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SEAN YSEULT
WHITE ZOMBIE

Special Episode 51
9/17/18

I have a VERY special bonus episode to bring you into our 3rd season, being unavailable for a podcast interview, the incredible founding member and bassist for WHITE ZOMBIE, Sean Yseult agreed to type up her stories for all you to read as a special website only episode of 3 GIGS!

I was first introduced to WHITE ZOMBIE by TSUNAMI BOMB keyboardist and vocalist, Oobliette Sparks, just before starting our band. I was really inspired by the themes they used to create their band, and how interwoven it was in everything they did. It influenced what we were attempting to do with TSUNAMI BOMB, and being a bassist myself, I was fascinated by Sean's playing style and performances. I even followed her, after WHITE ZOMBIE when she started FAMOUS MONSTERS, and continue to be a fan of her design work and photography.

So I'm incredibly honored to have her as a guest on 3 GIGS in ANY form, and I hope you all enjoy the stories she shares below. If you do enjoy these I urge you to pick up a copy of her 2010 book, I'm In the Band: Backstage Notes from the Chick in White Zombie: Sean Yseult. It's a great read for any music fan, not just WHITE ZOMBIE. It's sold out a number of times, so get one while it's still available!

For more about SEAN YSEULT:

http://www.seanyseult.com/


Alright, thank you so much for doing this! Would you please share the story of your very first show ever?

When Rob and I started White Zombie, it was the first band for both of us. So my first show was our first White Zombie show, which was audition night at CBGB’s. That would have been a Monday, and as I remember there being a picture of our second guitarist on the flyer, the year would have been 1986. We were all nervous as hell. Our main plan was to rip through the set and make sure we were all moving as much as possible. We had an extreme disdain for the bands that stood around trying to look cool and bored, the shoe-gazers. We had never performed before but we knew we were going to do whatever it took to put on a show. Later on, we would steal blinking construction lights to create a light show, but at this point all we had were ourselves.

  photo from It Came From N.Y.C. Box Set

photo from It Came From N.Y.C. Box Set

We got up there, and I’d be exaggerating if I said there was more than five people there. We vaguely knew the soundman, Mike who ended up in Prong. He was also the judge of whether we passed or not.  Just before going on, our drummer ran to the bathroom to throw up.

  photo from It Came From N.Y.C. Box Set

photo from It Came From N.Y.C. Box Set

People later thought we were junkies when they saw one of us do that (Rob threw up at the Love Club shortly afterwards and Ivan continued to do so), never imagining that we were straight edge and possibly nervous wrecks.  We hopped on stage and apparently did as we planned, because the only photos taken show blurry motions of hair and guitars. Headbanging, running around like nuts for nobody, and making an unholy racket, we somehow passed the audition and went on to play CB’s many more times.

A clip of one of the earliest White Zombie shows caught on tape. February 1988 at The Cat Club in New York.

I used to throw up before my shows. I think people don't realize just how nerve wracking it is to get on stage the first time. Ok, so if that was the first show, what was one of the BEST shows you've ever played?

This is pretty easy - Donnington - now known as the Download Fest. This was in 1995, and we were at the top of our game. However, we were once again nervous as hell. To begin with, Donnington was a metal fest that only had very traditional metal bands play - honestly, there was no other kind of metal band back then. We were coming from an art/noise background that incorporated metal and a heavy groove - a hybrid that didn’t fit in with metal or the other option at the time, alternative music. 

  Photo by George Chin

Photo by George Chin

Secondly, we heard these metalhead fans loved to sharpen coins and throw them - along with bottles full of piss - at the bands when they were not pleased. We heard even Motorhead had been accosted this way - so we were terrified of a possible violent attack from a drunken displeased army of 80,000. 

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To make matters worse, nobody thought to wake up me or Rob until it was time to walk on to stage - we were still passed out in our bunks! Within two minutes we were dressed and suddenly on stage in front of the army of metalheads - this could qualify for worst nightmare or show ever at this point. No coffee, no shower , BAM: on stage. But then something happened - the crowd loved us! They all sang along and jumped up and down, in a sea of waves. Despite the fact that I was having continuous sharp breathing pains from just waking up and trying to run across a football field-sized stage the entire show, it was the best show ever!

I also was interviewed afterwards by MTV, who asked what it felt like to be the second female ever to grace the stage of Donnington in it’s entire history. That was an odd fact, but when you looked at our line-up - Metallica, Skidrow, Slash’s Snakepit, etc - I was certainly the only girl that day, so it was not really a big surprise at the time. It was actually the norm back then.

Footage of Sean’s favorite show! White Zombie live at Donington Park, Castle Donington, England August 26, 1995.

Ugh... waking up right before you play is the worst. That alone could easily ruin a show on it's own. It's amazing that it worked out despite that. Just shows how much crowd energy can make up for anything. So if that was the best show, what was one of the worst shows you've had to play? 

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This is an odd one. It  should have been one of the best, but one monkey wrench made it the worst. It was March 1994 and we were wrapping up a very successful headlining tour for our first album, La Sexorcisto. We had just gotten big enough to sell out  medium size venues, but we had never sold out something as big as that night: the Santa Monica Civic Center, a 3000 seater. We were based in LA at this point so it was a bit of a homecoming. Sold out and packed, we began to wonder where our drummer was. Then we nervously began asking various drummers backstage if they knew our songs - Chuck Biscuits from Danzig, Ted Parsons from Prong, who were opening for us - anyone at this point, because it was five minutes until showtime and our drummer was still missing! I will not name names, but this was after Ivan de Prume and before Johnny Tempesta. 

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What was a very stressful mystery to the band was somehow understood by our tour manager, who also knew how to locate said drummer - in a crack house in East LA! I have no idea how he magically conjured that up, and even more impressively  whisked through LA traffic from far west to Eastside and back again, then got the drummer calmed down enough to play with a substance other than crack, and onto stage. Obviously there was some complicity between the two, but even with this drummer’s previous band being named “Last Crack” , and with me getting late night phone calls while off tour, always for needing to “borrow” $20, we had no idea what was up with our drummer.

We played the show, and I don’t think the audience had a clue. But we were all really stressed, upset and bummed out. Afterwards, two very big things went down. We tore a contract up in his face that would have made him a member of the band as of that very night, and we cancelled our gig for the next day in Hawaii, which would have been a first and only gig there and a wonderful vacation at the end of two solid years of touring hard. So - that would be the worst gig ever.