FIB MUSIC: What kind of drums are you playing?
Tony: I'm playing a custom, made for me, set of Pearl's , Masters Custom, the MMX Series. They're just awesome freaking drums; I got all the deep dimensions. And I mean I beat the piss out of them. But they just sound great. I got heads on them that are two years old and they still tune.
FIB MUSIC: After having the same drumheads on there, for two years?
Tony: Yeah, no shit. I do have a new set of heads (laughs), but why put them on there? (laughs) I haven't put them on yet, why should I?
FIB MUSIC: So you guys aren't playing out that much?
Tony: No we're not. We were for awhile, but it was too lame and the money wasn't right and we were driving too far. So I had to tell them that I couldn't do that and they agreed. That's when we started writing some material. There is one thing that we are leaving out, I did hook up with a band before Carl and them. We were a pretty damn good cover band. A friend of my younger brother was in the band, but I did a good two year run with these guys. It was just a cover band, but we were really good. We had two guitar players, a bassist, a vocalist and me on drums. We were doing shit like Audioslave and Soundgarden and Foo Fighters, plus mixing it up with ZZ Top and Stones and shit like that. But then the band breaks up. I feel kind of terrible about that but.......
FIB MUSIC: Why does the band break up?
Tony: Because I left; I got tired of playing for 20, 40, 60 dollars a night and spending $20 on gas to get there and just playing covers, you know? I'm still looking for my Stone Temple Pilots type band; I'm looking for my thing....whatever, it doesn't matter.
FIB MUSIC: The one great thing about being a drummer is that you are a drummer, if that makes any sense. A lot of these guys who played drums are able to keep themselves busy with multiple projects. You were a great drummer... you should be touring.
Tony: Well, I'm kind of a weirdo dude. I keep to myself. I should be out there looking, but I do have other worries that I try to take care of. I'm not saying music isn't a top priority, but making a living is. If it's music, all the better. If it's construction and doing some of the things that I'm doing, like restoration construction......eh.....that's ok, I would rather not do it, but it pays the bills. At this day in age, I'm not getting any younger. The bottom line is, I am still looking for that magical line-up. A couple of great players.
FIB MUSIC: Would you ever do a reunion tour with the original W.A.S.P. line-up?
Tony: I would never do that.
FIB MUSIC: Why not? That would kick ass. Just play the first album, in its entirety, mixed with some of the hits.
Tony: You know what, I would probably do that for the fans sake. And of course, I would want to be paid well to do it, since I got screwed out of a lot of money.....I gotta watch what I'm saying again......But as far as working with Blackie, I never could. I never knew the guy very well. All I knew about him was that he.........how do I put this delicately. He's a good guy as far as, he's creative, he's a decent writer, musically he's ok. But his character, as far as being a person and being personable....NO WAY....He's not my type. I could not spend a day....I couldn't spend a week with that guy.
FIB MUSIC: Why is that?
Tony: He just kind of thinks he knows it all; it's his way. I'm not afraid to say any of this man, because this is just the way I feel.....And it's a lot of what I have heard, but mostly it's how I feel. He's hurt a lot of people man......he's hurt a lot of people. He is pretty much, in it for himself, you know? Blackie Lawless IS W.A.S.P.! And I want to be involved in a band, a team. A band of guys that are friends and write and have fun together. I don't give a f*ck; I don't care if I'm multi-platinum, I don't care if I'm rich again. I just want to play and have some fun and I want to be friends with who I'm working with, you know what I mean? Is that too much to ask? (laughs)
FIB MUSIC: Any cool memories stand out from the very first W.A.S.P. show?
Tony: Awesome. There was no stopping us; we were insane. People.....their jaws just hit the floor everytime.
FIB MUSIC: Was Blackie chopping the meat and drinking the blood by the first show?
Tony: Yeah....a lot of Blackie's ideas.....a lot of good ideas coming from that man. Movies, TV and shit. He incorporated it into the stage......and boy, let me tell you, it worked. I can't remember a show that we did, that the Fire Marshal's weren't out there inspecting, before we started the show.
FIB MUSIC: Was Blackie still lighting himself on fire at that point?
