The Return of Evil Elvis

Glenn Danzig is bringing his dark, bluesy metal back to Melbourne (Australia), writes Patrick Donovan.

Hordes of Elvis Presley fans are carving their quiffs in preparation for the King's return on the big screen with live backing from his old TCB band at Rod Laver Arena in October.

But those who like some heavy metal and dark imagery with their crooning are more excited about the news that Glenn Danzig, aka "Evil Elvis", is returning to our shores for the first time in 13 years.

As did his namesake, Evil Elvis also has had a career in film - just not the type of flicks you can take minors to. There was his cameo as the fallen angel Samyael in The Prophecy II, and he played himself trying to buy a house with blood flowing from its walls and taps in Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

The diminutive singer was even approached by 20th Century Fox in the late '90s to audition for the part of Wolverine in the film adaptation of X-Men but had to turn down the offer because of band commitments.

And then there's his directing career: a "gore porno" version of Edward Lee's Grub Girl and Ge Rouge, a "live action, turn-of-thecentury New Orleans voodoo" story based on one of his comic books.

In his music, Danzig (born Glenn Allen Anzalone) draws heavily on his love of the theatrical.

With his dark imagery and titles such as 6:66 Satan's Child, he operates in the Horror Rock genre that was pioneered by Alice Cooper, Kiss and Black Sabbath and has been continued by White Zombie, Godsmack and more recently emo bands such as My Chemical Romance.

The hardcore music scene has undergone many changes since Danzig co-founded the Misfits in 1977. In his various bands he has seen styles come and go, from punk to goth, grunge, metal, rap metal and emo. He seems to be in a better position than most, then, to comment on the current state of hardcore music.

"The mainstream has definitely got lamer," he says with a sigh.

"Most of the stuff that is getting played is just watered down versions of music they would never play before. It's pretty much exactly the same as it was: the mainstream is scared of extreme kinds of music, but if someone does a softer, more politically correct version of it, then they might play it."

Danzig was happy playing his uncompromising music to his hardcore fan base when he almost accidentally broke through into the mainstream in 1993 after MTV started thrashing the live video to his four-year-old metal anthem Mother.

Since then, his career has taken some unexpected twists and turns, contributing the song Thirteen to Johnny Cash's 1994 American Recordings album, and releasing the classical album Black Aria.

But having turned 50 last year, he has given up extensive touring and now embarks only on limited short tours.

"I've retired from touring, so we're just doing a few shows. I don't think the Misfits ever played Australia, so we wanted to bring the show out. I've been really lucky that people have liked what I've done and I get to tour every record, but it gets tiring after a while."

The weightlifter, martial arts expert and collector of rare Japanese toys and animal skulls is a man of many tastes and talents. But it is his dark bluesy metal, churned out by his best-known bands the Misfits and Danzig, for which he is most famous, and fans will be anticipating generous lashings of both at the Palace tonight.

Expect to hear the Danzig classics that rang out every Wednesday night in the '90s at Chasers' Hard 'n' Fast nightclub in Prahran - Mother, Dirty Black Summer, 777 - plus Misfits classics (with Misfits guitarist Doyle on board for the show, it will be the closest fans will get to a reunion of the band Danzig left in 1983).

Danzig fills the gap for discerning music fans who love the dark, bluesy, brooding baritone of Presley and Jim Morrison, but with a heavy metal base.

"Neither of those guys did anything really heavy so I suppose I fill a void," he says. "No matter what I sing on, it's a bluesy vocal. Even the way I arrange my songs is like an old blues guy, even though it's heavy. I actually got up the stage with Hank Williams III, we did a heavy bluesy version of his grandfather's song The Angel of Death, and then the Alkaline Trio guys came up and we did a version of the old psychobilly song American Nightmare. So my music is pretty steeped in the roots."

And what does he think of the Evil Elvis nickname? "I'm flattered by that. It's better than being called the Evil (Journey frontman) Steven Perry."

Danzig played the Palace last night.



DVD: Colonel Parker
Film: Elvis Killed My Brother
CD: Elvis A Legendary Performer Vol. 7
DVD: A Tribute To The King (Scotty Moore)
Book/CD: Memphis Recording Service
Book: Elvis and the Memphis Mafia
CD: All Shook Up (reggae tribute)
Book: The King's Ransom
Book: The King (graphic novel)
'Elvis On Tour Outtakes' DVD review
'Hitstory' CD EIN in depth review
CD: Hitstory (USA edition)
FTD: Summer Festival
DVD: Born To Rock
Book: Elvis Aaron Presley: A Candle In The Wind
FTD: Too Much Monkey Business
Book: Desert Storm
Book: Elvis On Stamps
FTD: Elvis Today
Book: Behind The Image Vol. 2
Book: Elvis on Screen
DVD: Elvis & Me
FTD: All Shook Up
FTD: Tickle Me
CD: Elvis by the Presleys
Book: Warman's Elvis Field Guide
DVD: Why Elvis?
Book: Dewey and Elvis
CD: Black & White Elvis
CD: All Shook Up
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
FTD: Rockin' Across Texas
FTD: Elvis Is Back
TV Special: "Elvis by the Presleys"
Book: Elvis by the Presleys
CD: Tom Green
CD: A Legendary Performer Vol. 5
FTD: Big Boss Man
FTD: Flashback
FTD: Paradise, Hawaiian Style
CD: I Remember His First Love Song
FTD: Polk Salad Annie
DVD review: Aloha From Hawaii
CD: Elvis At Sun
DVD: Comeback Special
FTD: Elvis Recorded Live In Memphis
FTD: Spinout
Book: Elvis Fashion
Did you miss?
CD review: The Greensboro Concert
FTD review: Girl Happy
Article: Political correctnesss and intolerance in the Elvis world
Article: All you ever wanted to know about Graceland
Interview: Larry Geller
FTD review: Viva Las Vegas
CD review: Close-Up
Debate: Is Elvis Alive?
Article: The pitfalls of re-mixing The King