Posted January 10, 2011 by admin

26 responses to “WAX TRAX! RECORDS STORE

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  1. As I was record shopping in Florida, I happened across a catalogue for the Wax Trax store. It was copyright 1981 and was catalogue #1. Does anyone have any kind of information on this? I have a PDF scan of the cover for verification.

  2. What ever happened to the pic. Of Iggy with his dad at trailor in Michigan? The pic was taped on inside of glass counter in store.always remember that one….

  3. If I had a dime for every dollar I dropped on vinyl and buttons at Wax Trax I’d build a time machine and go back to 79-80 and spend all the dimes on more buttons and vinyl. Best time ever.

  4. Oldest shirt I have is interception. I have some promo shirts packed away from Tyranny era. A lot of these shirts have been reissued. Another thing is try to watch some live shows. You may find some old shirts worn.

  5. Lokking for old 242 shirts and posters? I still have everyone I bought from WT. My favorite 242 poster and a digital image of the group with close up faces and the wax trax album covers going around the outer frame. Sorry, not selling!

    • Hi Andrew,
      I’m a huge collector of old 242 shirts. Great to hear you still have all that you bought. Is it possible for you to type a list/description of which shirts you have? I believe I have most (but certainly not all) going back to 1987/Official Version-era, but I am unsure if any were made for No Comment or earlier (1984 Medusa’s shirts?, etc.).
      Thanks for any help and guidance.

  6. Wax Trax! -A label, record store, and a culture that will never be duplicated! I would blow half my paycheck just about every or every other Saturday
    -blindly, but knowing that I had some of the best, most mind-blowing underground music in the world at the time! The shows at Medusa’s, Metro, The Vic, years ago but can still remember them like they happened yesterday! I’m proud to say that I still own just about everything the label put out, being the anal completest that I am! It’s the only section in my vinyl collection that is separated from the rest, so it’s easier to locate! The thing is, I’ve transferred all of the vinyl onto Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab gold CD-R’s, using a Pioneer CD recorder via a Thorens turntable (NO computer bullshit), so now I don’t have to wear out those precious slabs o’ vinyl anymore!-I’ve always lived on the southwest side of Chicago, and everyone who lives in Chicago knows the Northside vs. the Southside thing, so not too many people on the Southside ever knew about about Wax Trax!-The only major music station that played Wax Trax! records at the time was WXRT, which was way cool at the time, but now they’re just another corporate-owned piece of shit that I don’t even bother to listen to anymore. The only cool stations now are the college stations, like WHPK, (of which I was a DJ there for about a year, 2 yrs. ago) and of course, WNUR. So sorry, Julia, I didn’t vote for the Retrospective show on ‘XRT’s listener’s poll for 2011, because of their Corporatism-Your father and Dannie, with their fiercely independent spirit, would not associate themselves with ‘XRT anymore if they were alive today-that’s just my opinion. The underground scene will always be where it’s at, with all of the DIY’S making the most honest, most human music this world has to offer!-Anyway, the spirit of Wax Trax! will always be alive, and the world owes a debt of gratitude to Wax Trax! for their tremendous contribution to the world of music, humankind’s most universal language!
    Now here’s my Top Ten Independent music labels, if anyone gives a shit, & I don’t care!

    1. Wax Trax!
    2. Play It Again Sam
    3.Touch And Go
    4. SST
    5. Homestead
    6. Sub Pop
    7. Matador
    8. Industrial
    9. Autumn
    10. Subway
    11. Pravda (Oops, that’s 11, but I could go on and on!)

    Long live WAX TRAX!—FUCKIN’ A RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I started buying records at Wax Trax on Lincoln in the early 80’s. At the time, I lived in the Quad Cities and drove 3 1/2 hours to buy records there. I remember they had the coolest bags in bright colors like lime green, turquoise, yellow, gray, red with musical pictures such as cassette tape players, guy playing sax, etc. I remember talking Jim out of one of the posters for the first US appearance of Front 242 at Medusa’s. Great show, but had to wait forever for them to take the stage. Saw their first two shows at Medusas. One of them fell off the stage during one performance. I loved the 7″ vinyl section because know body else really sold imported 7″ records (12″ yes, but not 7″). I also loved the avant garde section of records that Jim personally picked up on trips to Europe. I remember getting all kinds of cool punk clothing there. T-shirts by the likes of Gang of Four, the Human League, etc. I also got cool jackets by Boy, and spike wrist bands. I was like a kid in a candy store there. Jim and Danny and Al J. always had great recommendations. Being from out of town, they also helped direct me to the cool clubs. I remember them giving me directions to the Smart Bar when it first opened. Another found memory I had was there was a french pastry place a few doors down from the Lincoln store. It was a great place to fulfill my munchies and go through my bag of treasures I just bought at Wax Trax. A shout out to Ron W. and Scott B, my favorite Wax Trax shopping buddies. Having been a regular at the Chicago store for years, I also had to make the trek to the Denver store a few times on visits to Colorado. I now live in the Twin Cities. I have been to many a record store. Wax Trax has my most found memories.

