Blackie Lawless...what can be said about Blackie that doesn't speak for itself? Well, lots of things. On first glance at Blackie, you will probably look again, mostly to SEE the dark image he projects that is not the norm. However unless you look closer you can miss a lot.With 17 years of performing under his belt, Blackie has been all over the spectrum on subject matter. Though much is light hearted, fun, or down right dirty, there is still much more there. Blackie has plenty to say about the state of our existence, and has many perceptions and messages well worth a closer look.
QUESTION: Blackie, I'm with metalflakes com. We are a fan run, independent metal web site. Everything is donated to keep it going by the fans, for the fans. We don't sell anything, and we don't have sponsors. There is a large on-line community that live there and many of these questions were sent in by them as well as members of some other on-line metal communities.
QUESTION: With "Helldorado", it sounded like you were headed "back to the basics, or roots" and it sounds even more so with "Unholy Terror". Though most bands that were hot in the 80's that are still working haven't caught on to the fact that their original fan base wants that, you seem to have. Was this your intention or did this just happen when you started working on this?
Blackie: It's just what happens. I don't try to calculate where things are going before I do them. The message isn't premeditated, really. The only time I ever did that, was "The Crimson Idol", because the story was written ahead of time. Every record I've ever made I'm trying to reflect who I am at the moment. Trying to determine what's happening in the market place, trendy, the flavor of the week, is a very dangerous game to start playing. That's like a dog sitting in the middle of the floor trying to chase his tail, he's never going to catch it. You end up making records that aren't honest. The bottom line for me is that I'm just trying to tell people what I am, what I'm thinking at the moment. You gotta remember that what I do for a living and what you do for a living are basically the same things. We're both reporters, we're writing down what we see, I just happen to put a little music behind mine. Not a whole lot of difference because I'm just an average guy like anybody else. I have very general tastes, just like everybody else. Usually the same things that I'm passionate about, other people are as well. So I'm the one, for whatever reason, that got elected to talk about it and I'm just writing them down and trying to share them with everyone else.
QUESTION: Unholy Terror has quite the political tone, addressing many issues, which I'll touch on in a minute. I was just wondering where the s*x went? Will W.A.S.P. continue in this direction or will we hear some more s*x-type songs in the future?
Blackie: Well think about what I just previously said. [While writing, I'm reflecting on what I'm] thinking about at the moment. When people say, "Helldorado's pointing in a direction", they're assuming that that direction is going to continue. But I don't ever recall W.A.S.P. doing two records that, back to back, sounded the same. To say "where did the s*x go", or "where did this go", well that's like the word "change". People are scared to death of the word "change". Why be scared - can't you just add on to what you already got? People are thinking you gotta give up something for change, but you don't have to give up anything. Add on to who you already are.
QUESTION: Also, I don't think that people realize that what you're out on tour for now, you might have started thinking of four years ago. There's a lot of time between one writing process and another.
Blackie: Well, that's right. But at the same time, I'm trying capture the spirit of who I am right now. Who YOU are right now is not who you are going to be five years from now, and it's not who you were five years ago
QUESTION: That's true, that's why I don't get tattoos.
Blackie: (Laughs) Good logic there. You know women complain a lot of times about guys that are terminal bachelors, that are scared to death of commitment, you know, well I guess that could be interpreted that same way.
Back to that idea - that I'm trying to tell you who I am for the moment. : if you are going to have a true lifelong career, you'll attempt to take people with you on that lifelong journey. The only way you can do that is to allow them inside your head. They can come in, take their shoes off, and walk around barefooted inside your head, to find out what's there - whether it's good or it's bad. That's the only way they're really going to feel like they know you and become intimate with you, [join you] on that lifelong journey. And that intimacy will change from time to time, so if something is weighing heavily, or you feel passionate about something, speak about it RIGHT NOW, it's important.
QUESTION: In the liner notes you went to great lengths to explain the title song. Is there any reason you didn't want to leave it to the interpretation of the listener?
