Few things are more certain than death, and as hard as we might try to mask life’s harsh reality with the assumption of eternal youth, nothing can really prepare us for the numbing experience of loss.
“I was at home from tour and I got an early morning phone call,” says Static X bassist, Tony Campos with a deep breath about the unexpected passing of Wayne Static, frontman of the “evil disco” industrial-metal outfit Static X just three days shy of his 49th birthday in 2014. Campos was one of Static’s closest friends, a part of the band since the recording of their debut record, Wisconsin Death Trip.
“I knew—with the path Wayne was on, that unless he got help—that’s where he’d end up. But you’re still not prepared. I was stunned,” he continues. “I laid in bed for an hour just… stunned. And then I started calling all our friends, trying to get a hold of Ken [Jay, drummer] and Koichi [Fukuda, guitarist] to let them know. It was a hard day for sure.”
Since Static’s passing, It’s been five long years for the members of the band, and a slow road to healing 20 years ago they recorded Wisconsin Death Trip. Now, the group has reunited, touring to not only celebrate the anniversary of their influential debut but pay homage to the life of Wayne Static.
“It all basically started with the feeling that Wayne never got the send-off he deserved,” says Campos. “That evolved into ‘let’s do a show,’ then that brought up the question: ‘why only do one show? Wayne had fans everywhere. Why not give all of them a chance to pay their respects?”
Coming to terms with the end of life can be complex. People handle it in different ways, but, at the end of it all, it’s up to you to move forward. After five years of waiting, this tour has proven to be a healing process for the surviving members of Static X. Though the tour has helped the band move forward, it’s been a complicated process.
“This tour has definitely been a bittersweet experience,” Campos reflects. “We’re missing our friend, but at the same time, we’re remembering all the good times we had with him and, just as importantly, the fans are too.” The three of us, Kenny, Koichi and I getting together to do all of this has been really therapeutic for all of us to come to terms with everything that happened. I think we’re in a better place because of what we’re doing here, out on the road — I think we’re all finally at a peaceful place.”
Campos recalls the day that Static’s family came out to the show in Grand Rapids as an especially emotional day. “It really helped us come to terms with the loss,” he remembers.
Campos confirms that although the tour is for them, and for Wayne, it’s also, just as importantly, for the fans. For the remaining members of Static X, iving fans a way to continue Wayne’s legacy seems to be one of the most satisfying parts of this tour for Campos, and is evidence of the way an artist can have life-changing effects on a person from miles away, creating a bond beyond the physical realm.
“Looking out into the audience every night, particularly the moments that we stop and pay tribute to Wayne and having him up on the screen, it’s really cool to see how much Wayne and the music has really touched everyone’s lives, he finishes. It reinforces the decision that we needed to do this everywhere. It’s a good feeling to be able to bring that to fans everywhere.”