Wax Trax! Records is an American independent record label based in Chicago. It began as a record shop in Denver, Colorado, opened by life partners Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, who sold the store in 1978 and moved to Chicago. In November of that year, they opened a store under the same name in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. During the 1980s and 1990s, the accompanying record label became a presence on the new wave and punk rock scenes in the city, and an outlet for European bands. The label was purchased in 1992 by TVT Records and was discontinued in 2001. In 2014, it was re-established by Julia Nash, daughter of co-founder Jim Nash.
Richard Giraldi of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "As important as Chess Records was to blues and soul music, Chicago's Wax Trax imprint was just as significant to the punk rock, new wave and industrial genres." According to critic Greg Kot, the legacy of Wax Trax is trusting the artist.
The record store became a record label slowly at first, initially releasing limited edition records such as Brian Eno's "Wimoweh/Deadly Seven Finns" seven inch. The first official Wax Trax! release was Strike Under's Immediate Action twelve inch EP in 1980, followed by Divine's Born To Be Cheap seven inch. But it was the release of Cold Life by Ministry — along with the licensing of Front 242's Endless Riddance EP — that set the stage for Wax Trax! to become America's preeminent industrial label of the 1980s and 1990s.