Sunday Old School: White Zombie

Before Rob Zombie was known for his movies, his Woolite commercial or “Dragula,” he was known as the frontman of New York’s White Zombie, one of the most popular heavy metal bands of the 1990’s. The band was formed in 1985 by design student Robert Cummings (Rob Zombie) and his girlfriend Sean Yseult, who would prove to be the sole constant members of the group. They formed their own record label, Silent Explosion, through which they released three EPs “Gods On Voodoo Moon,” “Pig Heaven” and “Psycho-Head Blowout” before self-releasing their first full length album, “Soul-Crusher.” The album helped them to attract the attention of Caroline Records, with whom they released their next record, “Make Them Die Slowly.” The album marked a significant departure in sound for the band, heading in a much more heavy metal orientated direction than their previous punk rock style.

Following guitar player John Ricci’s carpel tunnel syndrome preventing him from playing guitar anymore, Jay Yeunger was brought in to replace him, making his recording debut with White Zombie’s next EP release, “God Of Thunder,” which featured a cover of the KISS song of the same name as well as two previously unused songs. After the release, the band searched for a new label, attempting to grab the attention of major labels. While RCA showed interest, but the band eventually decided to sign with Geffen. Thanks in part to the backing they received from a major label, as well as creating catchier songs, they were able to break into the mainstream with their next record, “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1.” The album featured the song, “Thunder Kiss ’65,” which received heavy rotation on MTV (which played music back then) and became something of a hit single. The song’s popularity, coupled with the band’s hard working approach to touring helped the album go Gold by the end of 1993, before going Platinum the next year.

The band were now faced with the task of following up a successful album and recruited new drummer John Tempesta (formerly of Exodus and Testament) to help out. They proved they weren’t a flash in the pan with their next record, “Astro Creep 2000,” which was able to reach number six on the Billboard 200 albums chart, not least due to the popularity of the songs, “More Human Than Human,” “Electric Head Part. 2” and “Super-Charger Heaven.” The album has since been certified double Platinum since it’s release, selling over two and a half million copies. It was also around this time that Zombie began working on solo material, performing a duet with the legendary Alice Cooper for a tie in CD for the hit show, “X-Files,” which received a Grammy nomination, as well as penning the song, “The Great American Nightmare” for Howard Stern, which has been used as the theme song of his radio show since 1999. While it’s unclear if these solo endeavours factored into the demise, White Zombie decided to call it a day in 1998. Since then, Rob Zombie has achieved considerable success as a solo artist and is now known for his film directing too. Yseult joined a surf rock band called The Famous Monsters, in addition to other musical pursuits, before releasing a book, “I’m With The Band” last year. The other members have also continued a career in music, particularly Tempesta, who has gone on to perform with other well known artists such as Helmet and The Cult. Despite a White Zombie box set, “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” being released in 2008, the members have been adamant that a future reunion is very unlikely.

White Zombie – “I’m Your Boogie Man”

White Zombie – “Feed The Gods”

White Zombie featuring Iggy Pop – “Black Sunshine”

White Zombie – “More Human Than Human”

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Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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