Static-X Want To Honor The Fun, Difficult, Morbid Man That Was Wayne Static

With their upcoming reunion tour, Static-X are here to pay tribute to deceased frontman Wayne Static -- even the parts of him that might freak people out.

Static-X Want To Honor The Fun, Difficult, Morbid Man That Was Wayne Static
Chris Krovatin

Kenneth Lacey, better known as Static-X drummer Ken Jay, remembers Wayne Static fondly -- but that’s not to say all of his memories of his late frontman are particularly nice.

“One of the first times I hung out with [Wayne] was about three weeks after I met him,” muses Ken. “We were on our way to rehearsal, and we found out a friend of ours had died. He was only in his early 40s. And Wayne was so quiet. So we’re riding together to practice, and I say, ‘Oh, hey, how’d Larry die?’ And he goes, ‘...death! Death did it!’”

“Things weren’t really sacred to him,” says Ken. “And we bumped heads on that a few times.”

Loss is something the members of Static-X have all had to deal with in their own way over the past four years. After Wayne died of a drug overdose in 2014, the remaining band members - Ken, bassist Tony Campos, and guitarist/programmer Koichi Fukuda -- wondered if they’d ever play again. But a newly discovered batch of demos featuring Wayne’s vocals, and the 20th anniversary of their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip, made a reunion more concrete. Now, Static-X are working on a new record and have a massive worldwide reunion scheduled, complete with a masked live vocalist.

“The first time being in the same room together, it all kind of clicked again," says Tony Campos. "It felt really good, right from the get-go. The initial demos that we found, only one of them had Wayne’s vocals. That’s why we brought on Xer0, who’s going to be performing the vocals live on tour.”

"Xer0" is the name of the mystery vocalist touring with the band (rumored to be Edsel Dope of Static-X tourmates Dope). The singer first appeared to fans in an announcement video on Facebook, performing a re-recorded version of the Static-X classic Bled For Days and rocking a mask and wig that made him look like a resurrected version of Wayne Static.

“Wayne was a very unique singer,” says Xer0 via e-mail. “I can’t just be myself with this. That wouldn’t be doing the material justice. Therefore, I really have to be prepared. I have to learn lots of parts...find the right places in my own voice to deliver my best version of these songs...I’m never gonna sound as good as Wayne did, doing Wayne's thing. That’s just common sense

"But I feel really good about it," he continues. "I believe that I will represent the vibe of the band very well and that we will give the fans a really fun Wisconsin Death Trip experience each night.”

But Xer0’s introduction to fans wasn’t met with unanimous excitement. That Static-X would replace Wayne with someone seemingly dressed up in a costume of him -- especially in what appeared to be a somewhat ghoulish dead skin mask of Wayne -- was called out by many followers as being in bad taste. On top of that, Wayne and Tony’s well-documented feud with Wayne towards the end of his life made many people wonder if the band’s sudden attempt to pay homage to Wayne was just a cash grab. This resulted in Tony releasing two statements via Facebook addressing both his difficult relationship with his former singer, and the choice to have a masked vocalist.

“I was prepared,” says Tony, sounding haggard at the mention of the response on social media. “it was expected, given the state of mine and Wayne’s relationship. I mentally prepared for that. But I feel like our hearts are in the right place, and having reached out to Wayne’s family, and having their approval and blessing, really gave me the strength and assurance that what we’re doing is right. It’s right by them, so it’s right by us.”

“I always come back to The Trance Is The Motion,” says Ken, recalling one of the more elaborate tracks on Wisconsin Death Trip. “Wayne and I fought like cats and dogs just trying to get those lyrics done. ‘No, we can’t use that word!’ But at that time, all four of us had such a good relationship that it was funny. You could cut the other guys’ legs out from underneath him, and everybody would just laugh.”

The mask raises other questions According to the band, Xer0 was the one who came up with the idea of playing masked. The reasoning was that they didn’t want this new incarnation of the band to feel like Static-X’s “Van Hagar” period, and to keep the focus on Wayne’s memory.

“I’ve spent the last 20 years building my own identity and touring the world with my own band,” says Xer0. “It didn’t feel right for my image or identity to be placed in the center of something that I wasn’t part of creating...It just felt like a perfect way to keep the focus on the four guys that made this great album and started this really cool band. After a few days of living with it, I decided to spike my hair up, just to see what it would look like with the mask on, and I was like, Oh, FUCK. Let’s be honest: Waynes hair kind of became the visual identity of Static-X.”

