The heaviest and most chaotic time of year is here – the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. The world’s largest touring heavy music event, Mayhem Festival is bringing the insanity to hundreds of thousands of fans across the country through the blistering summer heat. On one brutally hot day in Camden, NJ, I sat down with Ginger Fish, drummer of this year’s festival headliner Rob Zombie, to talk about the tour, the band’s new album, their spooktacular live show, and much more.
With a tour named “Mayhem Festival”, you’d expect things to get a little crazy at times. “It’s been really smooth to say the least, being a festival,” said Ginger of the tour. “Usually festivals are get-up-and-go and whatever happens, happens.” He stated that Rob runs a tight ship with a great crew. Ginger’s right-hand man has been a blessing on the tour as well. “Davey, my (drum) tech is the greatest tech in the world and can almost read my mind it seems,” Ginger said. “We just have to look at each other to know if something’s right.” As far as the crowd response has been at the shows, Ginger said jokingly, “I don’t see anybody leaving, so that’s a good thing.” Everybody stayed in Camden, as well.
Ginger Fish made his debut with Rob Zombie last spring at Rock On The Range 2012 in Columbus, OH. During the set, Rob took the mic and screamed, “I’d to introduce you all to the newest Zombie!”. Then, Ginger proceeded to do a creepy and kick-ass drum solo, complete with haunting sound effects and images in the big screens. “It’s cool to get recognized, obviously,” Ginger stated. “To have someone like that (Rob Zombie) grab you and pick you up and say ‘hey, check this out’, is one of the coolest feelings in the world.” I was there for that show, and it was definitely a cool moment for the fans as well.
One of the best things about Zombie has always been the legendary live show. With the band’s latest (and most talented, in my opinion) lineup of Rob, John 5 on guitar, Piggy D on bass, and Ginger Fish on drums, the band has truly taken themselves to new heights. I inquired about what the band goes through to prepare for their epic live performances. “Every time we go out, it seems like there’s bigger props, bigger explosions, and bigger things going on,” Ginger said. I asked him if he was adorning his classic “black cross” face paint for the tour, and he replied, “It’s hit or miss. I’ve tried other make-ups, but they (band) say I should go back to the cross.”
Rob Zombie is one of the greatest solo artists in rock music history. Starting out with his band White Zombie in 1985. In 1992, the band found mainstream success when they signed with Geffen Records and released their third album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One. The album hit #26 on the Billboard Top 200 and eventually went double-platinum. In 1995, White Zombie teamed up with renowned metal producer Terry Date to release Astro-Creep: 2000. The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 200, and it would also be their last outing. In the summer of 1996, the band toured with the almighty Pantera on their summer tour.
In 1998, Zombie went solo and released his debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe. The disc debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200, and spawned three monster singles. It went on to sell over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone. Zombie’s sophomore effort, 2001’s The Sinister Urge, The album went double-platinum, and gave Rob his second Top 10 debut on the Billboard Top 200. In 2006, Zombie teamed up with guitar virtuoso John 5. The next two Zombie albums – 2006’s Educated Horses and 2010’s Hellbilly Deluxe 2 – each debuted at #5 and #8 respectively on the Billboard Top 200, and featured a stripped down, riffier sound thanks to John 5’s influence.
Rob Zombie released his fifth studio LP, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, back in April on his own label, Zodiac Swan. The first Zombie album to feature drummer Ginger Fish, the disc debuted at #7 on the Billboard Top 200. Throughout his career, Rob Zombie has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. After Mayhem Festival, the band will head to South Dakota to play the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and then to Canada for Heavy Montreal, followed by a trip to Brazil for Rock In Rio. In October, Rob Zombie will be hosting his first-ever Great American Nightmare, a unique Halloween experience at which Ginger may VJ. The band is likely to tour afterwards, but no plans are set in stone yet. – by Matt Bishop (Photography by Matt Bishop)