Q&A with Blackie Lawless
Sheila Rene': Hello Blackie darlin'. I'm on with "Wicked Love" let me turn it down. We can't talk and have wicked love at the same time..
Blackie Lawless: Well, I have. How have you been?
SR: I'm okay. I'd say welcome back but you never really left.
BL: (laughing) I'm like a bad check.
SR: The last time we talked face to face you were concerned about Chris's drinking too much.
BL: Everything comes full circle.
SR: The Crimson Idol exposed a lot of inner turmoil.
BL: That record wasn't all about me. It was a combination of a lot of guys in the business. When I created that character there was a little bit of me, maybe 10 percent and the rest from other guys to make up Jonathan.
SR: You've come back at a time when we have acts following in your footsteps like Marilyn Manson. Will this help your cause?
BL: Chris and I got back together in August of 1995 and we kept it a secret for a long time because we knew that it would take at least a year. It ended up taking a year and a half to write, record and put a show together. We didn't want to let the cat out of the bag. We worked covertly for a long time.
SR: It's hard to keep secrets in the music business.
BL: Oh, yeah it is. We had to lie to a lot of people for a long time. I just kept saying no to everyone. We had to piss off a lot of people and we had to be careful not to go to restaurants together. It was a lot of espionage going on to work the way we did. We looked around during that time and saw that there wasn't a truly dangerous band out there. Dangerous by definition is a band that strikes fear and I mean fear in the hearts of the local government, religious groups, parents, teachers and their own record label for that matter. That's a dangerous band.
SR: Oh, yeah.
BL: We concluded that if we were going to do this trip again. W.A.S.P. will have to be the nastiest, stingiest, filthiest band on the planet or no one will accept it. It's safe to say that with what we're doing in this show right now (evil laugh) that we're on the beaten track.
SR: What happened in your life to make it all right to contact Chris?
BL: I missed doing the show. When I did the Crimson Idol that was a record I needed to make for a lot of reasons. I needed to prove to myself that I could do something like that kind of thing without a show or anything else. To be honest, looking back on it, it's still my favorite piece of work, but I wish I would have had the strength of character not to need to have done that. I don't regret making the record. I'm glad I did. I just wish one of the reasons for making it wouldn't have been there. The need for having to do that is now ridiculous.
SR: I tried to interview you on Still Not Black Enough.
BL: We were caught in a crossfire. What should we do with that record with Chris and I working together? We didn't want that record to cloud the issues, so to speak, with what we're doing now. It became a sacrificial lamb. We slide it under the door and hoped no one would notice. I hate to say that because I did serve it up as an offering. I couldn't go out and promote that record and make this record at the same time. Plus the attention would have taken away from this project.
SR: What's different about your relationship with Chris?
BL: I think our level of respect for each other is better. I think he better understands that when you've got other outside influences in your ear telling you that you don't need this and don't need that, screw that guy and all. It was happening on both ends, not just with Chris. Here's the problem. I went away and worked with other musicians who were great musicians but the problem was that there wasn't much chemistry there. That's what it's all about at the end of the day. How you relate to one another while you're doing something like that. He had the same problem. Most people never find that in their life times once. To have it, and to have lost it and then have it again is really unheard of and we are considering ourselves very fortunate.
SR: What's the first song you wrote together?
BL: It was "The Horror."
SR: The horror of it all. Each one of these songs is a mini-movie in your head.
BL: There are little vignettes.
SR: Is there an overall theme?
BL: Somebody asks how do you guys write these songs? I can only say that you would have to spend 24 hours with Chris to understand. (Laughing) I just get a note pad and follow him around. It's almost like musical reporting. His soul is mad in the literal sense. He's mad. I don't mean angry, I mean mad. He functions but it's like...I had better appreciate him now because I'm older or whatever. I can see things and maybe it's that he has done some maturing as well; but I see things in his madness that I didn't appreciate before. Other people did so you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
SR: You took some time last week to meet with you record folks. How did that go?
BL: It seems to be good, but I've been there only about ten minutes so far.
SR: You produced this album because...
BL: We've worked with other people before and it just never seemed to work. Chris did not want to know about it. I get apprehensive when someone else comes into the mix. Mostly, they're trying to get you to be a figment of their imagination.
SR: Have you gotten a congratulation note from Tipper (Gore) yet?
BL: If you talk to her tell her I'm the same.
SR: I saw a news item recently that she was going to give up her drums and pick up a bass in an all-girl band in Washington, D.C. So I sent over an E-mail to the Vice President asking if it was true and could I have an interview with the her? No answer as yet.
BL: Hey, they're in the ultimate band in the world right now. That's damn rude of them not to answer you, isn't it?
SR: The Internet has blazed a wide trail since we last talked? What do you make of it? There'll be no surprises about your live show.
BL: We just decided that if we were going to do this again we weren't to be a trip down memory lane. Upon first glance it looks like we're doing the same thing again, but trust me when I say we're pushing the envelope this time. A confession...we don't know what we're doing right now. We're in uncharted territory. We felt like this...if a movie like "The Exorcist" scared people 20 years ago, it won't scare them now. The show we did ten years ago won't scare anyone either. If we were going to do this, take it to another level and motivate ourselves at the same time. We don't want to pay for the real estate twice. To do it artistically enough to make it satisfying, we're going to have to get into some places that had been taboo. It's a safe assumption that we're there (laughing) wherever there might be.
