In late 2014, when Static-X front man Wayne Static tragically passed away from an overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol, the world of heavy metal—and rock music—was devastated.
Bands such as Megadeth, Sevendust, Fear Factory and Papa Roach, as well as rock stars Billy Corgan and Dave Navarro, grieved the loss of 48-year-old Static (born Wayne Richard Wells).
But as the band’s debut, Wisconsin Death Trip, marks its 20th anniversary, the remaining members of the original lineup have reunited for a U.S. tour in tribute to their fallen brother. Guitarist Koichi Fukada, drummer Ken Jay and bassist Tony Campos are joined by the masked front man Xero, rumored to be Edsel Dope from the band DOPE. Even with the disguise on, Xero displays Static’s trademark vertical mohawk and chin-tail beard. Campos would neither confirm nor deny the identity of the mysterious singer.
“All of us in the band are really excited to play these shows,” Campos says. “The fan response has been great so far. It’s also been very emotional, and some people at shows have been crying. We are playing the majority of the songs off Wisconsin Death Trip and some songs from other albums, too. . . . We’ve heard nothing but good things.”
Though the group had in essence disbanded at the time of Static’s death, Campos says these shows have been about the front man’s legacy. “This tour has been a really bittersweet experience for me so far,” Campos says. “Being in the same room with Kenny and Koichi and playing on the same stage again with them was really cool. We haven’t played together for a long time, so it was great to reunite.
“Now, obviously, Static-X is missing a pretty important guy in our lineup, but for me at least, being with my old band mates and sharing memories has been great. We’ve been sharing lots of memories we had with Wayne. These come up after the show, before the show and even during the show.”
According to Campos, the music acts as a way to keep his friend’s spirit alive. “To be honest, during the shows sometimes, I’ll have these lucid moments where I catch Xero out of the corner of my eye, and I’ll think for a split second it’s Wayne, but then I remember,” he says. “I do get those vibes playing these songs live.”
The tour’s final stops in Santa Ana and Los Angeles also promote the yet-to-be-released album Project Regeneration, which uses vocal tracks recorded years before Static’s untimely death. Among the guests featured are Edsel Dope, Burton Bell (Fear Factory), David Draiman (Disturbed) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry).
“We know there has been a delay on this album, but the majority of the record is done,” Campos says. “It’s going to be a really cool release, but we want to make sure it’s done right and sounds right, so it will be released when it’s ready. But it will be a great way to honor Wayne’s memory.”
The downtown Los Angeles show is understandably sold out. “We got our start in LA years ago, so it will be really cool to end this tour playing shows for all our family, friends and fans in Southern California,” says Campos, who stepped away as the bass player for Ministry to put together the Static-X tour. He also has played bass in Soulfly and is still a member of Asesino. But he is unsure about Static-X’s future once this tour ends.
“Well, after these shows, and then when the record comes out, we’re not sure what our plans are yet,” Campos says. “When all is said and done, we’ll have to see what happens. You never know. But in terms of playing more live shows or doing more tours, if it’s something the fans want, we’re not opposed to it.”
Static-X perform with Devildriver and DOPE at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Thursday, July 25 $25. All ages.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.