December 30, 2014 When the Pighammer falls: A tribute to Wayne Static
Wayne Richard Wells, better known professionally as Wayne Static, was born in Muskegon, Michigan on November 4, 1964. From a very young age, Wells had a love affair with music, beginning when he received his first real guitar at seven years old. By age twelve, he was playing in a band, and thus began his journey to becoming Wayne Static. Upon moving to Chicago around the age of twenty two, Wells began the band Deep Blue Dream with Ken Jay and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan in 1987. This project was short-lived because Corgan chose to devote his full attention to Smashing Pumpkins, and Wells would go on to relocate to California where it eventually became Static-X with Tony Campos and Koichi Fukuda.
Static-X came to fame with the release of their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip in 1999 on Warner Bros. Records. The band quickly released their first single “Push It,” which along with the second single “I’m With Stupid” would become two of Static-X’s most popular songs to date. The album showcased the key industrial metal elements and technical skill of the band and helped them quickly gain momentum. The band even came to coin their own term for their brand of high energy industrial, calling it “evil disco.” Static-X would go on to tour extensively in support of the album, including two stints on Ozzfest and a follow up EP title The Death Trip Continues. In an interview with UltimateGuitar.com about this time of his life, Static said, “It was really just a whirlwind and I barely remember it. We worked so hard and toured so hard that I don’t even remember most of it. We played 300 shows in the first year and we just never went home.”
Performance-wise Static was a sight to behold with his gravity – defying hair that stood perfectly vertical atop his head and his long, braided “chin tail” that whipped about as he head banged and moved on stage. This look, as well as the Static-X sound, would inspire fans to dare to be different and experiment with new sounds and to pursue their own dreams. Wisconsin Death Trip went on to be RIAA certified platinum in 2001 and that same year, the band’s highly anticipated second album Machine was released. Despite lineup changes, which included the departure of Campos and Fukuda, Static- X would go on to release four more albums.
In the midst of his career, Static was contacted by Jonathan Davis of Korn to contribute to Davis’ latest project, the soundtrack to the movie adaptation of Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. Static contributed guest vocals to the song “Not Meant For Me” on the soundtrack, which also featured Static-X’s third single from Machine ”Cold,” and hosted several other prominent metal guests including David Draiman of Disturbed, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, and Jay Gordon of Orgy. In 2008, Static met adult film star Tera Wray at Ozzfest. In interviews, he stated that Wray came along at time when he was deliberately trying to avoid relationships, having just endured a break up. After six short months of whirlwind romance, the two married. Static called her “the girl of his dreams” and the two became inseparable. Despite an admittedly tumultuous history of drug abuse, Wray says the two cleaned up their act in favor of sobriety together in 2009.
In 2011, Static began his solo endeavor with the release of his debut solo album Pighammer. 2012 saw an attempt at the return of Static-X, but with a lack of interest from the original line up, Static sought to have his solo band work under the name Static-X. In 2013, Static announced the official disbandment of the Static-X brand and name due to disagreements with former bandmate Tony Campos about rights to the name. So, Static ventured on to play Static-X material under his own name with this solo band through 2014. On November 1, 2014, the world received the news that Wayne Richard Wells, a.k.a Wayne Static, had passed in his sleep. After the news broke, there was a ripple effect that washed throughout the metal community at the tragic passing of this charismatic and persevering frontman. The sadness and grief was amplified by the fact that Static’s untimely death was three days before his forty-ninety birthday.
Over the course of his career, Static had the opportunity to work and party with some of the most incredible artists in the rock and metal community, many of whom reached out and offered their condolences at his passing. Thousands of fans from across the world who had been touched or inspired by Static’s music also took to the Web to air their grief. Having helped pioneer a new wave of industrial music, Static gave a voice to fans of both industrial metal and techno with the synthesized, electro-infused beats that permeated his music. Static’s “evil disco” became a beacon of change in the metal world and offered metal fans with diverse, genre-defying tastes something to belong to.
Through his music and pioneering spirit, Wayne Static was able to change the boundaries of metal, and even create a new genre all his own. He became an icon for the disenfranchised, rambunctious and rebellious, giving choices to those that previously had none. His energy, charisma, and determination allowed him to overcome the obstacles that have defeated other musicians and come out triumphant. In an interview with CrypticRock Static stated “I think just having fun has a lot to do with it. We had a really good time in this band, and that’s what it’s all about.” Despite temporarily falling down the rabbit hole of fame, sex, drugs and Rock-n-Roll, Static was able to champion his demons find new life in sobriety, love and the drive to keep making the music his fans had come to love. The metal world has lost one of its most ingenious and enigmatic performers, and his void in the world will not go unnoticed.
