“Lawless Let’s Loose On The Media”
Blackie Lawless is out to make his feelings regarding his mentor Pete Townshend clear to all. Lawless has been disappointed in the lack of support from other artists while the scandal broke and sent a one-page statement to the media. Blackie’s opinion is, “If your somebody’s friend you stick by them until you’re shown otherwise.”
“I was walking on cloud nine,” is how Blackie Lawless describes feeling after first meeting Pete Townshend. Lawless first met Townshend at Radio City Music Hall where Tommy played and presented him with the gold disc for the WASP cover of the WHO classic The Real Me. Townshend told Blackie, “No one has ever done a WHO song the way you did.” Lawless felt that was the biggest compliment anyone had ever paid him. As a result Lawless followed up Headless Children with an even more successful and dynamic album, The Crimson Idol. In the liner notes for The Crimson Idol Blackie refers to Pete as his mentor and thanks him for his “pep talk” during that meeting. According to Lawless, that meeting was pivotal since his spirits were low and he felt out of focus after guitarist Chris Holmes left the band. Lawless explained “I’m just returning the favor now.”
C. Marti: What did you mean when saying, “the media DO know what they do”? Are you referring to sensationalizing?
Blackie: Of course, the thing is like a giant hay bailer. You get in front of it and it chops you up into a million pieces. If they had this Iraq war, that they’re gonna have in the next six weeks than you wouldn’t have heard a blip about this. In the meantime they have to stoke the fire. It ruins people’s life sometimes.
C. Marti: In your statement you mentioned that the Vatican is guilty of having Child Porn.
Blackie: Well that was a statement they released in 78’. I was taken back when I first heard it. Here is an organization that in the past five years recognized Israel as a state. Within the last three weeks publicly acknowledged that they supported Mussolini during the Second World War, hid gold for Hitler and was responsible for a little thing a couple hundred years ago called the Inquisition. If they can do that, what the f*ck is it really capable of?
C. Marti: Are you interested in learning about religion?
Blackie: I was brought up in a pretty religious household. I wouldn’t say I’m a scholar but I can carry a conversation about it.
C. Marti: Hypocrisy is something you have hated in both aside from this scandal correct?
Blackie: Well yeah, I feel like the Matt Dillon of rock n roll sometimes. Don’t do stuff to hurt people. Why is there so much of that in the world? Why do we need to feel superior to other individuals? That’s a bad bad place to be. It’s a negativity that will infiltrate every portion of a person’s being if they choose to live their lives that way. There’s a lot of it out there.
C. Marti: Do you believe in or relate to any religion or ideal? You seem well informed about religion.
Blackie: Well there is a difference in believing in religion and believing in God. They’re night and day because my view of organized religion is not very good.
C. Marti: Do you believe in any ideal?
Blackie: Oh yeah, definitely. I do believe in a supreme being. In the record I did before last, Unholy Terror, I went into great detail as far as not getting manipulated by organized religion because of what they do to their people as far as their institutionalization. The way they institutionalize people’s thinking. People don’t think for themselves, they end up being a by-product of Christianity. My father was a Sunday School Superintendent, my grandfather was head deacon of the church and my uncle was the preacher. So when the doors were open I was there. When it comes to organized religions, I don’t care what anyone says, they are cults. It is up to individuals to decide for themselves. There are five levels of existence on this earth. The first one we go through is survival, and we move from there to security, then love and self-fulfillment. I think.
C. Marti: Pete said he couldn’t remember exactly how he was abused. He mentioned that he was in the custody of his grandmother who was mentally ill: “my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows - particularly in Tommy.” Pete’s writing an autobiography and wants to include information about abuse he suffered as a child. In addition he said he wants to send his anger towards people with mental problems that enjoy child pornography. How do you understand his stance on things after backing him up so strongly? Can you relate?
Blackie: Sure we all have childhood memories of things that have affected us. If you listen to psychologists and therapists, they mention that what happens to you in the first few years will pretty much determine how you will be for the rest of your life. If you will, I’ve got my own theories on this, when we look at our life we think of childhood memories. I think of children that are all inside of me. When a child is abused by someone, and I don’t mean s*xually, lets say from a beating. The image that that child forms in his mind is frozen forever and I don’t think that the kid ever matures past that. Then it’s almost like another child picks up from where that one left off. This goes on and on. We look back on our lives and remember, but that child that’s still inside of you is going to have to have those issues resolved one way or the other. Or they’re going to have to carry around that baggage for the rest of their lives. And this is not just me everybody goes through this. Those kids are always asking questions to themselves. Whether it’s Pete or anybody else.
C. Marti: After the attacks, you were quoted saying that a child may think, “why is this happening and where am I going to go from here?” In your statement regarding Pete, you mentioned that child-abuse victims are on a quest to learn how and why things occurred as adults. You seem in tune with the pain a child may go through. How does that relate to you as a person and isn’t it ironic that many would never perceive you this way?