Tony: Ummmmm. He never actually ever lit himself on fire. He did....maybe a wristband or something that had a little bit of a retardant on it.....The thing that was pretty scary was when Blackie would reach back with that torch and ignite that big sign that was right over my head (laughs). You know, that sign that was over my head?
FIB MUSIC: Sure. You guys did that in one of the music videos.
Tony: Shhhiiittt.....You talk about sunburn and instantly feeling the heat. I was crazy back then, so I didn't let it bother me too much. I knew how badass it looked, so.......I went right along with it. I was crazy as anyone else out there. It looked good and it even got me going, you know, it got my blood boiling.......
FIB MUSIC: Anything else stand out from that first show?
Tony: The first shows were....,just absolutely awesome. They were unbeatable. There was no one else in town that could touch us. We were madmen; it came across and it worked great. If you didn't see those early W.A.S.P. shows in LA, you missed out. Because it was never the same.....well and not just because I was out of the band. Mainly, once members were changed and they had to go to different venues, there were, of course, restrictions. It changed, but those early shows in Los Angeles were tops. If you didn't see one of those shows, you don't know what you were missing. We got away with murder in those early days. It was crazy and a very, very exciting time.
FIB MUSIC: So W.A.S.P. is pretty much a sensation as soon as you guys start playing shows?
Tony: I will tell you what....I'm not going to say any dates, because I'm not really for sure. But the story is...we played around town....about a year, W.A.S.P. existed about a year and we got signed. That was kind of unheard of. I think it was '81 through '82 we played and by the beginning of '83 we were negotiating our contract, we got signed, by '84 the album is out and we were like BOOM, we were gone. We packed everywhere we played....us and the Crue.....
FIB MUSIC: Was there ever a W.A.S.P and Motley Crue show back then?
Tony: UUUMMMMM. No, we were just too......No, I don't think that ever happened. I would have remembered that, because I was pretty good friends with Nik & Tom. I knew everyone back then, just didn't hang out a lot.
FIB MUSIC: Any good Nikki Sixx / Tommy Lee stories?
Tony: (laughs) Yeah, but let's pass on that, it usually involved some kind of s*xual indecency.
FIB MUSIC: You sure...no good stories?
Tony: Yeah. The eighties were crazy man. It will never be that way again. Beatlemania, or whatever...yeah, but the eighties in Hollywood....they were something else. Debauchery. It will never be that way again. THANK GOD (laughs). I lived through it.
FIB MUSIC: What was a typical day like for you during that time?
Tony: At first it was fun. Typical, you'd wake up, have some breakfast or whatever. I would make it down from Long Beach....Randy's studio was in between Blackie and I, so we would pretty much make it there at the same time. We would hang out there. Randy would block time out on other bands, so it would just be us. We would rehearse and write and spend hours in there. It was pretty fun. We would go get something to eat, or go shoot pool, or drive up to Hollywood to hang out. Pretty much, they were good times, when we were just getting to know each other and writing, it was kind of exciting. Then seeing the other up-and-coming bands in the clubs. It was a cool thing. Once the business end came into it, it was rush, rush, rush. Hurry here, hurry there, sign this, sign that, you have to be there yesterday. Things really started to roll fast after that. Have you talked to Stephen Riley yet?
FIB MUSIC: No, not yet.
Tony: That poor son of a bitch. He had about two weeks to learn a lot of my shit. He told me he was having a hard time with a lot of that stuff. On some of the records, you can't really tell, because he is playing it well, but he is playing it different. He did a damn good job man.
FIB MUSIC: Any memories of recording Animal "F*ck Like a Beast"?
Tony: I remember the excitement of that song and being in a nice environment, being in that studio. Other people coming in and out from the studios next door. I think Quiet Riot was recording their album at the time. I just remember going from.... sort of....I wouldn't say rags to riches, but just having the respect and being in there working. Putting something together that was very exciting. For me, it was just about being really excited about the whole thing. It was neat to be there and be included, you know? And then you finish a good night's work and get some tracks down, then step out on the streets, get something to eat, pick up some girls and just hang out.
FIB MUSIC: Any memories of working with Mike Varney?
