White Zombie was a Grammy Award-nominated American heavy metal band named after the 1932 film of the same name, which starred B?la Lugosi.
Based in New York, White Zombie was originally a noise rock band. White Zombie are better-known for their later heavy metal-oriented sound, with lyrics heavily influenced by horror films. Unlike other metal bands of the 1990s, White Zombie was almost exclusively a "fantasy" band, writing songs not based on their aspirations or experiences, but about surreal horror fantasies.
The group officially disbanded in 1998 shortly after the release of singer Rob Zombie's solo album Hellbilly Deluxe.
The Early Years
White Zombie was founded by writer, vocalist, and graphic artist, Rob Zombie, after coming up with the band idea in 1985 while attending Pratt in his Junior year. Rob's girlfriend at the time, Sean Yseult, was playing the farfisa keyboard in the band LIFE. Ena Kostabi owned a studio which he would rent out to different bands. When he met Sean, she asked if he could teach her to play bass. They then recruited Peter Landau to play drums and began to write and record songs. White Zombie's first release was an EP titled Gods on Voodoo Moon and was recorded on October 18, 1985. It was released under the band's own label Silent Explosion, under which they would release most of their early work. Only 300 copies were pressed, of which only 100 were sold ? the band members still retain possession of the remaining 200.
In 1986, Rob hired Tim Jeffs as the replacement for Kostabi, and Ivan de Prume as the replacement for Landau. It was at this time the band started touring, making their live performance debut at CBGB's on April 28th. White Zombie released their second EP Pig Heaven that year. The release contained only two songs, "Pig Heaven" and "Slaughter the Grey", and retained the same sound as their previous effort. It was at this time the band started touring locally for the first time. After only a few live shows, Jeffs left the band and was quickly replaced by Tom Guay. The band released a second pressing of Pig Heaven with different cover art. Only 500 copies of each pressing were released on vinyl.
In 1987, the band released their third EP, Psycho-Head Blowout. Later that year, the band released their first full length album Soul-Crusher, which was their first release to feature sound clips from movies in the songs, a trademark that would continue for the remainder of the band's lifespan. John Ricci replaced Tom Guay shortly after the release of Soul-Crusher. This is also the first album crediting "Rob Zombie," instead of his previous stage name "Rob 'Dirt' Straker."
In 1988, the band signed to Caroline Records, permanently discontinuing their old indie label. About 1,000 copies of the vinyl were pressed for both the original and the re-release. After the re-release of the album in 1988, White Zombie began to tour outside of their northeast home, gaining slightly more recognition. In 1989, the band released their second LP Make Them Die Slowly. The album was a huge musical shift for White Zombie. While their previous releases had been strictly punk influenced noise rock, Make Them Die Slowly had more of a heavy metal sound. The band stated that they wanted to play more of what they were influenced by and to keep it simple. It was also evident that Rob's vocals had grown deeper and he was no longer shrieking the lyrics in a high pitched tone. Unfortunately, lack of funds and shoddy production rendered many songs intended for the album to be unusable.
When Ricci's carpal tunnel syndrome severely affected his ability to play guitar, Jay Yuenger, or "J", replaced him for the remainder of the band's years, which took them in a more metal/groove-influenced direction. One of the most obvious examples of this direction is the difference between the songs "Disaster Blaster" on Make Them Die Slowly and the re-worked version, "Disaster Blaster 2", on the God of Thunder EP. The EP featured a more groove-oriented sound that differed from anything they had released before.
After searching for a record label and being turned down multiple times, the band finally turned to RCA Records. However, Rob opted more for a contract with Geffen. Michael Alago, a representative of Geffen Records, watched one of their shows at Pyramid Club and liked them, mostly for their song "Soul-Crusher". He suggested that the band record a demo composed of original unrecorded songs. They produced the demo with the help of J. G. Thirlwell of Foetus and were signed to Geffen.
On March 17, 1992, White Zombie released La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1, the album which launched them into mainstream recognition. White Zombie began a two-and-a-half-year-long tour for the album soon after its release, during which the band gained a large cult following. Early in the tour, Ivan de Prume left the band to pursue his own interests, and was replaced by Phil Buerstatte. The music video for the song "Thunder Kiss '65" went into heavy rotation on MTV in 1993. The popular TV show Beavis and Butt-head began reviewing the band's music videos, boosting the band's popularity. By the end of 1993, the album had been certified Gold by the RIAA. By the time the tour ended in December 1994, Rob and Sean had broken up, and La Sexorcisto had gone Platinum. Due to artistic differences, Buerstatte was let go, and John Tempesta, who had previously worked with Exodus and Testament, was hired to record White Zombie's second major label album. In 1995, Astro Creep: 2000 was released, featuring "More Human than Human" which would soon become a big hit. In 1996, an album of remixes was released under the title Supersexy Swingin' Sounds.
After the breakup of White Zombie, Sean Yseult joined the surf rock band, The Famous Monsters, and started playing bass for horror-themed New Orleans-based band, Rock City Morgue. She also briefly played bass for The Cramps.
John Tempesta continued his musical relationship with Rob Zombie after the White Zombie breakup, drumming for Zombie on his first two solo albums, Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge. He is no longer with Zombie, and has gone on to play for the Rob Zombie-esque band Scum of the Earth with his brother, Powerman 5000 guitarist Mike Tempesta, and ex-Rob Zombie guitarist Mike Riggs, and has recently toured with Testament (as shown on Testament's DVD, Live In London). On February 14, 2006, he was hired as the new drummer for The Cult, before which, he played with Helmet.
J. produced records for stoner rock band Fu Manchu and New York City rockers Puny Human, as well as lending his guitar skills to a few other bands.
In July 2006, original members Tom Five and Ivan de Prume reunited to perform with Ivan's band, Healer, a middle eastern infused metal band, for several concerts in Southern California for The Vans Warped Tour. Ivan continues to write and record music with Healer, as well as recording, producing, and engineering for special projects. Sony's Ghost Rider score featured Ivan's drums and percussion.
In November 2008 Geffen/UME released Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, a 4 CD/1 DVD boxed set which includes all 64 original studio recordings from White Zombie's career. The package also contains nine music videos (including their breakthrough Grammy-nominated hit "Thunder Kiss '65"), and 10 live performances of such classics as "I Am Hell" from The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience. In an interview to promote the release of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Rob Zombie made it clear that a reunion with his White Zombie band mates was unlikely, saying, "I don't want fans to think it's the beginning of anything."
Rob Zombie ? lead vocals (1985?1998)
Jay Yuenger ? guitars (1989?1998)
Sean Yseult ? bass (1985?1998)
John Tempesta ? drums, percussion (1994?1998)
Ena Kostabi ? guitars (1985?1986)
Peter Landau ? drums, percussion (1985?1986)
Tim Jeffs ? guitars (1986)
Tom Guay ? guitars (1986?1988)
John Ricci ? guitars (1988?1989)
Ivan de Prume ? drums, percussion (1986?1992)
Phil Buerstatte ? drums, percussion (1992?1994)