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Static-X

STATIC-X

Formed: 1996, Los Angeles, California

Members: Tony Campos, bass; Tripp Eisen, guitar; Ken Jay, drums; Wayne Static, vocals. Former members: Koichi Fukuda, guitar.

Genre: Rap, Metal

Best-selling album since 1990: Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

Hit songs since 1990: "Push It," "Bled for Days"


Fusing elements of new wave heavy metal bands Sepultera, White Zombie, and Ministry, Static-X became one of the leading nu-metal bands of the late 1990s. The group mixed electronic dance beats with metal fury to land a valued spot on the 1999 and 2000 Ozzfest tours.

Static-X began to coalesce as a group in Los Angeles in 1996. Vocalist Wayne Static had left his home in Michigan and teamed up in Chicago with drummer Ken Jay. After playing with local bands, the duo went to Los Angeles to start anew. There they enlisted Tony Campos on bass and Osaka, Japan, native Koichi Fukuda to handle original guitar and keyboards.

Touring relentlessly, they were eventually noticed by Warner Bros. label representatives who signed them in February 1998. The quartet's first album, Wisconsin Death Trip (1999), went gold quickly. Like other nu-metal bands, Static-X carved out a successful niche by fusing various musical elements for a fresh sound. Wisconsin Death Trip combined power chords, guttural vocals, aggressive electronics, and industrial techno drumbeats. Illustrative was the tune "Push It," which became a favorite among the nu-metal crowd.

But the main engine that drove the band's success was constant touring. A big step came when they landed a choice spot on the 1999 and 2000 Ozzfest tours, alongside other hot metal bands like Powerman 5000, Dope, and Chevelle. Headlined by groups like Fear Factory and Megadeth, the tours drew thousands. Also helping to raise their profile were Static-X's contributions to various film soundtracks, including Scream 3 ("So Real") in 2000 and Valentine ("Love Dump") in 2001.

Static-X went a little more techno on their next album, Machine (2001). While similar in approachfurious beats, distorted guitars, and howling vocalsMachine 's barely distinguishable tunes are aided by electronic beats that provide some melodic sense to the thrashfest. Among the better tunes, "This Is Not" features hypnotic loops and electronic samples. "A Dios Alma Perdida" sounds like the soundtrack for a horror movie; in "Get to the Gone" a barely perceptible melody arises from the sonic fury. Those are the highlights. The rest of the tunes are indistinguishable in this morass of extreme, mechanical music that some critics alternately called "evil disco" and "transcore." Songs like "Permanence" and "Machine" deal with the predictability of society. But the band also has humor, as in the song " . . . In a Bag," which describes getting caught short a long way from a comfort station.

While constant touring helped the band's visibility, it came with a price. In early 2001 Fukuda opted out to spend more time with his family. He was replaced with former Dope guitarist Tripp Eisen. In the newly configured band's live shows, favorite songs included "Push It," "Bled for Days," "Love Dump," and "I'm with Stupid." A signature sight at the band's intense shows was Static's spiky, gravity-defying hairstyle (think Don King), an instant attention getter.

Static-X made its mark in the nu-metal world with its unique mixture of blazing guitar riffs and electronic techno programming. While some tunes sound the same, a distinguishing characteristic of their music was its sheer intensity and raw power. Hard metal rockers at heart, Static-X stood apart from similar metal bands through their willingness to experiment and pull in elements from other musical styles.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Wisconsin Death Trip (Warner Bros., 1999); Machine Warner (Warner Bros., 2001). Soundtracks: Scream 3 (Wind-Up, 2000); Valentine (Warner Bros., 2001).

ramiro burr

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