UTG INTERVIEW: Wayne Static Talks Static X, New Record, Music Industry

Wayne Static Interview

A legend and pioneer of the industrial metal era, Wayne Static is still delivering full-force “evil disco” punches with every live performance. Wrapping up the 15-year anniversary tour for the Static X breakthrough record, Wisconsin Death Trip, Wayne’s full of the energy that once propelled him to the top of the industrial world. Like most full-record and anniversary shows, Wayne’s Wisconsin Death Trip shows thrive on a nostalgic lust for a record fans world-wide rejoice over. Much like the songs on Wisconsin Death Trip, Wayne has aged well on stage and it shows with a vocal performance that is stronger than ever. With youthful energy and exuberance, Wayne shows fans new and old why he deserves a place in the rock ‘n’ roll history books.

We had a chance to catch up with Wayne to chat about the tour, his parting with Static X, and his future recording plans. Click the “Read More” button to dive into a little piece of nostalgia as we go back in time with Wayne Static.

You’re out on the 15-year anniversary tour for Wisconsin Death Trip right now. How’s it been?

Wayne: It’s been great, man. It’s been really great. The crowd’s lovin’ it and you can see it in their faces. They’re lovin’ gettin’ to hear the old songs again that they haven’t been able ot hear in so long. There’s not enough time in a normal show anymore to play these b-side type songs, you know? It’s really cool to go out and play the record and play it in its proper sequence. It’s really cool.

Is this the first tour you’ve ever done where you’ve played a record front to back?

Yeah, you know, even when Wisconsin Death Trip was the only record I had out, I never played it in its entirety and in its proper sequence. We always threw in cover songs because we didn’t have enough material [laughs]. We only had thirty minutes of material for an hour-long set. It’s cool to play it all in the proper sequence.

What was the decision process behind doing this record?

I’ve wanted to do it for a long time. I’ve been thinking about it for years, actually. It seemed like a really good time to do it. There’s a lot of Static X fans who don’t know what I’m doing — as far as my solo career goes — and I think this is a way to show them that just because I have a different band behind me doesn’t really change things. All the other guys in Static X, they were just on payroll, they were just hired anyway. I really want to try to get back some of the hardcore people who really haven’t gone out to see what I’ve been doing with my solo stuff.

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Why use Wayne Static instead of keeping the name Static X?

Because my former bass player is a complete asshole and won’t let me use the name. That’s the simple answer right there. The guy’s a complete dick. He hates me, for whatever reason. He’s hated me for a long time. Even when Static X was still together we didn’t talk…we didn’t make eye contact. He doesn’t like me [laughs] for whatever reason, ya know? Jealously, I don’t know? You’ll have to set up an interview with him and ask him why he hates me so much [laughs]. I tried to talk to the guy, I tried to make amends. I offered him money, a piece of the profits to let me use the name and he turned it down. He said, “fuck off, don’t ever call me again. I don’t ever want to talk to you again.” So fuck the guy. I don’t know what his problem is.

That really sucks.

It does suck. It’s sad. Him and I worked really hard for twenty years to make a band name a household name and recognizable and now his only goal in life is to ruin that. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t understand it.

Well I hope you can work it out someday.

Yeah…it’s all him, dude. If he calls me up and goes, “hey let’s work out a deal,” that’d be cool.

What do you think is the biggest thing that has changed from the first time you toured under this record?

That’s a good question. Well, I’m a lot older now [laughs].

How’s that feel at the end of the night [laughs]?

[laughs] Yeah, you know. I have to pace myself a little more. Believe it or not, my voice is a lot stronger than it used to be. I used to have a hard time making it through the shows and my voice is so much stronger than it used to be. When Wisconsin Death Trip came out I was still trying to find my voice and over the years I’ve found it and it’s gotten a lot stronger.

In your career, what do you think the craziest thing a fan has done to try to meet you?

Ummm, I don’t know [laughs]. I’m kind of one of those people who is oblivious to what’s going on around him. I walk down the street and apparently people are staring at me and pointing at me — I don’t even realize it. I’m completely oblivious to my surroundings.

Does this come with practice or have you always been that way?

I think it’s just the way I am. I don’t really give a fuck what people think. I just do what I do. I’ve always worn my hair like this because I think it looks cool. It’s not because I want to get attention or anything. I like to look cool and I think I look cool so fuck everybody else. I don’t care what they think [laughs]. Just today we were in Wal-Mart buying some tour supplies and some dude was like “dude, I love your hair!” and I’m like, “yeah, man! I did it just for you.” [laughs].

He has no clue, right?

No [laughs].

So we talked about what changed most for your shows in the last fifteen years. What do you think has been the most eye-opening change in the industry in that time?

