The Public published an interview I did over the weekend with Steve Zing, touring bassist with Danzig. Steve and I discussed a wide range of topics and the entire conversation couldn't make it to print. Here is the extended interview with Steve Zing of Samhain, Danzig and other projects, including Blak29.
As it turned out, this show would never end up happening, a cancellation announcement came out hours after posting this originally!
Glenn Danzig may not be known as rock and roll’s friendliest front man, but he certainly has a fondness for Steve Zing. Zing has been one of Danzig’s most frequent musical collaborators, with Zing playing bass and drums in post-Misfits punk-goth-metal outfit Samhain in the 80s and during subsequent reunions, and as touring bassist for the band Danzig since 2006. Clearly, Danzig likes working with the multi-talented and amiable Zing, who is a fellow Lodi, New Jersey native.
Zing and his bandmates are preparing for a string of tour stops that lead to the Riot Fest on Sept. 16 in Chicago, where Danzig will play 1992’s Danzig III in full. One of those dates is Sept. 12 at Artpark in Lewiston, where Danzig shares the stage with Corrosion of Conformity, Mutoid Man and Buffalo’s Governess.
Zing spoke to The Public about working with Glenn Danzig, the Misfits reunion, his personal project Blak29 and his desire for Anchor Bar chicken wings when Danzig comes to Western New York for a late summer outdoor metal bash at Artpark.
You are the longest tenured bass player with Danzig (touring bassist since 2006) and one of the most experienced collaborators with Glenn Danzig going back to your days in Samhain (1983-1985). To what do you attribute the strength of your working relationship with Glenn?
There's no drama. There's no ego, there's no drama. I like to go up and have a good time. I'm not going to complain about the food, I'm not going to complain about this or that. It's a blessing to be doing what we are doing, I don't care who you are playing with. To do it on our level, and for the amount of years that we've had success, it's a true blessing.
I look at Glenn as a friend, I don't look at him as the guy who changed my life, per se.
It's one of those things where we will talk about movies and talk about music... I met him when I was 12 years old, I'm 53. It was an interesting thing, I can remember the day when I went into the garage to listen to the Misfits rehearse (1978). And I just looked at him and said, "I'm going to be in a band with this guy," and I didn't even play an instrument.
Your show in Buffalo comes just a few days before Danzig plays Danzig III in full at Riot Fest in Chicago. Is it likely that we will hear material from Danzig III at the Buffalo show?
I think so. I'm actually flying out Monday (Sept. 3) morning to rehearse and then I'm going to fly home (in New Jersey) on Tuesday. We're going to rehearse specifically Danzig III stuff. The great thing about this lineup is we don't have to play for a year, we get in the rehearsal studio and it just flows. I'm blessed to play with (drummer) Johnny (Kelly) and (guitarist) Tommy (Victor).
Tommy in his own sense is like a musical genius, because he can hear certain things, and so can Johnny, for that matter. So I'm quite fortunate. I've always been fortunate to play with some of the best musicians.
Glenn frequently says that he’s not interested in touring anymore, but here is on the road again.
Well, this is a short run, it's nothing where he's going to get out for a month and go anymore. And he shouldn't have to, that's not his thing. He still has a brand to promote.
I don't think he will tour with the Misfits. I think he enjoyed it, which is why they are doing another show, but I don't think they are going to get on a bus and tour. Never say never. As a fan, you'd love to see it. But, I'm loving the fact that they are getting the respect for the original music.
I enjoy your Blak29 project, where you really get to show off your chops as a vocalist. Some of stuff is reminiscent of Ian Astbury (The Cult) or Billy Idol and I think people might be surprised.
People refer me to Ian Astbury, and I like the Cult. I don't really, like, listen to them, but I do take that as a compliment. I started singing vocals years ago because I couldn't find people to sing the songs I was writing. I would bring people down and let them sing and it didn't make sense. And it was kind of like, you know what, screw it, I'll do it myself. It's kind of like the Glenn attitude, when he wants to make music and no one is around, sometimes he plays the bass, he plays the guitar. He does what he's got to do to get it done.
And I think I've gotten better as a vocalist over the years. I've found myself in the place where I'm most comfortable as far as writing and singing. It's the first time that I'm happy with what I'm doing as far as the stuff on my own. The fact that I can listen to it over and over, I'm pretty happy about.
Is there anything coming up from Blak29 we should be looking out for soon?
There's new Blak29 coming out, we'll be doing a .45 soon, I'll announce that hopefully within a month. We're just having problems getting vinyl. Because what's old is new again, so vinyl is on this uptick, So, you know, they can't make it fast enough.
All these places that produced vinyl at one time went out of business. A lot of those machines were discarded, so now you have a lot of these companies and now you have to produce the machines again. Because nobody ever thought, after vinyl basically died and CDs took over, that it would ever come back. So these guys were just throwing the machines in the garbage.
