SnoCore Tour '09
w/ Static X, Burn Halo, The Flood
Tues. April 14
1680 Fletcher St., Goose Creek
"We try to play everywhere," says singer and guitarist Wayne Static, speaking from El Paso last week. It was day two of the six-week SnoCore Tour 2009 — a showcase featuring Static X as one of the co-headliners.
"I've learned to love touring," says the frontman. "The U.S. is big. You can tour for months and months and never hit all the places you really want to go. We're going to do another three weeks on our own after this tour to try to hit the places we missed."
The major metal showcase visits the Charleston area this Tuesday. This is Static X's first road trip in support of their sixth album, Cult of Static (Reprise) — a dirgy, cleverly mixed, snarling collection of guitar riffs, guttural grunts, industrial-strength drum rhythms, and musical muscularity.
"When we started touring, it was really difficult ... it fucking sucked," Wayne remembers. "We were uncomfortable. We were all broke. We were touring in a van, and then in an RV, driving ourselves around. It was pretty horrible, and I hated it [laughs]. Now I love it. The lifestyle is completely different. I learned how to forget about privacy. But I love being in a different place every day, partying in a different town every night, and seeing different faces from the stage."
Recorded with Wayne at the helm alongside engineer John Travis (Kid Rock, Buckcherry, Social Distortion), Cult of Static is noticeably more gritty and direct than some longtime Static X fans might expect. It's certainly less polished than many of the new releases in the contemporary world of metal. Extra tracks and overdubs are sparse, usually added for emphasis and the enhancement of the basic guitar/bass/drum tracks. The few extra percussive parts and pre-recorded keyboard parts on the album stay out of the way while adding some depth and atmosphere to the main parts.
"This time around, we all got together in my home studio, drank some alcohol, and made a record," says Wayne. "It was very simple. I've co-produced all of our records, but on the last two, I've really been at the helm, you know? I'm at the point now where I know how to make records and I don't need anyone to tell me what to do. Static X has a sound; we don't need help shaping it at all. At this point, another co-producer's job is really to kind of help me see my vision through and make the record sound great. Time to time, John made comments and suggestions, and I was open to that. But in the end, it's really my decision.
"I felt like things can start to get too polished, layered, compressed, and fancy-sounding, so avoiding that was the point on these last two records," he adds. "I really wanted to make this sound like you were standing right in the room while the band played, with everything really live and dry and in-your-face, while still making it sound totally punchy and crunchy. I think this new record sounds amazing, We fucking nailed it, and John did an amazing job."
Wayne Static grew up in Michigan. Drummer Ken Jay came up in Illinois. The two met in Chicago in the 1990s and struck up a heavy-rock styled musical project that eventually led them to L.A., where they formed Static X with guitarist (and Osaka native) Koichi Fukada and bassist Tony Campos. They signed to Warner Brothers in early 1998, and released their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip a year later.
A memorably bizarre music video for "Push It" — the first single from Wisconsin Death Trip — featured some disturbing claymation mixed in with the band performing the song in the dungeon of a hellish factory. "Push It" remains one of the band's most popular songs among fans.
Through the early 2000s, Static X earned acclaim for their massive sound and modernistic horror-show style, but they suffered more than a few severe lineup changes. Guitarist Tripp Eisen (ex-Dope) replaced Fukada in time for 2001's Machine. Jay split with the band in 2003 after the release of Shadow Zone. Controversial "personal issues" forced Eisen's firing in 2004. Fukada rejoined on guitar and programming that year, and dreadlocked Nick Oshiro took over as a full-time studio and touring drummer shortly after.
Over the last decade, Static X has sold over three million albums, and completed numerous world tours, including three Ozzfests, the Family Values Tour, and Gigantour. According to Wayne, the band can't stay away from the tough road work.
"That's one thing the internet hasn't changed," he says. "You can't really download a live concert. So bringing the music to the people — like going on tour and putting on a show — that's the one thing the internet cannot take away. [The internet] completely ruined the music business. Nobody buys CDs any more, but people still come out and see the show. We have a great loyal following, which we call 'the cult of Static.' The members show up every night. I don't give a fuck if CDs go away; I don't even care any more. We have a career either way, and we tour whenever we want."
The genuine sound of any rock band is something that comes after years and years of collective experience. Despite the various lineup adjustments, Wayne assures us that things are clicking (and pounding) better than ever.
"Obviously, the more you play with someone, the more you get to know each other," acknowledges Wayne. "You develop a chemistry. Everything's really tight right now," he boasts. "Everything's slammin' live. Everyone on stage is a great player. It's real tight and fucking awesome."