're allowed to come to our show. Everybody should be allowed to come." The other red-letter day on the Danzig calendar was, of course, October 31, 1992, at Irvine Meadows in California, when the band recorded four cuts that became part of the leathery, chrome-plated blues hell of the Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP. You can bet a lot of people attended the show that Halloween night not only to feel the cement shudder beneath their feet, but also in hopes of bearing witness to something less... tangible. They had the right idea. If demons were to be sighted during any band's performance, it would be Danzig's. Glenn got interested in the dark side "when I was a little kid," and he admires the old man downstairs as a rebel figure - much like James Dean - more than anything else. Couple that with Danzig's metallic blues base, and we're talking about music that comes off like a thunderous update of the 1936-37 recordings of blues godhead Robert Johnson, particularly his "Me and the Devil Blues" and Hellhound on my Trail." "I've listened to blues since I was a kid," Glenn explained. "I was in a couple of bands that were blues bands - just garage bands. We played out a few times." Glenn's Elvis-from-beyond-the-grave vocals are used to their full effect on Thrall-Demonsweatlive, in a version of the King's "Trouble" that's sure to once again kick-start all the rumors that Glenn really is the dark embodiment of the lord of Graceland. "We've been doing that song forever," Glenn shrugged. "Even Samhain used to it. Eerie [Von, guitarist] and I had this band before Danzig, and we used to do 'Trouble' too. We've been doing it for encores ever since Danzig started, and our fans just kept bugging us to put it out." Is Glenn an Elvis fan? "I like some stuff. Eerie, actually, is the real Elvis fan. He has a big Elvis collection. I just like his voice. He's got a good voice." I asked Glenn which he was more taken with, Elvis's music or his myth? "I don't know, because to me he's just a good singer," he chuckled heartily. "He did things before a lot of other people did them, and that was kind of cool." Henry Rollins' description of Glenn as "one serious motherf?!ker" was also mighty cool. I passed this compliment on to Glenn, and he loved it. "One serious motherf?!ker?" he laughed. "Well, you know, Henry is Henry. Sometimes people ask me about him, because we know each other. The only thing I can say about Henry is, Henry is Henry. Either you like him or you don't like him, and that's the way he likes it. I kind of like it that way too. I don't ask people to like me or not to like me. I don't give two f?!ks, you know what I mean. It's like, the point is moot. It doesn't matter to me. Despite his tough-guy persona, Glenn reckons that he still has a capacity for love and affection that hasn't been beaten out of him yet. "Love is cool," he said. "Put it in perspective though. There are other things besides love. There's a time for you to express your feelings of love, and there's a time to express different feelings and emotions, whether they be anger, hatred, violence - whatever. Approach each situation as it comes up." Taking things as they come is pretty much how Glenn got into music in the first place. He "just fell into" and started out as a roadie. He'd always liked singing, though at one point his heart was set on being a comic-book artist. It was the impact of punk that made him finally chuck the pens and drawing pads forever and pick up a microphone. "I'd been in bands long before that, but the punk thing for me was like, yeah!" He said. "I hated all those mid- to late-'70s bands. America has had punk music ever since the '60s. It was just kind of louder than the other stuff. There'd been a real punk scene in New York since 1973, with loud guitars and snotty lyrics. For me it was, 'This is what I really want to do'" Danzig - it doesn't get much darker than this.