  8. What year did the Damen store open up?

  9. Will there be any PIG items in the Shop?

  10. Great explaination, I’ll take a quality Wax Trax group anyday over the crap coming from major labels these days. I do hope to see the Retrospectacle Dvd soon.

  11. I lived at the corner of Damen and Armitage, and have fond memories of digging thru the bins when Wax Trax! on Damen sold records, albeit briefly. This was around 1994/1995, after the sale to TVT…found some great vinyl there – PIG, Thrill Kill Kult, Front 242, Ministry, RevCo, Wiseblood, Coil. Then would wander down the street and spend more money at Reckless, and later, The Quaker Goes Deaf. Then get a meatloaf sandwich at Silver Cloud, followed by some heavy drinking. Made friends with a guy named Chris Connelly who worked at Reckless on North Ave, and it was over a year later that I realized he was THAT Chris Connelly. Left the area before the full gentrification took hold, haven’t been to Chicago in over 10 years. Would like to go back and visit, but I know I’d be disappointed – you can never go back. Sigh. Those were my personal “good ol’ days” – late 80’s to mid 90’s in ChiTown.

  12. Back in ’89 I was introduced to the industrial scene of Chicago. Previously deep in to Chicago house music and collecting music to DJ. I stepped foot in the Wax Trax on Lincoln and went nuts. I had spent a huge amount of money buying the music I still love and enjoy to this day. Some of my Wax Trax treasures are my Front 242 Gold Headhunter CD-V, Wax Trax Video Promo #2 and a pair of New Scene LP (german DJ industrial ebm mixers) I had to barter to buy the only copy in the store while it was playing behind the counter. I now look forward to groups under waxtrax2 label and completing collections of the original items.

    • Thanks Andrew, It’s so true. There was nothing else like the Lincoln Ave. store. We miss it dearly.

      We’re a little confused…What is WaxTrax2?

      • Hey there admin / Julia / to whom it may concern,

        I believe that Andrew is speaking of the following label:

        WTII Records (that’s WT2 rather than a pair of capital letter “i’s” like so – [ II ] ) which makes an allusion to Wax Trax! Records in that it shortens the original words “Wax” and “Trax!” down to just “W” and “T” with a II thrown in as if it were a continuation of Wax Trax! Records.

        All of this according to the Wikipedia entry for WTII Records, reveals the following:


        WTII Records is an independent record label set up in 2001 by a former WaxTrax! employee, Bart Pfanenstiel, to relive the spirit of WaxTrax!’s early music. WTII’s releases span a wide variety of musical styles, but the primary focus is electronic based pop, synthpop, electro, industrial, indie rock, trip-hop and ambient noise. With releases from artists like Stromkern, Beborn Beton, The Qualia, The Gothsicles, Dessau, Attrition, In Strict Confidence, HMB and cut.rate.box, WTII continues to push spectrum of electronic music to new limits.

        WTII’s artist’s have completed several US tours as both a headliner and support. Performed at numerous festivals and played hundreds of one offs across the globe. Their music can be heard in the background of MTV’s Made, MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 and MTV’s Trailer Fabulous, A&E’s Biography, SpikeTV’s Death Guild and Vh1’s Driven and in numerous shows on the Discovery Channel and TBS. Their artist’s have had tracks in these motion pictures: Spider Man 2, The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions and in the video games: Project Gotham Racing, Punisher, Red Faction and The Matrix online game.

        The label has one sublabel Bit Riot Records and is distributed by Nail Distribution in the US and Canada.


        The info above is gleaned from the Wikipedia entry on Wax Trax! Records (beneath the “Bankruptcy and Purchase” article subheader) as shown at the following link:



        I hope the info above was of some assistance to you. I know that it has caused confusion in the past with regard to supporters of Wax Trax! Records (following its buy out by TVT Records) in that said supporters assumed that the original label had shed the TVT shadow and had risen to reclaim itself as “Independent” once again.

        Take care,

        B. Watts :)

        • Yes, exactly. If rumours are correct my friend was getting signed to WTII. I don’t want to spoil anything yet for him but he has a huge infulence from Wax Trax. His music reflects the works from the past. Take a look at Deadliner on iTunes. Very up and coming.

