By David Cavazos
This week we go towards a darker side in the world of music and experience the art produced from the mind of Glenn Danzig. For a long time Danzig has been a large medium for music where the new and old combined to form styles that would inspire multiple genres.
Danzig is the founder of several popular bands, including The Misfits and Samhain, which would later be renamed to Danzig after his own name. He wasn’t always so revered though.
Danzig began his career learning instruments through a basic musical education, such as piano classes in his childhood. From a very young age he began to experiment with drugs and became a guitarist as well as singer for many garage bands. Danzig’s major influences while in these garage bands came from Elvis, Jim Morrison and Black Sabbath. In fact, several of his garage bands were Black Sabbath cover bands.
Although he had never taken any vocal lessons, his uniquely blended sound of Elvis with Morrison became prominent and he was soon sought after by local bands in Lodi, New Jersey. Soon, though, Danzig found himself creating the now infamous punk group The Misfits.
The Misfits initially were true to their name. Labels rejected them left and right and Danzig was often told they’d never have any sort of musical career. But eventually The Misfits’ first album would be released under Danzig’s own self-created record label.
The Misfits had built a strong underground following after the release of three albums. The band’s direction, however, was not going down the path Danzig had hoped for. He began to find conflicts with his fellow band mates over levels of musical technicality and wanted to go even darker with the band’s themes. Not long after he gave up hope on trying to convince the band to follow his direction he left to follow his side project Samhain.
For Danzig, Samhain was a departure from punk and a chance to follow in the footsteps of blues hard rock groups like Black Sabbath. Along with less punk influence and more rock, and eventually heavy metal influences, Danzig tapped into his interests of the occult and paganism for lyrics and themes. Samhain began to perform with leather masks and sometimes even covered with fake blood. The name Samhain itself was the pagan holiday that influenced what we now know as Halloween.
Now contrary to popular belief, Samhain never disbanded. What happened in fact was Danzig signed over the band to producer Rick Rubin and Def American label. Originally, only Danzig was supposed to follow the contract to be placed in a new supergroup the label was attempting to put together, but Danzig refused to leave without bassist Eerie Von.
Def American then gave their trust to Danzig, allowing him to take Von and replace the other two members of Samhain. The title of Samhain would also be kept for the remainder of the year until Danzig finally decided he no longer wanted to continue starting new bands. So he changed the band’s name to his surname to make sure he would stay no matter what the line up.
Danzig the band would go on to release nine albums within the next 20 years, with their first self-titled album being their highest rated as well as highest selling. The album is now platinum and gave us the iconic song “Mother.” “Mother” has been covered several times over by artists small and big. The song has even made it’s way into most pop culture, from movies to video games, such as the Grand Theft Auto series.
Glenn Danzig has since branched out from just making music to following his original career goal to create comic books and photography. Danzig takes his dark and gothic themes with him into his own comic publishing company, Verotik, where he competes with the likes of Dark Horse, who published comics like Spawn, producing his own horror, erotic and violent works.
Danzig has in his lifetime both helped define punk, hard rock and heavy metal. Strongly influencing bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, thus helping to create most of the modern punk and rock music we have come to know and love.