There’s an unwritten code among bands: Never steal a member of a rival group, especially a group you respect.

Fortunately for Static-X, that code wasn’t broken when former Dope guitarist Tripp Eisen was enlisted to replace original member Koichi Fukuda.

“The best part about it,” frontman Wayne Static said recently, “is we didn’t take him from Dope. He left Dope weeks before he called us. He and their drummer (Preston Nash) both left at the same time.

“Tripp’s the first guy that came to mind, because we had toured with Dope several times in 1999 and last year, but I was like, ‘Man, I’m not going to call him and break up their band.’ You just don’t do that, but it just so happens that he was leaving anyway.

“This was in December, when we were about halfway through tracking our new record. We just went ahead with it, from the start, even when Koichi left. He left in October before we even started recording. We were ready to go; we had already been in rehearsals and he hadn’t shown up. We were like, ‘Let’s just go ahead and worry about it later. We’ve got a record to make, and everything’s on the schedule.’ I went ahead and did the lead guitar myself, rather than hold off until we found somebody else. Then, luckily, Tripp fell right into our laps.”

With producer Ulrich Wild (Powerman 5000, Apartment 26) at the helm, Static-X – Static, drummer Ken Jay and bassist Tony Campos – forged ahead, building “Machine,” the techno-metal group’s follow-up to 1999’s gold-selling “Wisconsin Death Trip.”

Static made sure “Machine” (released May 22 on Warner) didn’t stray far from their thrash roots.

“We have pretty much established our identity,” he said, “and I just wanted to build upon that, as opposed to how the first album was written, all by experimenting and trying to decide what we wanted to do. With this album, we wanted to make it a little bit darker and heavier and challenge ourselves, but yet we wanted to be really careful not to lose what made us popular in the first place.”

The bulk of “Machine,” punctuated by the first single, “This Is Not,” lyrically reflects Static-X’s touring experiences.

“Most of it was written while we were on the road,” he said. “It’s about the ups and downs of this lifestyle. Touring is what you make it. I tend to be more of a homebody, so I have a harder time with it than a lot of people do. It’s cool in some ways, because you get to see the world and you get to play every night, which is awesome. In some ways, it kind of sucks, too. You’re never home, you miss your family and friends, and you don’t have a lot of privacy, things like that.”

Static isn’t even intimidated when seeing the massive itinerary planned for the group. Coming off a month touring Europe with Slipknot, they open a two-month North American trek with Pantera and Slayer on June 20 in New Haven, Conn.

“I try not to pay attention to the schedule,” he said. “I just take it day by day. It’s like, ‘All right, what are we going to do today?’ It’s the only way you can get through it, otherwise it’s a little overwhelming.”

Static-X fans likely won’t get to see the band’s home video documentary, “Where the Hell Are We & What Day Is It? – This Is Static-X.” It has been postponed indefinitely, much to Static’s dismay.

“I don’t know if that’s going to come out at all,” he said. “There’s legal problems with footage in there that was to be cleared up many months ago and has not been. It’s just being held up by lawyers at this point, and it’s kind of sad because I think the fans are really missing out.

“It’s very depressing to me. We put a lot of work into it, and I think it’s an awesome, realistic glimpse into our lives and how we got to where we’re at and what we’re like as people. It’s not just the usual drinkin’-and-smashin’ videos, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Fans would get to know us as individuals and hopefully be entertained while they’re seeing that. We decided to do some interview footage of us doing what we wanted to do, like I was driving my truck and Tony was miniature golfing. It made it interesting, rather than us sitting in a room. It’s very ‘Spinal Tap,’ in a strange kind of way, but that’s okay, because we like to make fun of ourselves.

“I just hope people get to see it some day.”

THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “Kiss’ ‘Alive.’ That was the first time in my life that I understood what a rock band is and could be and that it was something I wanted to do. It was also the first non-teenybopper thing I was into. Before that, it was Donny & Marie Osmond, or some crap like that. Kiss was the first more grownup thing for me.”

THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “I didn’t go to any concerts when I was young because of where I lived. Nobody comes to Shelby, Mich. Probably when I went to school, at Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, I saw some punk-rock concerts, like Black Flag and Circle Jerks. From there, I really got into the goth stuff, like Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division – ‘wish-I-was-dead’ music.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BUSH’S PRESIDENCY SO FAR?: “A hundred or so days in a presidency is not enough to judge anyone. At this point, I don’t really know. I don’t know what to think of the guy. I’m not a huge fan. Sometimes it seems like he doesn’t even know what he’s saying, and then other times he seems like an all-right guy. I’m still in denial right now; I have no president (laughing).”

STATIC-X ON THE WEB: Plug into Static-X @