Blackie: I wanted to be very specific, let them inside my head to see how the process came about. [Something that is] very important to understand, is that Americans, (for whatever reason in their collective arrogance, myself included) have a tendency to think that everybody in the world speaks English, but they don't. You gotta remember that if somebody is struggling with an interpretation in a foreign country, where English is not their first language, with complicated subject matter they may need some help. It's a big wide world out there and sometimes we tend to look at ourselves as a gigantic island and it's really not that way. I'm just trying to be as fair as I can to everybody.
QUESTION: I had not thought about that, but you are right because on our message board, we have people coming in from all over the world. Sometimes they are hard to understand, you get the jist, but often have to read their post twice.
Blackie: Oh yeah, and the reason that those guys come is because they speak English pretty good and they feel more comfortable talking to you, they CAN carry on a conversation. But there's a whole lot, the mass majority, that don't fit that description. So like I said I've got to try to be as fair as I can to everybody.
QUESTION: In the liner notes you also describe what's behind "Loco-Motive Man". Incidents like Columbine High….
Blackie: Na na na na, I didn't say that's Columbine. It may be implied, and that may be people's interpretation. It is that but it's a whole lot of other things.
QUESTION: This is a subject that repeatedly finds it's way to our message boards. Metal fans seem to understand it's a growing problem of a lack of parenting.
Blackie: Oh absolutely!
QUESTION: I think your message there will be well received. I was wondering however, what your thoughts are on the fact that when these things happen, recording artists, video game makers and such take a bashing over it.
Blackie: Yeah well that's the old American past time of passing the buck. Here's the problem, I don't mean to diminish the actions, what's happening in schools, because it is a very real problem, but it is more a symptom, it is not the disease. The disease is the parents. Parents being sold the myth, this hideous lie by Madison Avenue, that they can have it all. They can have the perfect marriage. the perfect life, the perfect kids, the perfect family, the perfect job, you can have it all perfect. It's all bull shit you cannot have it all, no one can have it all. Divorce rate speaks for itself. Half the people out there can't even keep a marriage together, how in the HELL are they gonna raise kids right? People are bringing these kids in the world and it's like pieces of machinery. When the machines start breaking down then the parents start pointing the finger and say, "Well I couldn't get the proper this or that to keep my machine running right". Bull shit you know. Stop believing in the idea that you can have everything right. Get your priorities straight, if you are going to bring something into the world, give it a fair chance.
Parents fear artists like me because they think I make their job harder than it is. They're afraid that what I'm gonna tell the kid, is gonna supercede or override what they've been telling them. If they give the kid the proper fundamental foundation, there's nothing myself or anybody else - no Nintendo game, no movie, no Wylie Coyote cartoons falling off a cliff - can do to undermine the foundation that they gave them. So they need not fear me if they've done their job properly.
What the kids are doing when they go to school with the guns and stuff is, they are jumping up in the air, saying "Please pay attention to me, show me some love, maybe I won't explode on you. If you don't give me attention, I will MAKE you give me attention." It's a cry for help. The kids are not the problem here. So somebody says, "Why even put a song like that on the record, you're preaching to the converted. The kids already know this, the parents aren't going to listen to the records anyway."
QUESTION: But we are the next generation of parents.
Blackie: That's one aspect of it but there is also something else that's more immediate. Maybe there's a kid out there that's listening to that record, thinking very seriously about doing something like this. Music has great power, and if that kid thinks maybe there is somebody out there who understands, maybe there's somebody out there who cares, maybe it will keep him from doing it.
QUESTION: Back in the day, you guys were public enemy #1. You couldn't take a crap without people protesting outside. Has this changed?
Blackie: There's still a lot of it. We played Houston last year and the gig had to be moved, two weeks before we did it. The local Sheriff there, made a major stink and got us banned from the county, so it had to be moved. So you still see elements of that going on.
QUESTION: What was their reasoning behind banning you?
Blackie: Who knows, you know, you'd have to go pick his brain (laughs).
QUESTION: Do you think the image of early WASP overshadowed the music you put out?
Blackie: I think that when any band does something highly visual, no matter how good the music, you're always gonna get an element of some people listening with their eyes and not their ears.
