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Zombie says 'Venomous Rat' special for him

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Vans Warped Tour
Rob Zombie and his band
Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP
Rob Zombie talks about his new film 'Lords of Salem' at the SXSW Film Festival, on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in Austin, Texas.

Last fall, as he was putting the finishing touches on what became his new album, “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,”“ Rob Zombie was saying he felt it was more than just another album for him.

He was feeling something that doesn't happen every time he goes into a studio to make an album.

“It seems to happen every couple of years or every 10 years or every five years of whatever, you have a moment when it all comes together,” Zombie said in a phone interview last September.

“Not that the other records are bad, but not every record can be, like, the most inspired event in your life. But for some reason, this one feels like it is. The songwriting, the sound of it, the vibe, the production, it's special, I think.”

Nine months have passed since then. “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” has long since been finished, and, in fact, has been in stores since April.

Zombie, who is one of the headliners at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival on July 12 at First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, still has a hard time defining what is special about the album.

“It's hard to say. It's hard to talk about music,” he said in a late-June phone interview. “Sometimes it's just the vibe, it just has a life to it. It feels alive. It feels like there's energy to it, whereas, sometimes you can do the same thing on another song and it just feels like it's not really there. And then you wonder, ‘Was it all in my head?' ”

Apparently not, as Zombie has gotten tangible indications that his senses weren't playing games with his reality.

“Ever since the record's come out, the response critically and from the fans has been the best in, like, a decade we've gotten on anything,” he said. “People really love it. People go out of their way to tell me how much they love it.”

“Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” smoothly mixes the sinister overtones of his hard-rocking music with hooky riffs and melodies that give the album a wickedly fun groove. The album may, in fact, be part of a bigger trend for Zombie.

“The way the career goes after awhile, you can't stay on the same level all of the time,” Zombie said. “Sometimes you go up. Sometimes you go down — even if it's not necessarily popularity, just the vibe of the whole thing in your head. And it's just seemed for the past couple of years now that I'm very much on an upswing. The feeling within the band, the music, the enthusiasm from the fans, the feedback we get all the time, I don't know, I think what it is sometimes is, when you're new, everybody's excited, when you're new. Then, everybody's excited when you hit it big. Then, everybody kind of gets used to you.

“It's not like they necessarily don't like you — they're just used to you being around. Then, if you stick around long enough, it's almost like you're re-invigorated. That's what I feel is happening now, that we've reinvigorated the old band and started sweeping up a whole new generation of new fans.”

Part of Zombie's ongoing appeal has been his ability to create spectacular live shows. Drawing from trailblazers in theatrical rock concerts (Alice Cooper is an obvious influence), he has become known for delivering one of the most visually dynamic, creepy (in a good way) and fun-filled concerts of any current music act.

His show on the Mayhem Festival should continue that trend.

“It's different,” Zombie said of his new live show. “That's always a challenge, making it different, trying to keep the stuff that you know people liked, that they want to hear or they want to see, but making it different so it's not the same old same (stuff).

“It's probably the biggest show I've ever had,” he said. “It's got the most of everything: the most pyro, the most digital-video walls, the most giant props, the most everything. I'm really trying to put something (on stage) that's ridiculously over the top.”

Alan Sculley is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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