Glenn Danzig Talks Covers LP ‘Skeletons,’ Reflects on Early Punk Days
Late last month, Glenn Danzig posted a photo to Facebook of himself wearing full skull makeup for the first time since his days in horror-punk hell-raisers Misfits nearly 40 years ago. “I wore makeup only at a couple of live shows and maybe for a photo shoot,” the singer tells Rolling Stone of his early punk days in the above video. “I think it was originally for a Halloween show, ’79, at [New York City’s] Irving Plaza. I also had the skeleton shirt and skeleton clothes on, so I was a full punk skeleton man. I can’t remember if it was that show or the next year’s Halloween show that we hung dead animal heads and limbs and carcasses all over the place. It smelled like a slaughterhouse. It looked like a slaughterhouse because it actually was.” The venue was not too happy.
Danzig donned the skull face in 2015 with no carcasses present (or at least none in frame) for a photo shoot to accompany his long-awaited upcoming covers record Skeletons. “I had titled it skeletons before the makeup, to be like ‘skeletons in your closet,'” he says. “It’s like pulling out old songs.” The record features the “Mother” singer’s touch on songs by Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, the Troggs, the Everly Brothers and others. It’s one of many projects he’s been working on, including an EP of all Elvis Presley covers, a new LP of Danzig originals and his recently released Danzig Legacy film, but at the moment it’s the project closest on the horizon that could arrive as early as next month.
“I had to put it out now or else there would be so many songs I’d want to do that I wouldn’t be able to do it,” he explains with a wide smile. “Even the way I did it, there are so many songs I still wanted to cover. My attitude with covers is, make it your own or else leave it alone.”
In the case of ZZ Top’s gentle, fuzzy-synth ballad “Rough Boy,” Danzig says he turned it into a “heavy Fifties song,” since both he and Prong’s Tommy Victor play guitar on the song. “I made it the way Billy Gibbons did it,” Danzig says. “It kind of stops and the chorus never finishes, so I made it a flowing song. I hope he’s not too upset.”
In addition to Danzig’s take on the Troggs’ “A Girl Like You” (“I made it real punky”) the Litter’s “Action Woman” and the Everlys’ “Crying in the Rain” (“It’s very creepy and dark,” Danzig says of the piano-led album closer), Skeletons will also feature his second Black Sabbath cover, following his industrialized take on “Hand of Doom” from the mid-Nineties. This time, Danzig tackled a track off the trailblazing metal group’s 1970 debut: the herky-jerky love letter from Lucifer titled “N.I.B.”
“It’s one of the Sabbath songs I really liked, and the first Sabbath record is pretty groundbreaking,” he explains. “I just dropped it down to a half beat, pulled all the bass out of the beginning, and it’s just drums, guitar and vocals. When the chorus comes in, it’s just big old bass chords and church bells.”