Wayne Static talks new guitar, new album
Station manager and DJ Anthony Saia took the time out to chat with Wayne Static (founding member of Static-X) to discuss his new record, a solo project that evolved from a side project to Static-X but became his main focus over the last year. Here’s the interview with Static via a phone interview from his California pad.
Anthony Saia: Hey, how’s it going man? How you doing?
Wayne Static: Hey, good! Could you hold on one second man, my Fed Ex guy is here with my new guitar. I’m walking out to the gate right now. I’m very excited, I’m getting a deal going with Dean. It’s really awesome. I’m getting my first guitar right now. It’s really sweet, they’ve been working on it for like 3 months now and it’s finally here, yeah! Alright, hold on, I’m walking back to the house, trying not to drop this thing
A: [laughs] No problem man.
W: Alright, I’m all yours, sorry about that.
A: No worries. So you’re working out a deal with Dean, that’s a little bit different, you’ve played Epiphones and ESP’s before that, how did that whole thing end up happening?
W: We’ve got this thing, an industry show, called the NAMM show it happens here in LA every January, and, yeah its true. I’ve been with ESP for the last four years but, you know, I like to change things up sometimes, I’ve always loved Dean, I had a Dean guitar many years ago that I had to sell to pay rent when I was broke. So, I went down there in the booth and talked to the guys and they were really cool. So you know, it just kinda starts like that. I’m pretty excited, they made this special flat black guitar for me in the old school Dean body style, it’s rad.
A: Cool man, can’t wait to see it! So, just so you know about KUOI , we’re a student run radio station on University of Idaho’s campus, and we’ve been on air since 1945 we do completely free format, so we play all genres, and stuff like that.
W: Oh cool, cool. So you’re real radio, you can play whatever you want?
A: Exactly! Yeah, that’s how we do things up here. So with that being said, I was curious, whether or not, when you were growing up in Michigan and before, or when, you moved to Chicago whether or not you were exposed to any college radio or had any experience being a DJ yourself?
W: I wasn’t actually a DJ, but before I moved to Chicago I went to Western Michigan University for two years in Kalamazoo, MI, and the radio station there was very supportive of my local band at the time, I think we were called the Insiders, or something like that, so we were actually in the studio a lot performing, and they were playing our stuff. The whole college thing was very supportive of music, there was a group there that used to bring punk rock bands to the campus to put on shows, like I saw Black Flag and Circle Jerks, you know a lot of really cool punk rock shows like that, so I know that colleges are really important in supporting all different kinds of music.
A: Hell yeah, dude, for sure. So, being that you didn’t have a show, hypothetically if you had a show what would be on your playlist?
W: Gosh, you know, that would probably depend on mood I’m in. I just like so many different types of music. You know, I’ll go from listening to classic Journey, to slammin’ some Prodigy kind of rave type vibe stuff , to listening to Megadeth, to some goth stuff, Sisters of Mercy, you know, like, I think there’s great music in every genre. I’m not one of those people that’s like “If it’s not metal it sucks”, you know, I’m not anything like that. I don’t understand how people can be like that. So it would probably be a very eclectic mix of different types of music
A: Right on man, I fully respect that. For sure, It’s really glad to hear that I’m not the only one.
W: Well I think part of it, that’s partly why, the music that I’ve always created is so much different than anything else that’s out there, I’m drawing from so many different genres. You know, everything from the early industrial stuff to the new metallic stuff, you put it all together, I put it together in different ways than anyone else ever has.
A: Yeah, and speaking of that, you have your forthcoming essentially ended up being a solo album Pighammer coming out October 4, what do you feel the kind of genres did you pulled from, like I’ve heard “Assassins of Youth,” I haven’t heard anything else off the record, I was curious what you pulled from there or played with different programming and things like that? How did that progress go?
W: You know, I took the same kind of approach that I’ve always taken in writing, you know start with a great drum loop, come up with a great guitar riff, build up layers of keyboards and loops and things like that, I think the biggest difference on this record and my previous records with Static-X is its way more focused, it’s a lot more loop driven and it’s moodier, and there’s more keyboard and its mostly because I didn’t have to work with any other band dudes, I just kind of did my thing and did what I wanted to do without having to compromise anything. It’s kind of really ironically its sort of my vision of evil disco that I had when I started Static-X. This time I wrote and recorded it myself and didn’t have to compromise for anyone.
A: Well that’s definitely good, man, I’m really stoked to hear the rest of the record, from what I heard of As, from what I heard of Assassins of Youth, it was great.
W: There’s a couple other tracks up, there’s “Thunder Invader” which is on the Revolver website, and there’s also, it’s also on waynestatic.com and then there’s also a little instrumental clip of another song called “Chrome Nation” on waynestatic.com and it gives you a little more flavor of what’s on the record.
A: Yeah, I got that, I got that in an email actually, probably about a month ago, and checked that out too. That being said, I’ve been reading a couple interviews, one of which was on Blabbermouth.net, and they were asking about Pighammer, as it was a side project originally. You had stated that you were trying to possibly do some collaboration with some other artists, did that end up happening on this record or was it just completely solo for yourself?
W: It ended up being a complete solo project. My original idea was to do a side project while Static-X was still alive and working, and I was gonna just grab a bunch of cool dudes that I like and do some collaborations on the side, but after the last tour in 2009, all of us in Static-X kind of decided we all need a break from each other, we’ve had a great run for 12 years, we all wanna go our own separate ways and do our own things, so this turned in to be my full time project to what I’m doing right now.
A: So as far as the recording process goes, how long did it end up taking you to record the record? Or was it stuff that you had essentially, like riffs that you’d collected over the years or was it something completely different from that?
