Interviews

Interview: Tony Campos of STATIC-X

static-xPlatinum selling International recording artists STATIC-X have revealed the updated art and full track listing for their hotly anticipated new album, Project Regeneration Vol. 1. Due out July 10th, Project Regeneration Vol. 1 can now be pre-ordered digitally on iTunes and Amazon, and fans will receive immediate downloads of both “Hollow” and “All These Years.” Limited Edition marble vinyl, Physical CDs and digital copies can be pre-ordered online at https://lnk.to/projectregeneration with immediate download of both tracks as well.

PROJECT REGENERATION Volume 1 features 12 brand new STATIC-X tracks, containing many of the final vocal performances and musical compositions of Wayne Static along with the original Wisconsin Death Trip lineup of bassist Tony Campos, drummer Ken Jay, and guitarist Koichi Fukuda. Both volumes are being worked on by longtime STATIC-X producer Ulrich Wild.

I had the opportunity to chat with the bands bassist Tony Campos in the wake of the album’s release and fully discuss the process that the band embarked on in order to bring out this latest chapter in the band’s legendary musical history.


ANTIHERO: Hi, how are you?

Tony Campos: Yeah, I’m good.

ANTIHERO: The new Static-X album was just released. Do you feel more pressure and weight of expectation with this album release?

Tony Campos: Up until this morning yeah. But now that it’s out and the fans have it in their hands, and they all seem to like it, so the pressure’s kind of off.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. Do you get nervous when album releases come out? Or is it something that you’ve done your bit and the rest is just in the hands of fate?

Tony Campos: Yeah, I mean, well, for one, I haven’t released a record in over 10 years. I mean, I’ve done other records with other bands. It hasn’t been my own record, so to speak, hasn’t been my band. So I haven’t had that experience in over 10 years. But yeah, there was definitely some pressure before this record. I didn’t want to disappoint the fans. I didn’t want to disappoint Wayne’s family. So yeah, there was definitely some pressure, but now that it’s out and everybody seems to like it, I feel pretty good about it.

ANTIHERO: Why has it taken so long for this release to come out? At what stage were the tracks  when you first started working on them again?

Tony Campos: What was the second part of the question?

ANTIHERO: What stage were the tracks existing already at? I mean, how much work did you guys have to put them in to actually move them on to a state of completion?

Tony Campos: Oh, well, the first part of the question, obviously the COVID thing had an effect on us. And then by the time we got to actually do the tour, that expanded into a lot more than what we were expecting. So which translated to not being at home sufficiently to continue working on the record. So yeah, that caused a bit of a delay as well.

As to the state of the material. When we first got the material it was pretty bare bones. Some stuff, particularly the material that we got last, was in pretty bad shape, had a lot of damage. A lot of the tapes we couldn’t use. And most of the tapes that we could use only had vocals on them. So we had to write whole new music underneath that stuff. So yeah, we had to put a lot of work into that stuff. And even the songs that were the closest, the songs that didn’t make the Start A War record, we had to do a lot of work on that stuff too because we just chucked out the original music that was underneath that stuff, and had to write all new tracks underneath that. So yeah, we had our work cut out for us.

ANTIHERO: In terms of vocals then, obviously Wayne’s on some tracks, Xer0 on others. What sort of percentage split vocally is there overall?

Tony Campos: I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what the exact percentage is, but the majority of the tracks have Wayne’s vocals on.

ANTIHERO: Was it always the intention to release Project Regeneration in two volumes?

Tony Campos: No, it wasn’t. But that kind of changed when we found that last batch of material. And all of a sudden, we were like, “Man, we got a lot of stuff here.”

ANTIHERO: The album seems to flow pretty seamlessly, I’ve been listening to it a lot. I guess that’s a testament to all the hard work , you and the band, and also the producer put into it to make it flow effortlessly like a complete release, a complete album,rather than something that was pieced together from musical pieces.

Tony Campos: Yeah. It certainly feels right. We have had quite a few discussions about what songs we’re going to make, what record. And then once we figured that out, and then what order the songs were going to be in on the first record. And we haven’t even figured out what the song order’s going to be on the next record. So yeah, there’s work to be done. But yeah, I think we’re on the right track.

