Archive for Jay Noel Yuenger

Fonze Zombie

Posted in music, photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2008 by Kevin Estrada

White Zombie
March 14, 1992

White Zombie was going through a lot at the time. They had just signed to Geffen Records, they had just relocated from New York to Los Angeles, and they had just begun recording their groundbreaking album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Volume 1. Little did they know that this album would turn them into one of the hottest and fasted rising new bands on the planet.

I was a huge fan of the band ever since their Psycho-Head Blowout E.P. I first met the band in 1989 when they came through L.A. supporting Make Them Die Slowly. As I interviewed the band in their dressing room before their show at The Club With No Name, I became a fan for life. On stage they were the most powerful and crushing band to come along in years, but in the dressing room they joked about bad horror movies and comic books. These were my type of people.

When the band moved to L.A. in early 1992, they played a lot of local gigs at The Whisky A-Go-Go and Jabberjaw. They were still trying to work out the kinks on some of their new songs before they recorded them. The band’s music had obviously progressed since I saw them on the last tour and their stage show was incredible. But the most important change that I noticed was the visual element of the band. It was obvious that Rob Zombie had a clear vision of who this band was and what they were going to become. Rob was driven. I knew that this band was going to be huge and I knew that I needed to work with them.

White Zombie had just opened up for local faves Tool, who had just signed their major label deal. As the Zombies all headed to their dressing room, I grabbed Sean just before she went into the backstage area. Luckily she remembered me from the interview I had done with them a few years before. I told her that I was shooting bands in L.A. and I was very interested in working with White Zombie. She explained to me that Rob made all of those decisions, but if I gave her my number, she would talk to Rob and get back to me. I scribbled my number down for her and crossed my fingers. A few days later, my phone rang and it was Mr. Zombie himself. We chatted a bit and made plans for us to get together at the bands apartment.

I remember feeling really cramped in their tiny apartment. All four of them, plus their tech/road manager/pal were all crammed into this tiny 2 bedroom apartment. Rob and Sean were married at the time, so it made sense that they share a room, but the other guys were really limited on space. I will never forget that night – Rob wanted to get down to business right away and talk about the photos. I was really impressed that he was so anxious to talk about the possibilities of working together. But it turned out that he wanted to be done talking by 8pm because the Happy Days Reunion was airing and he was a huge Fonzie fan.

I showed Rob some of my photos and he was impressed. I told him, “Look, I really think I can capture who you guys are. I am not going to charge you a penny – if you like the photos, then great, we will work something out. If you hate the photos, then you will never see me again. You have nothing to lose.” He appreciated my honesty and we shook hands. The shoot was on.

I gathered my photos and started to say my goodbyes. Rob looked at me and said, “Hey, where you going? Aren’t you going to stay and watch The Happy Days Reunion?” Of course I couldn’t say no to such a great offer. We had a few minutes to spare so Rob and I walked to a little Thai-To-Go restaurant just outside his apartment building…Rob bought Thai Ice Teas for everyone. When we returned to their apartment, Rob was like a little kid…counting down every minute until the Happy Days Reunion started. My fondest memory came when Rob was in the kitchen getting some napkins. He said, “Kevin, hey Kevin.” I turned to look at him. In his best Fonzie impersonation, he threw me the coolest Fonzie Thumb’s Up I had ever seen. The Fonze himself would have been proud.

The following weekend I took them to the remains of the old Errol Flynn Estate for our shoot. The band thought the location was perfect, unfortunately the gates were locked – I guess I should have scouted the location better. Rob loved the vibe there and did not want to leave. We all looked at each other, and like a bunch of hoodlums, White Zombie and I illegally climbed over Errol Flynn’s gates to do our shoot. I really wanted to capture that true White Zombie vibe so we brought bags of props – skulls, cow heads, flags, bones, zombie heads, religious statues, all kinds of crazy stuff to decorate and create the vibe. I wanted to make this location the look like the bands lair.

This is the very first frame of film that I shot that day. I really think I captured who White Zombie was and who they were to become.

Photographed with a borrowed Canon A1 Camera (all of my photo equipment had been stolen), and a borrowed 28mm-80mm lens. Photographed on Kodak black and white film.