Wayne Richard Wells (a.k.a. Wayne Static)
Founder, Guitarist and Frontman of Static-X
(Nov. 4, 1965 - Nov. 1, 2014) Rest In Peace


Wayne Richard Wells, known in the music world as Wayne Static, was an American guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter best known as the founder and frontman of Static-X. In addition to releasing six full-length albums with Static-X, as well as two EPs,a live album and a compilation, Static also released a solo album in 2011 and made guest appearances on projects by Godhead, Dirge Within, Skinny Puppy and many others. Static's biggest commercial success came with the 1999 Static-X debut, Wisconsin Death Trip, which was certified platinum for selling over a million copies in the US. Despite not achieving platinum status, however, each of the band's next five albums would reach the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and each appeared on charts in a number of international markets, as well. Static disbanded Static-X in the summer of 2013, opting to focus his energies on his solo career. Just two days before a co-headlining tour with Powerman 5000 was set to begin, Wayne Richard Wells was found dead in his California home at the age of 48.

Wayne Richard Wells was born November 4, 1965 in Muskegon, Michigan. Growing up in nearby Shelby, Wisconsin, his parents gave him a toy guitar at the age of three. His first real guitar was an S12 beginner model that he got at the age of 7. The aspiring musician began taking guitar lessons, which paid off just over a year later when he won a talent show with a performance of "Skip to My Lou." Wells joined his first band at the age of 12, and knew even then he wanted to play music for a living. He continued playing in bands through high school, performing at school dances, taking various summer jobs to support his need for new and better gear. After graduating, Wells relocated to Chicago to pursue a career in music. It was in Chicago that Wells adopted his signature look, hair standing straight up and full, thick beard that would be referred to as a "chintail" beard years later. Wells would later reveal that it took him some 20 minutes to achieve his signature appearance.

After several years in Chicago, Wells founded a new band called Deep Blue Dream with drummer Ken Jay, bassist Eric Harris and singer Billy Corgan, later of Smashing Pumpkins fame. The group was short-lived, however, as Corgan decided to focus his energies on Smashing Pumpkins, and Deep Blue Dream disbanded. Unsatisfied with the Chicago music scene at the time, Wells relocated to Los Angeles with Ken Jay in 1994. Wells changed his name to Wayne Static and set about finding musicians for his new band, Static-X. Japanese guitarist Koichi Fukuda came on board, and the bass position was filled with Tony Campos, who has since been a member of several other bands including Soulfly, Possessed, Prong and Ministry. This original lineup spent several years building a following in Southern California, eventually signing a record deal with Warner Brothers in February 1998. Later that year, the band went into Grandmaster Studios in Hollywood with producer Ulrich Wild to begin work on their debut effort, spending about 8 weeks in the studio to complete it.

Wisconsin Death Trip was released on March 23, 1999, thrusting Static-X quickly to the forefront of the Nu Metal scene. The single "Push It" was released a few weeks later, climbing to No. 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The singles "I'm With Stupid" and "Bled for Days" dropped a few months later, reaching Nos. 38 and 36 on the Mainstream Rock charts, respectively. Videos for all three singles, combined with relentless touring, boosted sales of Static-X's debut, which would earn platinum certification in 2001 for sales of over 1 million copies in the US alone. The album was given the same name as a 1973 book written by Michael Lesy, and contained a song entitled "December" that was written by Static and Ken Jay when they were still in Deep Blue Dream. More than 15 years after its release, Wisconsin Death Trip continues to draw royalties for the band as songs from the set have been used in numerous video game and motion picture soundtracks. The song "The Trance Is the Motion" was used as the entrance music by Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore during his 2008 All-Star season.

While Wayne Static was pleased with the success of Wisconsin Death Trip, he almost immediately began worrying about delivering a suitable follow-up to the growing legions of Static-X fans. As the band upheld a grinding touring schedule in support of bands such as Slayer, Sevendust and Fear Factory, Static voiced his concerns to his fellow bandmates. The rest of the band opted to soak in their new found success and focus on enjoying life on the road, so Static took matters into his own hands and spent the two years supporting Wisconsin Death Trip writing new material. While still on the road, the band released a Promo-only CD entitled The Death Trip Continues, featuring two news songs, 2 non-album versions of tracks from the debut album and a cover of Ministry's "Burning Inside." By the time the band wrapped up two grueling years of touring, Static had completely written the band's next album.

Despite their decision to not participate in the writing process for Static-X's sophomore album, Wayne's fellow bandmates expressed resentment toward him for writing the album without them, as all four members were heavily involved in the creative process for Wisconsin Death Trip. Fukuda, in fact, was so upset that he left the band as soon as touring was over, forcing the band to hit the studio as a three-piece to lay down their next album, though a replacement would be found in Tripp Eisen before the record was completed. Fukuda did receive a writing credit on the album's liner notes, acknowledging a number of guitar solos he had written. Static-X spent more than three months in the studio laying down their second album, with Ulrich Wild again at the helm, wrapping the sessions in January 2001. Machine hit stores on May 22, 2001, receiving mixed reviews from music publications but mostly positive response from fans. The album climbed to No. 11 on the Billboard 200, surpassing the highest position achieved (No. 107) by its predecessor. Sales of the album did not prove to be as long-lasting with Static-X's second full-length, however, as the set was certified gold for sales of over 500,000 copies, but never went platinum. The tracks "Black and White," "This Is Not," and "Cold" were released as singles, each landing in the top 40 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock singles chart.