Tony: Not really. Like I said, I didn't hang out a lot and I think that used to bother Blackie. I just wasn't the "hang out, play the rock star" musician. I would hang out for a little bit, have a drink, flirt a little bit, do whatever and then BOOM, I was off to someone else's house...private, you know?...I don't know, I think it might have rubbed him the wrong way. I think he wanted it to be more like the Crue, you know? Hang out, go to srip clubs together, lived and died together, so to speak. But Varney, I don't think I ever got too close to him, because I think he was more in Blackie's ear.
FIB MUSIC: I always thought he was a strange choice for a producer. You guys were signed to Capitol and you chose a guy who hadn't really proven himself.
Tony: Yeah I know and I didn't have any say. I remember hearing the mixed tracks.......well, first I remember hearing what we had laid down and the drums were just thunderous...they sounded great. Now I know this is coming from a drummer, but it's more than just that. The tracks that we laid down, the guitars, Randy's guitars...they were out there and everything was crisp and clean. I then remember this big WASH of disappointment when I heard the final mixes. They played the track and the drums had been tweaked with, to where they just sounded like shit. Randy's guitar was buried. Everything had changed, you know? And that was probably part of the reason I distanced myself from Varney, because I had no say, therefore I didn't hang around, so I didn't have a right to say anything....it was a big circle, yet I knew things were f*cked up, something wasn't right and Varney is supposed to be behind the helm. So I just had a feeling that's Blackie calling the shots wanting his man Varney in there and it didn't work out. And that was an important thing....that first album....that first album should have smoked more than it did. I mean FUCK......Capitol Records.....Iron Maiden's management.....we had unlimited money, we had unlimited resources. There were a lot of f*cked up decisions made and Blackie made sure that he was in charge of a lot of shit and that was the beginning of the end....The rest of the guys in the band felt the same way.
FIB MUSIC: In my opinion, that first line-up will always be the best W.A.S.P. line-up. I remember thinking, as a kid, that it was a big mistake to part ways with you.
Tony: That was the problem. Blackie......I keep saying Blackie and I shouldn't, but mainly it was.....But him and whoever else he had involved with him in the band decisions, they all jumped the gun too soon. The best thing for a new band to do, with that kind of money and resources behind them is to handle whatever f*cking problems everyone has and keep it between the group........Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas in other words. What happens here, stays here and you do everything you can to glue this mutherf*cker together. Do the first world tour and come back, then you start hashing out problems. That's the time to work on it, but they made changes way too soon and that's what ultimately killed the band. Greed f*cked this band up......It was greed. Blackie was looking out for number one.
FIB MUSIC: Do you remember doing the two videos for LOVE MACHINE & I WANNA BE SOMEBODY?
Tony: Yeah. Those ended up being kind of corny looking. Shit like that used to bug me....the make-up, the corny videos and shit. I wanted to be cooler; I thought we were going to be cooler....more of like a Crue...bad boys....but we weren't that. Even if we were more Alice or partly KISS or something, but we were kind of in between and nowhere on any of that.
FIB MUSIC: I didn't even realize, before our Randy Piper interview, that you didn't do the tour for the first album.
Tony: NOPE. I got screwed out of it all, royalties too. And they continue to sell t-shirts, posters and buttons and all that shit with my likeness on it.
FIB MUSIC: Well at the very least aren't you supposed to receive a mechanical royalty or some shit, for playing on the record?
Tony: Dude, I signed everything away. They had some slick lawyers and I was so disgusted and so distraught, I wasn't thinking clear. I didn't have enough money to hire an entertainment attorney....those guys are another story, they're f*cking crooks. So, I didn't have much of a choice, but to sign away all my shit for a lump sum...... Yeah, I went through the whole stage of being bitter, pissed off, bitter again, ahhh forget it, pissed off again and finally 22 years later it's like man.....I don't even like talking about it. Not because I'm still mad about it, but I just never saw the big deal in it. It was fun and there were memories and I did something that millions of kids would like to do, so it's not a big deal to me. I'm looking for the next thing to move on to. I'm still playing, playing better than ever. I'm more seasoned, I'm an older guy.....I don't look as great as I used to (laughs).
FIB MUSIC: Did you ever receive your gold records for the W.A.S.P. album?
Tony: I do have a gold record, but they still have it at Capitol. As a matter of fact, I'm working on getting that sent out to me now. There are tons of gold and platinum singles from all over the world....I don't have any of those.
