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

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

Swallow the Sun Releases New Song and Video “FIRELIGHTS” Plus Tour with Children of Bodom

Finnish melancholy death-doom metal masters Swallow The Sun released their second single and video, “Firelights“, off of their forthcoming album When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light. Watch the music video, directed and produced by Aapo Lahtelabelow. “Firelights” is the second track released off of the band’s upcoming full-length out on January 25th via RED MUSIC.

When talking about “Firelights” Swallow The Sun states, “From the ultimate depths of Lumina Aurea we rose upon the water. Now it is time to light the first torches in the night. Death might be stronger than life, but Love is always stronger than death. This is Firelights!” You can listen to the previously released single “Upon The Water” HERE.

The track “Lumina Aurea” was released as a standalone single already in December 2018. You can watch the stunning video HERE and grab the track HERE.

Just this week, the band announced their direct support slot on the Children Of Bodom’s upcoming North American tour. Additional support will come from WolfheartSummer’s Circle, Hollow Cry, and Fragmentum as openers for select dates. The tour starts March 13th in Quebec City and wraps on April 19th in New York City. Tickets are available for purchase HERE.

Swallow The Sun Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb. 7 – Helsinki, Finland @ Nosturi
Feb. 8 – Turku, Finland @ Apollo
Feb. 9 – Jyvaskyla, Finland @ Lutakko*
Feb. 14 – Tampere, Finland @ Klubi*
Feb. 15 – Oulu, Finland @ Teatria*
Feb. 16 – Kuopio, Finland @ Henry’s Pub*

*w/The Man-Eating Tree

North American Tour: Direct support to Children of Bodom
Mar. 13 – Quebec City, Quebec @ Imperial*
Mar. 14 – Montreal, Quebec @ Corona Theater*
Mar. 15 – Ottawa, Ontario @ Bronson Centre *
Mar. 16 – Toronto, Ontario @ The Phoenix Concert Theater*
Mar. 18 – Detroit, Mich. @ St. Andrews**
Mar. 19 – Chicago, Ill. @ House of Blues**
Mar. 20 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ Skyway Theater**
Mar. 22 – Denver, Colo. @ The Summit**
Mar. 23 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Metro Music Hall**
Mar. 25 – Calgary, Alberta @ The Palace Theatre**
Mar. 26 – Edmonton, Alberta @ Union**
Mar. 27 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ The Vogue Theater**
Mar. 29 – Seattle, Wash. @ El Corazon**
Mar. 30 – Portland, Ore. @ Hawthorne Theater***
Apr. 01 – San Francisco, Calif. @ The Regency Ballroom***
Apr. 02 – Santa Ana, Calif. @ The Observatory***
Apr. 03 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Club Red***
Apr. 05 – San Antonio, Texas @ Alamo Music Hall***
Apr. 06 – Houston, Texas @ Warehouse Live***
Apr. 07 – Dallas, Texas @ Canton Hall***
Apr. 09 – Tampa, Fla. @ The Ritz*Apr. 11 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Masquerade*
Apr. 12 – Charlotte, N.C. @ The Underground*
Apr. 13 – Baltimore, Md. @ Baltimore Soundstage*
Apr. 14 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Mr Smalls Theatre*
Apr. 16 – Syracuse, N.Y. @ Westcott Theater*
Apr. 17 – Boston, Mass. @ The Royale*
Apr. 18 – Reading, Pa. @ Reverb*
Apr. 19 – New York, N.Y. @ Irving Plaza*

* Summoner’s Circle opening (March 13-16 and April 9-19)
** Hollow Cry opening (March 18-29)
*** Fragmentum opening (March 30 – April 7)

Swallow The Sun is:
Mikko Kotamaki (vocals)
Matti Honkonen (bass)
Juuso Raatkainen (drums)
Jaani Peuhu (keys and vocals)
Juho Raiha (guitar)
Juha Raivio (guitar and keys)

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

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

‘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”

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”