Video for the Static-X single "Cold" - 2002

In 2002, Wayne Static was approached by Korn frontman Jonathon Davis to participate on the soundtrack for the motion picture Queen of the Damned. Davis was asked to write and record the film's soundtrack by Warner Music Group along with Richard Gibbs, the former Oingo Boingo keyboardist that also achieved acclaim as a film composer and session musician. Davis was under contractual obligations to Sony BMG, Korn's label, and so could not sing on the soundtrack. To remedy this, he brought in notable hard rock singers such as David Draiman from Disturbed, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Marilyn Manson and Static. Static recorded the vocals for the song "Not Meant for Me", and the Static-X original "Cold" was included on the soundtrack as well. The soundtrack ended up being a turning point for the band, as Warner Bros. executives appreciated the more melodic style in the Davis-penned track and encouraged Static-X to make a shift musically.

In the summer of 2003, Static-X hit the studio to begin working on a third album. In an attempt to help facilitate the band's shift to a more melodic sound, Warner Bros. refused to allow the band to continue working with Ulrich Wild and instead brought in Josh Abraham, known for his success with mainstream hard rock acts like Staind, 30 Seconds to Mars and Velvet Revolver. Ken Jay would leave the band just two days before the recording sessions began, prompting the hiring of A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese to record the album. A permanent replacement for Jay would eventually be found in Seether's Nick Oshiro, but not before the album was recorded. Titled Shadow Zone, the third Static-X record hit stores on October 7, 2003. The album debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard 200, marking the band's biggest entry yet, but enthusiasm was short-lived as the set never achieved gold or platinum certification like Wisconsin Death Trip or Machine. The album did spawn a pair of Top 40 singles, however, as "The Only" reached No. 22 and "So" climbed to No. 37 on Billboard's mainstream rock songs chart.

Video for the Static-X single "The Only" - 2003

In 2004, while on the road in support of Shadow Zone, Static-X released a compilation album entitled Beneath... Between... Beyond, consisting of rare demos, remixes cover songs and unreleased tracks. The set did fairly well, reaching No. 139 on the Billboard 200. The band completed a tour with Fear Factory in late 2004 and headed back into the studio to begin work on a fourth studio set. Displeased with their experience with Josh Abraham, Wayne pleaded with Warner Bros. brass to allow Ulrich Wild to produce album No. 4. The label agreed, stipulating that Tom Whalley, who was listed as executive producer on Shadow Zone, co-produce. Titled Start A War, the album hit stores on June 14, 2005, including a limited-edition Digipak version that included a DVD entitled X-Rated. A pair of singles were released, "I'm the One" and "Dirthouse," and reached Nos. 22 and 27 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart, respectively. Tripp Eisen played guitar on the set, but was arrested in connection with a sex scandal involving minors prior to the album's release. Static fired Eisen immediately, and brought back Koichi Fukuda to fill the void.

With Fukuda back in the band, Static-X spent the last half of 2005 and the beginning of 2006 on the road in support of Start A War, before hitting the studio in the spring of 2006. Ulrich Wild would again helm the new record, with John Travis taking the place of Tom Whalley as co-producer. Warner Bros. shifted the band to its Reprise Records label for album No. 5, and allowed the band more creative freedom on the effort. As a result, the band returned to its heavier and less radio-friendly sound that defined its first two albums. The album got plenty of support in the form of a single, "No Submission", which was included on the soundtrack for the film Saw III, released before the album came out, as well as a pair of pre-release singles, "Cannibal" and "Destroyer", the former which was also released as an EP before album No. 5 hit stores. With the additional support, the album Cannibal arrived in stores on April 3, 2007, debuting at No. 36 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of about 30,000. Shortly after the album's release, Static revealed in an interview that he had begun working on a solo project he was calling "Pighammer", though the project wouldn't result in a release for another four years.

Video for the Static-X single "Destroyer" - 2007

In November 2007, Tony Campos briefly joined Ministry on tour after Paul Raven's tragic death, though he would return to Static-X in time to take part in album No. 6. It was also around this time that Static met and married adult film star Tera Wray after a brief courtship. The band hit the studio again in January 2008, with John Travis in the production booth. There were a number of delays, however, and the album wouldn't reach stores until the following March. In October 2008, Static X released its first live album in the form of a CD/DVD box set. In addition to every video the band had released to that point, the collection also included an entire Static-X concert recorded in June 2007 in Seattle in both audio and video formats. Titled Cult of Static, the album dropped March 17, 2009, debuting at No. 16 on the Billboard 200, making it the band's highest-charting release since their 2001 set, Machine. Static X spent the rest of 2009 touring before Wayne revealed he was taking a break from the band to focus on his side project Pighammer. He later revealed that Campos had left the band, just before Campos resurfaced as a member of Soulfly.

In 2011, Static began his solo touring career with a performance at the Graspop Metal meeting in Belgium. His debut solo effort, titled Pighammer, hit stores on October 4, 2011 on Dirthouse Records. Static performed all musical instruments on the record, with the only contribution being a small sampling of backing vocals from his wife, Tera Wray. The album debuted at No. 97 on the Billboard 200, but failed to continue generating sales and prompted Static to consider reforming the band that made him famous. The frontman contacted the original members of Static X, but none were interested in bringing the band back, so he enlisted the members of his solo band and booked a series of gigs under the name Static X. The band toured for several months before having to cancel shows when Static became ill. In June 2013, Static officially announced the end of Static-X, citing a disagreement with Campos over use of the name. Performing under the name Wayne Static, Wells continued to play Static-X songs, including performing the Wisconsin Death Trip album in its entirety to celebrate its 15th anniversary.