The metal scene was deeply affected by the sudden passing of Static-X frontman, Wayne Static in 2014. To say Wayne’s passing was felt by metalheads worldwide would be an understatement and the future of the band was unknown, to say the least…until the 20th anniversary of the band’s 1999 debut Wisconsin Death Trip arrived. Out of nowhere, the band announced not only a tour to revisit the classic album, but also featuring a frontman known only as Xer0, front and center. Though fans of Static-X were pretty outspoken about their love for Wayne, they embarked on the ultimate tribute to Static, in the form of a frontman who never once tried to disregard what came before, rather embraced what fans loved about the metal group.
Now with the release of Project: Regeneration Vol. 1, (out now via Otsego Entertainment Group) Static-X not only paid the ultimate tribute to their fallen frontman in Wayne Static by using the final vocal recordings of the frontman, but also carved out a new path for the band with Xer0’s own approach to the band’s signature sound. A heavy-hitting juggernaut of an album, the band has shown that they are going nowhere and that they can still slaughter your ears in the best of ways. We caught up with the mysteriously masked frontman to chat about paying homage to Static while also forging a new path for the band as well. Read on!
Dread Central: A lot has happened within Static-X. Out of curiosity, What was the band’s mission for Project: Regeneration Vol. 1?
Xer0: To complete the final lost works that Wayne left behind and for the original band to come together and heal with the fans, and to celebrate the connection that they all made with one another 20 years ago. To get the full magnitude of what this means to the band and the fans, I think you have to look at everything we’ve done over the last couple of years as one big collective celebration. The world tour, the new album, the reunion, the memorial; it all worked together and is one colossal step for a band that was completely inactive just a short while ago.
DC: Was bridging the past with the future important for you? The anniversary tour was so huge, an amazing way to celebrate the band and everything Wayne brought to music, but was it also showing that a new chapter for Static-X has the opportunity to be born?
X: I think the fans have been given the opportunity to dictate that. If the tour had been a letdown, people wouldn’t have tuned out. If the album was a letdown, people will tune out. In the end, it’s up to the fans. I believe that people have witnessed something very special and, for the people that love and miss Static-X, they now have a chance for newfound excitement and enthusiasm for both what we have recently done and for what’s to come. That wasn’t conceivable a couple of short years ago. The past was incredibly bright for Static-X, especially Wisconsin Death Trip, and now the future is wide open.
DC: You’ve definitely proven yourself with fans and the album shows the synergy between what was and what will be. How did you approach that, from your own personal perspective?
X: I just did what I do. I work hard. I am very passionate and relentless with my efforts, and I have a personal connection with the band members, to Wayne, his family, and to the fans. Finding the motivation was not difficult for me. The difficult part was being committed to making something great, while having very minimal resources. It was very challenging to make a Static-X record without having Wayne here to participate; this was beyond challenging, but, in the end, the love and the effort prevailed.
DC: The idea of remaining anonymous was a decision made early on and it felt right for the Anniversary tour, but do you see things changing with that, now that the album featuring your work is out and being received with open arms by fans?
X: I dunno. Even with my fingerprint being felt throughout the new album, the 20 plus years of Static-X and Wayne should remain the emphasis, in my opinion. I truthfully don’t want to be the face of Static-X. I don’t need the extra attention or accolades, so wearing a mask is something that I will continue to do for Static-X. It keeps the emphasis on the band, rather than trying to shift it onto me.
DC: Was there a point during recording that you thought, “This is going to work”? Like a moment, where it just felt aligned or had that already happened prior to heading into the studio?
X: I had the utmost belief in my vision for this and in my own production abilities. I honestly never had a doubt. I knew it would be very challenging and I knew that I would have to invest literally thousands of hours into it, but it just felt like the right thing to do. Sometimes you just know in your heart that you have to climb a mountain. You don’t exactly know why, but you just feel that internal burn, something inside telling you that you have to do it. I’ve had that inside me through the entire experience and the fans and Wayne’s family continued to fuel that fire for me. Maybe it was Wayne looking over my shoulder, maybe it was me imagining someone else doing something like this for me and understating the immense responsibility of that realization. The thought of my mother hugging Wayne rather than Wayne’s mother hugging me. I can’t put it into words. Something existential has driven me for this project; the deeper I got, the more responsibility I felt to Wayne, his family, and the fans to make sure that it was the best it could possibly be.
DC: Static-X has always been a band with a certain cinematic quality to it. When coming into the band yourself, you made the decision to wear your now signature mask, a mask that I’ve thought was unfairly labeled the Wayne mask. Does it add to the mystique of the new version of the band, or was it more of a way to keep the band’s legacy in the forefront for the tour?
X: The mask confused some people more than I anticipated, but, in the end, I wouldn’t change a thing. Wayne was clearly the face of Static-X. He was not only the singer, but he was also the band’s mascot, for a lack of better words. I just wanted to give people a Wisconsin Death Trip experience and I wanted to keep the focus on the 4 dudes that started the band, and I feel that we accomplished that 100%. Representing the visual of 1999, with the hair spiked up and my identity hidden was incredibly necessary, in order to give the fans a true 20th Anniversary Wisconsin Death Trip experience. I wanted them to feel like they were entering into some sort of wicked futuristic time warp back to 1999.
DC: I’d love to see so much more of the new lineup. After this weird existence of Covid-19 is over, do you have big plans for the band and its future?
X: We just have to wait and see. I’d be down for a 20th Anniversary of Machine in 2021. Let’s see how it all plays out.
DC: We do have to ask: Have you watched anything great lately?
X: Nothing new, I’m old school. The original Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street are untouchable. I’m not so much into gore as I am into suspense. They don’t make ‘em like they use to.