Art critic Brian Sherwin recently conducted an interview with former WHITE ZOMBIE bassist Sean Yseult. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Brian Sherwin: Sean, you were one of the founding members of the band WHITE ZOMBIE — and played bass in the band for over decade. Needless to say, WHITE ZOMBIE was very successful. I understand that you plan to release a book, titled “I’m In The Band”, that contains tour diaries, a collection of photos, and other information that details your years as a member of WHITE ZOMBIE. Can you tell us about the book and your motivation for writing it? For example, is part of the motivation to give credit where credit is due as far as the band lineup is concerned?
Sean Yseult: That is a huge part of the book — I actually reconnected with almost all of the past members of WHITE ZOMBIE and asked them to write a piece to go in the book. Whether that was their first impression of WHITE ZOMBIE, their experience within the band, or a few funny tour stories, it was entirely up to them.
I not only want to give credit where it is due to all of the band members who contributed in one way or another, but also to all of the people who helped us along the way — I have pages written by our first record producer, Daniel Rey, our first guy that booked us in the East Village, Steven Blush, our A&R guy who signed us to Geffen, the list goes on.
Part of my motivation in creating this book was hearing from our fans once our box-set came out — they were very upset upon opening it up to find not one liner note or note of reference about the band at all. When we broke up we disappeared, there was no farewell or fanfare, no chance to connect with our fans one last time. The box-set should have been our final word to the fans, but it said nothing.
When I started looking through all of the boxes of WHITE ZOMBIE things I had saved — photo albums, tour diaries, back stage passes, etc., so many memories came back and I felt like I had quite a story to tell, with quite a lot of visuals on hand to illustrate it. Having started off as a photo major in art school, I almost always had a camera around, so I have photos of us from day one until the very end!
Brian Sherwin: Speaking of WHITE ZOMBIE, I understand that when the band started to reach mainstream success you made the decision — or at least brought it up to Rob Zombie and the other members of the band — that it was vital to move from New York to Los Angeles. If my sources are correct it appears that said move was the best move for the band financially at the time and also secured the band from being dropped from Geffen — which may have put the band back at square one, so to speak. Thus, one could say that if you had not had the intuition to instigate that professional leap the band known as WHITE ZOMBIE may have not been as known as it is today. It was a pivotal decision. That said, how deeply involved were you with the direction of the band both creatively and professionally?
Sean Yseult: We were all deeply involved in the direction of the band creatively and professionally at the time, it was all four of us living together, living, eating, breathing and sleeping WHITE ZOMBIE. Rob and I made all of the decisions creatively and business-wise, but we were really a band, especially when we wrote music. This was up until and during “La Sexorcisto” being released.
While we were touring that record for two and a half years — Rob and I broke up. At that point he started making decisions without consulting me or J., as in getting a hired hand to write techno tracks, then having me and J. try to riff over them — not the most inspiring way to write! This went down for a couple of soundtrack songs, and was a drag. With the next full album, “Astro-Creep”, some of these extra techno tracks are there but more artfully worked into our songs, and I don’t mind it as much.
Brian Sherwin: Not to dwell on your years in WHITE ZOMBIE — but I must ask the following. As a fan of the band I must say that I was kind of thrown off when remix albums were released. The trendy dance tracks did not really mesh well with the underground grit that one expects from a band like WHITE ZOMBIE — it kind of took away from the visual and musical feel of the group in general. It left me thinking, “Where the hell did that come from?” I won‘t deny that the CD I had was donated to Goodwill. Please don’t take offense — but did you have any direct involvement with that choice at all? Considering what you have already said — what did you think of that direction in general?
Sean Yseult: Take offense? Are you kidding? I was disgusted by that, and have never even listened to it. Super Sexy Swinging Bullshit! I had nothing to do with that. I don’t even remember being informed of it to be honest. Management probably thought it was a good idea to cash in, but had to have had Rob’s approval at the very least. Rob seemed to like dance and techno, he kept trying to take us in that direction and went full on when he did his own solo record — I think this is pretty obvious upon listening.
Read the entire interview HERE.