W: I started fresh on everything, I really like to do that as much as possible, I think a body of work should capture a certain period of time. I’m not a fan of bringing back things from years ago. I actually spent an entire year living out of studio out in the desert. My wife and I sold our house in LA, moved into the studio out in Joshua Tree, and wrote and recorded the whole record spent an entire year doing it, and this is the first time that I actually recorded the songs while writing it, so it has a very fresh perspective. We didn’t use Pro-Tools, we did 24 tracks with no editing so everything’s got a real live exciting feel to it.
A: Nice Dude.
W: And we’re right by the military base and there’s like four military choppers coming right overhead right now. It’s awesome out here, man, it’s like out in the desert it’s like the most peaceful place in the earth, and I can see the military base a few miles from here, and they’re always blowing crap up all night and putting flares up, and now we got choppers flying overhead right now drowning my voice out.
A: That’s alright man, I’ve been down in that area, I’m originally from Sacramento and I’ve travelled down to So Cal quite a bit and yeah, those bases are pretty gnarly especially over by Oceanside.
W: Yeah, that one too, we’re right next to the 29 Palms Marine base, and from where I’m sitting right now you can actually see the Iraqi village they constructed to do all their bombing exercises and almost every night they’re doing something, blowing crap up out there, it’s really a crazy place to be, and the base is just huge, it’s incredible how much land they have out here, I don’t know why they always gotta blow crap up right by my house.
A: They just wanna show you some cool shit, that’s all.
W: [laughs] Yeah.
A: Alright, so we completely digressed on that didn’t we? [laughs] Let’s move on. I was curious about comic books, man, tell me about comic books, I know you had appeared as a villain in an issue of Eternal Descent, what are your favorite comic books to read – if any?
W: Honestly, I was never really into comic books but I’ve been approached a couple times to be in comic books, and it seemed like a really natural thing, ‘cause the way I look, I look like a living comic book character already, you know, over-exaggerated hair and beard, and all that kind of stuff, and I think rock stars are larger than life, sort of super hero personas already, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch. And you know, basically Static-X did a comic back in 2002 or something like that and it turned out really great, and when the Eternal Descent guys approached me about it, they showed me some sketches I was like great it looks cool, let’s do it. So that’s about my extent of experience with comic books.
A: Now you said you worked on this album essentially yourself, did you find it to be a cathartic experience for you, able to work some stuff out with yourself, kind of make the music you wanted to make, or how was the process for you personally?
W: Well, it’s kind of cool working by yourself you know, but at the same time, well, you don’t really have a schedule to adhere to, so it takes a little bit longer. Normally I would spend a month or two making a record and this time it took a year. But you know there was a lot of other things that were happening in our lives at the time that slowed things down too, you know, I was a drug addict for many years and it started catching up to me, and I felt like I was losing my health so during the process of recording this record my wife and I got off drugs, and that was a really big thing, plus, you know, right before we started recording we had just sold our house in LA and moved to the desert and then also during the process I got out of my deal with Warner Bros. and started my new record label, so there’s a lot of changes going on, and that’s really the theme of the album is transformation.
A: Ok. Alright man, awesome, thank you for sharing that, for sure. That particular part I wasn’t aware about, but thank you. Alright, so I know that you don’t necessarily listen to metal all the time, but can you give me a top five of your favorite records of all time?
W: Wow, that’s a tough one, favorite records of all time? Well, I’d have to start with Journey probably, [laughs] believe it or not, it’s probably my favorite band of all time. I really like great singers and Steve Perry, in his heyday, was just incredible, probably Frontiers would be my favorite Journey record, And from there, I’d say uh Ministry “Twitch” before they turned into a metal band, they were still sort of a synth-pop band came out back in ’85. “Twitch” is one of the albums that band probably denies having anything to do with, but for me that album changed my life. Then I would say, Joy Division “Unknown Pleasures”, that sort of introduced me into a whole different phase of my life as well. And then we’d have to get some metal in there. You can’t deny the effect that Metallica had on everybody, gave me a whole new perspective on how to play the guitar, how to use the guitar, probably I would have to say “…And Justice for All” would be my favorite Metallica record. I’ve got one more? Let’s say Prodigy “Fat Of The Land” to me I thought that was going to usher in a whole new era of electronic music melded with vocals and actual songs, and I still rock that album all the time when I’m driving. So there you go.
A: Right on, well sweet man, I have to say that “Twitch” album by Ministry was the very first ministry album I ever bought.
W: I actually knew those guys back in the day, it’s really crazy, that’s part of the reason why I moved to Chicago.
A: No shit!?
W: I knew some of the guys in the band, and it was really cool sort of seeing that whole industrial scene emerge in the mid 80’s in Chicago.
A: Right on! So, final question – and it’s actually more of an open ended question for you, is there anything you’d like to tell listeners about your new project Pighammer obviously coming out October 4, anything you want to say about the record?
W: Yeah, you know the new record is awesome, of course I love it, I wouldn’t put it out if I didn’t think it was awesome, it’s 100% pure evil disco and anyone that’s liked anything Static-X did is just going to totally love this album, we’re having a great time on tour starting September 27, I got a bunch of cool players from the LA area that are backing me up on stage, we’re going to have three girls on stage dancing, we’ll be doing shots, it’ll be a party like always, we’ll be playing a whole bunch of Static-X songs and then some new stuff off the Pighammer record as well. So I’m really excited for the tour and the album release, and the next couple years.
A: Right on man, that sounds like a killer party!
Special thanks to Wayne for taking the time to sit and chat with KUOI for a little while. Also, a special thanks to Fed Ex for delivering his Dean guitar so we got to hear a little bit about it and The Syndicate for hooking us up with the interview too.