While Chicago is known in today’s music world largely for its budding hip-hop scene, it was also at the center of punk, new wave and industrial music during the 80’s, and no one was more at the heart of that than Wax Trax! Records.
The record label started as a humble record store in Denver, Colorado started by Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. They sold the store in 1978 and decided to move their business to Chicago, where they opened a new store under the same name.
While the record store was already a huge success from importing music and styles that were currently budding in Europe (Joy Division got their first taste of Chicago through Wax Trax!) , the transformation to a record label was slow at first. The duo initially released limited edition records, such as Brian Eno’s “Wimoweh/Deadly Seven Finns.”
Eventually, both Nash and Flesher would go on to release their first official album as a record label with Strike Under’s Immediate Action. Pretty soon, the shop turned into a full-fledged record label and became the curator for Chicago (and America’s) growing punk, industrial and new wave music that took off in the 80’s.
Artists such as Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM, Revolting Cocks and several other acts that defined and fueled the provocativeness of 80’s music all got their start or worked with Wax Trax! Records during it’s heyday. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has cited the record label’s influence on his music on numerous occasions and said that as Chess Records was to blues and soul music, Chicago’s Wax Trax! was just as significant to the punk rock, new wave and industrial genres.
Now, a new documentary entitled INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: The Untold Story of Wax Trax! Records is nearing completion and the first trailer has been released. The new documentary follows the hectic and disorganized rise of not just a record store but the entire movement the label inspired, with interviews and stories from several of the key artists who worked with Wax Trax!, as well as others who discuss the label’s expansive influence. Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters, Paul Barker and Al Jourgensen of Ministry, Steve Albini of Big Black/Shellac, Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys, Chris Connelly of Revolting Cocks, Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat/Pailhead and of course, Trent Reznor all make appearances in the documentary to discuss the tremendous legacy of Wax Trax!
The new documentary was screened to a small audience in Chicago, with an artist panel and Q&A afterwards.
See the trailer below and stay tuned for info regarding any future screenings or release of the documentary.