Blackie Lawless just laughs when one indicates that perhaps W.A.S.P. has gone too far this time. "What's too far?" the lean, mean, rockin' machine says to those who accuse W.A.S.P.'s overtly sexual, explicitly violent stage shows and albums of being a negative influence on the youth of America. Well, love 'em or hate 'em, W.A.S.P. are unquestionably here to stay. Their latest LP, The Last Command, has proven to be one of the most successful heavy metal LPs of the year, and their current world tour is packing them in from Topeka to Tokyo. Recently, we had the chance to talk to The Lawless One about the world according to W.A.S.P.
Heavy Metal Heroes: Blackie, how do you answer those people who accuse W.A.S.P. of being explicitly sexual and violent?
Blackie Lawless: I don't think there's anything wrong with sex and violence. But violence must be presented in a theatrical way. I'm not saying that I love watching people getting beaten up in the street. That's ridiculous. But violence has an important place in our society. It's very therapeutic. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Hell, everyone in this band is a really angry guy. When violence can be turned into a release for that anger, as we do on stage with W.A.S.P., then it's very constructive.
HMH: Why do you think you're angry as you say?
BL: I don't really know. It's just part of my makeup. It's nothing that concerns me. In fact, I kind of like being that way. When I'm stuck in a traffic jam, or something doesn't go the way I want it to, I want to be able to let myself go — to blow off some steam. The people who really worry me are the ones who have something infuriating happen to them, and just sit there with a contented look on their face. They're suppressing their anger, and it's gonna come out sooner or later. I just don't want to be around when it does.
HMH: W.A.S.P. has been at the center of controversy in recent days. How have you reacted to all of it?
BL: I've reacted to different things in different ways. Some of the things that have been said about us get me mad. Some of the other things— like a group of middle aged women trying to get our records stickered-- only makes me laugh. I hope they realize that what they're doing is only making W.A.S.P. bigger than ever.
HMH: Do you think W.A.S.P. has a negative impact on some kids? After all what you do is pretty intense.
BL: I never said W.A.S.P. was for everyone. But there's nothing wrong with anything we do. What bothers me is that most parents have no idea what their kids are up to. They'll speak out against W.A.S.P., but they'll let them watch a lot of trash on television. It's insane. They'd be really shocked if they knew what was really going on with their children. I remember when I was growing up in Staten Island New York, there was this Catholic girls school near my home. All the guys wanted to go out with those chicks. They were taught how to act all day long. Hell, it was rammed down their throats. So, when they got out of school, they were only too happy to ram some other things down their throats.
HMH: Let's talk about The Last Command. How do you think it differs from your first album?
BL: It differs in a lot of ways. I guess the most obvious thing is that it's produced better. We tried to incorporate a lot of things on different levels for people. Every time you listen to the new album, you'll hear something new. I spent hours in the studio, putting on special sound effects and making sure everything was just the way I wanted it to be. I put a stock-market report on Fistful Of Diamonds, and that took a couple of days' work. Then I put a sitar on the beginning of Widowmaker. Those are just a few of the things that make this record different. The most important thing is that the songs are great.
HMH: Does it bother you that W.A.S.P.'s musical quality is often overlooked?
BL: Not really. It used to bother me, but everything I did on this album I did for just one person-- me. I didn't give a damn if the radio played one tune on the whole album, or if MTV wanted to play our videos. I was determined this time not to listen to anyone's advice. I wanted to do what I knew was right for this band. So if people overlook the songs, it's their loss.
HMH: But commercial success is very important to you.
BL: Yeah, it is, but I want it on my terms. I'm not about to sell out what W.A.S.P. is about about just to sell a few more records or get on the radio. People don't seem to realize that we started acting crazy onstage because we enjoyed it. We didn' t have one master plan to get signed and take over the music world. Everything about W.A.S.P. is real, the kids know when you're faking it and they just don't buy it.
HMH: We heard you had some trouble getting a tour this time. What's the real story? Did Kiss really want to drop you because they felt some promoters wouldn't book them if W.A.S.P. was on the same bill?
BL: That's news to me. I've yet to meet a promoter who'd turn down the chance to make money. Kiss and W.A.S.P. is an incredibly hot bill, but the real reason we weren't on that tour from the beginning is money. They gave us a ridiculously low offer, but we took it anyway because we figured we'd be able to pay our bills from selling T-shirts and other merchandise at the show. But after we accepted their deal, they backed down. Maybe were scared a little. I don't know. But things worked themselves out just fine. Touring with Kiss has been just great for us.
HMH: The show's a lot different this time around. Why isn't there any blood?
BL: We did that last time. We don't want to keep doing the old tricks, like blood in the skull or tossing meat into the audience. This time, we've gone from blood and guts to more sexual things. Instead of having a saw blade on my cod piece, it shoots fire. I've got to find a way to flame-retard my balls.
HMH: Can you ever see the day when W.A.S.P. stops stage antics like that and just play their music?
BL: I was always bored to death by bands that got onstage in T-shirts
and jeans, and stood in one place all night. Hell, the people could have
had more fun by staying home and playing the albums in the comfort of
their living rooms I'd rather be dead than stand onstage like that. All I
can say is that if you think you've seen some wild things already, just
give us some time. You won't believe your eyes !