Industrial metal band honors legacy of deceased lead singer
July 4, 2019
Static-X are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Wisconsin Death Trip, this summer with a tour that stops by The Clyde on July 12. The stop also features co-headliners Devildriver along with special guests Dope, Wednesday 13, and Raven Black.
The anniversary tour, which recently kicked off in Tempe, Ariz., is the first for the band since their lead singer and the face of the band, Wayne Static, passed away in 2014.
Taking some heat
When the tour was announced via a press release that included a picture of the new touring singer wearing a mask that looks eerily similar to Static, the band received some immediate criticism from fans as they saw the tour as possible cash grab or something that might tarnish the legacy of Static-X.
Guitarist Tony Campos, in a recent interview with Whatzup, says he understood the raw reaction but assured us that he and the rest of the band, drummer Ken Jay and bassist Koichi Fukuda, intend to honor the late Static, not disgrace him.
“Initially, yes, we did hear some negative comments, especially when we revealed the mask our singer is going to wear,” Campos said. “But once people listened to what we had planned, figured out what we’re trying to do and accomplish with this tour and album, and once they heard Wayne’s family is supporting us 100 percent, they seemed to realize we are doing this for the right reasons.”
Since then, Campos said, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
In addition to the trip back in time to celebrate Wisconsin Death Trip, Campos and company are releasing a new album, Project Regeneration, due for release later this year and featuring vocals by Static. The vocals were salvaged from recording sessions and backing tracks that the band had recorded during other album sessions and reworked to fit new music in some cases.
Putting together the pieces
Campos explained that Project Regeneration “started with a set of demos a producer friend of ours gave to me that he had received from Wayne before his passing. I sat on them for awhile until I had some down time and had a chance to revisit them. I reached out to the other guys to see if we could do something with them and throughout the process of looking for help in developing these original demos, our longtime producer, Ulrich Wilde, uncovered three more songs that didn’t make the Start a War record. We reworked the music on those songs and kept Wayne’s vocal performances. Together with one of the original demos I received, we had four songs with Wayne’s’ vocal performances on them.”
“Fast forward eight to ten months while looking for our live backing tracks,” Campos continued, “and we discovered an additional seven or eight demos that Wayne had done around the Shadowzone/Start a War era that were just vocal performances. The tapes where he had recorded the music were never found, so we had to write all new music around that stuff. We’re now at the point where the majority of the music on this record will feature Wayne.”
While, as Campos says, most of the new tracks will now feature what we think will be the last of Static’s vocals to appear on new recordings, the band was fortunate enough to have Ministry’s Al Jourgenson guest vocal on one of the new songs.
“Al was cool enough to lend us his voice and track on one song,” Campos said. “We’re extremely excited about that. I know if Wayne were here, he’d be excited about it. The two bands Static-X ripped off the most were Ministry and Prong, so to have Al sing on the record is pretty monumental for us.”
One Step at a time
With new music in the can and a milestone for the debut album on the horizon, Campos says a tour was just the next logical step. But the question on everybody’s mind was how they were going to fill the shoes of the band’s namesake. As it turned out, the answer was as close as a call to an old friend. Though the identity of that singer has not been officially revealed, Campos assures us he will fill the role adequately.
“It’s a buddy of ours who knew Wayne from back in the early days, so it’s almost as personal to him as it is for us,” Campos said. “He wears a mask on stage because he felt covering up his identity takes the focus away from him. We did not want to present this as, ‘Here’s Static-X with their new singer.’ That’s not we’re trying to do. We’re trying to keep the focus on the anniversary of the original lineup, so keeping the singer’s identity a secret helps us achieve that.”
Campos says he’s not sure whether the band will carry on past the new album and tour, but he and the rest of the band are open to keeping “evil disco” alive. The determining factor in that decision, he says, will come from the fans.
“We haven’t really thought that far ahead,” he said. “We’re just kind of enjoying the moment right now. The three of us haven’t jammed together in at least ten years, so we’re just trying to do this the best we can for the fans, for Wayne, and for his family. When this is all said and done, if it’s something the fans want, we’re certainly not opposed to it. I still want to go do other things, but we’ll see. It’s really cool to just be able to do this one more time.”
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