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INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT: THE STORY OF WAX TRAX! RECORDS (2018) – Boston Underground Film Festival

For those of us who were into Industrial Music back in the 80s and 90s, Wax Trax! was a magical name. This was the label that brought the music of Front 242 to the US, who gave Ministry their start with several 12” releases, including “Every Day Is Halloween”. The label that would eventually be the home for KMFDM, Front Line Assembly and most importantly for me, Sister Machine Gun. Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records is the behind the scenes story of the rise, fall and rebirth of this legendary label.

Starting out as a store run by an openly gay couple, (a rarity at the time), Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher in Colorado before relocating to Chicago in 1978. Going from selling underground records to booking concerts by then-unknown bands like Bauhaus, and eventually into licensing and producing albums.

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Jim’s daughter Julia, (he was married and had two kids before coming out), directs a look at the people and the music that made Wax Trax! Everyone from her mother Jean Payne, who remained friends with her ex, to Bauhaus’s Daniel J, Al Jourgensen of Ministry and countless side projects are interviewed. Non Wax Trax artists like Trent Reznor and David Grohl talk about its influence on them and their careers.

It’s all accompanied by great archival footage. John Water’s frequent star Divine is seen in concert and promoting his Wax Trax single Born To Be Cheap. Al Jourgensen slicing his arm open during a Revolting Cocks concert.

Much of this footage was nearly lost forever. After some loose business practices forced, the label’s sale to TVT Records and Jim’s death from AIDS in 1995. Flesher fell apart and eventually retreated to his family’s farm in Hope, Alabama, where he died, also of AIDS, in 2010. Much of the label’s memorabilia was stashed in a barn there. The film actually begins with Julia rescuing the treasure trove and bringing it back to Chicago to begin work on the film.

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Sadly, Sister Machine Gun never gets a mention, but interviews with Richard Jonkheere of Front 242 and Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM along with revelations like Julia talking about the first time she saw Jim and Dannie kiss and realized they weren’t just roommates make up for it.

Those who weren’t into the scene probably won’t find much of interest here. But for anyone who was, Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records will be a fascinating look back.

Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records makes its Boston debut at the Boston Underground Film Festival. The reborn Wax Trax! Records, run by Julia, plan to release it on Blu-ray along with a soundtrack album in April. You can get the details here.

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