I can remember back in 1999 when 'Wisconsin Death Trip' dropped my friend Scott raving about it and never shutting up about "Push It" and Wayne's hair. I remember hearing "Push It" and not liking it at all, and telling him the same thing I told him about his DMX obsession: "You listen to crap.". Fast forward two years later and me seeing the video for Static's "Black & White" and just falling in love with it. The combination of the visuals, performance of the band, and the music made me go out and buy 'Machine', and that record reeled me in to the Cult of Static. It was so much more accessible for me than 'Wisconsin' was, but I was also in to Slipknot at this point ('Iowa' was just out as well) so take that for what it's worth. Tracks like "Black & White", "This Is Not", "Get To The Gone", and "Structural Defect" just exploded out of my car speakers and annoyed the shit out of anyone who rode with me that summer (Sorry, Raechel.). And any band that can take the experience of taking a shit on a tour bus and write a good song about it ("In A Bag") gets my respect.
My musical tastes vary from month to month. I listen to he shit out of a band for a month, move on to another, listen to the shit out of them for a month, repeat. After Static rode their course in my taste, Danzig came back in, then Priest, Maiden, Dream Theater, and others. I didn't forget Static-X, I just put them on hold. Then a couple years later 'Shadow Zone' came out and I re-joined the Cult full on. To this day it's one of the best metal records I've ever heard. The production was slick, the riffs were great, and the drums pounded. The technological elements of Static-X were used at heir best on that record as far as I'm concerned. Hands down, their best album. I played it for everyone, including my friend Johnny who didn't care for 'Machine' and had given up on Static after one listen to it. Even he couldn't deny that record.
To this day, I still have a copy of "Invincible" in my car and probably always will. Same for most of that record. All of Wayne's music was personal and he never tried writing 7 minute epics about slaying dragons or beating down the devil, but 'Shadow Zone' just felt more personal and relatable than the records that came before or after it. It had it's balls out "THIS IS METAL!!" moments, yes. "Destroy All" oozes that vibe, as do "Kill Your Idols", and "New Pain". But there's also "So", "The Only", and again, "Invincible". Lyrically they resonated with most people in ways that previous songs hadn't been able to do, from what I saw.
My life in the Cult of Static would continue on through 'Start A War', the last great album they did. I loved it at first listen. I didn't love it as much as 'Shadow Zone', but it was still fucking great. The title track is still a favorite of mine, and much like "Invincible", "I Want To Fucking Break It" has always remained in my car and probably always will. Not just for the lyrics and music, but the audio sample used in it that opens the track and flutters in and out of the mix. It takes balls for a metal band to use something that could be perceived as silly and use it in a way that kicks ass. Wayne's sense of humor was always clear on his records. For every "I Want To Fucking Break It" or "Love Dump", there was a "In A Bag", or in 'Start A War's case, "OtsegoAmigo". I laughed my ass off when I first heard it and would never laugh at a set of intentionally funny lyrics in a metal song again until years later in Devil Driver's "I've Been Sober".
I'm not sure why, but 'Cannibal' just didn't hook me upon first listen, and it actually turned me off of them for a bit. Years later I'd go back and re-listen to it and finally was able to appreciate it and enjoy it. There's loads of filler on it, but also good songs. I think the problem with Static-X is the same problem with Marilyn Manson: The audience grew up, but the bands creations remained the same. You hear about bands saying they want to try new things because people grow up and tastes change and most times it's perceived as a sell-out of sorts. Bands like MetallicA and MegadetH are nearly crucified when they do so. But those bands always stay relevant and always sell out very big venues. Static-X never changed. Wayne seemed to know what he was good at and he knew what got him where he was, so he stuck with it. And for whatever reason it just didn't work for me anymore.
I have never heard 'The Cult of Static' or Wayne's solo record 'Pighammer'. I do not know why Static-X broke up, other than online rumors of Wayne being tired of free loaders in the band (which is believable, read the writing credits in any liner notes of any Static-X record), and I never knew he was on drugs. He mentioned getting high in lyrics before, but I myself have written several works about drugs and have never once touched any of them. I never met him or saw Static live. I do not know, as of this writing, if Wayne's death was indeed the result of his history with drugs catching up with him or if he relapsed. But I do know the metal community lost a true innovator and great lyricist.
Top 10 Static-X songs, no order...