Originally published in MOO Magazine (May 1995)
Even though they have the classic elements of a great “rock” band – members with personalities, songs with hyper energy (more on this later), Wax nearly became another band discarded before its time. Following a one-record stay with Caroline Records, the members of Wax were close to signing a contract with Virgin Records, a move which ultimately kept new Wax music out of its fans hands for two years.
“The new record was supposed to come out on one label (Virgin) and they ended up bailing on it, so we were left with it. We had to basically do everything ourselves,” explains Wax front man Joe Sib as he sips a cup of coffee. “We started our label (SideOne). That’s something I run, but it originated from the band saying, ‘What are we going to do?’ The reason we signed to Interscope is that people couldn’t get our first record anywhere, and we weren’t going to do that again. It’s really cool during this tour and having kids go, ‘Dude, I just got your record. I found it right away.'”
Originally released on SideOne Records and distributed by Cargo (Interscope now has the rights to, and distributes, the new album), 13 Unlucky Numbers clocks in at about the time of an EP, a few seconds shy of 24 minutes. Sib explains, “For everyone that has waited for this record, our theory was we’re not gonna fuck around and put something on there that we’re not 100 percent about. You put the new album on and it takes you fucking through the whole thing of what we’ve gone through and what we’re doing from Point A to Point B. On this record, there is no filler. Every song stands out.”
Songs on 13 Unlucky Numbers range from the surf anthem “California” (think The Beach Boys, not Dick Dale) to the bizarre acoustic, almost Beatlesesque ditty, “Knot”, written and sung by the equally bizarre drummer Loomis. The result is what some people like to call “punk rock” although that term is so overused these days.
And while the disc is a non-stop (minus “Jiffy Boy” and “Knot”) energetic musical assault, the band truly comes to life onstage, whether playing in front of four people (as they did the last time they played in Columbus in 1993) or a thousand people (as they did this time in Columbus as the opening act on a triple bill with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Face to Face). Sib is in constant contact with the audience and bounces around the stage like a child who has drunk too much Kool-Aid before bedtime. Guitarist Soda and bassist Dave “Burdie Cutlass” Georgeff look like movie characters – Soda playing the part of a Depression-era hoodlum (think a young James Cagney) with his undersized dress suit and hat, and Georgeff playing the part of a used car salesman turned politician (think of the movie Used Cars). Then there’s Loomis. In addition to playing drums, Loomis is an evil gremlin, with his stringy foot-long goatee, and adds background vocals that enrich Wax’s sound.
With such larger than life characters, as well as 13 Unlucky Numbers’ kick-off song “Who is Next” playing in the background of the new Andre Agassi commercial, guest spots on 120 Minutes and The Jon Stewart Show, and a “Breakthrough Video” for the song “California”, how could Wax not finally get the attention it so deserves?
The “California” video video, which features a burning stuntman running down a Los Angeles street, was directed by longtime friend, the extraordinary Spike Jonze. Twelve seconds of video was stretched out to match the two minute and 20 second duration of the song. Even slowed down, it’s hard to spot the members of Wax who preferred to stand in the background of the video, intermingling with other curious onlookers.
“You know Wax, you gotta be quick,” Sib says of the video. “Quick records. Quick videos. Quick sets. You can’t get to know us too well. Quick interviews … We’re outta here!”