Static-X – Interview [1999]

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Static-X

Looking tired and jaded, Wayne Static sits on the couch in the dressing room at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, New York, waiting to handle his fourth interview of the day. This man has every reason to be tired; he and his bandmates have been touraholics since Wisconsin Death Trap came out this past spring. They made some serious noise touring with Fear Factory and Slayer early in 1999, and then blew people away at Ozzfest. Now, comfortably headlining their own club tour, the band looks to draw more people into what they call ‘Evil Disco.’ In his laid back manner, Wayne guided me on a journey through what makes their music tick and how they’re handling success.

I would like to start with a quote from Henry Rollins: “Either you eat the road or the road eats you.” How’s life on the road been treating you?

It’s been very tiring. And many days I wish I could go home and relax for awhile, but as soon as you get on stage you remember why you’re out there.

What lessons have you learned so far?

Change your socks every day! (laughs) It’s very important that everyone on the bus has clean feet, because imagine you got nine people on your bus. Their feet can really start stinking.

You have nine people on the bus?

Crew members, sound tech, drum tech, guitar tech, merch guy

Shit, that can be pretty tight.

Yeah, a lot of bands have like ten to twelve people on their bus. Most of the buses will accommodate twelve people.

The band played some big shows since the last time you visited Rochester. What kind of response did you get at Ozzfest?

It was good. It got better from the beginning of the tour to the end of the tour; you could see the progression. It was a lot of fun, some days were hard because we played really early in the morning and none of us are morning people. Normally we get up at like two in the afternoon, and on Ozzfest most of the time we played at 11:30 am, noon, 12:30, so it was hard in that respect. It was great tour for us. We met a lot of new friends, got a lot exposure, and overall it was really good.

You guys were on the whole tour, right?

Yep.

What was the most memorable city you rolled through?

The most memorable show for me was up in Minneapolis, because we played main stage, it was general admission, and that was one of the biggest crowds we’d ever played to. Also, The Gorge in Washington State was so breathtakingly beautiful there. The stage is sort of on the edge of this huge gorge and it’s really scary and beautiful.

Speaking of festivals, what are your thoughts on Woodstock?

I really didn’t pay any attention to it. It’s kind of funny a thing that happens to you when you’re on the road, because you start to end up in your own little world. Sometimes you really don’t pay attention to what’s really going on with the outside world, you’re just traveling to a different city every day and just doing your thing. You really don’t watch tv much, you know what I’m saying? It’s just a very different lifestyle.

I can relate to that because when you’re busy sometimes you’re caught up with what’s around you.

Yeah.

The only reason I asked that question was because many metal bands now seem to be getting more push or attention, and I was just wondering what you thought about Woodstock helping the metal scene.

To me, the metal scene is already happening. It’s here. Woodstock was more of a reflection of that than anything else. Look at the biggest bands, like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Zombie, they’re heavy bands selling millions of records, and it’s great for all us of and great for the scene.

The roots of Static-x began on the West Coast. There were many types of metal bands forming, tell me what was going on.

Actually, Ken (drums) and I started out in Chicago in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, and played in a few bands there. Then the two of us moved out there (LA) in ’94 with the idea of starting fresh, starting all over again. We were not sure what we wanted to do. So, we moved to LA, shaved our heads, we all had long hair, and slowly met Tony (bass) and Koichi (guitarist) and it took us a couple of years really to get a solid line-up down. Then we started experimenting and figuring out what we want to do. We really did not know it when we move to LA the scene of Coal Chamber, actually Korn’s start had a lot to do with it, but bands like Coal Chamber, Systems of Down, and Snot. We just sort of came in at the right time that we could get on these shows as the opening band and it was really good for us.

I really like the balance of metal and electronic sound, songs like “Bled for Days”, “Stem”, and “Love Dump”. Can you describe the combination _ of styles and creativity?

