W.A.S.P.'s LAWLESS: 'The Dangerous Element In Rock 'N' Roll Terrifies People'

Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an in-depth interview with W.A.S.P. mainman Blackie Lawless. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Classic Rock Revisited: There is a lot of metal on the road right now. You have JUDAS PRIEST on tour and you have Rock Never Stops sweeping the country. Does that help sales or hurt them?

Blackie: "The routing, the way it is, has everyone being away from each other. We don't see it as being a problem right now. The response so far has been really, really good. We are doing well all across the country. With a package you have the flexibility of different bands being stronger in different places. All bands, no matter who they are, will tell you that some places they do better than others. You could go into Mississippi and do great then go to Arkansas and you are not even able to get arrested. Every band has those stories to tell. With a package, you have the flexibility of different draws in different places."

Classic Rock Revisited: In heavy metal circles you are known as a very intelligent person. With W.A.S.P., it sometimes seems juvenile.

Blackie: "Well, that is because of the dark sense of humor. You have got to remember that when we started out doing what we were doing, we were not doing it for shock value. As a matter of fact, we were shocked that people were shocked. I will clarify that; what I mean is that we had a very short attention span. We were doing what we were doing clearly to entertain ourselves. We felt that a rock 'n' roll audience would look at it and go, 'Look at that! Radical!' We thought that would be about it. The first time we heard the term 'shock' used to describe us, we didn't know what they were talking about. There was also this element of our dark sense of humor. We thought what we were doing was hysterical. On top of that, you start getting some element of folks getting bent out of shape. We thought, 'What is their problem?' Rock 'n' roll is supposed to be sweaty and stinky and it is supposed to be about revolution. If it ain't about that then it ain't rock 'n' roll. To have people start analyzing what we were doing was too funny. We were rolling in the aisles laughing."

Classic Rock Revisited: Did you worry that because it was all so outrageous that you would not be taken seriously as an artist? Your later albums such as the "Unholy Terror" and the "Neon God" are much more mature than, say, "Animal".

Blackie: "If you really want to get technical, the 'Neon God' starts out saying, 'God, why am I here?' That is probably the greatest thought that we as humans have ever had. It is the common denominator where we ask, 'Where are we going? Why are we here? Is there a God? Is there no God?' If you go back and look at the very first record then you will see we were saying, 'I want to be somebody.' It is asking the very same question. It is asking who am I? Where am I going? Am I going to get there? When I got into the 'Neon God' the thought of I want to be somebody popped into my head and I started going back and looking at my work and I realized, son of a bitch, I have been saying this my whole career! I didn't realize I was doing it.

"It depends on how you look at things. When you ask ten different people something then you are going to get ten different reactions. When you look at 'Fuck like a Beast', that was written seriously. I was being quite honest and serious — it was not written as a joke. That is who I was at the time. From a rock 'n' roll point of view, I knew how it would be taken. The whole idea behind writing lyrics is to stimulate people's imagination. You try to say things in ways that have never been said before. It worked in one sense but then you had Tipper Gore…. Words, in and of themselves, mean nothing, it is the idea of how you combined them. You can take the work 'fuck' and it means nothing and you can take the word 'beast' and alone, it means nothing. If you put them together then you put an image in people's heads of what that must look like. Next thing you know there are women in Washington going, 'Oh no. We can’t have that.' It is the dangerous element in rock 'n' roll that terrifies people. So, if you ask me if I was worried that I was not being taken seriously in the early stages of my career, then I will tell you that I was being taken too seriously. I was the one inside the bubble and I was living with it every day. I was the one who was getting shot at and getting the death threats. You are looking at all of this from the viewpoint of rock 'n' roll. You are saying, 'Hey this is rock music. Let's go get high and have a blast.' There is another element out there that do not see it like that at all — it terrifies them."

Read Blackie Lawless' entire interview with Classic Rock Revisted at this location.


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