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One can't survive on Ozzfest alone

Static-X stays busy with big tour, off-night shows

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Standing in your pajamas in the middle of a Columbus, Ohio, parking lot doesn't sound like a very "metal" thing to do, but it's a task Wayne Static has undertaken in order to get better cell phone reception. It's almost a worthless effort as the call is dropped a handful of times in the first few minutes of talking.

Static, however, pushes through -- repeatedly calling back the journalist on the other end of the line (me) until the 15-minute interview is over. Pushing through seems about right for the frontman of Static-X.

Why relax and perform less than every other day on Ozzfest when you can schedule shows on your days off? Why return to Ozzfest on a "free" tour? Why keep going at all after numerous lineup changes?

Now supporting its release, Cannibal, Static-X has been creating its own brand of electronically-charged metal since 1994. Despite those lineup changes, the band is back to having three-fourths of its original members -- Static, bassist Tony Campos and guitarist Koichi Fukuda -- and shows no signs of slowing down.

"I always make the Kiss comparison," Static says. "Tony and myself are like Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. You know, Kiss can always go on as long as Gene and Paul want it to go on. Static-X is the same way. We're the two founding guys and the two vocalists and the driving force of the band. We can go on as long as we want, as long as the two of us are together. If I ever lost Tony, I'm sure I'd start something else."

Before the recording of its sixth release, the band got re-energized by the return of Fukuda. "Having him back is more of a vibe thing, especially live," Static says. "He's got this great vibe and he's a really tight player, so I know we sound better with him in the band. It's like a chemistry thing -- having guys on stage play off each other. As far as the record, he laid down some great solos -- that's what I challenged him to do on this record."

Static says the new record has gotten some of the band's best reactions since 2001's Machine. The timing of the release -- in April of this year -- couldn't have happened at a better time for the band when it came to Ozzfest. The release was early enough so they could do their own headlining tour before joining this year's free festival in a main stage role -- a better gig than it was seven years ago.

"The first time (1999), we were on the second stage and nobody knew who we were and we got treated as such," Static says. "The next time around (2000), our album was platinum, everyone knew who we were and we were on the main stage. That year, because tickets were so expensive for the seats up front, a lot of people were showing up for Pantera and Ozzy. When we were going on, we were going on to a theater of empty seats with tens of thousands of people in the lawn a hundred yards away. It was a really weird vibe. This year, it's pretty much packed from the front all the way to the back of the lawn, which is fuckin' awesome."

Despite the free tour, and the fact bands aren't being paid, Static says joining up was definitely the right decision. He said the band was able to get sponsors and label support so they won't "totally break the bank account." They're also making money by performing on the off nights with fellow Ozzfest groups In This Moment and Ankla.

The main problem has been narrowing their usual setlist down to just 45 minutes. "We've got six albums of material that we'd love to play," Static says. "I look at Ozzfest as a little sampling of Static-X. We do a couple of songs off every record. We're not going to be able to play everybody's favorite song or all the hits."

The need to tour on off-nights comes from the light Ozzfest schedule -- less than every other day -- and the need for Static to keep his voice in shape for screaming/singing. Other things he keeps in shape are his signature hair and beard.

"Pretty much every other question I get from fans is about my hair and beard," he says. "I thought about changing it a few years back, but I was afraid I might carry myself different on stage if I just had long hair hanging in my face. So, I thought I would keep it as it's kind of the visual trademark of the band. Either people think I look like a fucking idiot, or they think it's cool, but they think something. It gets a reaction either way. Whatever it takes to get noticed, that's why I did it in the first place."

For the rest of the year, the band will stay on tour for a run with Shadowsfall, Three Inches of Blood and Devine Heresy and an Australia tour with Megadeth, Devil Driver and Lacuna Coil. Static says he already has plans for the new album -- which they'll start working on next year -- but if it were up to him, he'd stay on the road.

"This is what I've wanted to do my whole life," he says. "Making records, that's cool and everything, but being out playing every day and partyin' every night -- that's the fucking life, man. I love this shit. I'd stay on tour for the rest of my life if I could. It's awesome."

Ozzfest will stop at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Aug. 28.

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