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

Static-X, DevilDriver, DOPE, and Wednesday 13 Makes Reverb the Hottest Venue in Town

Sunday July 7th.  Reverb – Reading, PA

It’s hard to turn down a chance to see a band you grew up with when they reform after a decade.  Even rarer considering the loss of the most recognizable figure, in this case, Wayne Static of Static-X.  The original line-up has reformed for a round of touring (celebrating 25 years since their debut and best-known album ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’) and work on a new album to utilize Wayne’s final vocal recordings.  The fact that they are performing with a masked frontman who goes by XER0 only added to the morbid curiosity.

Things truly got started inside with theatrical band, Raven Black.  You want makeup, masks and carnival elements?  Check!  How about a hula hoop, a giant teddy bear and the sense that Tim Burton films are on regular rotation in the tour bus?  Double check!  In all seriousness, they are an energetic newer band with a charismatic frontwoman that can certainly continue to grow and reach wider audiences.

Raven Black – Photo by Henry Chung

Wednesday 13 was next and to those who haven’t kept up, the stage show and look has evolved.  He was covered in paint with loads of neon and a mask on the back of his head.  The pictures really say it all.

Wednesday 13 – Photo by Henry Chung

Dope was a big opener that I had some familiarity with from back in the day.  The set wasn’t overly long but the hits I was familiar with were present “Die M.F. Die” and “You Spin Me Right Round.” This tour was also a 20 year celebration of Dope’s debut release ‘Felons and Revolutionaries.’ But being a memorial for the late Wayne Static, it was downplayed save for a few mentions from frontman Edsel Dope during in-between song banter.

DOPE – Photo by Henry Chung

By this point in the evening, show was starting to really fill in.  With more people meant more heat which became a theme.

DevilDriver was next and they ran through a solid hour with a wide variety of material from all aspects of their lengthy career.  There were even a few Coal Chamber classics thrown in toward the end (“Loco” and “Fiend”).  As was slightly the case earlier in the evening and especially for the first 2/3 of Devildriver’s set, the mix was…..not great.  The vocals and guitars were a bit too low in the mix which prompted Dez to demand that things be turned up.  This went a large way toward fixing the issue.  Still, it was probably something that should have been picked up on much earlier.

DevilDriver – Photo by Henry Chung

The venue was clearly at full capacity partway through Devildrier and the heat inside was sweltering.  Musicians were even commenting on it throughout the night.  Normally a few drinks are spilled throughout the evening but the venue floor was coated and slick with sweat.  A brief sojourn outside to the now abandoned outdoor stage was the only respite from this.  Fortunately, a light rain and a Mountain Dew went a long way.

Static-X – Photo by Henry Chung

Large screens were utilized by the last 3 bands of the evening, especially heavily by our headliners Static-X.  Old images of the band, new animations, lyrics, messages of tribute to Wayne Static all 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.

Static-X – Photo by Henry Chung

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!

Whether this is truly the live farewell or if Static-X will tour on ‘Project Regeneration’ in some capacity remains to be seen.  It was my first chance in over a decade to hear a lot of these songs live again, and while a little different, it still evoked a lot of the spirit of the band that I recalled.  That’s all I could ever ask.  I’ll always have the old memories but this is a cool new one to file along with them.

Go to www.static-x.org to preorder your copy of ‘Project Regeneration’


With several shows on the upcoming Wisconsin Death Trip 20th Anniversary Tour already sold-out, STATIC-X has announced additional dates for this fall. The tour will feature the same lineup of co-headliners DevilDriver and support acts DopeWednesday 13 and Raven Black.

WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES:
6/18 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theater
6/19 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey Theater (Sold Out)
6/21 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
6/22 – Houston, TX @ The Warehouse
6/23 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theater
6/25 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (Sold Out)
6/26 – Greenville, SC @ The Firmament (Sold Out)
6/28 – Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage (Sold Out)
6/29 – Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
6/30 – Scranton, PA @ Levels (Cancelled)
7/2 – Toronto, ON @ Opera House (Sold Out)
7/3 – London, ON @ London Music Hall
7/4 – Ottawa, ON @ Brass Monkey
7/5 – Hampton Beach, NH @ Wally’s (Sold Out)
7/6 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
7/7 – Reading, PA @ Reverb (Sold Out)
7/9 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Jergel’s (Sold Out)
7/10 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater
7/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Citadel
7/12 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ Clyde Theatre
7/13 – Detroit, MI @ Harpo’s
7/14 – Lexington, KY @ Manchester Music Hall
7/16 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection
7/18 – Cadott, WI @ Cadott Rockfest
7/19 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem @ Hard Rock Casino (Sold Out)
7/20 – Joliet, IL @ The Forge (Sold Out)
7/21 – Belvidere, IL @ Apollo Theater (Sold Out)
7/23 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater (Sold Out)
7/25 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
7/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Catch One (Sold Out)
7/27 – Los Vagas, NV @ House of Blues
NEWLY ADDED WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES:
11/12 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theater
11/13 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
11/15 – Ft. Lauderdale @ Revolution
11/16 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
11/17 – Destin, FL @ Club LA
12/2 – Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
12/6 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
12/7 – Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theater
12/8 – Colorado Springs, CO @ Sunshine Studios Live
12/10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Royal Bar
12/11 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
12/12 – Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
12/13 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
12/14 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
12/15 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
+ More dates TBA!

