Exclusive Interview: Static-X (Ep 92)

[This interview was originally aired live on-air on WXLV Radio on 07.19.2019]

Celebrating 25 years since their debut release of ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ and set as a memorial to their late charismatic frontman Wayne Static, Static-X is back on the road playing SOLD OUT shows all over the country. Utilizing Wayne’s final vocal recordings, the surviving founding members have been hard at work crafting a new album titled ‘Project Regeneration.’ Performing live vocal duties on the tour is a masked frontman who goes by XER0.

Old images of the band filled the large LED screens behind them as new animations, lyrics, messages of tributes to Wayne Static punctuated the background.  In fact, the screens led us through a protracted opening before the band came out and started with “December” before going right into “Bled For Days”.  The first 9 songs were all from ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ before they launched into samplings of some of their bigger songs from most of the other albums.  “Get To The Gone,” “This Is Not,” and “Start A War” were personal highlights.  Of course things ended with “Push It” as a show of this magnitude without it would be woefully incomplete.

Before all of that, I was lucky enough to speak to Static-X bass player, and really, the guy who had the biggest part in putting all of this together, Tony Campos.  We talked a bit about the tour, the album, the old days, an interesting celebrity encounter and more!

Interview by: JJ Ellis
Photos by: Henry Chung

Children of Bodom, Swallow The Sun, and Wolfheart on the “Hexed Tour” at Reverb (Ep 90 + 91)

4/18/19 – Children of Bodom / Swallow The Sun / Wolfheart – Reverb Reading, PA.

After a hearty dinner at the nearby Pike Cafe and Bar, we made our way into the venue to catch the tail end of Summoner’s Circle‘s set.  Robes, makeup and doom.  Check.  Check. Check.  

Next was Wolfheart. Hot off of last year’s ‘Constellations of the Black Light’ the band came out with an energetic set, featuring a drummer who may or may not be the Energizer bunny.  This is the latest project (yet still rather long-running) of Tuomas Saukkonen.  The bass player frequently engaged the crowd and this was the point in the evening where the audience was beginning to congregate around the stage.

Wolfheart – Photo by Henry Chung

Swallow the Sun brought a more meditative and somber set.  The lights were mostly low and the more melancholy, less doomy material on their latest album, ‘When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light’ was an appropriate pairing for the set.  First single “Firelight” was featured along with “Under The Water” and “Stone Wings” the latter of which especially seemed like a crowd favorite.  To be honest, a lot of the crowd didn’t seem to know what to make of the set for the first few songs.  The evening’s consistently low vocal mic didn’t do anyone any favors though it improved slightly as the show progressed.  At a certain point, everyone seemed to wake up a bit and respond to the music with most people seeming to be on board by the end.  While half of the set was new, they ended with their traditional closer “Swallow (The Horror Pt. 1”).  

Swallow the Sun – Photo by Henry Chung

Our headliners, Children of Bodom came out and so did the red and especially purple lights which was appropriate for their latest album ‘Hexed.’  “Are You Dead Yet?” was a pounding way to begin the show

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

Interestingly, the band had recently toured on their very earliest material, so a fair amount of that was in the set along with a lot from mid-period favorites ‘Are You Dead Yet?’ and ‘Hate Crew Deathroll.’  Of course there were the new songs, the perfect first single “Over Grass and Clover,” along with “The Road,” “Platitudes and Barren Words” and “Hecate’s Nightmare.”  These tracks reflect a lot of the best aspects of ‘Hexed’ which many are considering a bit of a return to form for the band, embracing some of their neoclassical roots while having some catchier tracks than the last few albums.  

Relatively new guitar player Daniel Freyberg proved himself to be a worthy additional as he held up his end of the deal with the songs.  Of course, everyone else in the band are longtime constants so no questions there.  Seeing keyboardist, Janne Wirman, in action was especially a treat as his tremendous dexterity and manipulation of the keys is truly the X-factor that helps to set the band apart.  All of this was done on his backup keyboard which, itself, had some faulty switches, as he explained at one point in the set.  

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

One of my personal favorites “Bodom Beach Terror” was played early and the rarely heard “If You Want Peace…Prepare For War” lent a bit of extra speed and heaviness to the show. Really, the selection was very good to appease fans new and old.  Of course, with ten albums out, there are always going to be few songs that don’t make the cut for this go-round but, all things considered, everyone in attendance should have been, and seemed very thrilled.  We even had some late-show crowd surfing. 

The encore started with another of my favorites “Hate Me!” and ended with “Downfall.”

Children of Bodom – Photo by Henry Chung

This package was a really rare treat as to have three wildly different bands from Finland playing in a little B-market (maybe C-Market?) like Reading in a tremendous convergence of unlikely factors.  More than that, it was a great time.