ANTIHERO: One thing that I’ve noticed Static-X have always used sound bites from other media sources, movies, things like that. I just wondered how you go through the process of gathering those together and then actually sourcing their suitability for use in the track? How do you go about it? I mean, all these little sound bites from movies and different things. Who sources them? And how do you go about putting them into your track, incorporating them as part of the music?

Tony Campos: Well, just finding the stuff is you’re watching TV or you’re watching a video on YouTube, or on whatever internet site. And it can be anything, a sample could come from anything. And then just the process of grabbing that. Or if it’s like something that’s, say from a movie, a copywritten movie that you might get in trouble for sampling. So you go and you do your best to recreate it. So we had to do that on a few things because we didn’t want to get in trouble. But yeah, that’s pretty much the process for doing samples. And I’m sorry, I forgot the second part of the question.

ANTIHERO: Just, as I say, how do you come to decide which sound bite, which sample goes in where?

Tony Campos: Oh, depending on the theme of the song, the lyrical content, or just the vibe of the song can dictate what sample fits.

ANTIHERO: So, do you have all things gathered under different headings, different topics, different subjects, and then go, “Right. We’ve got this for that particular song, subject, we can slot it in there…

Tony Campos: No, not necessarily. Like sometimes you will be in the middle of an idea, and I’ll remember a movie or something. And like, “Oh, this would be cool right there.” And then I’ll go try and find that. That’s usually how that process works.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned earlier you played some shows as Static-X and toured before the album release. I just wondered; did it present any kind of moral dilemma regarding playing shows without Wayne? Obviously, you have another vocalist there. And even using the Static-X name. Did that present any issues with you? Any thoughts, “Oh, should we be doing this?”

Tony Campos: Once we got the okay from Wayne’s family, then most of our apprehensions were put on the wayside. Yeah.

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ANTIHERO: It must’ve been strange for the first few shows there playing live and having a different singer.

Tony Campos: It was. I mean, it was definitely a bittersweet experience for sure, not having him there on the first show we did. We got off stage and went into the dressing room and it was just the three of us. Kenny, Koichi and myself. And we were just like, “Man, that was so fucking awesome. Fuck, I wish Wayne was here.” But having Xer0 kind of take that persona that … So being on stage and looking out of the corner of my eye and seeing that hair jumping up and down made it feel that much more like Wayne was there with us.

ANTIHERO: How do you look at these two volumes of Project Regeneration for the band? Do you see it as a closing of a chapter or a dawn of a new era for the band?

Tony Campos: I don’t know. I’m really just leaving that up to the fans. If they want to see us continue as Static-X it’s up to them. I mean, I’m not opposed to it. I still want to go do other things. Yeah, I’d love to work with Ministry again. I’d love to play with the Cavalera Brothers again. I’m open to it. We’ll see what the fans say.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned there you’ve played with other bands, Fear Factory, Ministry, et cetera. Do you view Static-X as your main job then? As still your main band?

Tony Campos: Well, yeah. It’s the band that gave me my start in this business. Myself and Kenny and Koichi and Wayne, we brought this thing up from scratch. So yeah, there’s definitely an attachment to it I don’t have to anything else I’ve done. Except maybe Asesino. But I kind of came into that after it had already started.

ANTIHERO: Early indications are that the album is hugely popular already. I mean, I’m reading reviews all over the place.   I read there today, for example, that it debuted at number one on the iTunes metal chart. Obviously, the fans are loving it. Long term then, can you pursue Static-X plus other bands? It’s going to keep you busy.

Tony Campos: I don’t see why not, but then again I’m always optimistic about things like that. If it was up to me, I’d be playing in every band that I’ve played in so far. But realistically that can’t happen. But yeah, I’m always optimistic about things like that.

ANTIHERO: And do you find that it’s good obviously for your own personal creativity to diversify and do different things as well outside of Static-X?

