Unreleased Trax on Wax, from the Past!


Gone but not forgotten, Chicago's premiere synth-rock label Wax Trax! Records is risen from slumber in the form of a documentary and its accompanying soundtrack. Screened last year in the label's ancestral home of Denver, Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records received great acclaim, and had notables like Groovie Mann from My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult spilling salad days stories for the public. The re-released soundtrack, dropping on Record Store Day (April 12th), is going to be a major gem in any collector's set, composed of unreleased music from Wax Trax's roster. Thrill Kill is on there, along with FRONT 242, KMFDM, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, and more!!

A popular destination for everyone from new wavers to ravers, Wax Trax! held down two stores. One in our very own Lincoln Park, the original currently resides in downtown Denver. It was here, in Chicago, that the label's founders Dannie Flesher and Jim Nash stood up their midwest flagship store after selling the original location (Wax Trax, no exclamation point) out west. They had no idea that one of the biggest artists to ever call their label home was living out his formative years a few towns over, searching for a sense of self, and hadn't yet realized his own potential.

Al Jourgenson emigrated to Chicago from Colorado for a stint at UIC in 1980, just behind Dannie and Jim, quickly involving himself in the underground hard rock scene. In 1981, it was Jim Nash's opinion that Al wanted, on the demo that led to the creation of Ministry. One year later Wax Trax! Records released Ministry's first single, starting a chain reaction for all parties involved.

During the 80s, Wax Trax! developed licensing partnerships with labels overseas, in turn releasing music from their musicians stateside to a Belgian label. The two companies had a give and take, operating offices for each other in their respective countries. Things turned rough for the label in the early 90s, forcing them to declare bankruptcy. When Jim passed away in 1995, control of the Wax Trax! imprint shifted to TVT records, a company in New York. TVT continued to release box sets under the imprint until they shut the shop on Wax Trax! in 2001.

Current head of Wax Trax! Records Julia Nash
Photo: Chandler West

Jim's daughter Julia has taken on the mantel, vowing to keep her father's memory alive through the music he loved. Fifteen months after Dannie passed in 2010 from complications with pneumonia, Julia collaborated with her friends in the scene to hold the Retrospectacle, a 3-day event in honor of Wax Trax! Records’ 33 ⅓ year anniversary. It was a star-studded kickstart for the label's rebirth, followed up three years later by their first post-bankruptcy release. It was a watershed moment for everyone involved.

Learn more about the twists and turns of this homegrown rock n roll outlet at the screening of Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records. Tickets will be available on the day of the screening, April 13th, at participating record stores. Purchase a soundtrack and get your tickets, and plan your trip to House of Vans Chicago. The screening also includes a Q&A and a live performance of Wax Trax! era recordings by Ministry. If you're a fan of synth, metal, experimental or all of the above, this is one night you won't want to miss.