Before the evening began, I had the pleasure of speaking with Janne from Children of Bodom.  Of course, we talked about ‘Hexed’ but we also dove into their studios, some glaring omissions from the album, barbecuing, their beer and quite a bit more.

Interview with Janne Wirman, keyboardist from Children of Bodom

Pick up Children of Bodom’s ‘Hexed’HERE

Right after that, I tracked down Mikko Kotamaki, vocalist from Swallow The Sun.  The interview was conducted right outside the venue which of course, featured a passing train, passing fans, and angry yellow jackets. Distractions aside, we spoke about his vocal evolution, other projects, Nick Cave, Paradise Lost, and quite a bit more.

Interview with Mikko Kotamaki, vocalist from Swallow The Sun

Pick up Swallow the Sun’s ‘When A Shadown is Forced Into The Light’HERE

You can pick up Hedonihil ‘I’HERE

Words / Interview by: JJ Ellis
Photos by: Henry Chung

Doyle Returns to Reverb on the ‘As We Die World Abomination Tour’

10/10/2018 – Reverb: Reading, PA
In an inexplicably warm October evening, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein, legendary guitarist of horror punks ‘The Misfits’ makes a return at Reading’s Reverb Nightclub with his band that shares his own namesake. This was the 2nd date of the North American run of the ‘As We Die… World Abomination Tour 2018’ in support of their 2nd record ‘As We Die’ that was released last June.

Doyle Photo by Henry Chung

I’ve caught Doyle LIVE a few years ago at this very same venue though, this current lineup consisted of Alex “Wolfman” Story on vocals, Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein on guitar, Wade Murff on drums and Brandon Strafe on Bass.

Having wrapped up the UK/ European run just 2 months prior, this leg of the tour goes from 10/9 in Hartford, CT and stretches all the way into the New Year ending in Brooklyn, NY on 01/3. Be sure not to miss them this Fall!!

Photos by Henry Chung

Women Who Put the Hard in Rock at Santander Arena

Some of the hardest rocking women in music today descended upon the Santander Arena to melt the faces off of a near SOLD OUT crowd. Stitched Up HeartNew Years Day, and In This Moment all came out to support Halestorm on what would be considered a semi-hometown show (the band is from Red Lion, PA which was only an hour South of the venue.)

Stitched Up Heart:

Stitched Up Heart – Photo by Henry Chung

A newcomer into the scene was Stitched Up Heart. Still, in support of their major label debut ‘Never Alone, the band has been touring relentlessly. Once they took to the stage, everyone around me was equally surprised by frontwoman Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner’s ferocity on the mic.

My main goal was to try and capture all of her hair flails as well as well as the emotion of the performance as they tore through their half-hour set.

New Years Day:

New Years Day – Photo by Henry Chung

New Years Day is a band I’ve seen numerous times before. But within each tour, they’ve grown and evolved their sound. Earlier in the year, they released a cover EP called Diary of A Creep, which features the band’s rendition of songs by Linkin Park, Garbage, No Doubt, Pantera and New Order. So with that said, I was delighted to hear them do Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” during their set.

In This Moment:

In This Moment – Photo by Henry Chung

I remember ages ago seeing In This Moment perform on the small stages at Warped Tour (we’re talking a LONG time ago now) and to be able to see this act grow into what they are today is phenomenal. The band was still touring for Ritual which came out last year.

Now ITM has always had a flair for the theatrics which is amazing and I sort of feel like it’s what’s missing in a lot of today’s music. But being in the photo pit trying to capture it proves very challenging at times. The incessant use of the fog machines has wrecked havoc on my camera’s AF motors trying to stay focus on the subject at hand. Sometimes the fog is so thick, I could barely make out the other members (frontwoman Maria Brink was the only one who had fans keeping the smoke away from her face).

 

Fans lighting up the arena with their cellphones during New Years Day- Photo by Henry Chung

 

Was I disappointed that I wasn’t allowed to capture Halestorm’s performance? Sort of. But overall, I had a blast being given the opportunity to capture these bands entire sets (which is a rarity).

Photos/ Words: Henry Chung

‘Sonic Unrest’ at Reading’s Reverb

On March 31st, Reading’s Reverb was the very first stop of The Sonic Unrest Pt 2 tour. Featuring Periphery, The Contortionist, Norma Jean and Infinity Shred, it was sure to be a varied bill.

