Wisconsin Death Trip, the debut album from Static-X, is inspired by a near 100-year-old
story. "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."
As with the impacting book, the roots of Static-X lie in the Midwest, specifically in two rural
towns: Shelby, Michigan, vocalist Wayne Statics hometown; and Jamaica, Illinois, drummer
Ken Jays 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 Corgans 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 havent
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
bands 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 dont have any
grand stories about John Bonham handing his drum sticks off to me or anything like that.
Were just four people reared on Kiss albums that decided to come together, play music and
have fun while doing it. I think thats why we have been able to connect with so many