A man often covered is now doing the covering. Skeletons is a Danzig collection due to be released on Nov. 27 that sees the metal band recreating version of songs originally recorded by influences such as Elvis Presley, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top and Aerosmith.
“There [are] two biker movie theme songs on there that I totally reworked,” Glenn Danzig said. “And of course Black Sabbath. Elvis. The Troggs. Everly Brothers. On and on and on.”
But he isn’t stopping there. At some point, he’ll follow it up with Danzig Sings Elvis, a full collection of songs originally recorded by The King. The record is finished; his camp now had to decide if it will follow Skeletons or if the follow-up will instead be a new album of Danzig originals.
Skeletons has been decades in the making, something that Danzig says he’s wanted to do for more than 30 years.
“I’ve been wanting to do a covers record since 1979,” he laughs. “And actually, the arrangement for ‘Devil’s Angels’ that we did, which was one of the biker songs, is the arrangement that I wrote back in 1979 for it. So it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. You get busy, you start doing other things. It was always in the back of my head and finally, I’m doing it. I just started recording.”
He’s been covered plenty. Ryan Adams has made quite a name for himself by covering songs lately, but before his version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 exploded this autumn, he did a version of “Mother” on Mother’s Day at the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta. And Danzig’s friends in Metallica have always been big fans.
“It’s always an honor when people like your stuff so much that they want to cover it,” he said. “Sometimes, I wish they didn’t because it came out really terrible. But other times, people do really good jobs, you know? I like when people take different directions and do something that I might not think. That’s cool.”
His favorite version of a song that he wrote? A tough call that he ponders.
“The early Metallica cover of ‘Last Caress/Green Hell’ – that would stand out,” he said. “We’ve done it onstage when we were on the road with them a couple of times. I went up and to a 20th anniversary show with them and did it.”
He’ll bring the Blackest of the Black tour to Birmingham on Sunday – his first tour since 2013, and likely his last for “a while.” “I don’t like being out on the road,” he explains. But he’s remained busy throughout the time away from his current band. He founded a comic book company called Verotik in 1994, and while production isn’t continuing at the pace that it once was, it’s by choice.
“We just put out stuff when we feel like we have something that we want to say,” he said. “A while ago, it became all of the things that I hate about all of the major companies, so I put the brakes on and said, ‘[only] when we have something to say, when we have people that we want to work with.’ To meet deadlines, we sometimes had to work with artists that we didn’t want to work with just because we needed somebody to do a book and it started becoming exactly what I didn’t want.”
The last time the band visited the Magic City was behind the release of Danzig 777: I Luciferi, which was in 2002. He assures that the band will make up for lost time.
“We haven’t been to Birmingham in a while. We’ll dig pretty deep. We try to pick a pretty good selection of everything to make everybody happy. Sometimes, I’ll just forget the set and ask everybody what they want to hear. ‘We were going to this, but what do you guys want to hear?’”
Danzig headlines a bill with five bands on it at Iron City on Sunday, October 11. Superjoint, Veil of Maya, Prong and Witch Mountain will open the show, with doors at 6:30 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are $38; they’re $40 at the door. For more information, visit ironcitybham.com.