Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Gettin' To Be Monster Time!!!

Famouse Monsters

Around The World In 80 Bikinis

by Vincent Jeffries

After separating from their more conventional rock bands (White Zombie and New York Loose respectively) in the mid-'90s, bassist Sean Yseult and guitarist/vocalist Brijette West dawned dual surf guitars and glittery horror outfits, and formed the unlikely joke-band Famous Monsters. After varying degrees of success (much for Yseult, much less for West), the two friends invaded New Orleans — perhaps in order to get away from Coastal showbiz life — to enjoy themselves in the Big Easy. Having worked so long with Rob Zombie, it could hardly be a surprise that Yseult would want to dive headfirst into campy garage-surf degeneration, but West's grittier musical past had nothing whatsoever to do with the goofy theatrics of Famous Monsters. To get things started, the two musicians worked up rudimentary surf tracks and new monster names for themselves. Yseult became Devil Doll (or the red one), while West dawned the equally original moniker Vampire Girl (or the black one), and the pair were off and running. The first recording of the duo (plus one-off drummer Frankie Stein) was a 7" on Estrus Records, and then the "ghoul-band" hooked up with She-Zilla (Carol Cutshall) and Bong Load Records. In 1998, the full length debut In the Night!!! was unleashed by Bong Load on the unsuspecting masses — including more than a few very disappointed White Zombie and New York Loose fans. Breaking preconceived ideas about the musicians involved may have indeed been one of the goals Famous Monsters set out to achieve, but instead of Zombie's larger-than-life metal, or West's sultry, ragged pop-punk, the banal garage-surf of In the Night!!! simply fills space. The recorded presentation was neither funny, nor all that interesting, and besides the bizarre (and to be fair, somewhat creative) song titles, Yseult and West offer little musically. Response to the record was a real love-it-or-hate-it situation, and judging by the lack of real interest in the group outside hipster circles...hate might be a strong word actually, but confusion mixed with apathy could describe things. With such an emphasis on costumes and outrageous science fiction publicity, it would make sense to assume that Famous Monsters had to be more of a live attraction that failed to translate their campy onslaught to silicon and vinyl, but attendees of the band's performance were just as likely to not be in on the joke as record buyers. The outfit's performances could often be a little dry or stilted, making the mystery of Famous Monsters, even their very existence even more puzzling. In 1999, a collection of singles and live tracks was released on Estrus, entitled Around the World in 80 Bikinis, and nothing significant was heard from Famous Monsters afterward.

by Heather Phares

On its second album Around the World in 80 Bikinis, the "ghoul" group Famous Monsters creates more spooky garage-surf mayhem with songs like "Monster Girls Are Go!" and "The Werewolf Wiggle." The album collects all of the band's early, limited-edition singles and EPs along with an "Actual Monster Party!" (a live monster mash secretly recorded by the group). Full of kitschy, catchy fun, Around the World in 80 Bikinis proves she-vampires and lizard-queens can crank out mutant garage rock with the best of them.


brandonio said...

Trustar, are you getting in the halloween mood too? I know I certainly am. Every year me and one of my friends make a scary music comp just for the holiday. I think this years comp will be one of my best. I'm already writing a list down. Anyway back to the subject at hand, I was wondering if you have Famous Monsters first album "In The Night"? Does my memory serve me correctly or does the first album have better songs? It's been some time since I've heard the both back to back. What I remember the most was they were really striving for the Man Or Astroman? sound and sometimes coming very close. I also remember Sean Yseult being a HUGE fan of the band while in White Zombie.I thought this must have been very flattering to MOAM?. speaking of MOAM?, did you get my Email? . I haven't heard anything back from ya. Well keep up the great work Buddy.