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Hi everyone, JJ's has returned once again with more beautiful noise for your ear holes. As August and summer itself draws to a close, I've realized that cruising along we've gotten to the whopping 10th entry in this blog series! Honestly, this is a huge milestone for me as these blogs are one of my favourite projects that I've ever started and the fact that I've kept up the tempo of bi-weekly releases until now is something I'm very proud of. I've been blessed to be able to talk about so many topics and share my burning passion for them with you all. I have so many more stories to tell you, so I am definitely looking forward to keeping this up for a long time to come! Once again I want to reiterate what I said in my very first blog - I hope you enjoy reading what I have for you as much as I will enjoy writing it. Anyway, here comes Blog #10! For this very special entry, here's something straight from the heart.
To continue the innovation in my blogs, I'm introducing a new type of post - the band focused entry. Instead of focusing on a theme or genre, I will focus on one band and tell you all about them - their history, their discography and why they are awesome! I feel like there is no better place to start than my favourite band of all time - American metal machines Static-X, the kings of Evil Disco! A band with a turbulent but fascinating story and a unique sound that isn't really like any other. This will be a trip to remember!
The beginnings of Static-X can be traced back to the Southern California area in the late 80s, centering around band leader and namesake Wayne Richard Wells, better known as Wayne Static. He participated in many bands such as Deep Blue Dream (featuring Billy Corgan of the then unformed Smashing Pumpkins) and Drill, spanning a variety of rock genres. Drill in particular can be seen as a direct precursor to Static-X as it featured many of the founding members. The band was properly founded sometime around 1994, consisting of original members Static on guitars and lead vocals, Mexican metal legend Tony Campos on bass and backing vocals, Japanese immigrant Koichi Fukuda on lead guitars and Ken Jay on drums. The band was initially called just Static, but as there were many other bands with the same name, they changed to Static-X instead, the name being a combination of Wayne's stage name and that of Campos, who used the name Tony X in some of his previous projects like Asesino. Ironically, these two would also be the only constant members for the band's history. The Static moniker for Wayne was born out of his unique stage appearance, his beard on a long braid and his hair standing straight up as if he had just jabbed a fork in a power outlet, along with his unique chaotic stage mannerisms. And thus a magical new band was born!
In 1999, the band released their first album, the bombastic Wisconsin Death Trip. This is a very chaotic and unique album that may be a little off-putting to the more closed minded listener, but is an absolute treat to anyone willing to take the journey. It defined the band's unique sound - punchy and aggressive industrial metal inspired by Fear Factory and Ministry, with shouty vocals from Static and Campos, layers of electronic synths and samples adding a techno-inspired artificial sound and esoteric lyrics about a variety of human struggles. With their mixture of metal and non-metal styles and their iconic appearances, Static-X also became a crucial part of the growing nu metal movement in the late 90s. Despite it's experimental nature, WDT became a huge success and put the band in the world spotlight.
After 2 years of brutal touring, the band put out their next opus in 2001, simply titled Machine. This album was still quite chaotic, but also refined the band's sound a bit, allowing them to be more accessible to a general audience. Also befitting for this title, this is probably the most mechanical and heavily industrial album the band has ever put out. The riffs here are extra bombastic and the electronic elements are multilayered and very prominent in the mix. It's quite the experience, to be part of this Machine!
More success and tours later, some movement started happening within the band. Already during the Machine tour, guitarist Fukuda would leave and the controversial but talented Tripp Rex Eisen would join in his stead. At the same time, founding drummer Ken Jay would also leave and be replaced by the beast known as Nick Oshiro (although it would be in fact Josh Freese who would perform on the next album). Together, with Static taking inspiration from his work with Jonathan Davis of KoRn, and Eisen bringing his experience from the bombastic industrial/nu metal outfit Dope, the band conceived a new, more heavily nu metal tinged sound with their next record, Shadow Zone. This is by far their most melodic and most commercially accessible record and many listeners, including myself, first discovered the band here. Songs are catchy, with infectious choruses, great riffs and melodies and more sorrowful and personal lyrics as typical of early 2000s nu metal. The song The Only from this record is the band's greatest hit, in no small part thanks to its inclusion in the Need For Speed Underground soundtrack, which is where I heard it for the first time. That track has since become my all time favourite (not just from them, but also my favourite song in general) and is my own personal anthem. The whole record is a blast though.
