Remember around the time of the nu-metal revolution at the turn of the century the band with the lead singer guy with the really tall jet black hair? If you do and you can’t remember the band’s name, let me remind you that they’re called Static-X and the fellow in question is named Wayne Static. These guys have been tearing up the metal scene for thirteen years now and have scored some major success along the way. Their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip in 1999 went platinum and vaulted Static-X to mainstream stardom before the band ran into a few trials and tribulations with the departure of their founding guitarist Koichi Fukuda and the subsequent firing of his replacement Tripp Eisen. Now in 2007, the band is back and seemingly better than ever with the re-addition of Fukuda to the band and a new album called Cannibal. We recently caught up with none other than Wayne Static for an interview about the new disc, the departure of Tripp, the re-addition of Koichi and what we can expect from Static-X for the rest of 2007.
Your brand new studio album is called Cannibal and is set for wide release next week. How do you personally feel about the album and what do you think makes it different from past Static-X records? Wayne: I’m very proud of the way it turned out. It’s exactly what I set out to do which was sort of to strip things down to the bare bones and the essentials of what makes Static-X great and then I also wanted to push it in a metallic direction, um, you know with the guitar solos and some different approaches to the drum beats and rhythm guitar as well.
Speaking of the new album, the title "Cannibal" is an interesting name for an album and it can surely be interpreted in a variety of ways. How did this title come about for the record and can you shed some light on whether it has any deeper meaning behind it? Wayne: Well I actually decided to call the album Cannibal because I felt the song “Cannibal” was sort of the most representative of what to expect from the album as a whole. It’s probably my favorite song on the record and you know, you always want to pick a title as well that lends itself to cool visual images. As far as the meaning behind it, I was just sort of comparing big meat eaters to cannibalistic killers; I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time so meat’s kind of disgusting to me now. When I see people gnawing on a big turkey leg or like gnawing on some ribs or something, it just doesn’t seem quite right to me. I’m not really trying to preach about it, I just thought it would be some funny material for a song.
I’ve seen a few early reviews and feedback about the new album and some of them have said that it’s maybe Static-X’s heaviest record to date. Would you agree with this assessment? Wayne: On a whole, it’s absolutely the heaviest record we’ve made top to bottom. Some might argue that our second record Machine is maybe heavier and there are times when Machine is quite heavy, but it definitely has its mellower points too. But this record is pretty heavy from top to bottom.
What was the writing and recording process like for Cannibal? At what point did you start writing for it and how long did you take in the studio? Wayne: I started writing after the first tour for Start A War so I guess back in 2005. I started writing this way a while ago where I wouldn’t bother writing on tour, what I’d do is during our time off between tours, I’d go to the studio three days a week and just kind of sit down and see what happens and um, this whole record was written that way, just during our time off in between tours so probably over the course of a year or so we wrote the record. And then we started recording I guess maybe July, 2006 and you know, really took our time, we kind of went and did this ourselves and financed it ourselves and um, just went in and did it guerilla style, did it in some really cheap studios and recorded some of it at people’s houses. So we really took our time and made sure we got every step of the way exactly how we wanted it to sound and we actually finished up around November of last year, just in time for the whole industry to take two months off for the holidays so that’s why it’s coming out in April when we finished it last November.
One of the coolest things about the new album Cannibal is that it marks the official studio return of the band’s original guitar player Koichi Fukuda. What was it like having Koichi back writing and recording with the band after such a long break? Wayne: You know, it was great, it’s awesome; I mean he actually played some keyboards on our previous record so he was in the mix in the studio previously, but this is the first time he’s played guitar on a record since our first album. But you know, he’s a really strong guitar player and a cool guy to have around and definitely having him back brings back the old chemistry and the vibe that really made Static-X popular in the first place so we’re really happy to have him back. He played some shredding guitar solos on this record, really did a great job.
