For White Zombie, some songs write themselves


As Rob Zombie explains, White Zombie started out with fairly modest ambitions. "Our biggest expectations for this band was just playing a show at CBGBs," he says. "So everything -- touring the world, selling millions of records, playing big shows -- everything has been completely shocking."

Not that he's complaining, mind you. White Zombie's new album, "Astro-Creep 2000: Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head" was recently just certified platinum, just six weeks since its release.

"It's kind of mind-boggling, actually," he says of the album's steady sales. "The competition is pretty stiff right now -- everything from Michael Jackson to 'Pocahontas.' Very major, mainstream records. And it's still hanging in there. I'm kind of amazed."

That doesn't mean that White Zombie has moved into the mainstream, though. "We're becoming successful, but I don't think we're becoming mainstream," says Zombie. "There's kind of a difference.

"There are always movies or books or bands that are successful, but are not mainstream. There are always weird things that slip through, that somehow cross over. I think that's what we are. But mainstream is Hootie & the Blowfish, you know? They'll sell 6 million records, and your mom likes it." He laughs. "As opposed to bands like us, where everyone goes, 'How the did they sell so many records? I hate this!' "

White Zombie's appeal is broader than most listeners might imagine. "Just recently, we got a call for doing David Letterman, because he really likes 'More Human Than Human.' So we have to come on his show and play it," says Zombie, sounding as if he can't quite believe it. "I've been watching him since I was little, so I love that show. It'll be great." (The show airs tonight, at 11:35 p.m., on WJZ, Channel 13).

What is it about the White Zombie sound that attracts everyone from David Letterman to "Beavis & Butt-head"? Don't ask Zombie. "I figured the goal was just to make a cool record, and the rest we'd figure out later," he laughs.

Not that making "Astro Creep: 2000" was an exact science anyway. "We would never write one song, and then move onto the next song; it's kind of like we had 20 different songs wide-open. It's kind of like we write 'em all at the same time.

"After a point, they almost seem like they write themselves."

How so? "We'll finish a song with one idea, and another song that was left wide open will make sense all of a sudden," he says. "It's really weird. It's almost like one song writes the next song. Like something that didn't work in one song will work in another song.

"There were songs where there would be a riff lying around for three months that everyone hated, and then all of a sudden we'd play it in a different situation and it became the best song. Or, there was another song that was fairly mellow, and then it became like the heaviest song on the record.

"Almost every song took some weird route that it didn't seem like it was going to take," he says. "And always, the songs that we thought were absolutely the biggest pieces of garbage ultimately ended up being the best songs."

Call for 'Creep'

To hear excerpts from the White Zombie album "Astro Creep: 2000," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6145 after you hear the greeting.

In concert

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion

Tickets: $20 pavilion, $8 lawn

Call: (410) 481-6500 for tickets, (410) 730-2424 for information

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