Wisconsin Death Trip, the debut album from Static-X, is inspired by a near 100-year-old book. "The title comes from a book I found at a flea market 15 years ago," explains singer/guitarist Wayne Static. "It is a collection of turn-of-the-century photographs and news articles detailing life in a small Wisconsin town. There were pictures of babies in coffins, reports from mental hospitals, details of murder scenes ... all very haunting. It made a huge impression on me."
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As with the impacting book, the roots of Static-X lie in the Midwest, specifically in two rural towns: Shelby, Michigan, vocalist Wayne Static’s hometown; and Jamaica, Illinois, drummer Ken Jay’s birthplace. As many Midwesterners do, these two made their pilgrimage to the Mecca of Chicago. Ken played in metal bands, worked in a record store and made his introductions in the Chicago underground. Wayne immediately started up the gothic band, Deep Blue Dream. Sharing a practice space with an unsigned Smashing Pumpkins, Wayne was introduced to Billy Corgan’s record store co-worker, Ken. Ken subsequently joined Deep Blue Dream, but with a constantly changing cast of characters, a dying music scene and subzero temperatures, the two decided change was in order. They moved west to sunny Los Angeles where a resurgence of hard rock music was beckoning.
Shortly after their arrival, Osaka-native Koichi Fukuda found an ad the duo had posted. "He came into our rehearsal room holding the ad he had ripped off the wall and said, with conviction, 'I am your new guitarist,'" recalls Wayne. Tony Campos, the only true Californian in the band, had been playing in local death metal bands. "He just sort of appeared and never left," Ken says wryly. "We keep him around for entertainment on the road."
Since forming, Static-X has developed a following through playing countless shows around Southern California on their own and with local heavyweights, building a reputation and an extensive fan club - one that even includes doctors. "When I got into a car accident, the ambulance took me to the emergency," begins Wayne. "I was on a stretcher, my head bloody, and the doctor was asking me what I do for a living, trying to keep me from passing out. I told him I was in a band called Static-X and he said that he was on our mailing list and comes to our shows! He gets in free now."
Static-X's goal since then has been simple: to make music that could take the energizing effect of techno, the aggressiveness of a guitar-laden frenzy and the moody overtones common to the goth/industrial underground and mold it into something unique - creating a sound the band calls “rhythmic trancecore.” Their method worked and the quartet signed with Warner Bros. Records in February 1998; within three months they were recording their debut album in a Los Angeles studio - “where,” bassist Tony Campos asserts “they haven’t done any remodeling, or fixed anything, since 1971.” Completed in just under four weeks with Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Pantera) producing, Wisconsin Death Trip echoes the energy of the band’s live sound. "It's always been very important to us that we be able to replicate the sound we use in the studio in front of an audience,” explains Wayne. “There is nothing worse than going to see a band who can't make you feel as if the show is an extension of their recorded music," adds Ken. "Our shows are like mini-raves - an unrelenting and intense experience that affects all of the audience's senses."
“Bled for Days,” recorded for Wisconsin Death Trip, was featured on the 1998 Bride of Chucky soundtrack as well as popping up on the Korn bonus CD, Extra Values, along with another Death Trip track, “Push It.“ Combine that with regional tours with the likes of Slayer, Fear Factory and System of A Down and the national awareness level of Static-X has been rising moment by moment. “We believe in the old-fashioned work ethic of touring day-in and day-out, handing out flyers to our shows, bringing copies of our record to record stores, meeting our fans and everything else that could possibly help,” explains Ken. “We never wanted to be a band that signed with a million dollar advance and disappeared a year later.”
Wisconsin Death Trip reflects the book that inspired it, with picture-filled chapters being replaced by twelve haunting songs. Melodic, dark and heavy - the lyrical team of Wayne and Ken paint intriguing pictures with dark humor and imagery, creating songs that are more impressionistic than literal. Emotion-based and derived from or inspired by true stories, the songs remain abstract - so don't expect the guys personal lives in sonic splendor. Avoiding the stereotypical story lines that accompany many heavy bands, there are no songs about drugs, Satan, suicide. And while there may be a song about love ("Love Dump"), don't expect a standard proclamation of unabashed ardor.
"We're just regular guys, normal guys playing music we love," admits Ken. “I don’t have any grand stories about John Bonham handing his drum sticks off to me or anything like that. We’re just four people reared on Kiss albums that decided to come together, play music and have fun while doing it. I think that’s why we have been able to connect with so many people.”
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