Rob Zombie said he woke up Tuesday morning knowing he had to make some sort of move.
"This thing had been dragging on forever," Zombie (born Robert Straker) said of his decision to amicably end his 13-year-old horror/metal/industrial band, White Zombie. "I was thinking about it that morning and I called up [White Zombie guitarist Jay "J." Yuenger] and said we needed to get everyone on the phone and talk it over and figure out what's going on."
That phone call effectively ended the band, formed by Zombie on the New York underground punk scene in 1985. White Zombie officially announced their breakup Wednesday.
Speaking from the green room backstage at the "Late Show with David Letterman," on which he will be featured Friday night (Sept. 25), performing "Dragula" (RealAudio excerpt), the first single from his recently released debut solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe, Zombie said he felt the band's logical end had come after it had achieved everything possible in its last configuration.
Known for their demonic look, black clothing and violent musical outbursts, White Zombie also featured drummer John Tempesta and bassist Sean Yseult.
Given the long break since White Zombie's last studio album, 1995's double-platinum Astro-Creep 2000: Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head, which included their hit "More Human Than Human," the split wasn't a big shock to longtime fans.
"I can say I've kind-of expected it for a while," fan Aaron Lindgren, 20, wrote in an e-mail.
Lindgren, a native of Minnesota and co-webmaster of the unofficial White Zombie fan-page "The Belly of the Superbeast," said he was tipped off to the impending split by Zombie's frequent touting of his new band's talents in the press as well as by the success of Hellbilly Deluxe, which had a higher debut than any effort by White Zombie, hitting the charts at the #5 position three weeks ago on sales of 120,000 copies.
With many of the songs on Zombie's solo debut hewing closely to the horror-movie-obsessed, pounding industrial-sound the devil-voiced singer perfected with his band, it's not surprising that fans such as Lindgren's co-webmaster, 17-year-old Gulfport, Miss., resident Brooks Johnson, were unfazed by the announcement. "[My] feelings about White Zombie breaking up are sad in a way," Johnson wrote, "but you've got to remember, we've still got Rob Zombie, and to me, he was White Zombie."
Johnson said he saw the break coming as soon as Zombie went off on his own, beginning with the singer's brief, aborted involvement in writing and directing the third installment of "The Crow" horror-movie series and his teaming with Howard Stern for the soundtrack to the radio shock-jock's "Private Parts" biopic.
"When Rob's [album] came out, I just had some feeling that this wasn't a side-project like many other people thought," Johnson said. "Rob's always been the heart and brain of the band. Looking at the charts on his album, I know for a damn fact that the torch is glowing better than ever for Rob Zombie."
At least one discontented fan, though, thought the end was not quite so near. "I'm disappointed that we won't be seeing another Zombie album," wrote Dave Kuster, the 21-year-old webmaster of the unofficial Zombie site "The Psychoholic World of White Zombie."
"I've been saying for a couple years that I thought we'd get at least one more album out of them before they went kaput," Kuster said. "I wanted to see what direction they'd go in with a new album. After seeing the change between [1992's] La Sexorcisto and Astro-Creep, followed by a techno remix album [1996's Supersexy Swingin' Sounds], I was getting excited. Zombie + electronics = neat-o."
As for Zombie, nothing much has changed, he said.
"I'm fine," Zombie, 32, said about the decision. "Don't cry over spilled milk, I say. It just made sense now because we weren't in the middle of a tour or album or anything. It's not like this was Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, [with] the same four people, start to finish. And I'm still playing with John [Tempesta] now, so ... same sh--, different day."
Zombie is about to launch his first solo tour, while bassist Yseult will release In the Night, the debut by her masked surf-rock trio, Famous Monsters, on Oct. 20. It is unknown what guitarist J. will do in the wake of the band's demise.