FIB MUSIC: Capitol has been holding it for you this whole time?
Tony: Well, I'm sure the original pressing with my name on it has disappeared, somebody's got it somewhere. But they are always able to reproduce one for you. So, I'm kind of working on that now, because I just want to have something to show my kids.
FIB MUSIC: Is Capitol going to make you pay for it?
Tony: No, because I did earn that, so this one is free. But I do have some old vintage posters, some buttons and a couple of t-shirts, a small stack of the first albums and a couple of the long-play 45's. But that's about all I got.
FIB MUSIC: Why were you kicked out of W.A.S.P.?
Tony: I think I scared Blackie. I really lived the Rock n Roll lifestyle. I lived up in Hollywood, I was a madman, I was high every other night.....every night. But I was always there, always on time, always did great shows. I just scared him, he was not that way. His was more of an act, mine was too real and I think I was just too scary for him. I think he thought I was going to be trouble down the line, so he thought he was doing the right thing by nipping it in the bud.
FIB MUSIC: How were you told you were out of the band?
Tony: They called a meeting at Rod Smallwood's house up in Beverly Hills. We all sat around a big table and talked about a few things. All of a sudden that came up and before I knew it, is was like BOOM....the fingers were pointing at me and I just kind of stood up and said, WHOA....OK.....I think I was in shock and I just kind of walked away, walked down the driveway and got in my rental car, which I totally trashed. It was a brand new '84 Cutlass with glass t-tops....man, that thing was on one wheel when I brought it back. No glass left in it. I didn't sit there with an axe and bust it up on purpose, I was just reckless in it. I f*cked it up, because I didn't care. Somebody had taken something away from me, that I had worked my whole life for and I was on a roll.....I was on a binge. I was pissed. But yeah, I was devastated, I couldn't tell you exactly what had happened or how, but I was the first to go. He used me as an example and had to put the fear back into Randy again, because Randy had come and gone a couple of times. One by one, that's what he was working on, he wanted control. It's greed man, the guy is a greedy, lonely person. The last few shows that I have gone to see him, he will not send his road crew down to escort me up, he won't come down to see me or nothing. I haven't seen him in years.
FIB MUSIC: When was the last time you saw Blackie?
Tony: He flew me out to LA when he was recording the Crimson Idol. He had one track that he wanted to add on there at the end of the record. He felt that I would be the perfect drummer for it and wanted me to play like Keith Moon, like I used to. What can I say, he didn't give me much time; I was a little rusty. I didn't have a set of drums anymore....I was in bad shape. I was out here on my own, rehearsing as hard as I could, trying to kick some ass. I didn't really have a copy of the song, so I didn't really know what I was supposed to be doing. He just told me to rehearse and get my chops up. So, he flew me to his studio in Hollywood one night and I get there and it's Frankie Banali's drum set all set up, of course, backwards. So, I can't play it. It was set up for a right-handed player and I'm left-handed. But Blackie doesn't want me to touch the set. I'm like, can I move this and move that.....he's like, no don't touch that. Sooooooo, now what do you want to do? And Blackie says, let's just call the whole thing off, I don't think you're ready. I'm like, how the f*ck do you know if I'm ready or not? I can't even touch your precious little drums.....it got down to that...Then I said, you know what, just take me back to my room. So, I fly back to Phoenix the next day and I never saw him again.
FIB MUSIC: Did you guys talk any about the past?
Tony: No, we didn't talk about that. It was REAL odd being around him....so much shit under the bridge that he didn't know what to say to me. Had he only started talking to me man, I'm a likeable guy; I could have talked to him about it.
FIB MUSIC: What do you do after you leave W.A.S.P.? Do you stay in LA for awhile?
Tony: No, not at all. I came back to Phoenix and that's where I met my wife (laughs). I started working for a restoration company here, that were real good friends of the family and I had it made, you know? Real good money, I had a nice bike and everything. I was happy, got married, started having kids....and jeez, I don't know dude, one thing led to another, I started becoming unhappy again, because I wanted to play. People began to approach me left and right, people were calling from LA, some people were calling from back East. I started getting the itch. I was real unhappy and back then, when I used to drink a lot; I would go to work all day out in this Arizona sun, then I would hit the bar with my buddies and close the bar out. The wife got tired of that and there you go.....DIVORCE CITY. Took my two youngest kids and went to Minneapolis, where she was from.
