Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news-Glenn Danzig has a CD on the classical charts.
In 1992, Danzig's Black Aria debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Classical chart. Earlier this month, Black Aria II debuted at No. 8 on Billboard's Classical Crossover chart. We don't know the difference between the two charts, but we know their similarity: They both have a very, very liberal definition of classical music.
If you've yet to hear Black Aria II, try to remember back to the soundtrack music from Conan the Barbarian (note: not the sequel Conan the Destroyer; the music in Destroyer was more like a Renaissance fair band covering English Beat's cover of The Miracles' "Tears of a Clown"). Right about when Thusla Doom (James Earl Jones) turns into a giant snake (yes, our governor almost got eaten by a serpentine Jones) there's all this chanting and thumping and creepy synth music.
Well, it's this chanting and thumping and creepy synth music that serves as the template for Black Aria II. If you haven't seen the movie, then you're probably not a Danzig fan, and the only other way to describe Aria is to say that it's like the gothic hump-house music of Enigma-if you subtract the heavy breathing and add pure evil.
Never a darling of the music press, Danzig clearly takes perverse pleasure from being wedged in the charts between guys like Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.
"I'm some sort of outsider-punker-metal guy. I've never gotten any respect from any of the major mags," he says. "So, yeah, it's kind of nice to see this record on the charts. It's also kinda funny. I'm probably the only punker who can boast a No. 1 classical record.
"Back in the day, and even today, magazines like Rolling Stone and Circus never gave any respect to punk rock. They laughed at it and said it was crap. So, for me, everything I do with my band or the Black Aria is still about that war. It's still about "Fuck you and fuck your magazine.' It doesn't matter how long I do this; they'll still hate me."
Of course, the fact that Danzig never needed (or wanted) to please rock writers has freed him up to do some pretty weird stuff. Starting with The Misfits, he's continued to shock and rock through eight Danzig band records with subject matter ranging from Satan to Lucifer, Beelzebub to Mephistopheles. But this is his first neo-classical composition about Adam's legendary first wife, Lilith, who, post-divorce, becomes the Dark Lord's consort (and by "Dark Lord" we mean Satan, not Danzig).
Because Danzig's classical albums have no lyrics, it's hard to tell exactly how he's perverting the Judeo-Christian faith with his Lilith tale. But let's just assume any Danzig take on Gnostic mythology will be heretical.
"When I found out that there was a woman before Eve, I went "Wha?'" he says. "I started with idea of the woman and I basically let each song take me where I need to go.... By the end, I had something that didn't sound like anything I know. But there are things that got me inspired to write. Everyone needs a starting point, whether it's Black Sabbath or Willie Dixon or Wagner or [horror soundtrack maestro] Jerry Goldsmith."
If all this is a little too much for casual fans, don't worry. Out early next year is a Danzig outtakes record with cool covers like T-Rex's "Buick Mackane" and David Bowie's "Cat People."
His classical fans will have to sit that one out.
Danzig plays with Lacuna Coil, The Haunted, Belphegor and Asesino at Soma on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Doors open at 6 p.m. $25. 619-226-7662.