QUESTION: Many think Marilyn Manson's music is discarded by many because of the image factor.
Blackie: Yeah probably, but then again his music is making a statement too. At the end of the day that's what you are going to be judged on. It's not what's happening now, it's where does your legacy lie. When we're done and twenty years from now people look back at us, I would think that the image of the band and all that stuff is probably going to be a footnote. The music is what kept you contemporary in the first place. If you didn't have that you wouldn't last. I mean seventeen years of doing this, you cannot do that on show alone.
QUESTION: With the in-depth writings in your liner notes, have you ever considered writing a novel? What kind of reading would it be?
Blackie: I like fantasizing or entertaining the ideas of doing stuff like that, but it comes down to a question of physical time. With everything I'm doing for us, man, I just do not have time to do something like that. There's a whole lot of things I'd like to do, but there just ain't enough of me to go around.
It took 14 months to make "Unholy Terror" and I'm getting ready to start a European tour. Then I'll come back in August and start a North American tour. By the time the record's released and you finish the tour and you make another record, you've got the better part of a two year gap. The famous question after you come back following the next record is "What have you been doing this whole time?" It's like "Son of a bitch, I've been chasing my butt the whole time. What do you mean what have I been doing?" If you do Chicago right now, today, by the time Chicago sees you again it's been at least two more years. They don't realize there is Rome, Italy, there's Tokyo, Japan, and Buenos Aries. There's real places that you have to go. Everyone one of them represents at least one night of your life. It's a big wide world out there, and again, people who a have singular mentality don't really think about anything going on outside their little area in the world.
QUESTION: Are we going to get a big tour this time?
Blackie: Yeah we are doing probably the most extensive tour of North America we have done in a long time. It's like 54 dates, starts August 8th down in Florida.
QUESTION: With the political issues you are hitting now, you seem to be thoroughly interested in what's going on in the world and quite educated on it as well. If it were a possibility would you ever consider running for an office?
Blackie: I've talked about it a number of times. The problem with something like that is, politics has long been considered the art of compromise. I'm not good at that. For the foreseeable future, however long that may be, a couple of years anyway, I'm better off where I am right now because I can voice my opinion without somebody trying to put a lid on it.
QUESTION: Would you consider a guest spot on the show "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Maher?
Blackie: I've been asked to do that many times.
QUESTION: Really? Is it a time thing or do you not want to do it?
Blackie: Well....let's put it this way, if the time were right I would do it.
QUESTION: I've seen "The Nuge" take a beating on there.
Blackie: Well Ted's not short on his own opinions (laughs).
QUESTION: I also noticed something else I found interesting in your liner notes; all the thanks given individually to the W.A.S.P. fan web sites. I'm sure you have visited them. Do you do much net surfing?
Blackie: Not really. You know I don't have much time to do that kind of stuff. Back to the issue of the actual time itself.
QUESTION: What's happening with waspnation com?
Blackie: Well it's being transferred now and the official site looks like it's going to be The Children of Lawless (site).
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on Napster and similar services?
Blackie: If it was people strickly sharing things on a non-profit basis, as it was originally intended, like the way you're doing your thing (metalflakes com) then it would be wonderful. But then you gotta ask yourself, when Napster offers a billion dollars, where's that revenue coming from? It's extortion, they kidnapped the baby, but then they don't want to give the baby back. If it was what it was originally intended to be, you know, to get new music out to people and stuff like that, yeah, then I think it's one of the coolest things ever. But when somebody starts making money off it, I got a big problem with that, and that's a fair comment.
QUESTION: What do you think of the so called "Nu-Metal" or "Mall-Metal"? Do you think those bands know where their roots come from?
Blackie: Yeah because I see interviews and talk to and meet other bands, younger bands from time to time or I'll see tribute stuff that they've done to us and things like that you know, so it's pretty flattering
QUESTION: What non-metal musicians do you like.