Considering that you've grown up with and played with so many interesting people and witnessed the story of the Misfits and Samhain and Danzig first hand, have you considered putting together an autobiography to chronicle your experiences?
I've actually thought about, almost like a video documentary type thing of my "Amazing Journey." It's nowhere near over, I hope. But, if I think about it, I'm lucky. I'm a very lucky person.
I didn't grow up wealthy, I grew up actually quiet poor on welfare with just myself and my mom. And she knew that I loved music, so she invested in me as far as buying me instruments and she couldn't afford anything. But she made sure that I had what I needed, and I'm very grateful for that.
I've experienced a lot of things, I've gone to places that I never, ever thought I would see. So, when you think about it, I'm like, I need to kind of start writing this down as far back as I remember and try to get it out at some point. It's definitely a wonderful journey and I'm glad Glenn has taken me along for the ride for a lot of it. It's an amazing job if you can get it.
There's not a lot of spots left for someone who wants make a living as a touring musician in this era, especially a touring rock musician.
A lot of these bands that came out in the 80s, especially around New Jersey, they were all going for the record label. And some of them got it, and some never saw the light of day, and some had an album come out and it went absolutely nowhere. If you look at Glenn, Glenn never pursued it. Glenn pursued his goal of making his own music and it came after him. He didn't pursue it, it pursued him. And he did it the way he wanted to do it, and it's why he still has a successful career in 2017 on basically his legacy brands of Misfits, Samhain and Danzig.
And because he did it the way he wants to do it and he's not letting anybody drag it through the mud and become some nostalgia act like a lot of those hair bands. I'm not putting them down, but a lot of them become this nostalgia act and go on these nostalgia tours. You tell me if Poison can sell out 18,000 seats in 15 minutes like the Misfits just did (Dec. 30 in Los Angeles). And the Misfits never had a hit record.
It's his music and his voice that has carried even Jerry's multi-incarnation of what the brand became. And it was because of Glenn. It wasn't because of the singer that Jerry had after Glenn (Michale Graves). That had nothing to do with it, that was a very small thing. And even that guy, who goes on tour, he can't fill more than 50 people in a club, if that. I'm not putting him down, but the reality is nobody really cares about him. He made his own career off the back of Glenn Danzig. `
When compared to other punk and metal acts of the time, Glenn has been very protective about the brands that he's been involved in.
Look, there will be times when Glenn will do certain things and you kind of sit there and question it and then you go, "Oh, now I see why he did it." Again, it's for protection. He doesn't want to water it down. That's not his thing, never was. And he's going to do it his way, or it's not going to get done.
And look, every band has moments where you kind of plateau and it levels off and I think he knows that. Look, in the 90's, Danzig was able to sell out the Forum. But we still have a built audience that is unlike most others. We are very fortunate for that, and it shows even with the Misfits.
Glenn has always been protective. When it comes down to shirts - if he sees a shirt and the quality is horrible, he will reject it. He'd rather not sell it, he says, "I don't want to sell crap." When it comes down to the stickies that are printed up for backstage, if the thing is wrong, he will reject it. You can say, "Who cares?" He does. It's down to the most minuscule things that you would never think of, but he's concerned about it.
And people can put down the production of things, but it doesn't matter. He's raw, he's a raw guy. He can be produced if he wants to be produced, but when it comes down to it, he's a raw guy. He's what punk rock is. He will sit there and make laminates himself. He loves the control because it's his, you know? It's his. And if people want something overproduced, they're not going to get it from Glenn Danzig. He's going to do what he wants to do, and that's that. And you know what, he's been damn successful with it.
Jerry Only's marketing of the Misfits has been different than Glenn's. I'm wondering if this reestablishment of a relationship between the two will do away with some of the kitschy branding that the Misfits have done in recent years like Christmas items and socks and goofy shirts.
There are certain things I can't talk about. (Jerry and Glenn) each have their own thing, and then they have the Misfits things that is together now. I'm not sure... in some respects (Only's marketing of the post-Danzig Misfits), maybe that's helped the brand. Certainly not Jerry's shows, because Jerry couldn't sell out 18,000 seats. In fact, I don't think he could sell out 1,800 seats. Not putting Jerry down, but again, it all has to do with the songs and the guy who wrote the songs and sang them.
It's like walking into a Macy's and seeing a CBGB's t-shirt. So you have more people with Ramones and CBGB's shirts on, and the don't even know what CBGB's is. "Oh yeah, it was this cool club." Really? But they've never been to it. It's things like that. You see the skull, so you're like, "Oh, yeah, Misfits, that's cool..."
Is there anything about coming back to Buffalo you are looking forward to in particular?
What I'm looking forward to is just coming up to Buffalo, musically kicking your ass and having some wings from the Anchor Bar and Grill.