Blackie: Yeah sure, it depends on whom you’re talking to. WASP are a subculture and the hard-core fan base understand me fine. It’s only the peripheral notoriety that I have of people that really don’t understand the band. They are the ones that see it and get it in that light. To answer your question, yes I understand it, but it doesn’t affect me because I know who I’m talking to with what I’m doing.
C. Marti: What did you learn from Pete’s songs aside from telling the truth?
Blackie: Oh man, I learned the craft of writing lyrics from him and John Lennon. I remember the first time I heard “Slip kid” and he said I’m gonna run till’ my feet are raw. Conjure that image in your head for a second. What does that look like? Have you ever seen anybody with bloody feet from marching like soldiers or anything like that? Not a pretty sight, you know, so I just use that as an example.
C. Marti: Pete used his credit card to gain access to a site. No matter what, he should have thought that over. Roger Daltrey agreed, saying that Pete was naïve in the way he went about things.
Blackie: Well, we’ve all done stuff we ain't supposed to. I think the real issue here is the intent. I’m doing these interviews for two reasons. Number one, I’m trying to keep this thing from being tried in the world court of public opinion before anybody really understands what the hell they’re talking about. Secondly, in an effort to get other credible musicians to show some support here and if that can happen then we’ve done what we needed to do. When you see images of Pete with silhouetted images of a kid, I mean they’re trying to convict him before he even gets his day, you know? You’re exonerated later, fine, but the damage is done. That’s what’s so wrong with this tabloid, sensationalistic media we have in this country. I mean it’s so sad. How long has Jerry Springer been on the air? That tells you there is an element out there that thrives on this. I don’t know how long the National Inquirer has been in business. It’s that sort of mentality.
C. Marti: Gary Glitter, I believe went to live in Guam where child prostitution is rampant after getting busted. I see that Pete is ready to tour instead of hiding out.
Blackie: I can’t speak for him or anyone, but I can imagine that when this is sorted out that he’s going to come out with a strong statement and I can’t blame him. I know if it were me boy, I’m a great believer that the best defense is a good offense and I’d come out swinging.
C. Marti: It seems like an issue of fame.
Blackie: Sure it is. It’s that morbid curiosity and fascination we have with fame. Fame is a screwed up thing. We all grow up thinking we want it and I underline “thinking.” It’s not what its cracked up to be. As an artist it’s more of a hindrance than an asset.
C. Marti: A crackdown on child pornography went down and that is a good thing. Pete got tangled in this as a result. Are you more angered by the fact that the public received this information before all of the facts were discovered or that his peers did not back him up?
Blackie: Column A, Column B, I mean yeah all of the above. The first time I heard of it my back stiffened up and I took twenty-four hours to think what’s going on here? Than I mould it over and I thought, “This is Bullshit,” because what’s happening to me is the same thing that’s happening to everybody else. It’s the images that they were plastering on TV. Like I said, the kid silhouetted in the TV and I thought (to myself) “You f*cking know better than that. You know better than to let the media bombard you with visual images.” This is how governments control their people. Which was with visual images via that box you know and it’s a scary thing, the way they can do it. Then I got mad at myself. I’m in this game, I know how the game is played and it can still happen occasionally. You catch yourself and you go “This is crap.” Think back to conversations you’ve had with him, the work that I’ve studied the people I know that know him. This is bullshit beyond compare.
C. Marti: When you first became a fan, was it because you were a guitar player and he was a guitar player?
Blackie: No, it was “Live at Leeds” that did it. It just completely killed me. A lot of people don’t know this but I originally wanted to be a drummer. Listening to Moon play on that stuff, it just killed me.
C. Marti: What’s your favorite “Who” album?
Blackie: Who’s Next
C. Marti: Do you still collect their recent recordings?
Blackie: I got sent that whole thing as a Christmas gift from the record company. I got a recording of every night that they did on this last tour.
C. Marti: After meeting Pete a few times, was he the way you thought he would be?
Blackie: Absolutely. He would think about everything he would say before he said it and when you looked into his eyes you knew he wasn’t bullshitting you. I was surprised he knew more about me than I thought he would. At the after party at Radio City for Tommy they had a backdrop for the presentation of the gold disk and everybody was there I mean Robert Plant, it was a huge event and I thought well, him and I are going to do this and others are going to do photo ops as well. As soon as we did the photos they tore the backdrop down and took the cameras down and I was shocked and I asked my publicist, “Is this just for me.” He goes “Yep, he did this just for you.” I went “Whoa!” So it was a huge thing for me.
C. Marti: Pete faced the issue in an upfront manner with flat out denial. He has four children and no prior record of s*xual misconduct.
Blackie: You know what its like, here’s where the whole thing is so disturbing, the credit card issue aside. To my understanding he was surfing the net with his son, this is back in 99’ and because he had been writing papers on this subject and had done his fundraising. It’s like going to a bank and witnessing it getting robbed and you do something to intervene and when the police show up they inadvertently think your involved in it and they arrest you and take you away. Yeah, you get exonerated later when the truth comes out, but in the meantime when you are a famous person and you’re in the bank the only thing people are going to hear is that you were in the damn bank. So will they (news media) ever give it time later for the exoneration? No they won’t.