SR: I can depend on you, I know.
BL: I'll tell you for the past three or four months we've been wondering where here is. To do what we do...there have been bands who have done theater but our brand was a confrontational-type theater which was something that was being fooled around with at U.C.L.A. in the late '60s. It's an old type of theater. They coined the phrase "psychodrama" which was an old joke I used about it being psychotic people doing drama. It really was confrontational so we said 'Okay, if we're going to do that again which is what separated us from Alice Cooper, KISS or anyone who had ever done anything like that, how were we going to take it to the next level and what was that next level?' It seemed to us that "realism" was the ultimate form of that confrontational. I make no bones and I'm not apologetic by saying what this whole thing is designed to do...it's to manipulate people's emotions. The same manipulation you would have experienced the first time you saw "Jaws" or "Platoon." You came out of the theater and it was almost like you were experiencing some type of emotional rape. When it's very disturbing, that's the highest form of art there is, as far as I'm concerned because that's the hardest thing there is to do...to get true emotion out of people. I'm not shy about saying that nobody ever did that better than us. If that's the case, then what we're doing now, you better understand why we're not sure, again, where here is. This show is out there and it's not for the faint of heart. There's no middle of the road with this thing. You either love it or you hate it. It's so violent. It's the Roman Coliseum put to heavy metal music.
SR: For sure, when you do anything that even suggest blasphemy against the Church, you're asking for it.
BL: That's part of it but the pig is getting the most reaction. When people see that they just freak and say 'you've got to be kidding me.' I'm aware that we're in an area that's out there. As you can tell, I'm being very careful about the way I'm wording myself, because we've had..not from my point of view and not from the band's point of view..but I can be ruthless when it comes to doing things that I want to do. Especially, if I feel regardless of what some people might think, that there's no art in this at all. It's just flat-out grotesque or disgusting. I don't worry about that because I know what it is we're accomplishing or attempting to accomplish. I'm not going to get into worrying about the sociological hypocrisy. Everybody wants a steak but nobody wants to know about the slaughter of a cow. By the same token, I have to be concerned about completely alienating an entire audience, too. It's like you get into some punchy areas now.
SR: What's your take on the metal market today?
BL: I don't really know to tell you the truth, because I've been so busy. Bands that do something like what we're doing or obviously doing what KISS has been doing those things are going to take care of themselves. They don't really fit into a niche. I don't know what is happening to metal per se, but I know that we'll probably do well because we have something more to offer.
SR: I read some where that the guys in Marilyn Manson are fans and wanted you to come out and play. What's the story?
BL: They sent us fax and wanted us to do some shows and they wanted to re-mix "Animal F**k Like A Beast." The problem is that they're going in one direction and we're going in another. There's really not much time. There has been communication but nothing has materialized.
SR: How were the six well-out shows in Europe?
BL: Let's just say that they had the desired (laughing) effect. The highest compliment we can ever get is when the show is over and the people are walking out of the room as opposed to a regular show where they're jumping up and down and raising hell. Walking out of our show they're quiet, almost in single file and they're quiet. You can hear a pin drop. You can see the look on their faces because they're running that tape back through their minds and asking themselves 'what did I just see?' That's the carthesis I was talking about. The mental organism, if you will. That's what I'm looking to happen. A lot of band might interpret that as 'did we bomb, nobody's cheering.' I don't want a cheer. I want them to be stunned. Not from a shock point-of-view, it's deeper than that.
SR: "Apocalypse Now" and "Silence Of The Lambs" are the only two movies that have ever given me nightmares for weeks after.
BL: When you watched those movies, that's not shock value. That's getting into the deepest, inner workings of your psyche. That's the emotional rape I talked about earlier. I've seen bands try this in the past and the thing is it's like writing songs. If you don't hit the bullseye you really do appear to miss badly. It's a fine line. Can you hold on a minute?
SR: I'm holding.
BL: That was management calling from Portugal.
SR: Do you need more time with them?
BL: No, we're finished.
SR: Are you going to Foundations Forum this year?
BL: No, the tour starts April 24 in Spain. Two months over there and then two months in the States and a month in Asia. We'll come back to the U.S. and we'll go until the end of the year. We're trying to do two complete passes in North America this time.
SR: Have you talked lately with Nikki Six. They're coming out again as you know.
BL: I haven't spoken to him in probably five years. Different lives and different directions.
SR: My favorites on the new album are "Take The Addiction", "Tortured Eyes", "U", "Wicked Love" and "The Horror."
BL: "Take The Addiction", "Little Death" and "Killahead" are my favorites. I like "Take The Addiction" because when I wrote it the whole idea of the song just had pseudo sexual S&M overtones. It doesn't ask the question do you but take it. It was so nasty.
SR: I was thinking take the addiction over something more horrible.
BL: I knew upon first look people would look at it as drug addiction, but that's too superficial.
SR: There are too many addictions out there today.
SR: I'll keep my eyes and ears open for you.
BL: I'm sure we'll get down there. We'll play anywhere that can accommodate our show, whether it's a club or theater. We're going to play 'em all. Does Austin still rock?
SR: Yeah, but I'm never satisfied with the turnout of all my favorites.
BL: I love Texas in general. My mother was from Houston. People are so friendly down there. I swear I could live down there.