The Making of Atom Heart Mother out now! 2008-23-10

Blackie Lawless (WASP)

Interview - 2009

This is the full unedited script of what was submitted to Record Collector Magazine

October 2009 sees the release of the latest WASP album ‘Babylon', with UK dates planned for November and December. The band were formed in 1982 by controversial frontman and New York born Blackie Lawless in LA, after playing in a series of bands. The album centres around comparisons of current global meltdown with the Book Of Revelations.

Joe:    What inspired your biblical visions of the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse?

Blackie:    Turn on the news. You only have to turn on the TV, and every day you are bombarded with it. When I wrote The Headless Children, 20 years ago, the opening line “Father come save us from this madness we're under”, well it's the same now as it was then. Look at what's going on in society, nothing's changed. I was bought up in the church, I've read Revelations, I know the stuff, and I think WOW.

Joe:    When you're writing about politics or global disaster, was George Bush an easy target?

Blackie:    Well yeah. I was no fan, everybody knows that, but with what's going on now it makes him look good. When he got elected I thought “I can't take 4 years of this” but 9 years on I don't trust ANY politician. I've been in love with the UK for 25 years, I was based there for quite a while, I've seen it change, I don't like what I see. It's unrecognisable now. But I don't think we'll get the biblical vision of one world government and one global currency. I can't see the US giving up the dollar, or the UK giving up the pound.

Joe:    Do you feel there's a lyrical connection with Headless Children?

Blackie:    Not identical, it's just developed, some things have happened. When I was writing for this new album, with “Crazy” (Babylon's opening track and first single) , I was disturbed about the relationship you see between the performer and the audience, like it's crazy to say you love me. At first listen it may seem like a man and woman, with one saying “you're crazy to love me”, but it's not. Halfway through the album's production I was over in Europe doing some festivals when Michael Jackson died, and I was astonished at the response. The affect on the audience is reciprocated and it all sell perpetuates. There's a winery I go to about 5 miles from Neverland, last time I went there, there was nothing happening, you wouldn't know it was there, but now it's like Abbey Road with all the fan messages being left.

Joe:    What can fans expect from the forthcoming tour?

Blackie:    This is interesting, as it's 25 years since we first played the Lyceum. When we did the recent Crimson Idol tour we used these films, so we're going to be digging out all the old videos, something like a then and now. Not quite a greatest hits package, but old and new together.

Joe:    The recent Crimson Idol tour (where the album was played in its entirety) was well received. Would you do anything like that again?

Blackie:    First things first, you need the record. My first reaction is probably not. Maybe sometime we would, but like I said you need the record first. When we did it I hadn't seen that footage in 15 years, and I got a kick out of seeing it every night, even doing the show 100 times.

Joe:    What drew you to covering “Burn” on the new album?

Blackie:    It was a track like, over the years, you listen to tracks, like “The Real Me”, stuff we liked when we were growing up that we liked, that we thought we could do justice to, and on this version I think we did.

Joe:    You recorded Headless Children with a keyboard player. Would you ever work with a pianist again?

Blackie:    That was Ken Hensley, from Uriah Heep. I don't know, I do most of that myself. I don't like keyboard players generally, but Ken, I still use the rig he put together, he showed me how to tinker with it, so in a way he's still with us.

Joe:    What do you remember about playing “Scream Until You Like It” on Top Of The Pops?

Blackie:    We've not done much stuff like that. I took a look along the corridor from our changing rooms and saw Mick Jagger standing by his room. We were on the same label, and the label guy offered to introduced us. But he (Jagger) looked like he didn't want to be bothered, so when I was introduced Mick extended his arm like it was broken.

Joe:    You've worked with both Chris Holmes and Johnny Rod on two occasions each, would you work with them again?

Blackie:    I'm in a very different place now than I was then. I know what they say about never say never, but I look at what guitarist Doug Blair has done on the last two records, some of the best work I think we've done, you couldn't just walk away from that.

Joe:    Were you disappointed that “Animal” was dropped from your debut album and issued on a separate label?

Blackie:    Probably initially, but you realise these things happen for a reason. But at the same time you take the press. .

Joe:    What was the song written about?

Blackie:    It comes from watching the routine of comedian Sam Kinison, who opened for us, and used to refer to his wife as a beast.

Joe:    Is there anything left unreleased in the vaults?

Blackie:    Oh yeah, all bands have stuff, same with song writers, but if something's not right you leave it, or you can go back to it at a later date.

Joe:    Is there anyone you'd really like to play with?

Blackie:    I don't know, I don't think about that. If it happens it happens, and as a kid you fantasize about stuff. The best stuff is spontaneous.

Joe:    Why the switch from bass to guitar?

Blackie:    I'm a guitarist by trade. But when we formed the band we had three guitarists. The other two weren't going to switch so I volunteered. Then when the guitarist left (Randy Piper) and Johnny Rod (bass) joined I switched back.

Joe:    You were considered for the part of the T1000 in Terminator 2, what happened there?

Blackie:    I was too tall. We were starting the Crimson Idol tour and I got a call from my agent on a Friday afternoon. They would have seen me on the Scream Until You Like It video, could I come down and meet them, but I've been to a few parties, I'd met the guys involved, I knew I was too tall, I'm 6'4”, which I told them. They wanted someone to blend in. So they got back to us and said no need. I ran into Robert Patrick a few years later, and when I told him I'd been up for the role I got a really funny look from him. It turns out he'd seen the original script which was more of a barbaric role, and required a more barbaric look.

Joe:    Do you still have the exploding codpiece?

Blackie:    Yes I do, it's a vault somewhere, I try to avoid it now.

Joe:    Do you think all the attention from the PMRC helped or hindered your career?

Blackie:    At the end of the day, I don't think it made a difference. It's not like we weren't selling records before they came after us. We were already selling records, which is why they came after us.

Joe:    What were the first and last records you bought?

Blackie:    The first was The Early Beatles, which is a US release with two thirds of Please Please Me on it. The last? Good question. Some blues, JB Lenoir I think.

Joe:    Any message for your fans?

Blackie:    With all the records we've made since Headless Children, we've tried to make fans think. All art, whether you're a musician, or a painter, or whatever, is designed to make you think and if you're not doing that you're just going through the motions. I hope this one makes you think.

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