          I have heard of a dvd in the making of the show. Release date? Id love to see Luc Van Acker shoving the microphone down my mouth during the show on the 17th while playing beers/steers/queers.

        • hmmm….
          So what you are saying is fans and upcoming bands are given an illusion that WTII is somehow affiliated, sanctioned or condoned by Wax Trax! Records… when in actuality has nothing to do with Wax Trax!
          We will definitely need to somehow clarify this for fans.

          Thank you Brent for explaining.

          • Julia …

            You are most welcome.

            I had (as well as many other fans … not sure about if / what the “upcoming bands” may have been led to believe) assumed that the WTII label was given the blessing by those affiliated with the ORIGINAL Wax Trax! Records label (i.e. Dannie, yourself, or TVT) back when WTII Records was founded in 2001 “by a former WaxTrax! employee, Bart Pfanenstiel” [as per the WTII article entry on Wikipedia] ).

            I’m rather shocked to learn that WTII has been in existence (located in Chicago) and conducting business for almost a decade without your knowledge.

            Even the release catalogue of WTII follows the same style as the original Wax Trax! Records discography once did, in that they have a WT 001 or WT 002 or WT xxx, etc. release notation / designation that mimics the WAX 010, WAX 026, WAX 033, etc. (yes, those are all classic Front 242 releases that I chose as examples). ;-)

            With that being said and done, I am glad to hear that the Retrospectacle was such a success.

            You, the “old school” Wax Trax! bands, the Cabaret Metro, the supporting DJ’s (a special nod going out to Sean Joyce) and the individuals who put it together, rightfully deserve credit for bringing this three day event to fruition. From what I can gather here whilst surfing the Internet, everyone (i.e. the fans) seemed to have a splendid time. Jim and Dannie would be most proud knowing that so many people came out to support and celebrate the 33 1/3 anniversary of the label’s inception.

            Looking forward to future posts here on the site with regard to photos, videos, audio snippets, etc. that captured the flavour of the Wax Trax! Retrospectacle.

            Best wishes Julia … hopefully now you’ll take a much needed break.

            Peace out,

            Brent Watts


            • Hi Brent,

              I can clear this up.. re: WTII.

              WTII Records are not ‘officially’ WaxTrax! nor do they claim to be (and can never be, legally). They are completely separate labels, however, many people still view WTII as part of the WaxTrax! legacy, and probably always will.

              It’s true that Bart, the owner of WTII was indeed a part of WaxTrax! .. He was the General Manager in the Chicago office. Jim and Dannie were Bart’s mentors and they were family to him.

              I remember speaking to Bart after a concert and he was quite distraught in regards to the end of WaxTrax! Everyone was hurt and upset. That was right around the time when he decided that he was going ‘bring it back’ (in a manner of speaking).

              The next time I saw him was at yet another concert. This time at the Metro. He was very delighted in the fact that he had started the label ‘back-up’ (so-to-speak). I was a little confused because I couldn’t see how that was possible without TVT’s consent. He had said (something to the effect of) true, but they can’t stop me from starting a NEW label. They (Jim & Dannie) worked too hard for their dream to live and I can’t let that die. I won’t. Not by some…

              I’ve got a band (In Strict Confidence) and a bus. I’m driving the bus myself. Would you believe I’m driving a bus? (i tried to picture Bart driving a bus and burst out laughing). No.. it’s not easy to drive, but I’m doing it and I’m tired!.. (then conversation went on a bit about the band.. then back to the label.. )..

              I still remember everything that Jim and Dannie taught me through the years. They were my mentors… family… WaxTrax! is in here (pointing to his head). I remember it all. Everything. I’ve decided to call it WTII in their honor.. because obviously… I can’t use the WaxTrax! name since the … now owns the rights (he made a face), but I can call it WTII which will be ‘like’ an acronym, but not really, for WaxTrax! the second, you know like the son of WaxTrax records, but not really, well… you know what I mean. (Yes. I knew exactly what he meant..) …

              So that was the gist of the conversation (not direct quotes, just the gist), which I still remember quite vividly, to this day. I think it was because he had such passion. Some people sparkle when they are happy. Bart was shining brightly that night.

              … Bart had remained in contact with Dannie for a long time.. I’m fairly certain he had his support/blessing.

              As far as I’m aware, Bart is still in touch with several former WaxTrax! artists.

              Naming his business for them (Jim and Dannie), WTII is Bart’s way to honor them, and all that they taught him.

