Aedan Siebert of The Metal Forge recently conducted an interview with W.A.S.P. mainman Blackie Lawless. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
The Metal Forge: What do you think you'd be doing now if you weren't a rock musician?
Blackie: "I'd be doing some sort of form of it, because this is quite honestly, I'm just fulfilling my destiny. You know I don't think you choose it, it chooses you. And to what degree of success you may have, we can't choose that but I think we can choose the actual field itself. So I think I'd be doing something in it, though I don't really know what."
The Metal Forge: I think that's a good way to look at it man.
Blackie: "Yeah, because I think, for myself and I can't speak for anyone else it's just driven by passion. Somebody says: 'how do you keep doing this after all this time?' - I don't know what else I would be doing. It's not that I'm not capable of doing other things. I'm one of those people and allow me to be arrogant for a second I do anything I want. I've got enough self confidence to think that I could try my hand in just about anything. Whether you have success or not, that's another issue. But you know, you can learn anything you want to. And it aint just me, it's anybody as long as they apply themselves but what would you have passion in? That's a whole different issue. I tell people that 'it's not so much like I'm choosing it, it's almost like I get up in the morning and I put the shoes on, and the shoes do the walking! I just go along for the ride!"
The Metal Forge: So would you say that these days you're still living a pretty what the media call 'rock n' roll lifestyle'? Or is it a little more subdued?
Blackie: "I never did!"
The Metal Forge: Yeah?
Blackie: "No I never did. I mean I've always been a recluse you know? I live kind of in Los Angeles, but I live north of town about an hour and a half I'm out in the sticks and that's the way I prefer it. When I was talking awhile ago about being driven by passion, that's part of the concept of keeping your eyes on the prize. And if you're driven by that passion, then the peripherals or ancillary things that seem to be part of it. Yeah, I mean, it happens, I'm not saying that I'm totally cut off from the world, but at the same time, in the last three years we've done 350 shows!"
The Metal Forge: That's a lot, man!
Blackie: "Yeah! It is a lot, man! And it's not so much the shows themselves, it's the other 22 hours a day. You know because we put it together, and we figure in the last few years we've done 1.5 million miles!"
The Metal Forge: Geeez!
Blackie: "You've got to get on your horse and ride to do that. So when you say the 'rock n roll lifestyle' yeah, you could do that and you can get high all the time and do those other things, but your not going to last. You know, if you're lucky enough to have had any kind of success, then you've just got to the starting gate. You hear a lot of people use the expression when some band gets a record deal they go: 'oh! they made it!' They haven't made anything! You are now in a position to find out what kind of batting average your going to have. Because up until then, you ain't even in the game man! If you're lucky enough to get in there in the first place its one thing. To be lucky enough to go a full 360 and to get back to square one again is quite an amazing journey. Because when you do, all those peripheral things that you're talking about you find that they don't mean anything. What does matter is what got you into this in the first place, which was the music itself. And really, that's a pretty gratifying reward when you get back to zero again."
The Metal Forge: You said just a second ago that you don't listen to a lot of music these days is there a reason? Are you just too busy?
Blackie: "Well, like I said you know, you do that many shows in a short period of time I tell people it's kind of like being an auto-mechanic: 'You work on brakes all day and the last thing you want to do is go home and work on your own brakes!'"
The Metal Forge: That being said, where do you think music's going to be in another 20-30 years? Do you think it'll be much the same or different?
Blackie: "I wouldn't begin to touch that who knows! I mean, there's always going to be some form of it. I mean if you have a technological revolution such as what the electric guitar was in the 50's, then you have the opportunity to take the same 12 notes and create something different with them. But it's not just that technical revolution, there has to be social revolution as well. You know, rock n' roll came along at the right time, where you had that social consciousness that was ready for change, and you had the technology to help explore that with. One without the other isn't going to do you any good that stage has to be set properly. And to be able to answer your question you'd need 100 crystal balls!"
The Metal Forge: (laughs) And even then, who knows eh?
Blackie: "Right. I mean, is there going to be another BEATLES in our lifetime? Another ELVIS? Probably not."
The Metal Forge: You wouldn't think so, would you?
Blackie: "Well, the machinery has changed, you don't have the big, evil record companies any more which, as much as we curse them at the time they served a purpose, in that they could break new bands. We don't really have that machinery anymore, you know? They could build artists into megastars! When the generation that is still there that exists right now the PINK FLOYDs of the world, or ZEPPELIN, or whoever when those bands are gone man; that could fill a stadium, that phenomenon is over! It's never coming back again. So those fans that are out there right now, for anybody that's reading this, do themselves a favour, and go look at it, because when it's gone, it's gone forever!"
The Metal Forge: Then we'll have to have a rock museum, won't we?
Blackie: "Oh, man! There an endangered species! We all are to some degree that have come from that generation the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s when that's gone, it's gone. There was an attitude of performing, of trying to say something socially, I mean you don't really have those vehicles right now. You don't have a carrier like a major record company to be able to take something and exploit it on a global basis."
The Metal Forge: Do you think that's a result of the Internet?
Blackie: "Solely because of the Internet! I mean, people, you know, listen to the radio and they start bitching about having no new music well, they have only themselves to blame because of it. I mean, METALLICA stood up to this 10 years ago and got crucified for it. Now it's coming home to roost and people are seeing the direct result of it. When you see major record companies declaring bankruptcy, how are you going to farm new music if there's no vehicle there to promote it? I mean, again, as much as we hated them, they served a purpose. To the alternative, it looks pretty good right now. I would rather have them back again then not. Again, those bands that can fill arenas or do stadiums you better enjoy it while you have it, 'cause when it's over, it's gone for good! I mean, I'm not trying to be a doom prophet you don't have to be Nostradamus to see this. And I hate it! I wish it wasn't that way. You know, I feel really bad for new musicians. You see really talented guys and you know that they are not ever going to go anywhere because there's no vehicle to carry it anymore. That vehicle was the major label. It's not there now. And if it is, all they're interested in is pop."
Read the entire interview from The Metal Forge.