Rob Zombie manages to fit a lot of hats over his unruly mane.
In 2013, the Haverhill native and acclaimed purveyor of hard rock and horror has seen his latest frightfest, “Lords of Salem,” hit theaters, the novelization of the film hit the bestseller list, and his most recent album, the earwormy “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor,” hit the top 10 of the Billboard album charts.
In the fall he’ll mastermind the “Great American Nightmare” haunted house/music fest — billed as “15 nights of pure terror” — near Los Angeles and then turn his attention to a film chronicling the Philadelphia Flyers during their “Broad Street Bullies” era.
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie
“There’s a million things going on at once,” says Zombie with a laugh. “I’m just trying to get through today.”
For now, that means sweating out the summer concert season headlining the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which comes to the Comcast Center on Tuesday. The man born Robert Cummings promises more of the phantasmagorical spectacle that he’s been assaulting audiences with for years.
We chatted with Zombie recently by phone from an Arizona tour stop.
Q. How’s the tour going?
A. Fantastic. The heat is brutal. I’m not going to lie, that’s making life hell.
Q. And you’re wearing heavy makeup and costumes, right? Are you just sweating it all off by the end?
A. The clothes that we usually wear are pretty heavy-duty. It is not the audience’s concern how comfortable we are. (Laughs.) So to go out there dressed comfortably, nobody paid to see that. They paid to see the same show that they would see in December.
Q. Nobody wants to see Rob Zombie in shorts?
A. Yeah, so we just suck it up and go for it.
Q. Do you feel forced to top yourself in terms of production spectacle with visuals and props?
A. That’s the inevitable thing, I suppose. Even if you don’t feel the pressure it’s something you’re going to do anyway because I think it’s just human nature to not feel like, “Oh let’s go do less.” (Laughs.) You always feel like you should do more, even though after a certain point it becomes crazy. This show is the craziest one yet. Every song has something and behind the scenes, it’s like a circus trying to make it all happen. It’s somehow inflated to more than just a rock show.
Q. For the last three days I’ve been walking around singing “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga” from your new album. I can’t shake it.
A. Yeah, it’s ridiculous but it’s catchy. (Laughs.)
Q. Does it actually mean anything?
A. No, it doesn’t mean anything. I always loved songs like [the Beatles’] “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.” Just things that were ridiculous, that mean nothing but when enough people say it for a long enough time it feels like it means something. (Laughs.)
Q. On that song and others you continue to show how vital melody and groove are. While certain kinds of hard rock and metal have a relentless quality that serves a different kind of cathartic purpose, your tunes are eminently singable. Do you work at that tunefulness?
A. I think it’s important too, because no matter how heavy a song is or how noisy, there has to be a melody that you can latch onto, or it becomes forgettable. Usually the vocal melody or hook comes to me pretty quickly. It’s when I struggle with it is when I know it’s not particularly good. I wanted the record to be catchy but not obvious. We wanted the song structures to be a little weirder because when things are too catchy they become immediately annoying.
Q. Shifting gears to film, how does a nice boy from Haverhill end up making a movie about the Flyers?
A. Well, I was never that nice. I guess everybody thinks I should make a movie about the Bruins but nobody asked me to make a movie about the Bruins. (Laughs.) Although the Bruins are heavily featured in the movie because besides being about building the Flyers, it’s about the year they win the Stanley Cup and, of course, they beat the Boston Bruins to win it, so there’s quite a bit of Boston stuff in the movie.
Q. Is it true that you’re adapting “House of 1000 Corpses” for Broadway?
A. Well, not in the sense that it’s happening but in the sense that I think it could happen someday. I would like to. I don’t even like Broadway musicals for the most part. They’re horrible. But I do think if you go to Broadway it’s really taken a turn over the years. It’s not so much about “A Chorus Line” or “Oklahoma!,” it’s Spider-Man, it’s Monty Python, it’s The Addams Family, so this falls in line with that. I just think that movie is so ridiculous it could almost turn into a “Rocky Horror”-type thing.
Q. With so many irons in the fire, how do you focus?
A. It is a chaotic mess at all times. (Laughs.) But I can work in chaos, thankfully.
Q. What frightens you?
A. I was always very desensitized to violence as a kid. If there was something violent on TV or in real life, rather than look away I’d look at it. So maybe I was the perfect kid where they said watching too much bad stuff would make you desensitized. I think it happened.
Q. Well it’s certainly worked out for your career though, right?
A. Right, take your desensitization to human suffering and turn it into dollars! (Laughs.)