Tony Campos: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve learned a lot being in different bands, and just seeing how, not only their creative processes, but how they conduct their business, how they tour, how they do the day in and day out minutiae of touring. Everybody does it slightly differently. And it’s really cool to learn. I’ve been really lucky to be in bands with people that I grew up listening to and were big influences on me and have been doing this a lot longer than I have. So to be able to see how they do things has been really cool.

ANTIHERO: Just returning to the album. It’s been produced by Ulrich again. What actually does he contribute to the Static-X family? And was it always going to be him that you guys wanted to produce it? Was he always going to be involved? Or had you actually considered maybe bringing in other producers for a change?

Tony Campos: No, it pretty much had to be him. Yeah. He helped us define our sound, he did that first record for us. And so, he set the benchmark for us. And we really wanted to recapture that vibe of that first record. And so, it kind of had to be him, just like it had to be Ken and Koichi. Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it without any of those guys. So yeah, I’m just really lucky that they all said yes.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned earlier that obviously you’ve done other albums with other bands, but I would also imagine that the recording process for this album will prove particularly emotional for you and the other guys in the band. Hearing those vocal tracks again, working on some Static-X music without Wayne. I’m sure it must have emotionally proved a very difficult and probably therapeutic process?

Tony Campos: Yeah. It was a bittersweet process for sure. Just like the tour or making the record, it was really cool to be able to reconnect with Wayne in some way. But at the same time we were just like, “Fuck, he should be here.”

ANTIHERO: What’s the current situation where you are in the States? Obviously, we’ve got this COVID thing going on all over the world. And Static-X, have your dates lined up, have they been shelved for the foreseeable future? What’s the current position with you guys over there?

Tony Campos: Well as of right now, we have one show happening in Wisconsin next weekend, I believe. And we have a Russian tour for the end of the year booked. But seeing the way things are going, who knows, it’ll probably … that stuff. I mean, we’ve already had stuff cancelled. So just looking at how things are going, I would not be surprised if everything else we have on the books gets cancelled. So, we’ll see.

ANTIHERO: Here in the UK, we haven’t got any live gigs for the foreseeable future. So that’s why I was asking about the States and the situation there. That gig next week’s still going ahead, yeah?

Tony Campos: Yeah. As far as I know, it’s still happening. And so we’ll see. I’m no health expert. So I got to go with what the health experts of whatever state decides whether it’s safe or not. If they say it’s safe, then we’re going to go ahead and do it. I will take every safety precaution I feel necessary to do it safely. And I advise anyone going to this thing to do the same thing. And if you don’t feel safe going to it, then hey, by all means, do not go.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. Just a final one then. Sure you’ve done, both with Static-X and the other bands that you’ve played with, many interviews, but if the rules were reversed, who would you personally like to sit down and interview with you asking the questions?

Tony Campos: Well, I’ve kind of done that. Not with a microphone or pen and paper or anything, but when I had been out on tour with Max Cavalera or Al Jourgensen, or Tommy Victor, and after a show we’d hang out in some capacity. And especially Al, Al loves to tell stories. So yeah, just picking his brain about things he did in the past. And that’s an awesome experience, to get to interview your heroes.

ANTIHERO: Would there be anybody else, maybe not a musician, a personal inspiration or someone that’s been a hero to you, outside perhaps of music that you’d maybe like to talk to?

Tony Campos: I don’t know. Outside of music. Hmm.

ANTIHERO: Is there a life outside of music for you?

Tony Campos: Yeah. I mean, music is a funny thing for me, because I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life, but I had no clue that this would be what I would do for a living. I went to college, I was a computer science major. I was going to be an IT guy for the Department of Defense. That was my goal. Music was the last thing I thought I’d ever do. But once I actually became a quote unquote, professional, it’s all I really think about. And that’s pretty much it. I mean, I have other hobbies, but nothing that quite consumes me as much as making music.

ANTIHERO: Tony, that’s brilliant. Thank you very much for chatting to me. Good luck with the album. I’m sure it’ll do well. It will do well, it’s a great release. And thanks for chatting.

Tony Campos: Yeah. Thanks for having me, man.

ANTIHERO: Brilliant, thank you very much. Bye.

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Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.

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