First of all, my compliments for the new album. I have to confess that I did not expect a new W.A.S.P. album so soon…
(interrupting) Really! It's been years!
Yeah, I mean you had a pretty heavy tour program; when did you start working on Babylon and how long did it take you?
We started working on Babylon on February of this year. I cannot tell you how long it took us since working on the album is really an on-going process. Because you never know what good ideas you may come to when you are in the studio so, I write the whole time.
But is there a danger of over-working an album? I mean, when an artist can be sure that the album is ready?
Sometimes that is true. But when you are writing music for a long time (I have done it for many years) you learn to distinguish the point when a song is ready. If you listen carefully to the song then it will 'tell' you where it wants to go. Having the experience of a song-writer you have the self-confidence to stop and listen to the song. You don't want to over-think it or over-work it. I had this conversation with the people from record label who believe that an artist always wants to change and add stuff. But I tell them that this is not the case; you have to listen to your music to understand if anything is needed. This is the reason why I record more than I need for an album. We simply record everything and then during the mixing process decide what is best for the album. I hate to say that I wish that I have used that during the mixing process.
That sounds pretty logical. So, let's go to the new album. Are you planning to make a video?
Yes we are going to shoot a video for Crazy.
Is there a concept behind it?
Indeed there is. You know Dimitris when someone listens to the lyrics of this song you think its a man talking to a woman, but in truth this is a performer who is talking to the audience. This is based to what happens to a musician when the public places him in a very very high level and this eventually kills the artist. Look at Elvis or Michael Jackson or Curt Cobain…
(interrupting) Have you ever felt this way?
There were times when I was feeling that way and this is why I wrote this song. It is not normal for a human being to experience that level of idol-worship. It's something that most of the performers I've ever met cannot handle it. This situation eventually destroys their lives. So, I am trying to say to the fans that it is ok to like the music and maybe admire the artist; but when you start to worship them some day you will eventually 'kill' him.
So, Babylon is not a concept album; isn't it?
No it is not. The first song that I wrote for the album was Babylon Is Burning and that really created the idea for the album and consequently the artwork with the four horsemen. One year ago I was watching on the TV the EU leaders in Brussels where they were talking about the global financial crisis. And I believe that when a politician talks likes this in reality wants to create fear and take more freedom from the people.
I think they have already done this.
Well, yes and this is the way they are doing it. So, I was listening to them talking about using one currency and that by the year of 2018 everyone will be using electronic microchips. You know what does this mean? Have those people been reading the Bible? Do they understand that all these things have been prophesized in the Bible? So, I started reading Revelations in the Bible, and I think you guys call it The Apocalypse, and looking to all the prophecies also from other scripts. I was comparing all these things with the sayings of the EU leaders realizing that are the same. The plans about the microchip can be directly connected to 666. We all have our daily problems and a lot of work but if we find a moment to really listen to what the politicians are saying we will be shocked.
Yes, it is pretty difficult to see what is going on with all these troubles around you…
Yes, but these are the people who we have voted for! I don't know if you have any idea what is happening in the US. I mean we are in the middle of a revolution. Something that I have never seen in my life. When Obama was elected everyone thought that things would go better but now they understand that in reality he is a socialist. I remember prior to the elections seeing Obama saying that if you really want to know who I am, take a look at the people surrounding me. So, I did some research about him and I was horrified; they were Marxists and leftists. I don't want anyone to believe me but to do what I did and study about him. He has stated that he wanted to fundamentally change America and this cannot be a good thing. Everyone believed that he wanted to help the poor people but this is not true. He really wants to take control of America's Health Care system represents 20% of our growth national product. None of the previous governments had that power and that is very frightening. People do not see what is really happening in the US. Last Saturday in Washington DC a hundred thousand people gathered in front of the White House to protest. And this happens to every major city. If you don't believe me just take a look at the internet. And this guy only has been president for eight months…
At least you have a reaction from the people…
Exactly! This is so encouraging to see what people can do when they are getting together. We can still take the power back if we take some time and look to our leaders and see what they are trying to do. I have seen the power of the people during the Vietnam war; all these protests managed to put an end to it! I have seen all the riots in Greece about the assassination of the young kid, so I tell you the people still have the power. In the US and in Europe our grandfathers fought for freedom; and you know Dimitris when you are not using your freedom you are losing it. If we won't take responsibility they will take it from us.
Have you ever thought of getting into politics?
Yes, I have about 20 years ago to become a senator but I believe that my voice can reach more people through music than it would if I was a politician. We want to make good albums that someone can listen to 30 years from one and that is important. But what we are doing right now with this interview is also very important. In my career of 25 years I have done about twelve thousand interviews and that's a lot of talking. And you know what interviews are very important to me since you can say things that you couldn't in a song. The lyrics are limited but in an interview you can get deeper in a subject there is a chance to get to people that will never listen to an album of yours.
