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Static-X

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Wayne Static - Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos - Bass
Nick Oshiro - Drums
Tripp Rex Eisen - Guitar

It seems like just yesterday that Static-X were the venerable newcomers on the heavy metal block, the release of Wisconsin Death Trip in 1999 serving as a coming-out party for the Los Angeles quartet's molten hybrid. Equal parts heavy metal, industrial thunder, and hook-laden, songwriting savvy, they scraped the senses with the untempered energy of digital screams and mosh pit mayhem. The debut went platinum, and it's follow-up, Machine, has been certified gold as the band toured side-by-side with the biggest names in music, from Reinventing The Steel alongside Pantera and Slayer, to Family Values with Linkin Park, Staind and Stone Temple Pilots, and amongst Black Sabbath, Godsmack, P.O.D. and Queens Of The Stone Age on OZZfest 2000.

Now, with the release of Shadow Zone, frontman Wayne Static, guitarist Tripp Eisen, bassist Tony Campos and drummer Nick Oshiro stand armed and dangerous, equipped with an album that bleeds with the conviction we've come to expect, and slams with the crushing fury of a monster truck run amok. While it may sound cliché to call the release their strongest effort to date, anything less wouldn't do the band justice, as the songs have evolved from brute slabs of sonic fury, to fine-tuned acts of musical misanthropy. "I can't compare this to the other two albums at all, because it was an entirely different experience this time," says Static of the new release. "Tripp was in there this time, and it was the first time I ever had a songwriting partner. It was a very refreshing experience, because he wrote some of the songs, and all I had to deal with was putting the vocals to them. I try to look at music as a challenge, and in a way I think this record sounds a lot more well-rounded."

Granted, it was Eisen's first time in the studio with Static-X—he joined the band immediately following the recording of Machine—but it's Static who was most responsible for Shadow Zone's jagged depths. "The funny thing is, most of the traditional Static-X-style songs on the record are the ones that Tripp wrote," he says when asked about the vocal melodies that manifest themselves throughout the album. "I mean, you always want to push yourself and stretch—it gets kind of boring if you do the same shit over and over again—and I think that when I did 'Not Meant for Me' for the Queen Of The Damned soundtrack, that was real singing, and I had never done that with Static-X. People responded really well to it, and it was a lot of fun, so I figure that I might as well go for it,"

The results are an album with vocal hues as colorful as the music that carries them. Lead single "The Only" introduces a crisper, cleaner sounding Static, industrial-strength bites and barks replaced by a melodic texture that makes the music even more impacting. From crisper and cleaner, to downright eerie on "So," where emotion and distress take center stage on one of the most haunting songs of the band's catalog. It's that variety, though, that makes Shadow Zone such an inviting place. "In past bands, I have done everything from acoustic songs to speed metal/death metal stuff, and I think this new album is a culmination of every type of genre I have ever done," says the frontman. "Before, we were trying to be a little different, trying everything we could to try to differentiate ourselves, and I spent more time disguising my lyrics and trying to not sound too personal. Now, I don't really care about that anymore. Now, Static-X are who we are, and I just want to write great songs and see what we can build upon."

So in addition to the savagery of "Destroy All" and the pulverizing effect of "Kill Your Idols," you've got the somber aura of the album's closer, "Invincible," a headfirst dive into a twisted psyche. And Static isn't the only one with a conscience, as Eisen's political savvy shines through the mirth on "Dead World." "That's a song that has some of my lyrics," says the guitarist, reciting "Sometimes I wish I could see beyond this dead world," "The verses, the lyrics that I wrote, are philosophical; describing how this world and our culture has been brought down because of governmental policies that are just destroying the free market system—We are living in a dead world and it's just going to get worse unless we realize how to turn it around."

"Writing with Tripp was kind of strange at first, because I'd never really written with anyone before," admits Static, "but we really got into a rhythm with things and figured out how to communicate," "And we communicate really well," Eisen adds of the quartet. "We all worked on these songs—There are thirteen songs on the new album, and each song has its own history and way it was written. There are a couple of songs where I wrote all the music and Wayne wrote the lyrics, some of them were full band efforts, and there's even one song from a few years ago that we re-worked. We wrote a couple songs all together, jamming, like the first single, "The Only"—That was the first one we all wrote together as a full band."

The newest addition to the Static-X camp is drummer Nick Oshiro, who quickly established himself as the perfect successor to departed drummer Ken Jay, and the ideal player to fill the parts laid down by Josh Freese [A Perfect Circle] in the studio. Despite the fact that Static and Campos are the only two remaining original members of Static-X, the band's namesake feels more confident than ever with their present lineup. "The chemistry is actually better than it ever was," he says. "It's weird, because [original guitarist] Koichi came in right before we got signed, did the record, toured, and he quit. In my mind, it's like, 'Was he even in the band?' He was in the band for like two years, and Tripp has been with us for more than three years now—We are all laidback, and with Nick, we made sure that we got someone in the band that fits in, that we will like touring with, and it feels good, Really good. The old songs still sound the same, maybe even better.

"There are always going to be a few people who say, 'I miss Ken, I miss Koichi.' But you know what? Life goes on, and I feel our show is still one of the most high-energy shows out there, and people can't deny it. I think it's because offstage, we all get along, we are like family, and everyone is a really good player and we love what we do. We are performing, not acting, and we're not trying to be any certain thing, we just go out and rock and kick everyone's ass. I think we will continue to evolve while keeping some of the elements that make us who we are. That's what we've done with Shadow Zone. This is the next step in our evolution."

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