Continue reading “‘Sonic Unrest’ at Reading’s Reverb”

Exclusive: Maximalism With Olof of Amaranthe

Standing outside the venue of Reading, PA’s Reverb, the moon slowly peeks up over the hills. It’s 28ºF outside and the line is beginning to wrap around the building. Some passerby might wonder why anybody would subject themselves to sub-freezing temperatures just to wait in line. Well, the answer is simple. This is the final night of Amaranthe’s Maximalism USA/ Canada tour. Continue reading “Exclusive: Maximalism With Olof of Amaranthe”

Blood Lust Death Tour at Reverb

On March 22nd, the Blood Lust Death Tour makes it’s mid-tour stop a stop at Reading, PA’s Reverb. This was a tour I was very excited to see because I’ve been a fan of both Dope and Combichrist for ages and to be able to see them both on the same night was exciting. A rather newcomer for me is September Mourning who according to Wikipedia a “transmedia dark culture project” so that bot me intrigued. This will also be the first time I finally get to see Davey Suicide live considering I’ve constantly missed his sets due to scheduling conflicts. Continue reading “Blood Lust Death Tour at Reverb”

Photos: Downtown Alive – Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness

Downtown Alive - banner

Last week was the second Downtown Alive event held on the 500 Block in front of the Santander Arena. The FREE all-ages event has been a huge draw in bringing in music fans into downtown Reading.

Continue reading “Photos: Downtown Alive – Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness”

Exclusive: Battlecross Interview

Wednesday September 16th, the Reverb in Reading, was host to GWAR on their 30th anniversary tour.

GWAR 30 Years Tour

The exterior stage was populated by a bunch of local openers, among them, metal favorites Dick Vomit.

Inside, Gloominous Doom started the party off right. Admittedly, we made our way inside to catch the very end of their set.

Battlecross ©2015 Henry Chung 11Photo by Henry Chung

Next up was Battlecross, the Michigan thrash metal band hot off of the release of Rise To Power. Even though the band was down a guitarist, Tony Asta (home for the birth of his child). They had their guitar tech fill in and things went smoothly. As you would hope, songs from all three of their releases were represented. One has to think that as the word continues to get out about these guys, they will continue to rise in the ranks of the thrash metal scene.

ButcherOfBabies ©2015 Henry Chung 03Photo by Henry Chung

In all honesty, not being the biggest fan of the Butcher Babies‘ recorded output (the do have a new album out now, ‘Take It Like A Man’), I was pleasantly surprised by their energetic live show. Their songs, while still rooted in rudimentary themes (Raising Hell! Drinking! Etc!) got the crowd going. This culminated in a Climb of Life at the band’s urging, where as many people as possible would crowd-surf to the front and high-five the band.

GWAR ©2015 Henry Chung 01Photo by Henry Chung

Finally, the mighty GWAR took the stage. With the passing of Oderous Urungus, this incarnation of the band is led by Blothar. While witnessing the chaos from a distance, I was able to take in the visuals of blood (and other bodily fluids) being sprayed onto the eager audience as the band took down the Internet. Kanye West, Hillary Clinton, EDM artists and others were all skewered (literally and figuratively). This was the first time I had seen the band live after hearing stories over the years. They also ran through a good cross-section of their discography including a few off of their most recent ‘Battle Maximus’. For a momentous anniversary, it gave a nice sampling of what the band has created over three decades.

It would have been nice to see GWAR with Oderus at the helm but this proves that the band is in good hands with Blothar and the rest of his bandmates.

Before we caught any of the show, I was lucky enough to talk to Don Slater, bass wizard extraordinaire for Battlecross. We talked about Detroit, recording Rise To Power, differences between the three riff-writers in the band, Goatwhore, and of course, plenty more.

Event Gallery:

Interview by:

When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!

Photos by:

Henry Chung – When Henry’s not busy updating this page and speaking in third person, he’s busy shooting and editing pictures from concerts and designing logos for bands.

Exclusive: iwrestledabearonce Intereview (2015)

The 2015 All Stars Tour was a collection of more heavy (mostly) young, hungry bands than you can shake a stick at: Upon A Burning Body, Dance Gavin Dance, A Skylit Drive, Oceano, Within The Ruins, Dayshell, Come The Dawn, Chasing Safety and Conquer Divide.

All-Stars-Tour 2015

Those who wanted to braze the blazing sun outside were privy to a full day’s worth of local bands.

On this particular day, we had a chance to catch up with All Stars veterans iwrestledabearonce who were also a part of the tour. When we spoke to guitarist Steven Bradley in 2011, the band was in a good place, just having released Ruining It For Everybody.

Between then and now, a lot has changed: they got a new singer and guitar player and have released two albums that have taken them from being an odd band with an odd name. Now they are an unrepentantly heavy band with an odd name.

For this tour, they were shorthanded, Steven was off on other adventures, but I was lucky enough to speak to the newest additions, singer Courtney LaPlante and guitarist Mike Stringer. Partway through, we were even joined by bass player Mike ‘Rickshaw’ Martin. We talked about their new album Hail Mary, collaborations, working out and we learned a lot about Canada, among other things.

IWABO-Hail-Mary

Interview by:

When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!

Photos by:

Henry Chung – When Henry’s not busy updating this page and speaking in third person, he’s busy shooting and editing pictures from concerts and designing logos for bands.