              … So the reason the WTII label carries so many similarities isn’t because they are mimicking WaxTrax! It’s because Bart’s merely doing what he’s always done. He learned from the best! There’s not doubt about that.

              Congratulations to your friend BTW.


  13. For me, Wax Trax! Records and Medusa’s Niteclub / juicebar shall always be intertwined. Very fond memories of both places back in the late 80’s.

    I lived in the northern suburbs (North Shore area of Chicago) and whenever I made a trek downtown via the Metra commuter train, Wax Trax! Records at 2449 North Lincoln Avenue was on my itinerary to do for the day / night.

    First exposed to Front 242 / Laibach / The Young Gods via the video room on the uppermost floor of Medusa’s back in the Summer of 1987 … the video for Front 242’s “Quite Unusual” is what hooked me. Never saw or heard anything like it before. Same goes for Laibach’s “Life Is Life” video. Just knew that I wanted more and knew that I had finally found music that I could call “my own”.

    Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher were instrumental in putting the city of Chicago on the map as the “Ground Zero Point” for Industrial Dance music. Period. No questions asked. These guys had the ears and the vision to spot talent that not only they enjoyed, but first and foremost, what other people would enjoy (and listen to / dance to / buy / promote via t-shirts / patronize at live gigs / etc.).

    I always got a kick out of spotting the classic yellow and red logo Wax Trax! Records merchandise bags whenever I was out and about downtown. You just knew that that person or persons were “in the know” about good underground music.

    Northwestern University’s 89.3 FM WNUR radio station also played an important role in promoting the Wax Trax! label as well. Many a night did I tune in to either request a specific band or track, or to hear something new that the DJ’s had just picked up at Wax Trax! for further airplay to the masses.

    My fondest memory whilst listening to the WNUR station pertains to Front 242’s release of “Headhunter” (off of the highest selling Wax Trax! Records album “Front By Front”). I remember the DJ’s mentioning that they had obtained something rather unique earlier in the week via the Wax Trax! label and as they built up the suspense level prior to playing the track, I had no idea of what to expect.

    Then it became so. It finally went out over the airwaves of Chicago and into the homes / cars / headphone radios of fellow Wax Trax! devotees and WNUR listeners.

    The opening chords and beats of “Headhunter” went live. When I heard it, I just knew … knew in my heart … that THIS was gonna go very, very, very BIG. This track was going to put Front 242 on the worldwide dancefloor hot list. It was akin to a shot heard around the world. And indeed, the world did hear it … all because of the work of two guys from the Midwest who had a fondness for Industrial Music, a special relationship with the bands on their label, the customers who patronized their store, and others who traveled / danced in this life to “a different beat” so to speak.

    A special nod / shout out to Julia Nash for all of her hard work and vision in keeping the Wax Trax! spirit alive and in using her business acumen in which to bring this 33 1/3rd “Retrospectacle” to fruition. Sadly, I will not be able to attend (I am on the other side of the country), but would kill to be there for this gig.

    Do enjoy everyone. Most certainly Jim and Dannie would have wanted you to do so.


    Brent Watts
    Wax Trax! alumni 1991

  14. I moved to Chicago in 1988, and was living in Wicker Park not long afterwards. Wax Trax and Lounge Ax were incredibly important to me then. First show I went to Lounge Ax (Sekiri) I ran into Big Al and Steve Albini. I knew Chicago was the place to be…

    When the store was closing, bought a nice large pile of records including a bunch of test pressings of Cassandra Complex records. An odd little piece of history.

  15. Similar to some other comments, I discovered bands by just buying stuff there. It started with a 12″ single of a TKK song remixed by KMFDM, with the other side a KFMDM song remixed by TKK.

    Then I started gobbling up more and more.

    I was only there a couple of times when I visited Chicago, but it was a memorable place. I even have a genre “waxtrax” on my ipod.

  16. I learned of Wax Trax by sending a letter to the Ministry Fan Club that was on the cover of my Twitch casette tape. I got a personal response from the Wax Trax folks answering some questions and giving me a catalog. By going to the record store and blindly buying albums that were included in the catalog I discovered several really cool bands. I never went to the store in Chicago (I did visit the original in Denver) but I always felt a life connection in that the music and events that unfolded from that store affected my life up to this day.

  17. Wax Trax! on Lincoln Avenue was the most amazing record store EVER. I made hundreds of trips there, and I lived in Indiana at the time.
    Jim was always very friendly and generous.
    rest in peace Jim and Danny

  18. Ahhh Wax Trax. How I loved my journeys to your store from the far north suburbs, down into the city, and into a place where I felt at home. Thanks for introducing me to so much awesome music.

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