Although things seem to be going great for the band right now, you guys experienced a difficult time with the firing of your former lead guitarist Tripp Eisen due to his troubles with the law. How difficult was this time for you and did you ever consider ending the band because of it? Wayne: I’m not ready to end this band, I wasn’t at that time, there was definitely some troubling points where I didn’t know when all this went down how the public was going to perceive this and lucky for us, the public received it as Tripp’s thing and not the band’s thing which was the case. You know, it could have really gone bad, I mean there could have been a flood of other people claiming this and that and we could have gotten dropped and who knows!? But lucky for us, we’ve developed great relationships and people know me and the rest of the band well enough to know that we wouldn’t be involved in any of this stuff and Tripp did all this stuff on his own time. It was pretty stressful for I’d say a month or two waiting to see how it would play out but you know, in the end we turned out the victors, we got Koichi back and we survived unscathed and we’re stronger than ever. The last couple of tours we did on the last record were the best attendance numbers we’ve ever had and I feel like we’re really on a roll now.
The new record also marks the first time you haven’t worked with producer Ulrich Wild who has worked on every single previous Static-X record to date. Instead you chose to go with producer John Travis. Why did you decide to part ways with Ulrich at least for the time being and why did you decide to go with John to produce Cannibal? Wayne: Well you know we kind of figured... let me put it this way, I love working with Ulrich, he’s a good friend of mine, but the problem arises when you work with someone over and over again, you know how each other works and you kind of come to the same conclusions a lot of times. I think it’s a good idea once in a while to bring someone else in with different views and especially someone who isn’t really from the metal world, John’s a rock and roll guy, his big albums are Kid Rock and Buckcherry. So it was pretty cool to bring someone in with a whole different perspective on things and different ways of recording things. I think a lot of good stuff came out of it (the collaboration), he kind of took things in a little bit different direction, especially in the recording process, the way of recording the drums, the vocals and the guitars and that type of thing.
With the release of Cannibal, you guys have a lot of touring lined up, including two and a half months on the road in the US starting this week. Are you excited for the tour and who are you taking out on the road with you as opening bands this time around? Wayne: I’m always very excited to tour, it’s my favorite part of my job, it’s the part of my job that’s not really a job. We’re taking out Otep as main support and the first half of the tour is going to be opened up by 2Cents and then Full Blown Chaos takes over for the second half of the tour. It’s just a really strong tour, it’s going to be awesome, I mean pre-sales for the first couple of weeks are really doing great already so I’m encouraged it’s going to be a great tour.
Static-X as a band has existed now for about thirteen years, a remarkable feat for any band nowadays. What do you think has kept the band together so long and how far in the future can you foresee yourself doing this? Wayne: Yeah, um well you know what keeps us together is pretty much Tony and I, we’re the core of the band, you know, we’re the Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley of Static-X you know. We have a great relationship, mutual respect, and we just love what we do and we have a strong work ethic to never sit around and rest, we’re always working on something whether it’s touring or writing and recording. So I mean that’s the most important part, you really just have to keep pushing forward because there are just so many bands coming out every day and it seems like the more success you achieve, the harder you have to work to stay at that level. So you know we’ve just been working hard, that’s what it comes down to, putting in the time and working hard and putting everything into our show and not letting the fans down. As far as how long this could go on, I don’t really know you know. I’ll do it until I feel really burnt out and feel like I need a break. It’s hard to say.
I read on your Myspace page that despite the imminent release of the new disc, you guys have already started writing for your next album. What made you start writing so early and how far are you into the process? Wayne: Right now I’m just kicking around ideas. This is kind of the way I always do it, writing an entire album of great material is a very daunting task and to sit around and wait a year after your last record comes out and then expect to write a great record in a month or two is just not going to happen. So I always start writing right around the time our record comes out, I’ll start writing for the next record. Whenever I have free time I’ll go to the studio two or three days a week and just put stuff down and over the course of a year, I’ll end up with a great batch of songs, that seems like it’s the best way to do it for us.
Besides the upcoming tour, what does Static-X have planned for the next year? Wayne: Working on a lot of stuff you know. After this eleven week run, we’re hoping to get over to Europe really quick, do a few shows and some press and then come back and do another summer tour in the U.S. and then do a full tour in Europe. After that, we’ll get over to Australia and Japan and see where that takes us.
Any festival dates in the works? Wayne: We’re not doing any of the early festivals in Europe; I think we’re going to try to do the later ones.