That said, the mask in principle is one thing -- the necrotized, Ed Gein-ish look of it is another. On that point, Ken is blunt: yes, it’s horrible...which is the only way Wayne would’ve been okay with it.

“Let’s put it out there again: we do understand people being somewhat resistant to it,” he says. “But I can assure you, having known Wayne as long as I did, he had a sometimes wonderfully morbid sense of humor, sometimes horrifically morbid. I honestly believe -- and what sold me on it, finally -- is that the more I see it, the more I believe that Wayne would think this is really funny.”

“We didn’t set out to create a ‘character,’ it just evolved naturally,” says Xer0. “We went to our friend Laney, who also makes the masks for many of the Slipknot guys, as well as Manson’s band, and Rob Zombie’s band, et cetera. Wayne liked heavy metal, monster movies, and monster trucks. He would be honored by the celebration and he would dig the shit out of this!“

Perhaps this is what makes Static-X’s reunion unique: they are honoring something that doesn’t beg to be honored. Though it is considered one of the most successful albums of the nu-metal era, Wisconsin Death Trip is not what you’d call seminal, just a good time. Like Wayne Static himself, the record is more focused on the listener’s end result than anyone’s thoughts or feelings. Or, to put it another way, you may have a lot to say about the cultural impact of heavy music in the late ‘90s, but you’ve probably also yelled the chorus of Push It more than once.

“If you would’ve told us 20 years ago that [Wisconsin Death Trip] would still be revered…” laughs Ken Jay, “I think we’d appreciate it, but it’s kind of a really weird thing, because it’s just fun. It’s just a stupid-fun album to play. I don’t think we fully grasped how that had such an impact on people.”

"The band is so unique,” says Xer0. “The sound is so unique. They were part of some huge tours and the music touched a lot of people around the world.”

“People have missed that,” he says, “and I’ve missed it, too.”

If you want to see Static-X on their reunion tour, catch them at one of the following dates:

June 2019 (with DevilDriver and Dope)

18 Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater
19 Albuquerque, NM – El Rey Theater
21 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
22 Houston, TX – The Warehouse
23 San Antonio, TX – The Aztec Theater
25 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
26 Greenville, SC – The Firmament
28 Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
29 Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
30 Scranton, PA – Levels

July 2019

02 Toronto, ON – Opera House
03 London, ON – London Music Hall
04 Ottawa, ON – Brass Monkey
05 Hampton Beach, NH – Wally’s
06 Worcester, MA – The Palladium
07 Reading, PA – Reverb
09 Pittsburgh, PA – Jergel’s
10 Cleveland, OH – Agora Theater
11 Indianapolis, IN – The Citadel
12 Ft. Wayne, IN – Piere’s
13 Detroit, MI – Harpo’s
14 Lexington, KY – Manchester Music Hall
16 Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection
18 Cadott, WI – Cadott Rockfest
19 Sioux City, IA – Anthem – Hard Rock Casino
20 Joliet, IL – The Forge
21 Belvidere, IL – Apollo Theater
23 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater
25 Santa Ana, CA – Observatory
26 Los Angeles, CA – Catch One
27 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues

August 2019 (with Wednesday 13 and Dope)

22 Brisbane, Australia – Eaton Hill
23 Melbourne, Australia – Croxton
24 Sydney, Australia – Metro
26 Adelaide, Australia – The Gov
27 Perth, Australia – Rock Rover

September 2019 (with just Static-X)

20 St. Petersburg, Russia – Cosmonavt Club
21 Moscow, Russia – Giavclub

(with Soil, Wednesday 13, and Dope)

24 Bristol, England – SWX
25 Cardiff, Wales – Tramshed
26 London, England – Electric Ballroom
27 Nottingham, England – Rock City
28 Leeds, England – Stylus
29 Southampton, England – Engine Room

October 2019

01 Newcastle, England – Northumbria Institute
02 Glasgow, Scotland – The Garage
03 Manchester, England – The Ritz
04 Birmingham, England – 02 Institute
05 Paris, France – File 7
06 Antwerp, Belgium – Trix Club
07 Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle
09 Cologne, Germany – Essigfabrik
10 Mannheim, Germany – MS Connex
11 Zurich, Switzerland – Dynamo
12 Pinarella di Cervia, Italy – Rock Planet
13 Munich, Germany – Backstage

December 2019 (with just Static-X)

10 Salt Lake City, UT – The Royal Bar
11 Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
12 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory
13 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
14 Seattle, WA – El Corazon
15 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater

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