White Zombie is metal but not satanic

February 11, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

White Zombie

When: Monday, Feb. 14, 8 p.m.

Where: Showplace Arena at the P.G. Equestrian Center

Tickets: $18.50

Call: (301) 952-7999 for information, (410) 481-7328 for tickets.

Hear "Devil Music"

What does devil music sound like? Hear excerpts from White Zombie's current album, "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1," by calling Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736; 836-5028 on Harford County; 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a touch-tone telephone, punch in the four-digit code 6158 after you hear the greeting.

Rob Zombie has to laugh when he reads about how his band, White Zombie, has become an "overnight success." True, the band's current album, "La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1," only recently went gold, after half a year on the Billboard albums chart. But "Sexorcisto" was released way back in '92, and White Zombie was touring relentlessly even before the album came out.

"I guess to mainstream press, it will seem like overnight success, because it's something they never paid any attention to," says the singer, over the phone from a tour stop in Poughkeepsie.

"Anything that's even remotely in the world of heavy metal is very much ignored. Alternative acts will get a lot of press way before they're big, but metal bands always seem to have come out of nowhere. They're completely ignored, and then next thing you know, they're selling out Madison Square Garden, and you're like, 'Who . . . is this?' "

So who are these guys? White Zombie began nine years ago in New York, where Zombie grew up. "When I was little, I was really into bands like Kiss, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult," he says. "Those bands seemed untouchable. You could never start a band and be like that. They seemed so larger than life, you couldn't even fathom it."

Then punk rock came along, and Zombie was infected with the music's do-it-yourself spirit. So he formed White Zombie, with bassist (and then-girlfriend) Sean Yseult, guitarist J. and drummer Ivan de Prume.

From the first, the band has had a penchant for cartoonish lyrics and gory, eye-grabbing graphics -- a combination that has led some non-fans to assume the four are devil-worshipers. "I don't even know how you would take it literally," says Zombie. "But you can take 'Devil Music' a couple ways. Rock and roll or whatever, heavy metal, has always been devil music. And there's always going to be a little old lady pointing the finger."

Besides, he adds, "The band has always been like that. I just had this idea of what I wanted to do, and if it didn't work, it didn't work. Trying to be successful or make money or any of that was never even an issue."

These days, White Zombie makes a "reasonable" living, but as the singer explains, the band's current success "has to continue, or I'll just be broke tomorrow.

"That's the problem with heavy metal. It takes a lot of money to make it go. If you're Suzanne Vega onstage with just an acoustic guitar, your costs aren't too high. But going out on the road with a big show is expensive."

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