Industrial metal band Static-X has spent a decade churning out consistent material and gathering a loyal fan base. With a new album, Cult Of Static, coming out this week, bassist Tony Campos took time out to speak to SMNnews about the new album, playing on Ministry’s last tour, how he feels about Static-X’s most criticized album, Shadow Zone, and much more!
The band has a new album coming out, Cult Of Static. What is the significance of the title?
Well, it’s a little nod to our fans that have been loyal to us for the last ten years. We’re all part of this cult of evil disco and the title is an acknowledgement to our fans and their loyalty.
How did the recording process this time around go for Cult Of Static?
This time around, it was weird. Wayne and I got together around January 2008 and wrote some songs together, but in February, I took off to play bass for Ministry. I didn’t get back until June, so Wayne wrote the rest of the record while I was gone. As soon as I got back from the Ministry tour, the band was in preproduction. I basically went into the studio not really knowing a lot of songs, so I went in cold and played everything by ear, and pulled it off. On past records, I was in there for everything, but this time around, it was jump in and go. I think it turned out good.
Since you went in cold to record the bass parts, is there an interesting dynamic to the album? Is there something different sounding about it compared to previous albums?
With the last two records, I stretched out my playing a little bit, due to Nick’s drumming. Just getting to match up to his drum patterns and his fills helped me stretch out my playing a bit.
When Nick first joined the band, was the chemistry immediate or did it take some time?
No, it was actually really easy, going from Kenny to Nick. Kenny was a solid, rigid drummer; he played like a drum machine. When Nick came in, he had this really cool swing and feel to his playing that opened up a whole new groove to the music.
Dave Mustaine performs a guest solo on “Lunatic.” How did the band obtain his services?
We’ve known Dave for years now. We met him back in 2000, when we opened up for Megadeth when they were touring for Risk. Back in late 2007, we did the Gigantour in Australia with them, so we reconnected with Dave. So when it came down to do the record, we decided to ask Mustaine. He was really cool to take time out of his busy schedule to do a solo for us. We’re really happy that a legend like Dave Mustaine played on our record.
Static-X recently released a video for single “Stingwray.” Can you explain the basic concept behind the video?
It’s us jamming in some decrepit old house and Wayne’s wife is running around and breaking stuff. There’s this whole section where Wayne and his wife are in a car and having fun and it’s suppose to lead to a second video that is in the works. If it doesn’t make sense now, it’ll all make sense once the second video comes out.
What’s your favorite Static-X music video?
The one I had the most fun doing was “Destroyer,” off the last record. It was fun standing around watching hot chicks in roller skates beat themselves up.
The last album, Cannibal, had a big addition to the band’s sound; guitar solos. Explain the decision to bring that element into the band.
It’s funny; after we toured for Wisconsin Death Trip, we discussed bringing guitar solos back into the songs. Koichi was a shredder and we knew he could pull it off, but then Koichi quit. So there goes that idea, and then we got Tripp. He’s a decent guitarist, but he wasn’t much of a shredder. We forgot about the idea, until Koichi came back into the band. He’s an amazing guitar player and has his own unique flavor to his solos. You hear a solo and you know its one of his.
Were you surprised at the success of Cannibal?
Yeah, especially in this market where people don’t buy records like they used to. It is a good feeling to be able to do this after all these years. We’re happy our fans have been so loyal to us and still supporting us ten years later.
What the situation with drummer Nick Oshiro?
Nick has some personal issues to deal with, so the band agreed that he should take this touring cycle off. When we’re ready for the next record, we’ll reevaluate where he is and if he feels he is ready to come back, we left the door open for him. He’s still the best drummer we ever had. We’ve had a couple of other guys filling in, Bevan Davies and Will Hunt, who is filling in for Nick again, and both those guys are great drummers. Like I said before, Nick has an awesome feel to his playing that I have yet to experience with another drummer. I hope he resolves his issues and comes back.
What are the band’s upcoming tour plans?
We got the Snocore tour, which goes up until the second week of April. We have some headlining shows to finish up the month. Then we go to Europe for two or three weeks, but we’re still booking those shows. After that, I don’t know. We’re going to see if we can do a headlining run.
Any surprises in the set-list?
No, we’ve just gone through the set list we’re doing for the Snocore tour, and we’re doing all the fan favorites. We like to save the surprises for the second time around, and bring out some old obscure songs or songs we’ve never played live. After not seeing a band for over a year, people want to see us play their favorite songs.
How, in your eyes, has the band evolved from Wisconsin Death Trip to Cult Of Static?
I think we’ve gotten heavier. We tried some different things on previous records. Through the process, we’ve gotten heavier and put more evil into the evil disco formula.
How do you feel about an album like Shadow Zone, looking at it today?
I think it’s good for what it is. It definitely showcased that Wayne can actually sing, which a lot of people didn’t think he could do. I thought it was a good record for the direction we were trying to go with at the time. Personally, I’m a death metal-head, so I like the heavier and more aggressive stuff. However, I can also appreciate more melodic and straight-forward stuff.
Will the band ever return to that sound or was it a one-off experiment?
I think it was a one-time deal (laughs). There may be elements of that creeping back in if Wayne wants to sing again. I would definitely want to keep it heavy and aggressive.
Earlier in the interview, you mentioned joining Ministry on their last tour. How did you land that gig and what did you think of the tour overall?
While we were on Ozzfest 2007 in Texas, Al (Jourgensen, vocalist) invited me and Wayne to go to the studio to do vocals for the Cover Up record. Wayne had already met Al, and I met him briefly, but I didn’t know the guy until I did vocals on the record. While I was there, Al said, “Hey guess what? You’re playing bass.” He caught me a little bit off guard. I was nervous as hell. I was like “Holy shit, I’m playing on a Ministry record.” So I played on two songs, Al and I got drunk, and we had a good time.
In October, a few weeks after Paul Raven died, they called me and asked me if I wanted to do the tour. If I didn’t do this, I would punch myself in the balls for the rest of my life. There was no way I was not going to do this. It took me a few months to figure out if I could do it or not, working things out with Wayne because we wanted to get in the studio and do the next record. We worked a schedule out, where I could do the last Ministry tour. It was an awesome experience.
Any good stories from the last Ministry tour?
All kinds of crap, man. We did a month of rehearsals in El Paso, and the first weekend I was there, I tried to hang with Al drinking wine. Into the second bottle, I blacked out. I don’t remember what the hell happened. I woke up the next morning and there was red puke all over the floor, next to my bed, and wine all over my socks. It was pretty ugly and that was just the first weekend. Two months in the states and two months in Europe; it was the experience of a lifetime.
What, in your mind, makes Cult Of Static a great record?
The album is aggressive, with some really good and heavy songs. It has more dynamics than the last record. There’s some slower, moodier stuff in there. It takes you on a ride; the whole time you’re on this ride, you’re getting your face kicked in. So it’s a good ride.
By Dan Marsicano