Words: JJ Ellis
Photos: Henry Chung

Exclusive Interview: Exmortus (Ep 88)

Friday, September 7th Reading, PA – Reverb

A violently rainy Friday night couldn’t stop truly devoted metal fans from a show. Eyes of the Living Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch any of Eyes of the Living’s set, as I was….occupied by an interview. They could be heard slightly from up in the green room and an excited concertgoer shared his enthusiasm about them as I stood in line for the bathroom. So…that’s something. Secret Face They were certainly energetic and the singer had a capable yell, but the detail that dominated was the drummer who provided nearly constant double bass thudding. I’m a fan of Kataklysm, but even they mix it up once in a while. Exmortus
Exmortus – Photo by Mark Morton
Oh man. Exmortus (Facebook, Instagram) was the band I truly came for and they did not disappoint. Judging by the rapidly increasingly crowded, pit, it’s probably a fair assumption that many others felt the same way. Since they were promoting their latest album ‘The Sound of Steel‘ they leaned on that release, heavily. So much so, they started the set with the first three songs on the album. From there, they mixed it up a little with some older tracks and did a rendition of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” before ending with “Metal Is King.” Exmortus - The Sound of Steel This was all the more impressive considering their regular co-guitarist, Chase Becker of Warbringer, had other commitments and couldn’t make the first half of this east coast tour. He was replaced by Richie Brown from Mindscar with only one rehearsal. Considering the neoclassical guitar pyrotechnics on display and the number of jaws that were on the floor, Exmortus made at least a few new fans this night. Obituary This marked only my second time seeing Obituary. The first time was in a dingy VFW hall in Wind Gap a few years ago. It was cramped, no-frills and just seemed like the perfect environment to see the band. This was a more traditionally produced show with bright lights, smoke and a stage that was more than 12” off of the ground. Of course, Obituary still puts on a great show under these circumstances, most bands would, but it seems a little counter to their aesthetic. Their latest addition and secret weapon, guitarist Kenny Andrews, has added a lot to the last few albums with his leads and this extends to the live show. That said, he stayed tucked away in a corner of the stage and dutifully shredded away. The sampling of new material “Visions In My Head,” “A Lesson In Vengeance,” and “Sentence Day” played to this. The set was varied and touched on all eras of the band. The encore included “Chopped in Half” (which audience clamored for all night), “Turned Inside Out” and “Slowly We Rot”. The headliner’s set seemed a bit short (about 45-50 minutes of the main set and maybe 15 with the encore for about an hour’s work) with a protracted introduction replete with southern rock and copious moments when the band seemed to check in with each other and joke around. It was still a quality show, though. I guess it’s always better the leave them wanting more, right? Before all of this happened, as alluded to before, I conducted an interview with Exmortus main man, Conan. There was a lot of ground and we covered every inch of it. There was the new album ‘The Sound of Steel,’ Conan keeping the band going despite being the last original member, Youtube, changing things up, keeping things the same, art, food, being underrated, movies, giving lessons (hit him up on the band’s socials!) and more.
This was a fantastic talk. Exmortus is a band that continues to grow, evolve and perseveres even though their first album came out a decade ago. The next time they come to your town, check out Exmortus, that is if you’re ready for the shreddy. Words by JJ Ellis Photos by Mark Morton

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”

Carcass, Deafheaven, and Inter Arma: North American Tour

carcass-deafheaven-inter-arma-na-tour-2016 Continue reading “Carcass, Deafheaven, and Inter Arma: North American Tour”

Exclusive: Cattle Decapitation and Cannibal Corpse Interview

Cannibal Corpse Fall 2015 Tour

October is meant to be a spooky month, culminating in Halloween. Aside from some seeing some incarnation of the Misfits, the best musical way to prepare for the season is a good old-fashioned death metal show, especially one surrounded with horror imagery.

On Tuesday October, 13th Reverb in Reading, PA was host to Cannibal Corpse, Cattle Decapitation and Soreption.

My press commitments only allowed me to catch the last song from Soreption’s set, but from what I was able to gather, the crowd had plenty of love for these Swedes.

Continue reading “Exclusive: Cattle Decapitation and Cannibal Corpse Interview”