Wayne Static of Static-X Talks Tour, Looks Back on "Wisconsin Death Trip" and "Machine"
Mon, 23 Jul 2012 08:56:53
In 1999, Static-X flipped heavy music upside down with Wisconsin Death Trip.
Somewhere between a metallic groove a la Pantera and industrial soul in the vein of Ministry, the Los Angeles outfit thrashed and burned its way to the top of the burgeoning hard rock scene. Live, they proved to be simply electric. Every show was an all-out war-slash-party for Static-X. They could assault the senses with heavy metal, but they could also make you jump or dance at the same time. It was a combination that ultimately drew a horde of diehard fans to the band for ten years and six albums.
After a bit of break, Static-X have returned to the road with 9Electric and Davey Suicide for their first tour since 2009. Already, it's been just as potent and pummeling as the group's best shows surrounding their debut.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Wayne Static of Static-X talks the current tour, looks back on Wisconsin Death Trip and Machine, remembers causing havoc with Pantera, and more.
Did it feel like you guys were firing on all cylinders again right out of the gate?
Well, I wouldn't quite say that [Laughs]. We definitely work well on stage together. When you start a tour, in the beginning you have to work through minor issues here and there. Obviously, you've got to get back in shape too. We're building some momentum though, and it's really coming together nicely.
What's the fan response been like?
Yeah, the shows have been awesome. I missed that. It was nice to come out to a full room with Static-X. There's a really cool energy.
How do you come up with the setlist?
I like to stick with one setlist for the tour so the rhythm stays constant, and we don't have to really think about it. It becomes second nature. Putting together the setlist for this, I wanted to go back and focus on the early Static-X material since there's no new record I'm promoting. It's really about going out, having fun, and trying to play everyone's favorite songs. We're doing a lot of stuff off the first two Static-X records and a little bit off the other ones.
What's the art of sequencing a show?
It really is an art! You've got to come out strong but not too strong. You can't give it all away right at the beginning. I like to bring things down somewhere in the middle of the set. On this tour, we're actually doing "Just in Case". On previous tours, we've done those longer, groovier songs like "The Trance is the Motion". I love to throw those into the middle of the show. It gives people a break from all of the fast tempo stuff. From there, you have to slowly build it back up and just kill them at the end.
Does the material still feel fresh to you? There's a timeless quality to it.
That's part of the longevity and success of Static-X. You can still put in the old records and they sound fresh. They don't sound dated. They don't sound like nu metal. As far as going back, we're opening the show with Wisconsin Death Trip. I haven't played that song in six or seven years. I don't even remember the last tour I played that on. It's interesting to go back and relearn some of my old material.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Wisconsin Death Trip?
I had no idea what I was doing [Laughs]. I look back at that and I think, "That wasn't me. That was some other kid who had no idea what he was doing and was trying to do something interesting and new". It's really odd. Even when I listen to that record, it feels like someone else made it. I feel really disconnected from it. It was so long ago. We recorded that in 1998. I've grown so much since then. It's totally different experience making a record now.
Where did you record it?
There's a little crappy studio next to Jack in the Box on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. You wouldn't even know it's a studio. From the outside, it looks like an abandoned building. The place was falling apart. We had no budget for that record so we found a studio that was pretty much in shambles. On the console, you'd hit a button, and it'd fall onto the floor [Laughs]. It's amazing the record even got made.
What's your favorite song from that record?
Probably the last song "December"…I actually wrote that in 1983. I was in college at Western Michigan University. It was a very cold day in December. I had a half an hour between classes of time to kill. I went to this little park I used to go to in order to studio, but it was freezing that day. I sat down and wrote the lyrics on this freezing park bench in December. I used to perform that song with an acoustic guitar, because I used to play acoustic music before I turned into the evil disco thing I am. I reinvented that song for Wisconsin Death Trip.
How did you fall upon the book Wisconsin Death Trip?
That was something my sister came upon and turned me onto. It was sort of accidental. The name always stuck in my head. I'm like that with words. That's how I write a lot of lyrics and come up with things. I like the way words look and sound together. I'm always writing down phrases in my notepad for future work. I'd wanted to use it for something forever. That was going to be the name of the band originally, but it seemed a little long for a band name.
Is "Push It" special for you?
I enjoy playing all of those old songs live because the audience enjoys it so much. My personal favorites are like "Just In Case" from Start a War. I figured out how to write songs by that era. I felt like I knew what I was doing more. Those are my favorites to play and listen to, if I were to listen to any of my own material.
Machine always stood out in your catalog.
I wrote that whole record in 2000 during the second half of the tour. After we did a few tours for Wisconsin Death Trip, I realized we had to make another record when we got off the road. I brought my gear and set up a little studio in the back lounge of the bus. Every night after the show, when everyone was out partying, I was in the back lounge writing music. I wrote that whole record when we were on tour. We took four weeks off. Then, we got back together, started rehearsals, and recorded Machine. That record is really a product of being on tour with all of these heavy bands like Pantera. I was in that mood when I was writing that music.
Do you ever look back on Beneath... Between... Beyond...?
The strange thing is some of my favorite songs are on that record. There's a song called "Anything But This", which we recorded during the Machine sessions. I didn't want to put it on the record, because I couldn't find the right place for it. Now, I look back on it like, "That song is badass! Why didn't I put it on Machine?" Then, there's "Down" which we recorded for Wisconsin Death Trip, but it didn't make the record. I thought, "What the fuck was I thinking? That song was smoking!" All of those songs eventually ended up on Beneath... Between... Beyond... so everyone got to hear them finally. I tried to sequence it with some cohesion.
There still is a Cult of Static out there. It's amazing to see that…
I feel very lucky for all of this to happen the way it has. I didn't really expect anything when I started this band. I started it just to have a good time. I never had any expectations of becoming a rock star, getting signed, or going on tour. I had pretty much given up on music at that point as a career and thought I'd just do it for fun. Here we are 15 years later. I'm looking out the bus window, and there's a line of kids waiting to go to the show two hours before the doors open. That's a tribute to the hard work we put in. When we put on a show, I take it really fucking seriously. It's been like with every show from day one. That dedication shows through.
Have you begun writing with Static-X in mind?
I have started writing over the last months since the last tour I did. I had a whole bunch of great ideas. I don't know if the next record will be a Static-X record or a solo record yet. I haven't figured that out yet. We're going to have some fun, and see where it goes.
What do you think of when you look back on the Extreme Steel tour with Pantera and Slayer?
That was awesome! It'd probably be one of my favorite tours ever. Right after, we did the Family Values tour, which would be one of my favorites with Stone Temple Pilots, Linkin Park, and Staind. We had a couple of back-to-back tours that were pretty fucking awesome that year. That was all around Machine. One of my favorite things was Dimebag Darrell always wanted to have a longer beard. He'd look at my beard and go, "Man, how'd you get your beard to grow so long?" I told him he had to put rubber bands on it so it didn't get caught on shit and tear out all the time. The next day I saw him on stage with rubber bands on his beard [Laughs]. I was like, "Wow, this fucking guitar god is taking advice from me". It was pretty fucking cool.
What's your favorite Static-X song?