Unleashing Terror Once Again
CoC interviews Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P.
by: Adrian Bromley
W.A.S.P. guitarist/frontman/songwriter Blackie Lawless has seen himself put through the ringer over the years for whatever reason, but it seems as though today's press day for the new disc _Unholy Terror_ (Metal-is) might take the cake. You see, he has been doing promotional interviews for the album day since 9am PST, and so by the time the phone call comes to my home (an hour and a half late) he as been going solid for almost ten hours, with still four more interviews to go.

Not a good day, Blackie, is it?

"No, it isn't. It has been quite a grueling day, actually, but what are you going to do."

Exactly, there is nothing Lawless can do on the outside world, where his music is put on store shelves, promoted in magazines and played on the airwaves. But in the studio he is the "Master of His Domain". This is where he takes his visions and passion and creates his artwork: his music. The new album -- thanks in part to the now steady line-up of guitarist Chris Holmes, bassist Mike Duda and drummer Stet Howland -- is a much darker record than in recent years. The music is rich in ideas and Lawless has done quite a number on the production here. The terror reigns within the music as expected and Lawless has still managed after all these years to keep the music sounding like W.A.S.P..

"I work hard at keeping up with that continuity on all of our records", he starts. "I have always made an effort to keep W.A.S.P. focused. All of those other bands out there have kind of strayed away from their sound because they are all chasing the tail of the charts and trying to find out what is happening and what is going to be the next big thing. You can't do that. All you can do is what feels right to you. There is no need to be like a chicken with its head cut off running around trying to find out what is going on. You don't want to do that. That is just a fool's game."

So what is going on? What does Lawless know about the music industry that we don't?

"I think number one, you just need to keep in mind that you have to just make the best record that you can. You put one foot in front of the other and whatever happens after that is just out of your control from that point on. There is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is be true to yourself. I have fairly general tastes when it comes to music. What I am moved by, I'm pretty sure someone else will be moved by too."

He adds, "Like I have said in the past, it is all about who you are right now and what you are feeling. When you take people on a trip with your music, and they want to be lifelong fans of the band, you've got to be willing to open up your head and let them be able to run around and see what is going on in your head. You can't be afraid to let people see what is in there. If you are afraid, you'll never be able to develop this intimacy that you need to do this. If you don't have the intimacy, you aren't going to go on this ride for life."

So what is Lawless's trip like for W.A.S.P. fans in his own words?

"I am a big fan of what we do musically, but I honestly think the lyrics are what I do best. If I am writing lyrics that I believe in, I am basically making up my own storyboard that you can make your own movie to. As the movie is going on in your head, the music acts as a soundtrack for you as the movie is going along. I want to write lyrics that create imagery. I'm not at all interested in writing lyrics that don't have imagery."

"I think this record is a good cross between our first record [self-titled disc in 1984 -- Adrian] and _The Headless Children_ [1989]", states Lawless when asked to describe and compare the new disc to older recordings. "I find a lot of similarities with this record and those two. For example, the song "Let It Roar" on the new disc is kind of like a newer version of "I Wanna Be Somebody". It wasn't until after I finished recording it that I noticed the similarities."

"Time also seems to be my enemy of everything I do", continues Lawless about the recording of _Unholy Terror_. "That is why I am always so historically late with records and jamming at the last minute. The new album was literally being done as the last song was being mixed. I was in the makeshift situation trying to finish it up. If you had seen that you wouldn't have believed it. <laughs> It just looked real crude, the way the recording was done and how I got what I needed for that song. It was just something that I felt I needed to do on the last day to that song to make it just a bit better and be happy with the end result. For me, it is a real personal statement for me to get everything in my head about that record out. I want all the ideas swept clean. I want to record a record to the last minute to punctuate what I was thinking at that particular place and time. Then I move on."

"I don't like things rattling around", he explains. "If I don't get it out of me at that moment, it just doesn't feel right to go onto the next thing. It isn't always the way for each recording, but most of the time I need to get it all out of me and make sure I have it all done on record."

Leading up to this record, a lot of things have changed in the metal music business and life itself. Bands have come and gone, technology is just booming and "Survivor" is ruling television. These times are a changing. What are the W.A.S.P. frontman's thoughts on all of this?

"I don't care. I really don't care what is going on", he laughs. "And to tell you the truth, I have never watched "Survivor". I know of it, but have never seen it. I am not at all interested in any of that. My music is what means a lot to me. My music moves me and that is what keeps me interested in all of this. I like to be creative and just let loose and let my fans take in what I have provided them with on each album."

And writing music for each album -- has it become easier?

"Shit, I wish", blurts out Lawless. "Every time I go into making a record and writing material, the time frame is different each time out. Songs just come together easily sometimes, but sometimes the problem lies within the making of a song where you reach a roadblock. But that is the writing process and how it comes about. A song like "Hate to Love Me" happened immediately. The song "Charisma" took a month to do."

"Regardless of if the song makes the record or not, that is the exploration process that comes with songwriting. You need to discover if after all the work -- either a short time frame or not -- if it is worth it all in the end. You have to twist and turn it and take it apart to really get to know the song and the end result."

Lawless ends, "A good song will last for ever; it just may take you that long to get it right."

(article submitted 13/5/2001)

9/1/2002 A Bromley W.A.S.P.: Dark Reflections
5/13/1997 A Bromley W.A.S.P.: They're Back...
8/4/2007 K Sarampalis 8.5 W.A.S.P. - Dominator
8/12/2001 A McKay 7 W.A.S.P. - Unholy Terror
6/15/1999 A Bromley 4 W.A.S.P. - Helldorado
4/13/1998 A Bromley 8 W.A.S.P. - Double Live Assassins
11/21/2007 K Sarampalis W.A.S.P. / House of Games An Evening with W.A.S.P.
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