WASP's Blackie Lawless loves to keep everyone guessing. Think you know what the Lawless one is thinking? Well give him a second and chances are he'll change his mind- and yours as well. It doesn't seem to matter what the subject is- cars, women, or rock and roll- Blackie will offer an opinion, or two, or three, about each of 'em, then change his attitude before you've had time to fully grasp what he was originally up to. Perhaps his quixotic nature is part of WASP's ever growing appeal. After all, most of WASP's fans probably don't want to be pinned down too easily either, But as the band's latest vinyl venture,Inside The Electric Circus shows, whether Lawless admits it or not, WASP care a great deal about the music they play- even if groups like the PMRC consider them the number one menace in rock music today. That classification gets even Blackie to crack a smile.
Hit Parader: Critics have never been particularly kind to WASP. Doesn't that begin to bother you after a while?
Blackie Lawless: People never really seem to believe me when I say at we really don't give a damn what anyone thinks. Why should we care what critics think? Why should we are what the PMRC thinks? Vhy should we care what radio thinks?
HP. Maybe because with the help of radio or the critics you could sell a lot more records.
BL: I don't buy it. At one time I might have said that I wanted our music to be played on the radio- and I stlll feel it should be. But I've learned that for our audience, radio or MTV or what critics think doesn't mean shit. Our fans will buy the album anyhow and then come out to see the show. That's what they want. After that, by word of mouth, word gets around that WASP is doing this or that, and the next time even more people come to check it out. But we're always one step ahead of them. By the time they've come to see us throwing raw meat or drinking blood, we've moved on to something else.
HP: What about this time? You've decided to headline your own show, and it seems like you've pulled out all the stops onstage.
BL: The title track says it all: "Welcome inside the electric circus, the animals are all insane." It's a pretty wild show. But we've dreamed about headlining long enough that now we feel very much at home. We know our strengths and our limitations. There are certain markets- like Philadelphia-where we could go in and sell 15,000 seats tomorrow. Then there are places like the Southeast-where we still might have to play support. Maybe we'll go through there with Iron Maiden-they had trouble down there last time too, so we've said either we can hang together or we can get hung separately.
HP: How do you answer people who charge that WASP is trying to headline because you are only playing music for the money. Is that unfair?
BL: Money has never been the main objective of this band. My attitude has always been that if you do what you're supposed to do correctly, the money will come. People can smell it when you're doing something only for the money. You can't fool the fans. What's gotten us as far as we have is our honesty. I'm very proud of that. Look, we know we're not the best, but we're not the worst, and we do have a lot of commitment. We bust our asses making the albums, and we give everything we've got onstage. We earned everything we've gotten over the years. I don't want to give any of the money back, that's for sure.
HP: Do you ever think about what you might be doing if you hadn't made it in rock and roll?
BL: As a matter of fact I was thinking about that the other day. I figure either I'd be holding up banks or working on cars. I own three Jaguars and I'm getting such an extensive knowledge of those cars that maybe one day I'll open a shop which specializes in taking care of expensive European sports cars.
HP: Are cars your main passion other than rock and roll?
BL: They're the one I'll talk about. (laughs) Yeah, I really love vintage cars. I just bouht a 1937 Ford. I have to strip the paint off of it and do some more work, but its fantastic. Cars are great because they depend on you to take care of them, but they give back a lot of pleasure. They're better than a lot of people in that regard.
HP: Gettin back to WASP, how are thins going with your new bassist, Johnny Rod?
BL: That boy's a wild one. I'm thinking up ways to calm him down a little. I was talkin to Chris (Holmes) the other day and I was saying that maybe I'll just punch Johnny every time I see him. There won't be any reason- just a good stiff right cross. I figure after a few months of that, he'll calm down some. Hell, I just finished weaning Chris. I can let him loose on the streets of city now without the cops calling me a few hours later. I don't want to have to start doing the whole process again with Johnny. I'll just have to start off with more drastic measures.
HP: It sounds like life in WASP is just a never-ending barrel of laughs.
BL: Actually, it is. We work hard but we have a good time too. I've worked at this for too long not to take the opportunity to enjoy myself when the situation arises. I just don't like it when people assume that all we do is party. I'll leave that to other bands-that's not our style.
HP: You sound a little hostile when you say that. Do you have any particular bands in mind?
Pl: Nah. I don't bad-mouth other bands. I made the mistake of calling Steven Pearcy of Ratt a dick a few years ago. Some people made a big deal about it. They don't understand that when you hang out with certain people you can call them names and not mean any harm. Maybe Steven was a dick, but he was still a friend.
HP: How would you feel if you read articles where people were calling you names?
BL: Like I said before, in this band we just don't give a damn.