Right after this, the band would release Beneath...Between...Beyond... - a compilation of rare tracks, special mixes of other tracks and some covers, including Black Sabbath, The Ramones and Ministry. There are plenty of bangers on here too and I'm very happy that they managed to get their moment in the limelight. The fact that even the backup material of this band is on such a high level and is still ahead of the curve shows what high caliber artists they are
Keeping the same lineup, in 2005 the band dropped their next batch of incinirating songs, the aptly titled Start a War. This record to me is the perfect midpoint of the band's discography - still melodic, catchy and approachable like Shadow Zone before it, but with a more heavy and focused sound like the the earlier albums and similar to what would come in future records.
Coming into 2007, Eisen would leave and founding guitarist Koichi Fukuda would return. With him, the band would fittingly return to their roots and drop a raw and brutal album, arguably their heaviest ever - the slobberknocker knows as Cannibal. With a more guitar-focused sound, more chaotic electronics and a reintroduction of guitar solos, this album is unapologetically aggressive, mercilessly groovy and amazingly fun. I still vividly remember the day this monster dropped on the world. I still haven't found the top of my cranium after it got blown clean off when I first listened to this.
By this point, Static-X had become an institution in the metal world. To honour us, their global fanbase, in 2009 they would release their next album, one that would live in bittersweet eternity for all of us touched by this band's music. This would be the iconic and very appropriately titled Cult of Static. This is a mature album, less aggressive, less in-your-face, but instead very deep and introspective. It's still very catchy and has some wonderful tracks on it, all punctuated by the more poetic lyrics. This would end up being the last true Static-X album and was definitely a high note to end on.
Why would it be the last album? Well, a couple of reasons. Firstly, creative and personal differences had piled up and the band members drifted apart and went their separate ways, effectively disbanding. During this time, Wayne Static would release his solo album titled Pighammer, which is in all honesty a Static-X album in all but name. However, bigger tragedy would strike. On November 1st 2014, one of the darkest days of my life, Wayne Static would tragically pass away, a mere 3 days before his 49th birthday. Without its beating heart, Static-X would be no more and Pighammer would be the last music Static would release during his life.
This was a dark chapter for us members of the Cult of Static, as our favourite band would be no more than a memory. However, it seemed this darkness would breathe new life into the band and a ray of hope would shine upon us. In 2018-2019 former members Campos, Fukuda and Jay would reunite to honour the memory of Wayne Static and this would eventually lead them to reform the band. A masked man named Xer0 would play a cybernetically resurrected Static and take his place in live shows, a perfect representation of Static's dark humour and appreciation for sci-fi. On top of that, a new album would be released called Project Regeneration Vol. 1 - it consists of previously unreleased and unfinished tracks, including vocals Static recorded years prior, but never ended up using. The missing vocals would be recorded by Xer0 and a multitude of guest singers from many popular metal bands like Fear Factory, Ministry, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, Dope and more. Edsel Dope of the latter band is also most likely the man behind the Xer0 character. The album itself is mind-blowingly good and perfectly captures the essence of the band and Wayne Static's phenomenal talent. It's a love letter to both him and his legacy and to us the fans who stuck with the band all these years. The fact that some of these unfinished song ideas were over 10 years old and still sounded so fresh only shows how ahead of their time these guys were in their prime. You would not believe the emotions I felt when I held a new Static-X album in my hands for the first time in a decade. It was a magical moment and the spirit of Wayne is definitely still with us.
And thus, the fire of Static-X burns to burn to this very day, both the band and us fans keeping the memory alive. With the second volume of Project Regeneration slated to release later this year, the band has many bright years ahead of it. It will never be the same without Wayne Static, but we can celebrate his music and keep thinking about him, for one can, in this way, achieve immortality.
So, you might be thinking, why are Static-X my favourite band? Truth is, I don't know for sure. The awesome riffs? The catchy but dark lyrics? The amazing blend of metal and electronic elements? Well, I can name many other bands that have all those things. But this is how it is with love isn't it? When you love someone, you don't do so because they fill a checklist of criteria, you just feel that way because you do. You look at them and think "yes, this feels right, they are what I'm looking for". It's the same thing for me with Static-X. I don't know exactly why I love them so much, but I know deep within my heart that I do. Wayne and crew have been with me for over 20 years now and will live with me forever. This music has guided me through some very dark moments and even quite literally saved my life once. Thank you, Wayne! Thank you, Static-X! I hope with this blog you too found appreciation for their music. Consider checking out my playlist as usual, I have also included some similar bands that I believe you may also enjoy if Evil Disco is your cup of tea. Praise the Cult and join the Machine!