Yeah, basically what makes our songs a lot different from other bands is that every instrument is viewed as a rhythmic instrument. Most bands will start with a guitar riff or a vocal melody, we start with drumbeats and programming and we get that entire thing happening, groovin’ and trucking along to how we want it. Then we start thinking about how are we going to add more rhythms to build up this groove, then we just sort tear it down and build it up again. Even my voice, I start (he goes into Wayne Static mode with his vocal grunt), I start to think about what rhythm I want to sing. I think that’s the most important thing in the band.

What do you think about the electronic movement that started a few years back in the UK finally catching on here? The Chemical Brothers are getting bigger

Well, if you notice, the only bands (electronic/techno) that are starting to get mass appeal are the electronic bands that have add a vocal element. It’s more a vocal than rock-n-roll thing because people need the voice to connect with it or identify with it. The Chemical Brothers’ songs played on the radio are only the ones with singing in them; that’s the element that’s lacking in most electronic music. I personally, I like electronic music without the vocals because that’s what I like, but as far as mass appeal, you know.

What are you into?

Man, that Crystal Method record. I listen to that almost everyday.

That cd is phat as hell!

Man, that cd is big for a reason. It’s the best electronic cd ever made, as far as I’m concerned. From top to bottom, it’s amazing. Koichi knows more of the DJ stuff; he’s a little deeper into that stuff.

I would like to back up for a minute. You were in a gothic band called Deep Blue Dream. What happened with that?

It evolved into something else. Once we realized it (the band) evolved into something else, we realized that the band was not Deep Blue Dream anymore. So, we changed the name and thing just started to fall apart.

Did Deep Blue Dream release any material?

We released an EP, a 12-inch vinyl in 88. Good luck finding it! (laughs)

I find the fact that you sang in a gothic band and now you’re singing for a heavy band is interesting, because how do change styles?

It was very different. Back then, I didn’t do any screaming and the guitars were not crunchy, and the music then was very acoustic sounding, melodic, like what The Cult was doing in the mid-80’s. I don’t know what happened, it sort of evolved into this metal thing. I mean, in ’92 and ’93 I was in a grind-core thrash band. It went all the way to the other extreme. When we started putting this band together, I think this band contains all the elements from all the other previous things I have done.

Where does the sampling come from?

I used to work at this place that was a news monitoring service, so we’d watch the news all the time. I would see some of the strangest stuff on the news, I would say, “I have to record this and use this for something.” Some of it is silly, like the shovel lady, and you just hear things that are so weird that you have to record them. I ended up with a huge collection of these samples and slowly built songs from them.

I was checking out the web page and saw you guys are doing some cool covers. You’re covering Ministry’s “Burning Inside” with Burton (Bell) from Fear Factory and a Sabbath tune for the new Nativity in Black.

Yeah, we have been playing that Ministry cover for a while, for a couple years, and I really love that song. During Ozzfest, we were hanging out with Fear Factory a lot and we had a day off in Chicago and I asked Burton, “Yeah, we would be honored if you would sing the song with us,” because they like Ministry too. So we finished the song and let all the people know who put together soundtracks that it was available. And The Crow 3 jumped for it this fall.

What’s going on with that film, because I heard Rob Zombie was supposed to produce it, but then things did not work out. So the soundtrack is set before the movie?

It’s coming out now. I’m sure it will do well on the name alone. The soundtrack is coming out before Christmas.

What Black Sabbath song did you cover?

We did a Static-X rendition of “Behind the Wall of Sleep”. It’s very different.

That’s how covers should be done, totally different. Have you played that song live yet?

No, we really have not had time to practice it. Once the record comes out we’ll try to work it into the show.

Where did the statement come from, ‘Keep disco evil’?

We like to call our music ‘Evil Disco.’ If you think about it, it’s very fitting and a good description of the band. The music is evil and very disco at the same time. We’re starting a crusade. (laughs)

I see you guys have landed a spot on the upcoming Megadeth tour.

I’m excited about that. Megadeth is a band I use to listen to when I was growing up.

Rust in Peace is one of the greatest metal records of all time.

Definitely, my favorite too. The tour is going to be a big step for us. We are going to play some big venues, and hopefully their audiences are wide ranging too. I’m sure they got young kids and old people too that have been with them since day one, you know. I hope we get a lot of new fans.

+ larry sarzyiniak

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