Blackie: I have pretty eclectic tastes. I listen to everything from Bach to Willie Nelson. Somebody asked me the other day what's the latest thing I've bought and I said, Native American Indian Music. I listen to all kinds of stuff. But I have the general idea that most musicians have - there's only two kinds of music - good or bad and nothing else. So labeling...I hate that.
QUESTION: What do you think of the recent works of the older artists from the 80's like Halford, Saxon, Dio, and Maiden?
Blackie: I don't really get to hear that much of it. I'm so busy with what I'm doing. About the only time I get to hear stuff like that is when we're on tour with them.
QUESTION: The tours and stage shows have scaled down from the 80's, what can we expect from W.A.S.P. this tour? Are we still drinking blood and throwing meat? How about the rack?
Blackie: BIG! It's gonna be big. We are going to be big, we are going to be bloody, we are going to be nasty and stinky and so far over the top you can't even see us no more.
QUESTION: How many more albums do you think you have in you? And when it is time to stop, with your experience in producing, will you go into producing other bands?
Blackie: I don't know. What I'm trying to do now, is make a record and put one foot in front of the other. You know, this comes back to the idea of being the reporter here. As long as I still think that I have something to say, feel that I'm viable, that's the most important thing. I don't think there's anything left that I have to prove, but by the same token, I'm not trying to make good records, I'm trying to make great records. Making records that have a couple of good tracks and the rest is filler, is not what I'm about.
QUESTION: Yeah, there has been some complaining that there are only ten songs. But I'd rather have ten good songs, than have sixteen, with seven of them being filler.
Blackie: That's right! It's important that I leave you with an encapsulated thought or feeling of what that moment was. Was it complete? Was it solid from beginning to end? That's the most important thing. You got people saying "It's only got ten tracks." Well that's what all records are supposed to be. But you got newer bands putting on fourteen - fifteen tracks, three fourths of it isn't any good (laughs). Do you want quality or quantity?
QUESTION: What about a video for "Unholy Terror", considering that they don't play them except on MtvX or Vh1's Rock Show?
Blackie: Wouldn't do much good would it? They may play it twice and it costs $100,000 to do a video. Doesn't seem real cost effective. We're gonna film this summer, I know that. We're gonna release all the old stuff next year on DVD and the stuff we shoot this year will be part of it. If I were them, I'd just rather have the whole show as opposed to one video that you have to wait a week to see, and if you miss it, you're screwed for at least another week. (laughs) That seems pretty frustrating to me.
QUESTION: Ok now on to some random questions regarding rumors and various things. Did you ever, and do you still, make the members of W.A.S.P. keep a clean shaven face?
QUESTION: (Laughs) Rumor then?
Blackie: Well considering the amount of make-up we are wearing it would be pretty hard not to do that.
QUESTION: Inscribed on the first cut of your first record it says "WE ARE S*XUAL P*RVERTS", is that the true meaning of W.A.S.P.?
Blackie: We ain't sure pal!
QUESTION: Was there a feud with Motorhead? It was rumored you and Lemmy duked it out backstage a few years ago.
Blackie: Uh...Lemmy called me on the phone a couple of months ago, and everybody's happy and hunkydorie.
QUESTION: Is the story of Chris being knocked unconscience by a frozen roast thrown by a fan true or false?
Blackie: True, Helsinki, Finland, 1984.
QUESTION: The song "1980 Ladies" is known as a Kiss song. But it's been said it was one of the demos you worked on with Ace Frehley before W.A.S.P. There is a bootleg floating around with you singing, what's the story behind that?
Blackie: There is but it was never a Kiss song, it was something I wrote on my own. Somehow it ended up on one of their bootlegs, and I don't know how that happened
QUESTION: Do you know what Tony Richards and Randy Piper are doing these days?
Blackie: I don't know what Tony's doing. I haven't spoken to him in quite a long time. I saw Randy last year, he's living in Cincinatti. In fact, he called me a couple of days ago, but I haven't had a chance to get back to him yet
QUESTION: Boxers or Briefs?
Blackie: Neither, I'm all naturelle.
QUESTION: (Laughs) You are the first to answer that way. We were wondering who it would be to answer with that.
Blackie: Do I win something now or what?