One need not look very far to see the tremendous impression Wayne Static left on others through the years. Below are thoughts from a list of musicians sharing their memories of the fallen star:
“Much respect to Wayne Static and all the fallen rock stars this past year… Wayne was intricate in the rise of the LA Nu-metal scene…which helped open commercial doors for heavier bands today.”
– Will E. Vil, Justin ‡ Symbol drummer
“When I was in the band Amen, we went to Europe opening for Slipknot and Static-X. Wayne was always so nice and grounded and never once exhibited any kind of “rock star” attitude, and we were out there together for six weeks as the opening band on a grueling tour where attitudes certainly flare up at times. Wayne was cool as a cucumber and everyone that knew him, even for a moment, will miss him. R.I.P.”
– Shannon Larkin, Godsmack drummer
“Although we never had the opportunity of working with the likes of Wayne Static, his music and energy was an absolute inspiration to us and what we do as entertainers… rock music lost another great one. Wayne and his music will be missed.”
– Jamie Madrox, Twiztid
“I had the pleasure of booking Wayne Static at the 2012 Gathering of the Juggalos. He was a great artist and one of my favorites to work with that year, he will be missed.”
– George Vlahakis, Twiztid manager
“I had the pleasure of meeting Wayne, opening shows for Static X, and my most fondest memory is Wayne walking into the Dean Guitars booth at the NAMM show and everyone just lit up at his presence. I got a moment of talking guitar talk with him. He touched a lot of people and is greatly missed.”
– Randy Cooper, Emperors and Elephants guitarist
“We can all mourn his passing – we have to – but more importantly we can all celebrate his life, what he accomplished in following his dream, all the kids he inspired to pick up a guitar, and all the music he wrote that will live on. All is change, nothing stays Static for ever. Wayne has moved on, but we will never forget him.”
– Mawk, (Hed) p.e.. bassist
“He tended to be the perfect conduit for my rage at the time of Wisconsin Death Trip (1999).” His witty sarcasm always fit my mood”
– Margaret Young, A.D.D. vocalist
“I got high with him a few times. He was always a real sweet guy.”
– Jahred, (Hed)p.e. vocalist
“We (SOiL) did a ton of touring with Static-X in the early 2000’s. We became great friends with the guys and had many amazing times together. We even had a surprise birthday party for Wayne at his house when we were in Los Angeles recording our “true self” album and Wayne also sang on the first single “give it up” from that album. Wayne was such a great guy. He had a heart of gold and was always a generous and giving person. He also had a total dry sense of humor that would just crack you up and have you rolling on the floor with laughter. I can remember when we were playing a radio festival In front of 20,000 people and Wayne was side stage watching us with a grin on his face. Our guitarist Adam walked over to him and all Wayne said was “your fly is open” and pointed at it. Adam turned beat red and pulled his zipper up. We had so many good times with Wayne and the guys. It’s such a shame that he died so young. He was a great friend and will be extremely missed by us.”
-Tim King, SOiL bassist
“Wayne Static’s music is easy to describe in one word, Powerful. He had SO many tight songs with a lot of catchy hooks. Wayne Static as well as his bandmates were super humble. He will be missed by so many people. His amazing music and memories he shared with everyone will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Brother”
– Jason Delismon, A.D.D. drummer
“Static-X was one of the few bands from that “Nu Metal” era that I actually enjoyed. I played the shit of Wisconsin Death Trip when American Head Charge was coming up. Great songs, great vocals, great electronics. And while we didn’t hang out much during the Start A War tour, we started to get to know him during a handful of dates we did last June. He was a sweet and talented dude, and he’ll definitely be missed.”
– Chad Hank, American Head Charge bassist
“We have only met Wayne Static a few times throughout our career, but he was always extremely nice, humble, and willing to talk. He helped create an entire generation of music and bring it into the forefront. Wayne was a visionary to say the least. Not only the music industry, but the entire world itself suffers a great loss with his passing. He will be greatly missed.”
– Andrew Wayne, Aurin vocalist
“When my group Endo back in the day went on tour With Static-x we basically had the time of our lives…. It was a two month tour around the U.S.A. and Canada. From my perspective Wayne was always a super sweet guy and a lot more secluded than I thought him to be. I felt he liked to keep to himself, which ironically enough you find that behavior relevant to artists who put on an explosive show. I was shocked to hear of his passing.”
– Gil Bitton, Endo vocalist
“Wayne Static was a class act. He truly cared about everyone involved in the organization. I will miss that guy tremendously. We had many great tours and great laughs together. Rest in peace brother.”
– Bevan Davies, Wayne Static/ MontrsO drummer