Review - Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records - LA West Coast Screening Event (11/9/17)

Kevin Keating
Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records - LA West Coast Screening Event Review
It's been a wild few weeks here in the Bay Area if you're an Industrial music fan like I am. We've had Front 242, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails (in Sacramento), My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Al Jourgensen's Ministry, and this Sunday night, we'll have both the Revolting Cocks & Front Line Assembly fly into San Francisco for a show at the Mezzanine to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Big Sexy Land (iTunes). The common thread between all these bands is that at one time or another, they were each either signed or involved with Wax Trax! Records, the Chicago-based record store turned label which was synonymous with the Industrial music genre of the '80s and early '90s.

This past Thursday night saw the West Coast debut of a new documentary entitled Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records at the Montalban Theatre in Los Angeles. The gathering was only the second organized screening of the film since its debut in Chicago earlier this year. The event brought together a collection of Wax Trax family and friends, artists, and fans that got a sneak peak into the story behind the founding of one of the most instrumental and influential modern record labels in US history; and a chance to speak with a handful of key artists that made up the core of Wax Trax! Records.

Beginning at 6pm, VIP ticket holders made their way through the Montalban Theater lobby upstairs to the lodge for a chance to shop the Wax Trax! pop-up shop that featured merch realistically pulled from a storage container from the early '90s -- a collection of cassettes, CDs in their original long-boxes, and vinyl were available right next to subway-sized posters promoting some of the best Wax Trax! releases like Thrill Kill's Kooler Than Jesus, Ministry's Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Revolting Cocks' Big Sexy Land. Besides the rarities, a number of items were also available from the current online Wax Trax inventory that you can find here.
Wax Trax! memorabilia on display (Photo: Kevin Keating)
At 7pm, the doors opened for the general admission ticket holders and the VIPs were encouraged to climb a few flights of stairs to the roof of the Montalban where Groovie Mann, Buzz McCoy, Chris Connelly, En Esch, Richard 23, and Paul Barker awaited for a once-in-a-lifetime meet and greet signing experience.
Artist Meet & Greet - Pictured is Paul Barker & Richard 23 (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Front Line Assembly's Bill Leeb was even in attendance and was happily chatting it up with friends and fans as the rest of the artists were sequestered to a long set of tables where they were kept busy signing memorabilia. I listened as fans recounted the first time they heard a particular album, or when they first saw <insert band here> to each artist as they worked their way down the receiving line. Even I fanboy'd out and reminded Paul Barker that we'd spoken nearly two years earlier for an interview when he was on tour with Maynard James Keenan and Puscifer. I can only imagine all the stories that each of the artists heard throughout the night.
Front Line Assembly's Bill Leeb (L) - (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Just before 8pm, everyone was asked to make their way into the theater for the start of what we were all there to see. And after a short intro from Julia Nash, the daughter of Jim Nash (co-founder of WaxTrax!), the lights dimmed to find her along with her brother rummaging through the rural barn of  Dannie Flesher (the other co-founder of Wax Trax!) in Hope, Arkansas. Boxes upon boxes of files, merch, and music had been left neglected for years, untouched since at least the mid-90s after Jim Nash's death and when Dannie moved back to his hometown in Arkansas. From there, the movie goes back to the start of Jim & Dannie's relationship, to when they opened their first record store in Denver, CO and subsequently moved to Chicago's Lincoln Avenue location.

As a fan, the film did an incredible job weaving in commentary from a litany of key Wax Trax! artists, but also artists on the periphery of the label, and who were influenced by the sanctuary that both the store and the label had to offer music fans and artists alike -- artists such as Dave Grohl, Dave Haskins (of Bauhaus), Trent Reznor, Jello Biafra, Steve Albini, and Ian MacKaye... all while  complemented with a soundtrack provided by the musicians themselves. Personally, some of the highlights from the film included archival interview footage of Ministry’s Al Jourgensen during his early synth pop days and long before his transformation into the metal industrial torchbearer he is today — and now covered in piercings and tattoos and rare bouts of sobriety.

But the heart of the film, the real core of this documentary, is the loving tribute from the Nash children to their late father, Jim Nash. As of this writing, it's not clear when the film will be released for wider distribution, but be sure to sign-up for news and updates on the Wax Trax Films website for further updates.
Wax Trax! Q&A Panel (Photo: Kevin Keating)
At the conclusion of the documentary, the same panel of artists involved with the meet and greet were joined by Julia Nash on stage for an hour-long Q&A that I've included below. What a night!
Paul Barker & Julia Nash (Photo: Kevin Keating)

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