Yeah, everything is so different. I feel sorry for young bands who have that dream of getting signed and making money and selling a million records. I feel sorry for ’em, it’s gone…man. There’s no industry anymore. No one makes any money anymore I have a fraction of what I used to make and the whole industry is like that. It’s just dead. The Internet, it just fuckin’ killed everything. A whole generation of kids think music is just free because it’s on the Internet and they don’t realize that someone spent a year of their life creating this product. It’s starting to happen in the film industry, too. I don’t know, man. Things are just really fucked. I feel very lucky that I got into it at the tail end of the real music industry — when there still was an industry and you could make still money and still be a rock star. There was still some kind of mystery involved in it.

When I was a little kid you’d hear about your favorite band coming out with a new album and there’s this whole mystery of “oh, I wonder what it’s gonna sound like,” or “oh, I wonder what the album cover’s gonna be.” All that mystery is just gone now and there’s just too much information out there. By the time the album comes out everyone’s already heard it and made up their mind on whether they like it or not [laughs]. You’re going to sell one copy to your most hardcore fan. That’s the only people who buy records anymore, the most absolute fuckin’ hardcore fans. Everyone else is going to download one song they might’ve heard on the radio or one song they might’ve liked from iTunes or something. It’s kinda come full circle. In the ’50s it was very single-based and I think ultimately that’s what’s is going to come back to. People are just going to put out singles. Why make an album? Why spend a year making an album? No one’s going to buy it. Waste of time [laughs]. I sound like a pessimist. But I am a pessimist, that’s who I am. But that’s kind of the way it is. Why waste a year of your life making a record when no one’s gonna buy it? It’s very sad, I think.

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So how are you, as a solo artist, trying to acclimate to that?

Well, I just do what I do. I like writing music and I do it for myself more than anything. I like that feeling I get when I finish a song and I know it’s awesome and I listen back to it and I get goosebumps and I get that feeling, like “wow I just created something fuckin’ awesome.” I do it for selfish reasons and whatever the industry does with it — I don’t know — then that’s what they’ll do it with.

So there is a new record in the works?

Oh yeah, definitely. I gotta get my agent to stop booking shows and let me go home and write some songs, man.

It sounds like you still have the passion to write.

Oh, yeah, man. I love writing music. I got lots of ideas and the next album is going to be fuckin’ awesome, man. I’m getting ready to really hit it hard. I’ve been listening to all my previous albums to familiarize myself with what I’ve done in the past and figure out what I want to do for this new album and what I don’t want to do for this new album. I’m ready to go, man. I’m excited about it.

Will the record be self-produced or will you team up with someone for it?

I like producing myself. I like doing everything myself. On my solo album, Pighammer, I did everything myself. I played everything myself, I didn’t even have an engineer. I didn’t have to argue with anybody, I didn’t have to compromise. It’s my favorite album because of that. It sounds awesome. The songs are great. Some of my other records, I listen now, and I’m like, “fuck, man, why did I listen to that asshole bass player who changed that part or this part. Or why did I listen to the producer and change these vocal parts.” I hate listening back to my music and teaching it and tearing it apart. I can’t listen to half of it because I get pissed off because someone talked me into changing something. I like to do everything myself because that’s the only way I’ll be happy.

Earlier, you were talking about the mystery that used to come with buying records. Do you have any specific memories that stick out from when you used to buy records as a kid?

I had this thing where I went and I bought one new record every week. At the time, I believe records cost $8 or $9. I would save that much out of my check that I got for washing dishes or something and I would go to the record store and I would spend an hour or two hours and look through the whole fuckin’ thing and look for the coolest album cover. It doesn’t matter if I heard of the band or not but I’d look for the coolest album cover and I’d buy it. I definitely miss that. Me and my wife walked into Best Buy a few weeks ago and I was like, “holy shit man, where’d all the CDs go?” It looks like the Apple store or something in there now. It’s all these laptops and TVs. They don’t even sell CDs anymore. Amazon, I guess. Amazon and iTunes.

Do you think you’ve created a legacy for yourself?

I think so. I think I’ve really been a part of music history. I think Static X is one of the biggest underground bands in the world. Everyone’s heard of Static X. But yet, we’re playing clubs. It’s bizarre to me. In my mind, Static X is as popular as Ministry. I feel like I’ve made my mark on things and I’m happy with that.

What else do you have planned for the year?

We’re gonna wrap up the U.S. in June and we might do something else in the fall but we’re going to try to do some international stuff. My main goal is to get a new record out as early as possible so I can get out hopefully next summer and do some fesitval shows and get into that scene and support a new record. That’s really my goal.

Interview and live photos by Matthew Leimkuehler (@callinghomematt)
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