Unboxing White Zombie’s ‘It Came From N.Y.C.’ Box Set
"White Zombie emerged from the very cramped quarters of mid-'80s New York, where rent was cheap, Ed Koch had just been elected for his third and final term as mayor, and the city and its subways were caked with garbage and scarred by graffiti."
So writes Grayson Currin in the 108-page book found in the massive White Zombie box set, It Came From N.Y.C. Out on June 3 via Chicago's archival record label Numero Group, It Came From N.Y.C. features the story of the birth of White Zombie as told in the beautiful, hardcover book and across five remastered vinyl records. To call this set an exhaustive chronicling of the band's beginnings and rise to mainstream stardom seems like an understatement -- it captures the sound of early White Zombie and the transition from noise rock to heavy metal, all while they lived and grew in New York City's "rat-infested squalor."
As fans pour through the box set, it might be tempting to set the book to the side and jump right into the music; thanks to unpublished photos and stories you've likely never heard before, the book is a necessary accompaniment to understanding the world in which White Zombie revealed themselves. From bassist Sean Yseult describing how hard it was for her and Rob Zombie (then known as Rob Straker) to save money to release their first 7" (only to scrap it after they paid for it) to how J. Yuenger eventually joined the group as guitarist, Currin shares the story with the utmost finesse, leaving no gritty detail untold.
Perhaps one of the most intimate stories is that of White Zombie making their onstage debut at the legendary New York club CBGB. As the frontman puts it, "Being at CBGBs getting ready to play a show was insane. I had never been on stage before for any reason and actually hated the idea of being in front of people. So the fact that I was doing this band thing was really pretty nuts. It was a turning point in my life."
Besides stories and photos, the book also features a visual discography of the records found in It Came From N.Y.C., as well as a "shirtography" -- yes, even back in the '80s, Zombie had a knack for creating unique concert tees -- and a gallery of old-school gig flyers.
Getting to the music, It Came From N.Y.C. highlights White Zombie's first six releases, each pressed on 12-inch wax (fans can choose from zombie white, toxic green waste or standard black vinyl). The band's first two self-released 7"s, Gods on Voodoo Moon and Pig Heaven, make up the first record and feature a couple of previously unreleased tracks. The second disc marks White Zombie's 1987 EP, Psycho-Head Blowout, and their first release to include Tom Five on guitar. Following that, the set's third LP is the band's full-length debut, Soul-Crusher, which was originally recorded at Fun City studios in New York. White Zombie's follow-up studio album, Make Them Die Slowly, is the fourth record, and rounding out the five-LP set is the band's 1989 EP, God of Thunder, featuring a cover of the Kiss track "God of Thunder," as well as a reworked version of Make Them Die Slowly's "Disaster Blaster." God of Thunder is White Zombie's first release with guitarist J. Yuenger, who remastered all of the audio for this set.
It Came From N.Y.C. is a must-have whether you're a longtime White Zombie fan or someone who is looking to understand the origins of Rob Zombie. "When we met we were into a lot of different music -- punk, metal, hardcore, goth," Yseult tells us about the beginning of her friendship with Zombie. "I loved the Cramps, Rob loved the Misfits. The thing about those two bands that we loved was that they were very visual ... not just visual and not just the sound of their music, but they also created this lifestyle for their fans. We were very much committed to creating a band like that." Fortunately for fans, that commitment is strewn throughout the audio and visuals found in this immersive box set.
Beyond White Zombie's fanbase, It Came From N.Y.C. is a snapshot of one of New York City's many music scenes from the '80s, and is a fascinating journey to a world that doesn't exist anymore.
If you're not a vinyl fanatic like us, don't worry, It Came From N.Y.C. is also available as a 3-CD set (along with the book) and as a digital download, too. Check out our unboxing of the toxic waste green set in the video above and make sure to order It Came From N.Y.C. at Numero Group's official website.
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