Tuesday, January 26, 2010
# 5 Horror stories meet Hard Rock with White Zombie
Alright, I know what you are about to say to me.
"Tosh, White Zombie is NOT rock!"
Well you are wrong my friends. White Zombie was founded in 1985 by writer, vocalist, and graphic artist, Rob Zombie. Back then White Zombie was riding the forefront of the new Post-Punk revival called Noise-Rock which had its roots as far back as the 1960's. Here is a quick intro into what exactly Noise Rock is defined as.
NOISE ROCK: This sub-genre which came to strength in the late 70's early 80's makes use of the traditional instrumentation and iconography of the rock that we know, but incorporates dissonance, wild feedback and extreme distortion and also frequently discards what is considered usual songwriting conventions. Noise Rock groups have a confrontational performance style which mirrors the aggression often found throughout their music. The roots of Noise Rock go back to bands like Hendrix, The Who, Neil Young, and the Velvet Underground.
White Zombie in particular was very heavily influenced by earlier Noise Rock bands such as the Butthole Surfers and Blag Flag. Their first studio album 'Soul Crusher' (1987) was loud, fast and full of angst. You can feel echoes of bands like MC5 in between the notes on this album and while it met with little commercial success it was given high praise by other musicians including Iggy Pop and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Kurt Cobain praised this early period of White Zombie as one of the biggest influences of his career. This album was also the start of Rob using old horror 'b movie' sound clips in the tracks, which became a signature of White Zombie's sound in later albums. Interestingly, Rob chose to write songs that had no basis in real life unlike most musicians who write about themselves or their place in the world. Rob chose to write songs like horror movies or old spooky stories. It was all about creating a new experience in rock and roll. This love of creation poured out into everything else that Rob would do in his later career. He often did all the art included with their albums and would as time go by go more and more over board in terms of set design for their live shows. I remember seeing him solo as Rob Zombie, in Vancouver when he had first started out solo on the Hellbilly Deluxe tour, and still to this day I have never seen so much theatrics at a rock show. Huge twenty foot stilt monsters, strippers descending on ropes from the ceiling, him painted up like a Zombie monster cruising around the stage in a devil mobile go cart contraption. I remember thinking 'Now THIS is ROCK!' to myself in between explosions of fire balls that kept leaping up out of the stage front.
As time went by, White Zombie started moving further out into the realms beyond rock into Metal but they still kept experimental artistic influences, fusing their past into their future creating what would be known as Groove-Metal, or Funk Metal. Its great stuff and their is nothing in Rock or Metal quite like the rich Grooves and fast furious pace that are found in White Zombie. White Zombie was only active between 1985 and 1998 but in between released some of the most terrific and strange sounds ever to grace our ears. Songs with titles such as: "Die Zombie Die"; "Welcome to Planet Motherfucker"; "Super Charger Heaven"; and "El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama" are just a few of the examples of Rob's great songwriting ability. A great track from their early days is "Black Sunshine" that the band had Iggy Pop come into the studio to help out on (he does the fantastic intro). Unfortunatley in 1998 Rob dissolved the band in order to go solo as Rob Zombie although shortly after he released the epic work that was the fantastic album "Hellbilly Deluxe" which is one of my fave albums of all time. Pure story rock that is as fun as dressing up and going to a Halloween party full of psychedelic crazies.
-The band got its name from the Movie of the same name starring Bela Lugosi (1932)
-Only 2 mainstream albums in their 13 year timespan; La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 (1992) and Astro-Creep: 2000 - Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head (1995) which was often just referred to as Astro-Creep 2000
-Rob drew the entire peyote scene in the movie 'Beavis and Butthead do America'
My Fave Album:
-It would have to be the Astro-Creep 2000. I have loved that album since I was 15 (and in my rebellious phase). There has never been a better way to rebel against your parents then to buy an album cover with zombie punks on it, not to mention track names like: 'Blood, Milk, and Sky'; 'I, Zombie'; 'Grease Paint and Monkey Brains'; and 'More Human Then Human'.
-It has some of my fave songs they ever did. 'More Human Then Human' and 'Super Charger Heaven' are some amazing tracks and the whole album is just a lot of fun. A great album to drive by or to throw on when you need to pump things up a bit. It may seem to some people like "Devil Music" but to anyone who is a grown up and has a rational mind White Zombie is just a lot of fun and no deep meaning, that's why Rob wrote it like that, its just like stories, it has no basis on life, in fact in real life Rob is quite soft spoken and is a vegetarian folks. Its the same as Alice Cooper or Black Sabbath. Its for a show, its to make music more then music. Its all about creating the experience.
Dig this track, and check for Iggy doing the intro.
-Taker easy folks thanks for reading.