EMQ’s with WAX MEKANIX
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based Multi-instrumentalist, Songwriter, Producer, founding member of cult rockers Nitro and Solo Artist, Wax Mekanix. Huge thanks to Wax for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about your history?
I’m Wax Mekanix and I’m a shameless songwriter, singer, guitarist, drummer, and percussionist.
I’m a founding member of American cult rock quartet, Nitro. Not the LA glam Nitro that graced the MTV airwaves in the late 80’s. Dana, John, Brad, and I formed Nitro in 1980 and were part of the US’s answer to the NWOBHM. I’ve got more than a few years of writing, recording, and gigging under my belt. When I step outside of Nitro for musical fun, I don’t have a static line-up to my band, so it depends on what/where I’m playing. There are so many inspiring, creative people in the world to discover, so this is the appeal of flying solo in the way that I do it.
How did you come up with your band name?
My nom de plume of Waxim Ulysses Mekanix seemed a bit long, so I shortened it to Wax. I’m part of a long tradition that’s been expertly executed by Elton John, Clark Kent, Jay-Z, Freddie Mercury, Snoop Dogg, David Bowie, Gene Simmons, Bruce Wayne, and Ringo Starr.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
I’m a proud 7th generation American. Born in a typical small town in central Pennsylvania. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled the world, so I feel comfortable wherever I am. I now call Philadelphia home. Like any large city, the music scene in Philly is diverse and fertile. The musicians are world-class talented, tough, proud, tenacious, and brave.
The rock scene in and around Philadelphia is robust and strong. It offers a tasty buffet of varying heavy styles and line-ups that reflect the depth and breadth of the areas musical history and influences. There are plenty of clubs, studios, engineers, producers, and musicians available to help creative people like me make original music. Just about all of those seem to be constantly shedding creative skin, evolving in some way, so it’s a healthy place to be for someone like me.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
On October 2nd, Electric Talon Records dropped my new single/video ‘All Freaks’.
You can check it out here:
My new record “Mobocracy” was released on October 23rd.
You can get it here:
Who have been your greatest influences?
The list is really long, but as a songwriter, it certainly starts with Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, Brian Wilson, and Queen. As a performer, it’s Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, KISS, AC/DC, and Van Halen.
What first got you into music?
Although American AM radio was the soundtrack of my childhood, like so many of my generation, KISS “Alive” and Led Zeppelin IV were flashpoints for me. They sparked me to become a musician and songwriter.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
As a songwriter, Paul McCartney. That would be like studying physics with Isaac Newton. Paul’s abilities, not just a writer but as a vocalist, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist are rare. The guy delivered the blistering proto-metal of ‘Helter Skelter’, the delicate baroque pop of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, and everything in between. Prince is the only other artist that comes to mind that is such a musical Swiss Army knife, so Paul’s the complete package in rock from my perspective.
As a performer, I’d love to have Crobot with me on any stage anywhere. I feel about them like I felt about Van Halen in late 70’s. They are intoxicating, loose, fluid, interesting, groovy, heavy, and funky, while being in total command of what they are doing. When I first encountered them, I was frustratingly jealous of what they were doing. When I got to the end of the album, “Something Supernatural”, I decided to give up on my envy and surrender to their amazing work. I never looked back. For my money, they are what a live rock band is supposed to be.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Glastonbury. It’s the gold standard. By definition, festivals are huge tribal gatherings of people who are singularly focused on experiencing, celebrating, and sharing something that they all passionately love. If we forget about the commercial component for a moment, that seems like the closest we can get to a utopian happening in the 21st century. It’s an annual reminder that humans are still capable of coming together for joy, regardless of things that otherwise might separate us. To be fuel for that should be a high-water mark for any performer.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
A whispered apology for being late to my gig. A delicate thoughtful gift delivered in the midst of some typical raucous drunken chaos that was genuine, sincere, heartfelt, and priceless.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Feeling adventurous and brave? Do you trust me? If so, follow me.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Randy Rhoads. Even after 38 years, it’s still hard to focus on what he gave us and not yearn for what he might have amazed us with. Everyone that knew him says that the small amount of his playing that made it to vinyl was just a hint of what he was capable of. He is still revered and missed by many. Long live the memory of Randall William Rhoads.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
I don’t hate anything about it.
There are two components to what I like about it. The first part is the intense focus on creation.
Since I see myself as a songwriter first, I like songwriting most. From the time I was a child, writing has been the most consistent and satisfying aspect of my creative life. Inventing something out of nothing that has meaning to me is rejuvenating and cathartic. To have that invention resonate with others is humbling and surprising.
The second part is the performing. Although not as essential to me as writing, once music has been created, it’s fun to relax a bit, gather friends, celebrate, and share it with anyone remotely interested.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I’m not alone in thinking that the subjugation of creativity to commerce is toxic to the music industry. I appreciate that there is the need for financial sustainability to bring music to many. I hope that something changes soon where fiercely unique music is encouraged, celebrated, and rewarded before the marketing forces bearing down on it end up normalizing music creation so much that it’s all just one-dimensional sameness.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“Blizzard of Ozz” – Ozzy.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
For listening, vinyl.
For convenience, downloads.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
In Autumn of 1983, Nitro opened for Maryland rockers Kix a few times. There was a palpable connection between both bands and the audiences that was unique and somehow elevated from the hundreds of other gigs I’ve done. Everything about the performances was exceptional. Those few gigs were fleeting, mercurial, and immediately intoxicating. I’d heard about this kind of thing from other musicians and thought it was a myth. At the time, I was lucky enough to realize that it was a real, but transient, experience to be savoured in the moment. Trying to describe it is almost impossible to anyone who has not experienced it. Those who have, know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Each day I try to do something good for my body, my mind, my heart, and my spirit. If/when I am no longer an active musician, I hope to have other things to give my life meaning.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, & Gandhi
What’s next for the band?
In the time of Covid, staying healthy is paramount. Once gigs can resume safely, I hope to be playing new and older songs for audiences. Until then, I’m working on a new album that I hope to release in 2021. So, it’s write, record, perform, rinse, and repeat!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
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