11 shock rockers who are surprisingly wholesome in real life
Most rock fans will forever live by the old newspaper adage: If it bleeds, it leads. When something is violent, bizarre, and incendiary, punks and metalheads flock to it, excited to glom the sheer electricity off of a story, sound, or image that makes most people gasp. From that inherent desire has risen shock rock, a unique musical subset that combines theatricality and vulgarity to make the experience of seeing al concert similar to that of seeing a haunted attraction, stand-up comedian, or mud-wrestling show.
But as any actor (or indeed rational person) knows, performing despicable acts on stage does not mean the performers are despicable people. The truth is, for shock rockers the profane and maniacal is their day job, and when they get home at the end of tour they rarely want to spit blood and breathe fire from the couch. In fact, quite the opposite — having exorcised those tendencies in front of screaming crowds, the kings and queens of shock rock usually want to be perfectly normal, if not adorably wholesome, in their private lives.
Here are 11 shock rockers whose offstage personalities are more innocent than you might expect…
Photo: Chris Koontz
Between his albums, music videos, live shows and feature films, one might assume that Rob Zombie spends his evenings sweating mescaline while running down armadillos on a decommissioned Texas highway. But that’s just not true – Rob’s not only sober, he’s a vegan, whose sonic and cinematic revels in violence seem to exercise a dark side that he doesn’t actually indulge in. On top of that – as though his movies weren’t a dead giveaway – the king of rock monsters has an incredibly sweet relationship with his wife and leading lady Sheri Moon. “There’s no-one I trust more than Rob,” Sheri told Kerrang! last year. “I don’t think we look at it as work and home life as separate things.” It’s good to know that after a long day of digging through ditches and burning through witches, you can come home to a good woman and a hot plate of tofu.
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Onstage, Ghost may look like the satanic inquisition coming to slap the communion wafer out of a priest’s hand. But while he may not be very religious outside of his appreciation for the Fallen One, frontman Tobias Forge is actually a father of two who loves celebrating Christmas in front of the fire with his family. “Christmas is a big thing in our house,” he explained this past yuletide season. “We’re not religious, but we do it really full-on. I actually really love Christmas. It’s very cosy, which is nice.” Whether or not all future Papas and Cardinals will share his laid-back side remains to be seen.
Shawn "Clown" Crahan
A general rule of thumb is that one should not underestimate Shawn “Clown” Crahan. Onstage as the percussionist for Slipknot, Shawn is a human wrecking ball with the focus of a blender; off, he’s a constant creative fountain, producing disturbing photography and unsettling sounds the way some folks grow hair. But in his personal life, Shawn is, above all things, a dedicated father and husband, who considers his family his true accomplishment. Not only that, but when he’s spoken about late bandmate Paul Gray in the past, he’s expressed only love and adoration for the complicated human who was his bassist. Sure, he’s the guy with the crow in the jar when he’s not a family man, but the beauty of Shawn Crahan is that he proves that with hard work and dedication, you can be both.
Photo: Rory Higginson
For a guy who ends most nights with chopping off his own head, Alice Cooper is more Ward Cleaver than meat cleaver in his private life. The king of all things shock has been sober for longer than most of his peers, having sworn off booze and drugs in the early ’80s before creating some of his most beloved material. He’s helped other artists toss the monkeys off their backs – listmate Wednesday 13 has attributed his own sobriety to help from Alice. Not only that, but the Coop is also a Christian father of three daughters, who would rather spend Halloween with his kids than onstage. “This year, I’m going to be home and I’m gonna take my grandkids out trick-or-treating!” he told Kerrang! In 2018. Just remember: if he were a devilish addict in private, he wouldn’t be such a monster onstage.
Little Jimmy Urine
Mindless Self Indulgence frontman Jimmy Euringer, AKA Little Jimmy Urine, is best known for slamming his pink-spike-covered head into the ground while performing a song about dicks and cocaine. But according to his Instagram, Jimmy is in fact one of the more adorable people in the world. Urine is the father of incredibly cute twin girls, and readily posts sweet tributes to his wife Chantal. Most people wouldn’t expect this level of hopeless romance from a dude with ‘Urine’ in his name, but to the average MSI listener it makes perfect sense.
