Anyone who has good taste in music will know who White Zombie were and they’ll undoubtedly know who Sean Yseult is too. For the uninformed White Zombie formed in 1985 and before they split up over a decade later they became one of the biggest bands in “alternative” music.
Their music defied categorisation often referred to as Art Rock, Alternative Metal and even Industrial sometimes. They went multi-platinum, were nominated for Grammy awards, their videos were all over MTV (back in the days when they actually showed music videos), they embarked on epic tours and played to thousands of fans at festivals but most surprisingly to some their bass player was a woman.
It seems rather odd now since there’s a whole host of bands from various genres with women in their ranks from singers to guitarists and more. Back in the day though there was only “the Chick in White Zombie” as Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead put it. Not only were White Zombie a monumental band that played to audiences of 80,000 or more (as seen on the front cover, that shot was taken at Castle Donnington in ’95) Sean wasn’t trying to be “sexy” and didn’t make a big deal out of being pretty much the only woman in the world of Metal at the time. It was an endearing quality which just made her more appealing and another facet that added to White Zombie‘s distinctly out there freaky appeal.
Whilst Rob Zombie was running around on stage like a man possessed to J’s shredding guitar riffs Sean would be doing her thing, throwing her hair around and looking like one of the most bad ass best bass players ever to take the stage.
Unlike the norm for autobiographical books from musicians this isn’t really an ode to the hedonistic excesses of life on the road. This book is more of a coffee table affair built up around Sean’s habit of writing tour diaries and taking photo’s on the road with the band, that and a hoarding mentality when it came to the bands laminates, flyers and other various items.
A child of “art-and- music-loving hippie bohemian scholars” Yseult was performing with Blues players on stage from the age of 8 in smoky nightclubs and thanks to an overly zealous Piano tutor could read , write and transpose music before reading regular books. That’s along with an avid interest in Ballet, which lead to attending the North Carolina School of the Arts age 12.
An accident during ballet practice would lead to a life changing event,changing to visual arts.
One of the interesting parts of “I’m in the Band” is the embyronic stages of the band. Their first effort dubbed “Gods on Voodoo Moon” was recorded in two hours in a studio picked from the phone book for it’s name “Bat Cave” and its dirt cheap prices.
The band would spend quite some time living on enthusiasm and the excitement of being in a band on the road rather than off food and money since they seldom had either, often sleeping on the floor of the home of someone else in a band in the town they were playing at.
When the band started to make it big as well being a great player Sean would be synonymous with three things her mop of hair, her constantly changing hot pants and her Rickenbacher bass which was covered in stickers.
When they made it to England riding high on the waves made by the band’s last studio effort “Astro Creep 2000” they played Castle Donnington in front of thousands of fans after driving all night and sleeping during the day but no-one woke up Rob or Sean ’til they were due on stage and they were scared they’d be pelted with bottles of piss playing at Reading Festival the next day.
What’s really great about this book is the plethora of photo’s and images of posters, flyers, stage banners and various other things from the band’s history. The design by Yseult stops things getting cluttered and even features a flipbook section so you can see her in all her headbanging glory.