Interview with Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P.

It's an event that has been much anticipated among W.A.S.P. fans: guitarist Chris Holmes and vocalist Blackie Lawless together, recording and touring in support of their new album, K.F.D. I spoke to Blackie about the reunion, the new album, and the tour. Here are some excerpts.

When and why did you reunite with Chris to record the new album?

We got back together in August of 1995, but kept putting off announcing the album until we had enough time to do a tour. We thought we would let the cat out of the bag. We got back together because we missed doing the live shows. We looked around out there and there was not one truly dangerous band around, a dangerous band that strikes fear, fear in the hearts of governments, religious leaders, and so on. We got back to do what I think we do best.

So, is Chris Holmes still a raging alcoholic?

He is mad. His soul is mad. You have to spend 24 hours with him to understand how he is. We are the most extreme people I know. He's the angriest man on this planet. People often ask "Does he still drink?" But they fail to realise that his drinking is the symptom of the disease. The disease is madness.

Is there a live tour in the works in support of K.F.D.?

Yep. We start in two weeks in Europe and we plan to spend two months there. Then we will come back to the U.S. for another two months, go to Asia for a month, and come back to America for the rest of the year.

What will the stage show be like?

It's what I call confrontational theatre, or psychodrama. I used to say it was psychotic people doing drama. No rock band did it like us. It made us uniquely different. We use confrontational theatre to manipulate the emotions of the viewer; manipulate them like a movie like Platoon or Silence of the Lambs does. It leaves you with an uneasy feeling because you've been emotionally raped. There was no rock band that did confrontational theatre as good as us, even though many have tried. Think about it, there is a nun on a 13 foot cross and I rape her with a knife and I pull her fetus out---it certainly gets your attention. And that doesn't even begin to describe what we do on stage. It's definitely not for the faint of the heart. You either like it or you hate it. It's the Roman Coliseum put to Heavy Metal music.

Is the return to the stage show going to be a permanent direction for W.A.S.P. or just for this album?

We're in this for a while. It's long term project and we've already started talking about the next five-six years.

Do you plan on shooting any videos for K.F.D. or release a home video of the live stage show?

Videos are a waste of money. I think the money is better spent on the show itself. We plan to release a home video at the end of the year. We've already shot footage for it, from the seven promotional shows we did in Europe.

So how was the response for the promotional shows?

It was terrific. If the response there is any indication, I think this will be the biggest tour we've ever done. The first show in Madrid sold out in less than a day. The size of the venue was about 2500 people. We plan to play audiences of similar sizes, and if everything goes well, we'll triple our audiences.

Will the current line-up be recording on the next studio album?

I hope so. I enjoyed working with them a lot.

Will you continue with the sound on K.F.D?

Although we never did two records in a row that sounded the same, when we went back and revisited music where we first come from, it was like visiting an old friend we hadn't visited in a long time. We aren't ready to leave the neighbourhood yet.

What bands have been an influence on you and what do you currently listen to?

I don't listen to anything currently. We have been on an unbelievable treadmill getting this thing together. I am also careful not to listen to other bands when I am in the middle of recording, as I don't want the songs to be influenced by them. Over my life, I have been influenced by Steppenwolf in a major way. Born to be Wild was one of the first songs I heard. The Who, the Beatles, have all been an influence.

What's your take on the music industry?

I have been on a major label all my life, but I really think they don't know what good music is anymore. That was one of the reasons we left Capitol. We feel an intermediate label would be the best for us as all the big seven labels had homogenised music to a point that it was disgusting. There is much more room for creativity for artists not on a major label. Someone like Jimi Hendrix couldn't happen on a major label today. It's hard for creativity to make a statement when you don't have creative people in charge.

What's your view on Rock 'n' Roll?

Rock is an expressionism of rebellion. That is the essence of rock and roll. When Eddie Cochran sung "ain't no cure for the summertime blues", he was talking about the pointlessness of life; you know Kill, Fuck, Die.

Do you think that metal music is dead, and do you think the resurgence of bands from the 80s and the 70s will help bringing it back?

A band like W.A.S.P won't help with bringing back Metal. We can do what we do because we put on a show. It's just like KISS is doing well because they are doing a show. KISS or W.A.S.P reuniting isn't gonna help the metal genre. My view is that metal isn't gonna get back. The fashions have changed, even though the music is the same. Fashion has been mistaken for music.

What does you think about some of the W.A.S.P. fans saying that W.A.S.P. has sold-out and went with a industrial sound on the new album?

Industrial overtones... when we were doing this we wanted it to be the closest thing to the first we've every done, especially our earlier b-sides. We were doing this before people had a label on it. I have only one thing to say such fans: go back to the first things we ever did and examine where we came from and see whether we've really changed.

Our getting back together has nothing to do with money. I was doing good without it. It's the biggest risk we're taking considering The Headless Children was the biggest record we ever made. I just miss doing the confrontational theatre stuff and no one can do it as good as we did it. It's not about money because we've not had a problem with it, thanks to our dedicated audience.

How do you feel about the fan dedication?

I think there is no luckier person on the face of the earth. We have a fan base similar to band like the Grateful Dead. Unbelievably dedicated. When you have that kind of fan base.... it's hard to put into words why it is like that... it makes me very humble as opposed to becoming arrogant. I keep thinking "why me?"

Is there any truth to the rumour that Marilyn Manson and W.A.S.P. are doing a re-make of Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)?

We're talking about it. I have never met them, never seen them. I understand he's a fan of the band. Eventually we'd like to get together and do something. It was supposed to have already happened but we've been so busy. People around us have been so busy that they have literally sparks flying off their asses.

Why did Johnny Rod leave W.A.S.P.?

Let's just say that with the exception of only one guy, every time somebody left this band it was because of drugs. There was only one guy who wasn't on drugs who left and it was for purely musical reasons.

Have you or anyone else in W.A.S.P. ever dated Christina Applegate?

No, not dated her, but I've known her for a long time.

What do you think of Australia?

I love Australia. It's London and Southern California put together.

Do you have any plans to be in any movies?

I'm going to meet with people for The Crow III, which is in the works. It won't be live action, but animated, like the original comic books. I plan to provide voice and music.

Have you found any human heads in any dumpsters lately?

[Laughs] No, not since the Crimson Idol!

[One of W.A.S.P.'s crew members found a human head in the dumpster. Blackie joked about using it in the stage show.]

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || || April 10, 1997