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Photo: Ethan Fixell
Make no mistake, unlike some “satanic” bands, King Diamond’s theatrical diabolism is a very real part of his personal philosophy. But that doesn’t mean it’s all drug orgies and animal sacrifices – after heart surgery in 2010, Diamond changed his lifestyle, telling Kerrang!, “Now I eat healthily and exercise. It’s a big change, but it’s all for the better. I’m not complaining about any of it. I got a second chance in life and I’m very appreciative of it.” On top of that, the King gives a big piece of his heart to his listeners, as evidenced by his touching tribute to the loss of a four-year-old fan. Some people may only see inverted crosses and a bib of blood when they look at King Diamond, but the fans notice the love and passion shining through everything he does.
Onstage and on his albums, duke of spook Wednesday 13 is all about gutting teenagers and drinking hot plasma. But any interviewer will tell you that talking to Wednesday is like speaking to an old soul who just happens to work in the fake blood circuit. Maybe that level of wisdom and confidence comes from having such a big family – in 2017, Wednesday became a grandfather at the ripe old age of 39, announcing it to the world with a photo of him cuddling the newborn babe while dressed head to toe in ragged black. So the next time you see that two-faced arachnid cadaver coming at you while singing a metal track about the Zodiac killer, just think: that’s someone’s grampa.
One of the more modern theatrical metal bands out there, Raven Black play kinetic goth-metal with an elaborate storyline behind it that has spawned comic books and a bizarre, dressed-to-the-nines stage show. But while frontwoman Raven may perform as a demonic doll after dark, by she’s the hard-working DIY force behind her band, and the amount of time her creativity takes up makes it that she would rather spend her hours playing it chill and wholesome than running around like a crazy person. “There’s people who assume things with shock rock, in one way or another,” she recently told Kerrang!. “But my home life is me with my furry animals and my husband. The most exciting thing I do during the day is walk them.” We assume she means just the animals.
George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher
“This is a song about shooting blood out of your cock!” is something metal fans might have heard George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher bellow at his fans while playing with his band Cannibal Corpse. But in real life, George is one of the sweetest and most supportive musicians you’ll find, and a glance at his Instagram on any given moment might involve him clutching a horde of stuffed animals from Walmart or paying loving tribute to his wife and daughters while he’s away from them on the road. All of this made him one of the more immediate additions to our list of the best heavy metal dads, and should serve as a solid reminder that even the monolithic dude screaming about human butchery can the nicest guy you’ve ever met.
Among the big hair metal bands of the ’80s, W.A.S.P. always occupied an especially dark and menacing place, concerned as they were with sexual perversion and soft-pitch Satanism. This parent-repulsing persona was mainly driven by Blackie Lawless, the band’s blood-spitting frontman known for wearing a buzzsaw codpiece. Except around 2015, Lawless decided to rededicate his life to Christ, going so far as to stop playing W.A.S.P. classics like Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) and instead pen tracks like Golgotha, with its chorus pining, ‘Jesus, I need you now.’ In a 2015 interview, Blackie went as far as to say, “If it cannot be substantiated by what’s written in The Bible, I don’t want to know about it.” If only he knew how much God loves classic W.A.S.P.
Photo: Ethan Fixell
As the frontman of Cradle Of Filth, Dani Filth travels all over the world performing elaborate symphonic black metal tracks about history’s most terrifying bloodsuckers – so it’s safe to say that his life isn’t necessarily ‘wholesome’. And yet those who think Dani spends his free time huddled in a gore-drenched sewer somewhere don’t really know what they’re talking about – when Kerrang! spoke to him about his Sunday routine, the unholy frontman talked about going to a disco night with his daughter and getting a bit of DIY done around the house. “I also had my mum round, which was the first time she’s been to my house for about two years and she only lives down the road,” he said. “I did some housework, watched the football. It was all very boring actually.” Getting to choose when you want to be boring – the ultimate sign that you’ve made it.
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Corey Taylor says that his “new” Slipknot mask freaks his wife out: “She won’t look at it!”
Jamie Lenman will be inviting special guests, sharing new music and also performing King Of Clubs in full during this month’s Separation Event.