Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with W.A.S.P. mainman Blackie Lawless. A couple of excerpts follow:
Metalshrine: The new album, how long has it been in the making? Were there stuff done before "Neon God"?
Blackie: No. It took about a month to write it and we recorded it on and off over last summer. We also did a couple of things while we were on tour last fall. We actually recorded a little bit in Belgium.
Metalshrine: It is an interesting concept, the whole thing with a man disrespecting a woman and then of course also seeing it as the big country bullying smaller countries. I'm just wondering, would this album have been done, had it not been for 9/11 and the events that followed?
Blackie: Well, it's hard to say. I started writing from a political point of view with "Headless Children" back in '89. We forever changed the band after that. It's impossible, really, to precisely answer your question. One of the things you learn as a writer is you write what you feel at the moment. You don't try to think what happened five years ago or what you think might happen five years from now. The most truthful way to write is that pure emotion that you're feeling at that moment. So trying to speculate on that, that's a tough one.
Metalshrine: I was just thinking about, as you said, the way the U.S. treated other countries and the deal with Tony Blair...?
Blackie: Well, as that being said, we also look back at a statement that I made on the "Still Not Black Enough" record, "I love my country but I'm scared to death of its government." That was ten years ago, so I guess the answer to your previous question, I guess we probably could say that I was feeling that way at times, but that would've been in the wake of when his father was president. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same!
Metalshrine: I also remember, when 9/11 happened, Al Gore said that after it happened the entire world was behind the U.S. and then when Iraq happened it kind of turned aginst the U.S.
Blackie: Well, let's get a little...let's pinpoint it a little bit more. I'm not so sure the world was against the U.S....
Metalshrine: Well, not against, but...
Blackie: Right, it's this administration.
Metalshrine: That's what I meant.
Blackie: Not only is it coming from the rest of the world, but it's internally as well. You've got to remember that this president and this administration have the lowest approval ratings since Richard Nixon and that...what else can you say? 29% approval ratings and those are just mind-boggling numbers and that tells you that...well, it's like the old Abraham Lincoln line "A house divided against itself cannot stand." So that's what's happening here right now and to be honest, I have never seen...we're two years away from the national election and I have never seen the amount of free interest in an election. Usually it starts like a year out. I mean, people are chomping into bits now and they cannot wait to get this regime out of there. The reason their numbers are down is we haven't heard as many lies since Nixon. I hated Reagan, but these guys make Reagan look like a choir boy. He (Bush) is systematically taking the U.S. constitution apart, amendment by amendment and he's hiding behind the whole idea of terrorism. Ok, but I don't think terrorism had anything to do with Hurricane Katrina and it just goes to show that where their heads are at. It's all about selling this weaponry and I tried to tell people when all of this was happening. When we were in Europe, they were telling me that "America wants the oil!" and I was telling them that it's not about oil. You don't get it! This is about establishing their idea of capitalism and specifically the companies they want to set up shop in certain countries. Haliburton is moving into Dubai right now. The oil that would come out of Iraq...yeah, I mean there's a lot of it, but the oil you're gonna get out of Iraq didn't justify the cause to send us to war. There has to be more involved than just oil. The oil was to simple of a concept.
Metalshrine: Have you always been this interested in politics?
Blackie: Yeah, because to be honest with you, to be really honest, I know the European people don't get the concept of U.S. patriotism. But I feel that I was very fortunate to be born where I was. Thomas Jefferson said that "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." and I believe very strongly in those kind of values. When I said in the liner notes that I was never more proud then after 9/11 and I was never more ashamed after Katrina, I meant that. I meant that because it's not the country I was born in and it's not where I wanna die. But it's not because of the American people, it's because the bullshit we see right now.
Metalshrine: The song "Long Long Way To Go" is a pretty open criticism of Bush and his closest friends Cheney and so on.
Blackie: I started out with the idea...I used a metaphore from the Bible where God told Abraham to go to the burning bush to seek the truth and I thought about how interesting that was and the burning bush now is different and telling lies. I love the idea of the symbolism and the metaphore of that. Not only did I think that it was kind of interesting, but also here's a guy that defends his faith and "Hey, I've got faith of my own!" I don't know where he's coming from, but it's not where I'm coming from.
Metalshrine: What's your take on Bush being elected for a second term?
Blackie: In some ways al-Quaeda...he ended up being their worst nightmare, because had they not done what they did, he wouldn't have gotten elected. He shouldn't have been elected the first time. He was bullshit! But because of complications in the system, he snuck one out, so he would've not been elected a second time. They ended up being their own worst enemy, talking about al-Quaeda now, by doing what they did, because this guy would've been long gone and forgotten by now. The war would've never happened.
Metalshrine: What's your take on the music industry today, with downloading and there's just a few major labels and if you don't have a hit that sells millions you're outta there?
Blackie: I think for our genre, we're OK, because fortunately our genre is still something that sees the whole record. But for music in general, outside of this genre, it's a pretty bad place. There's no place for the kids to go learn their craft, as I was talking about before, they don't look past the previous generation. There was a circuit that existed years ago when there was clubs where we could go learn our craft. I can watch bands on TV or a show or whatever, and you can tell that they have not learned to perform. Because they haven't spent years in clubs like we all did and that's where you learn you're craft. I've often said that our genre is like electric vaudeville and not only is it like that, but it seems that it's going the way of vaudeville once, since that when our generation is gone, some really great performers, it's never coming back. There's no way for the newer generation to go learn their craft because not only did we have the clubs but if you did get a record deal you were given the opportunity to try to really find an audience and that doesn't exist anymore. A kid can sell 3 or 4 million records on the first record and if the second one doesn't sell, you're gone. Think about a band like AC/DC that was given 5 or 6 records to find themselves. Think of all the great music we could've lost, had it not been for a label committing to build that act.
Read the entire interview at Metalshrine.