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Q&A: Checking in with Rob Zombie and “31”

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If I’m honest, I don’t know why exactly musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie is presently doing a round of interviews. The performer is currently in the midst of recording a new album, as well as running a polarizing crowdfunding campaign for 70s set Halloween-horror 31, yes, but neither are at a stage of completion. If anything, the opportunity seemed one to simply “check in” with Rob Zombie, one that fans and FANGORIA would take advantage of regardless. 

Speaking to Zombie, who’s always forthcoming, I took the chance to dig a bit deeper into some enduring questions on his turn to crowdfunding. For more on the film, as well as Zombie, see our earlier interview at the start of 31’s FanBacked campaign and pick up our FANGORIA Legends: Rob Zombie issue.

FANGORIA: You’re entering the last phase of this campaign. This being the first time you’ve crowdfunded, and you being a larger figure to crowdfund, what have you learned from the process? Was your perception changed?

ROB ZOMBIE: My perception at first, before I started, was that it seemed kind of weird. As I got deeper into it, my goal was to make it about the fans and what they wanted as opposed to just money. The fans’ involvement and the fans being excited about the films is the best part of the crowdfunding experience. Getting them involved early and talking about it and thinking about it and hearing what they have to say about stuff, even though they don’t really know anything about the movie. It’s still kind of cool, the earlier the fans can feel part of something, the better it always turns out.

zombie31artFANG: That’s an interesting balance for you. Your films are often completely different from what people expect, and you often seem to shy away from fan demand.

ZOMBIE: I don’t think you can bow to the fans, ever. You can’t make something that’s what they want. They don’t know what it is. All the fans are saying this and you’re doing that. They’re all saying something different. It’s not like you can poll the audience. You always want them to like what you do and you’re always trying to make them happy with what you do, but at the end of the day, the reality of making anything is you have to be passionate about it. You’re the one who’s going to hammer away at the thing for the next two years, and live and breathe it.

I really think part of what we’re supposed to do is try to come up with something new and different, and not just go, “Here’s the same old thing.” If somebody says, “All we want is another movie with The Devil’s Rejects.” Well, that’s because you like THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. No one was asking for that before THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. So of course, they’re asking for more of what you’ve already done.

The Beatles, if you polled all the fans of The Beatles in the early days, they just wanted them to keep writing “She Loves You” over and over and over. Nobody was asking for SGT. PEPPER. Nobody was asking for ABBEY ROAD or THE WHITE ALBUM. They wanted more of what they liked. So sometimes, you have to fight that battle. You want your fans to be happy, you want them to be entertained, but sometimes you have to take them to the next place that you’re headed. If not, you’re kind of full of shit. Because then you’re just doing it as a Las Vegas act. Oh, here’s what they want, I’m going to go up there and do it. That’s not what we do. You want to create fresh, new, cool stuff that people can get excited about.

FANG: What made you passionate about doing another genre film? For a bit it seemed you wanted to change course for a film.

ZOMBIE: Really what it is sometimes is just burn out. By the time you get to the press junket aspect of your movie, you’re so fried. What’s next, another horror movie? No, no! You’ve been working ridiculous hours for so long, it almost seems like you should take a couple of months off and then talk about it. It never works that way. At the end of LORDS OF SALEM, I was so burnt out on it, I was like, “there’s anything I’d rather do.”

Then you get away and back to yourself, and the idea just popped in my head. Once it pops in my head, I’m really excited to do it. I’d still like to do other kinds of films, I have tons of other ideas. As usual, the next thing in the works is not horror, but whether or not it happens, well… I just like making movies and as long as I’m passionate about whatever that project is at the moment, be it horror or not, I’m fine with it. I could never do something I don’t want to do. It takes so much of your time and so much of your life, you need to be so endlessly enthusiastic about it, it’d be impossible.

FANG: What brought you to FanBacked?

ZOMBIE: They came to us, you know. I sort of said what I don’t like about crowdfunding, and they were like, “ok, we don’t have to worry about that.” They were very easy to deal with.

FANG: I guess the more direct version of that question is that it’s less transparent, with seemingly no way of tracking goals and donations. Does FanBacked have an aversion to it, or do you?

ZOMBIE: It was more me. One thing I don’t like is talking about money. I think it fucks up the conversation all the time.

I’ve been saying this for many, many years. One of the worst things that ever happened to the film business was when they started publishing all the box office grosses. Films always made money, but they didn’t always publish it and people didn’t always pay attention to it. As soon as they did, I think people started, “Oh that movie made a lot of money, it must be good. Oh, that movie didn’t make a lot of money, it must be bad.”

I just don’t like talking about money, because it’s not what it’s about. It just gets kind of gross. I just didn’t want it to be all about that. I said if we have to make it all about that, I don’t even want to do it.

FANG: I’m curious what the reception was like to THE LORDS OF SALEM novel?

ZOMBIE: It seems like people really like it. People have mentioned it a lot. You can only judge what you can judge. Someone will put on Facebook, or come up to me at a show.

FANG: Are you intrigued by prose, doing more of it?

ZOMBIE: Maybe, not necessarily. Maybe we will do it for the next movie, maybe we won’t. What really still interests me is music and film. Writing is great because it doesn’t involve a million people, or tons of money. It’s such a great solitary art. The other things are still my main focus.

Top image by Rob Fenn

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About the author
Samuel Zimmerman
Fangoria.com Managing Editor Samuel Zimmerman has been at FANGORIA since 2009, where fresh out of the Purchase College Cinema Studies program, he began as an editorial assistant. Since, he’s honed both his writing and karaoke skills and been trusted with the responsibility of jury duty at Austin’s incredible Fantastic Fest. Zimmerman lives in and hails from The Bronx, New York where his pants are too tight and he’ll watch anything with witches.
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