The late nineties and early two-thousands were one of the greatest times in the era of nu and industrial metal, and one of the most illustrious names to be part of that explosive wave of heavy music was none other than Californian quartet Static-X. But alas, five years ago, the band’s vocalist and mascot Wayne Static passed away, which led to presumptions that the chances of Static-X reuniting would be very slim. However, the tables turned when last year, bassist Tony Campos announced not only an original line-up reunion tour in support of their debut Wisconsin Death Trip’s twentieth anniversary, but also a brand new album in the works featuring Wayne’s vocals from demos that they had discovered.
“Though I never really lost touch with Koichi (Fukuda), I reconnected with Ken (Jay) in 2012” he says. “We had been in touch for quite some time and upon Wayne’s passing, we spoke a little more. But what really got the ball rolling for this was a set of demos–five songs that Wayne had demoed out and gave to a producer-friend of ours shortly before his passing who then gave them to me. After sitting on them for a while, I revisited them and got in touch with the guys and explored it together to see if we could do anything with these songs. To get these songs done, our original and long-time producer Ulrich Wild turned me onto these three songs that didn’t make the “Start A War” record, and they had Wayne’s vocals on them, so we reworked the music and kept Wayne’s vocals and we had four songs with him singing.”
As he continues, Campos then mentions how he and the band had stumbled upon more demo tapes of Wayne’s vocals at the time of when they had begun talking about the reunion and twentieth anniversary for Wisconsin Death Trip. With the discovery of unused, recorded material and the band’s anniversary for their debut record, Campos and co. felt it was a good way to celebrate the band’s career.
“When we were talking about doing something with the band, we figured we could do it for the twentieth anniversary of Wisconsin Death Trip, and so we started working together to potentially do this thing live, looking for our backing tracks. At that point, we discovered seven or eight additional demos that Wayne had done, and a lot of that stuff was only vocal tracks. The music he done – I guess he did that on a separate take, and those takes were never found, so we decided to write brand new music to Wayne’s vocals.”
Though Campos and Fukuda performed together in the band for a majority of Static-X’s career, this was the first time where they would jam together with drummer Ken Jay since the Wisconsin Death Trip album. Though they were all familiar with the material off WSD and Machine, Campos admitted that they were refreshing their memories with songs from Shadow Zone leading up to Cult of Static.
“The first time the three of us got together in the same room just felt right from day one; I had been in the same room with Koichi for the first time in ten years, and it had been a few years since I had seen Kenny, and it was a really cool moment to have all three of us in the room together. Then when we actually got together to play these songs, everything just clicked and fell back into place. It felt really natural and really good, particularly the songs off the first two records. With some of the songs off the other albums, we were like “how does this go again?” he laughs.
As part of the reunion, Static-X felt it was just as important to treat this as a good time to pay tribute to their fearless leader Wayne Static. So instead of finding a replacement for Wayne, Campos and co. decided to find someone who could replicate Wayne’s voice without being identified as a new member of the band–but instead as an image of representing the Wayne we all knew and loved. So the band came to a consensus and decided to have a mask made to look like Wayne with his signature hair and beard as way to salute and remember the beloved Static-X frontman.
“At first, it was like “how do we represent Wayne?” and we thought of different ideas like the X-Robot mask and all those images of old t-shirts that had skulls and Wayne’s hair and beard on them. But with the mask, it helped us achieve how we wanted to present this; we didn’t want to come out and have people think “Oh, here’s Static-X with their new singer, they’re moving on”, and that’s not what we’re doing with this; it’s about remembering Wayne, the original band line-up, the first record and all the good times we all had together. So keeping the singer’s identity under wraps helps achieve that. The other thing, we didn’t wanna be a “Static-Hagar” situation; the guy who’s singing is an accomplished singer in his own right, so he’s been quite successful with his own bands, and we didn’t want that Van Halen situation, so covering him up would help with that too. For us, I like to use the Iron Maiden analogy; Wayne was our Bruce Dickinson AND our Eddie – he was the voice, the face and the mascot of the band, so it’s impossible to replace a guy like that, and we would never tell people that’s what we’re trying to do, because we can’t. But the right thing to do is remember him and try to bring back his vibe and spirit, and let the fans experience it one more time.”
Purchase tickets here: metropolistouring.com/static-x-2019