Sean Yseult: Live Undead

Sometime White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult told her tale of heavy metal mayhem in an acclaimed recent autobiography, I’m In The Band. Here she recalls a career in bass for BGM

I don’t think people grow up thinking, ‘One day I’m going to be a bass player’.

People usually want to be lead singers or guitarists. For me, I moved up to New York when I was 18 and I was asked to be in a hardcore band called Anti-Warfare. They were very short-lived, I don’t know if they even played a show. I’d only been up there for a month or two when I met them, and they asked me if I’d play bass with them. I’d grown up playing piano and violin, and I figured the bass had four strings so it couldn’t be too different from the violin. I said, ‘If I can get a bass, I’ll do it’.

I knew a band from Raleigh, North Carolina called Stillborn Christians. Their bass player sold me his bass, a Global, for 50 dollars, and I took it back to New York. It didn’t even have a case, so I carried it on the plane. Anti-Warfare asked me to learn ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement’ by the Ramones, so I did. It wasn’t rocket science compared to the violin and the piano. It was an easy instrument for me to pick up. I certainly don’t consider myself an incredible bass player, but I can play anything that I want to play, and I can pick up songs by ear and play them.

When I met Rob Zombie, at that point I had a guitar, which I was going to try to learn. We both wanted to start a band, so we started one together. We started dating and he was like, ‘It’s gonna take you too long to play guitar: we need a really good guitarist. You play bass’. I was like, ‘OK!’ I think bass players are generally the most accommodating person in the band: bands need a bass player, and somebody’s got to do it. We just want to help out. I upgraded from my Global to a Phantom bass, which I’d never seen before, and then I got a Rickenbacker, which was my dream bass, because I loved Lemmy. As much as I could, I wanted to be like Lemmy. I became friends with him over the years: he’s always hanging out at the Rainbow, you only have to go to where the pinball machines are and it’s pretty easy to hang out with him. He’s amazing. I can’t understand a word he says, but I love him to death. Also, Billy Sheehan came backstage once and gave me one of his Yamaha basses. Another great guy.

Later I got a Charvel, a cheapo, and then I got an Ibanez endorsement and I played their Soundgear basses for many years. They were great. Then Mike Ciravolo at Schecter came to me when we were living in Hollywood. He was just starting the company, and he said ‘If you ever want anything weird built, I’ll make it for you’. I’d always wanted a coffin-shaped bass, so he made me one and it sounded amazing. That’s what I’ve played ever since, pretty much. I have a band now called Star & Dagger, with a friend of mine called Donna She-Wolf who used to be in the Cycle Sluts From Hell. We’ve made two records and we have a ton of new material.

I wrote my book when Hurricane Katrina hit here in New Orleans, where I’ve lived since White Zombie broke up in 1996, and my house suffered a lot of roof damage. I had a big leak going through three storeys of my house, and the whole back wall and the roof had to be replaced. That made me realise that I could have lost everything: the hole was just a few feet away from where all my White Zombie stuff is stored. I meticulously saved everything, so I had stuff that goes back to 1985. I was also the band photographer at first, so I have negatives and designs for layouts and flyers and photo albums and tons of other stuff. I wanted to scan all these things in, just to have them in one place for myself, but when people heard about it they told me I should do something for the fans. 


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