FIB MUSIC: Why aren't you playing with Randy Piper? He's living in Arizona. What happened when you and Chris Holmes briefly joined his band Animal?
Tony: Well, Randy is a good friend and he is probably the only one in the band that I was close to or am close to. Now, I really don't want to say the wrong thing, but I think he is kind of stuck in that 80's mode of writing. When I went out to Ohio two years ago and we were going to get together, you know, they were promoting it as the three original guys, from W.A.S.P., without Blackie. Then it all fell through, for one reason or another, I care not to talk about. But Randy seemed, to me, the tape and the way it was and everything........and UH.....I love him to death man, but it was the same type of thing.....and you know, it's partially me, at the time....I was looking and always am looking for something new. Something challenging to me and to me that wasn't it, it was kind of like that 80's rock. Yeah, sure there's still an audience for it and it's coming back and all that shit..... I still have no desire to play it.
FIB MUSIC: What did you think of their vocalist, Rich?
Tony: Great singer man. He can pretty much sing anything Blackie can. Not a bad writer, not a bad lyricist either. But, you know, I have been there, done that. Plus, since you say you have been talking to Randy, I got really ill when I was there. I'm not used to that f*cking Ohio shit. I went over there and had no idea I was sick when I got there, but once I got there, I came down with the flu so bad, I couldn't even get up off the floor. So, that pretty much killed rehearsals. We rehearsed for two weeks and we were supposed to do a show, at this guy's club. We owed this guy a show. We were rehearsing at a strip club of all places, so number one it was free drinks, it was hard to get anything done. But we did it and even did the show too, but it just didn't have the bang it should have had......so, I don't know, I'm waiting man, I am kind of waiting for something to come along that just really fits me.
FIB MUSIC: What are you looking for?
Tony: I am looking for something like a cross between Scott Weiland, Audioslave, or jeez.... I don't know man, there are a lot of young kids out there that are just slapping the scene in the ass. I am looking for some seasoned players, that know of me and know my style and what I am capable of. I can't really name names, when it happens it will happen and I will know it. What can I say man,.....back to the part where I wasted a lot of time. Well, I wouldn't say waste; some time, yeah I wasted, I spent some money and wasted some time. But I did get married for a few years and I have a few kids. Divorced now, but that took a good chunk out of my time.
FIB MUSIC: How old are your kids now?
Tony: Ummmm. They are absolutely awesome. I have a twenty one year old daughter, she's going to be twenty-two.....as a matter of fact.....
FIB MUSIC: I was just going to say; You must have had her around the time of W.A.S.P.
Tony: '84. Yeah, right before I got shit-canned, we found out we were pregnant. So, that was a huge let down. Then after that, I met this other girl, you know, I was in some other band and we were touring a little bit. What can I say? So I have another daughter by another mother, she's like........God, are you going to print all this (laughs). WHOA. I don't know if this is right. Maybe I should cut it down, too much info.......I have an eighteen year old daughter, in California a twenty one year old daughter in Oregon and I have a fifteen year old son and a thirteen year old daughter in Minnesota.
FIB MUSIC: Goddam you were a busy man.
Tony: I used to be busy...........and I don't mean that kind of busy.
FIB MUSIC: Alright, last question. Tony Richards is transported back to the year 1983 is there anything you would do differently?
Tony: AHHHHHHH. MMMMMMMMMM. NAH, NAH, no regrets. There is nothing I would do different.
FIBM: What is your most disgusting habit?
Tony: I don't know......jacking off with one hand and smoking in the other.
FIBM: What is the most feminine thing you do?
Tony: Who knows, probably prouncing around the kitchen naked when I'm cooking.
FIBM: If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?
Tony: WHY ME?
FIBM: Greatest Rock band of all time?
Tony: Oh boy, that's a hard one. I don't know man. God, I like so many people, so many bands. The Who comes to mind. It doesn't matter what era, right?.............I thought Soundgarden and Nirvana were great.....and Alice in Chains & STP were something else.
FIBM: What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?
Tony: Ummm. Pacing the floor and smoking cigarettes, not because of the interview, but because.......that's just what I do. (laughs)
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