I understand and this actually returns our conversation to the new album. How did you decide to cove Promised Land?
While you are listening the album it takes to really dark places but in the end it takes to the Promised Land and that is perfect.
Am I mistaken when I say that the vocals on this are closer to Elvis' version rather than Chuck Berry's?
(laughs) Well thank you! I am a big fan of Elvis!
Is there any connection between Headless Children and Babylon?
Yes, of course there is. When I wrote Headless Children 20 years ago I wrote the line in there that says four horsemen sit high up in the saddle and waiting and ride the bloody trail of no return I was thinking of the Apocalypse. And now while I was writing Babylon I was thinking whether this time has come. When Jesus Christ was talking to His disciples about the end of days he told them that no one will know when it is going to happen. When you are going to church you always listen that the end is near and so on. But things are not exactly like this; as I said you have to look the truth for yourself. Whether it is the government or the Apocalypse.
I will be straightforward with this question. Do you believe that famous people should get involved into politics? Can someone blame you that you are taking advantage of your publicity to support a specific political party?
To be honest with you I feel that this is my job. Someone a couple of days before asked me: are you the Rock 'n' Roll preacher and I said nope, I am just the messenger (laughs) When you are 20 years old you are being very selfish and you care only for yourself. But when you grow up you realize that there are people around you and you should care about them. During my 25 years in music I have been blessed with this gift and you know something? It chooses you and not the other way around. And there is a big responsibility that comes with that. So, I am trying to use this and pass the most positive message that I can. I am in place that I can help others and if you think a little bit more you will understand that this is why we are in this world; to help others.
You have been on the road for the 'Crimson Idol' tour; do you feel that this album got what it deserved?
Absolutely, this album changed my entire life.
The rumors that the story of Jonathan would become a movie are true?
No, we only have the footage shown in the 'Crimson Idol' tour and that's all. There are no plans for a theatrical film.
Do you have any plans to release a DVD from that tour?
Yes, we are going to. There will be the footage of the movie and with the band performing live.
You are really a strong writer; have you ever thought of writing your autobiography?
You know something Dimitris, I don't think that my life is something important. Well, some people may find things interesting in it but the only I want to do is to help people. So, I don't believe writing my biography would help anyone. I think that lyrics are the most important. I have done so many interviews where I have been really honest so, I don't think that there are things that people do not know about me.
Almost after every W.A.S.P. album there are rumors that the band is going to split; do these rumors hide any truth in them?
If the band is going to split then someone has got to tell me (laughs) It's like when people are asking me when I am going to retire. And then I ask them what for? I do not understand retirement; if you are having that fun why quit? There is an old expression that says if you do what you love then you never work a day in your life and this is how I feel. I worked so hard to get here and I do not want to stop.
Do you have any regrets when you are looking back to your career?
You know there is a Frank Sinatra song that goes Regrets, I've had a few; But then again, too few to mention and this is exactly the way I feel.
You have a tour coming; do you have any special plans for it?
Well, we are going to take all the promotional videos we have done and we are going to show them on the back just like we did with the 'Crimson Idol' tour. We liked that so we are going to use it. We are going to do this with the old songs like I Wanna Be Somebody, Blind In Texas or Wild Child and I think it is going to be really cool.
I think that in Babylon you brought the guitars one step in the front. Did you do this intentionally or it just happened?
That is all Doug Blair. I cannot tell how proud I am for what he did for this album. Honestly, I am not sure whether what he did on this album is more important than what I have done. I can't say enough good things about his work in Babylon.
I had the chance to see you live at the 'Graspop' festival and you looked super tight as a band.
Well, that is funny since I had the flu and it was so hot in there! It was really bad. But, yes this band is in a very good position. Everyone is really talented and has great ideas and this makes the creation of an album really easy. It is not like when I did Crimson Idol where I had to do everything by myself and this is really a lot.
So, is Blackie an easy person to work with?
You have to ask them (laughs). But when you have good people with you then it is easy for everyone!
Thank you Blackie for your time it was an absolute honor talking to you.
Thank you Dimitris I really appreciate that you took the time to do this. We are going to be there in a couple of months so if you have time come and say hello. You have to know that we love coming to Greece. You probably hear this from everyone but even though we are getting in many places there are few that have the history that Greece has. And I love history. For you it is not that special to think that when you are driving your car there is history around you. It is unbelievable and I know that you are taking it for granted since you live there but for us it is amazing.
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