2018 • USA • 94 min.
Director: Julia Nash
Screenwriter: Mark Skillicorn
Cast: Jello Biafra, Trent Reznor, Steve Albini, Al Jourgensen
March 21, 2019 @ 7:30 pm
It is impossible to overstate the impact of Wax Trax! Records on the underground music scene in the 1980s and into the ’90s. The tiny record store that had its humble beginnings on Ogden Avenue in Denver would grow into the extraordinary successful label that would introduce acts such as Front 242 and KMFDM to North America. The original shop started by Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, two men whose mutual love of glam rock would spark a lifelong business and romantic partnership, already had a reputation as the best record store in the US before Nash and Flesher moved it to Lincoln (later Damen) Avenue in Chicago. In the pre-internet age, record stores doubled as meet-up lounges for the local counter-culture. And Wax Trax’s inventory, its bins stacked with imports and rarities, ensured the store a steady clientele of misfits. But not content with simply being the Amoeba of the Midwest, once they were settled in Chicago Nash and Flesher decided to branch out from Wax Trax! simply being a record store. Promoting gigs and hosting in-store appearances by the likes of Bauhaus would give way to Wax Trax! pressing records for Divine and later Ministry and the Revolting Cocks.
Inspired by British labels 4AD and Factory, Wax Trax! would soon look to Europe to license and sign artists whose records had yet to cross the Atlantic. Over the years, Wax Trax’s roster of artists would grow to include Underworld, Meat Beat Manifesto, Laibach, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Front Line Assembly. But the golden age Wax Trax! enjoyed in the late ‘80s would soon later have bankruptcy crashing down from a case of too many handshake deals and a simple refusal to let a sustainable business model interfere with artistic integrity. And although Nash and Flesher managed to weather the financial storm, it was the heartbreaking reality of terminal illness that would separate them in the end.
Directed by Jim’s daughter Julia Nash, Industrial Accident has a suitably stompy soundtrack and an impressive array of talking heads willing to gush about how far ahead of the curve Jim and Dannie were. The goodwill towards her dad is palpable in each person Nash trains her camera on (even notorious curmudgeon Steve Albini comes off as downright affable). But it is her and co-writer/director Mark Skillicorn’s framing the story around Jim and Dannie’s relationship that grounds the film. The two misfits who created a home for other misfits remain central to the film, which is as much a rise-and-fall story as it is a death-and-resurrection story.