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Concert preview: Rob Zombie’s never gonna stop trying to do it all

July 18, 2016 GMT

Rob Zombie always seems to be fighting some sort of battle over his music and movies.

Some of them are even with other people.

A big part of the problem, he says, is a never-ending sensation that work on one is coming at the expense of the other.

Then, there’s constant internal struggle to keep songs and albums brief and on point, to craft a set list that will please all facets of his fan base and to find tour mates that don’t alienate half the audience.

As for his films … well, blame all that on the MPAA.

Still, given all the push-and-pull and give-and-take (be it internal or external) that Zombie experiences with his art, he’s happy when something turns out to be simple. Like teaming with Korn for the “Return of the Dreads Tour.” One of the first shows comes Wednesday to Usana Amphitheatre in West Valley City.

Boom. Done.

“Yeah, it’s great. It might be the fourth time — you know, actually, it’s at least the fourth time [the two bands have toured together], maybe more. The first time was 1999, so we’ve been doing it now going on 20 years,” Zombie said in a telephone interview. “It’s not hard to find bands to tour with, but it’s hard to find bands that are a good mesh with the audience sometimes, that doesn’t divide the crowd. … With Korn, they’re great guys, we get along great, there’s no drama, there’s no egos, there’s no horse s---. These shows, this next tour that we’re starting, will be the biggest shows that we’ve ever played together — bigger than it was 2 years ago, bigger than it was 10 years ago. So whatever’s going on, the combination of these two bands is really, really working.”

What the shock-rocker felt would really, really work on his sixth solo studio album, released April 29, was keeping songs brief. Eleven of the 12 electro-swamp-metal tracks clock in at about three minutes. He said, “When I go into the studio to record … there’s two criteria I usually have: I like records that are short and to the point, and I like records where there’s a lot of variation between the songs.”

Ignoring for a moment that the album title (“The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser”) violates his mandate for brevity, Zombie said he had a definite purpose in keeping (almost) everything tight.

“Sometimes I go back and look at the records that I love, records that I’ve listened to my whole life, and I realize, ‘This record is barely half an hour long. These songs are all like a minute and a half, 21/2 minutes at most. No wonder I like it so much,’?” he said. “As time has gone on, songs have gotten longer and longer and longer, and I’m like, ‘Eccchhh — who needs it?!’ … I hear a song and will go, ‘That song’s great.’ Well, it’s great at 2 minutes, but the song’s 41/2 minutes long and now it’s a bore. So I took that approach.”

Of course, Rob Zombie has rarely ever been called boring. Whether you like his work or not. he has a distinctive flair in everything he does.

But then, that’s exactly what causes him to bump heads with the ratings overlords at the MPAA.

His latest film, “31,” is out in September, but when Zombie was premiering it at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the overriding story was his attempt to get it down to an R rating from a twice-assigned, box-office-kiss-of-death NC-17.

He found the entire situation more than frustrating.

“The whole process is absurd. I think it’s incredibly juvenile. If you’re making an R-rated movie or an NC-17 movie, you’re making it for adults, plain and simple. Children are not supposed to see it. So who the f--- gives a s--- what’s in the movie?” he said. “You have a group of adults telling me — and you — what you can’t see. ‘Oh my god, sir, if you saw that much nudity, you’d lose your mind. We can’t have you see that!’ Or, ‘If there was that much violence, you couldn’t handle it, so we’re going to censor it for you because we’re Big Brother.’ I get that you have ratings so that you don’t have 9-year-olds walking in to watch ‘Midnight Cowboy’ or f---ing ‘Caligula,’ but when you have adults watching adult movies, who f---ing gives a s---? That’s why it’s so incredibly strange.”

Aside from a few promotional responsibilities for “31,” the rest of Zombie’s year will be exclusively devoted to touring.

But while that will help him avoid any MPAA-related migraines, his own neurotic nature will just swap in some garden-variety headaches involving self-doubt about his current path.

“It’s really a tricky balance, because both music and the movies could easily be — and have been at times — a full-time career. I could fill every day of my life with just music. That is a full-time career, being with the band, traveling, writing new songs. And the same with making movies — that is just a full-time career, directing movies,” he said. “But I treat them both on the same level. I think of it as 50-50. And it’s a very difficult balance, it really is. Because they’re such different jobs. I feel it all the time, because it feels like there is just not enough time in your life to make all these things happen. And I’m always dealing with it. Because I know that if I’m gonna make a movie that means I’m not working on music and I’m not on tour, but I know if I’m on tour that means I’m not working on the movies I should be working on. It goes back and forth. It’s been a difficult battle and it remains one.”

And knowing him, that’s probably never gonna stop.

ewalden@sltrib.com

Twitter: @esotericwalden