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Static-X – how to make songs out of shit

What a weird and scary story! Former Static-X axeman Tripp Eisen was arrested earlier this year accused of kidnapping, sexually harassing and seducing a 14-year old girl from New Jersey. He is supposed to have gotten into contact with her via Internet, claiming he was only impersonating the Static-X guitarist. He is said to have met the girl and hereupon to have had sex with her by mutual agreement on a parking lot. Hard luck! The girl’s mother found out all about this dirty business and did not hesitate to file a lawsuit against Eisen, who was later arrested by the police in Orange County.

In the worst case he could be sent into prison for 30 years. Furthermore the police declared that several of the musician’s computers were confiscated as there are more supposed victims of his in several other states of the US. So, all in all, this fella’s in deep shit now. None of Wayne Static’s business: Right after the Static-X front man with the bizarre hairdo heard about Eisen’s way of spending his free time, he instantly sacked him and made former member Koichi Fukuda rejoin the band. The fifth LP “Start A War” is about to be released, and Mr. Static is ever-so delighted to tell STALKER all about it (and a bit more!).

I was quite happy to get a copy of your new album „Start A War“in advance. Many big rock bands at the moment don’t give any copies away to journalists anymore, as they are afraid that some of the new songs might be made available on the internet before the CD gets released. Why did you decide to stick to the old procedure?
Well, I don’t think we are really a big rock band. I think we are a medium-level rock band, and we need all the press we can get, so it’s in our best interest to rely on some journalists to help us out.

That’s a quite down-to earth way to see yourself.
It’s a matter of perspective. In my mind Metallica is a big rock band.

There have been some changes in the line up of Static-X. After your last album „Shadow Zone“was released, drummer Ken Jay left the band and was replaced by Nick Oshiro. Was this not very hard to you, as you founded the band together with him?
It was actually not difficult at all. In the years we had a number of changes and I don’t feel that any were difficult. This has always been my band and I do the majority of the song writing, I play most of the guitars. I feel like I could go out and do a record on my own if I had to.

There’s been another recent change in Static-X; and that is that Koichi Fukuda (first Static-X guitarist, ed.) is back. What’s changed since he rejoined the band?
When we started this record we wanted to try and recapture somehow the spirit of the first record (“Wisconsin Death Trip“, ed.), the fun and some of the raw sound to it. So we asked Koichi to come back and work on the record with us and we asked Ulrich (Wild, producer of „Wisconsin Death Trip“, ed.) to join us again, too. We already played a few shows with Koichi which felt really good, very natural, like in the old times. He is a cool guy and a great player and we are very exited to have him back.

So, recording “Shadow Zone” wasn’t fun then?
To a point. Obviously, I always enjoy making records. But particularly on „Shadow Zone“ we were really trying hard to stretch out and try new things and to write great songs. This time the label gave us free reign and said: “We’re not worried about the radio or anything, just make a great record“. We could do what we wanted, which wasn’t the case on “Shadow Zone”.

You must be happy about this development.
Yes, I think the record turned out great. We really had a lot of fun making it; I didn’t have so much pressure on me. We just went in, put the songs down, got drunk and had a good time.

The rejoining of Koichi just came along because Tripp Eisen left or better had to leave the band. Do you know what’s happening to him right now?
He’s in jail awaiting trial, I don’t know any details of his case, I haven’t spoken to him in quite some time. I don’t have anything to say, other than that. When we learned about what happened, our goal was to make sure that the world understood that this thing has nothing to do with Static-X and that this is completely Tripp’s thing. I think we’ve made that pretty clear.

Is it getting on your nerves that everyone is asking you about this topic?
No, not at all, this is a very shocking and controversial issue and it strikes a nerve in many people. A lot of people are really pissed off about it. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that people want to ask me about it. But I just don’t have any other information than what I have already said.

Just one last thing concerning Tripp Eisen: He’s been a member of Static-X for quite a long time, so of course he must have been a rather close friend of yours. How did you feel when you had to kick him out of the band after you had found out all about his dark secret?
I felt that we had no choice but to kick him out. It wasn’t a hard decision to make. I feel somewhat betrayed in the fact that he was my friend and my business partner, and he didn’t have the respect for the band to do the right thing in his life. But I’m not the kind of guy that dwells on things, and at this point the world is moving on and we are really happy to have Koichi back.

The new album is called “Start a War”. Who is starting a War and who is it against?
There’s a couple of people that have been very close to me over the last few years and who started a war against me for various reasons and they did everything they could to try to bring me and the band down. Several songs on the record deal with that, having a good friend turn on you. This is probably the most personal Static-X record and definitely emotionally the most intense one.

How do you write your lyrics?
I just write lyrics as I get ideas, I don’t necessarily worry about a song. When I’m pissed off about something I just start writing shit down and later on I make a song out of it.

Are you the kind of guy who gets aggressive when he’s drunk?
I’m a very fun drunk and I have a great time, I laugh a lot and joke around, I’m not one of those mean drunk guys. I handle my emotions pretty well, when I’m pissed and usually don’t lash out. It really takes a lot for me to get to the edge before I get violent. That’s pretty rare.

Is there anything you do not like about the new album?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently; it turned out exactly how I envisioned it to turn out. I really love the way that it sounds stripped down, like the band playing really raw, and not overproduced; we didn’t have as many loops, just drums and guitar. The album is as close to perfect as possible.

Is there any Static-X album or song that you don’t like anymore or find a bit cheesy?
No, I don’t think that there is anything cheesy about any of our records. Each record stands on its own and it captures the period of time it was made in. That’s what’s important about Static-X: I have a strong “cheesy-Metre” in my head. And having Tony (Campos, bass/backing vocals, ed.) in the band is good, because as soon as something is cheesy, he is the one who won’t have it.

You once termed your music “Evil Disco Sound”. How does this genre sound in 2005?
The Evil Disco Sound in 2005 is getting back a little more to the “straight disco sound” of the seventies which featured live drums and no drum machines, more guitars, like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. It’s more traditional music while our “Evil Disco Sound” on the first two albums was more akin to bands like the Prodigy or the Chemical Brothers. We definitely wanted the drums to sound more live on this album and it’s difficult to do that when you’re using a lot of loops as we did on the past records. This is our first record where we didn’t fix the drums. Once you get rid of the loops, it allows the drums to breathe on their own.

Are there any touring plans for Germany?
Absolutely. We’re looking at options of opening for other bands, so we get to play in front of more people, like last summer when we were supporting Korn. This was a great tour. We’re still building on a fan base in Germany, because we’re not as popular there as we should be. But if nothing comes through on that end we absolutely come and do a headline tour.

Talking about Korn: Their guitarist Head left the band, too. But in his case it was because he wanted to leave the rock and roll life style behind in order to be able to live a life in the name of Jesus. What do you think about that?
I have toured with Korn three different times and as an outsider it doesn’t surprise me that he left the band. I could tell that there was something going on because I never saw him hanging out with the band. On tour, I used to hang out with those guys every other night. Head would always just show up right before the show, played the gig, and then he got in the car and left again. So, I don’t’ really know the guy.

Did you recognize that he was very spiritual?
No, I didn’t, I thought he was on drugs. As an outsider I thought “Wow, this dude’s fucked up!” (Laughs) Now, I’m sure I was totally wrong, but I knew for sure that he wasn’t fitting into the band in some way.

Author: Andy Kuhn, Photos: hfr., translation: Melanie Kircher
Date: 2006-01-01

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