Dark Reflections
CoC chats with Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P.
by: Adrian Bromley
There has been a lot of change in the world since September 11th, 2001. Think of how things are now. Everything is different. We as people have changed, the way we live our lives has changed and even our perceptions of people (good and bad) have changed. It will be a long time before things get back to the way they used to be. Hell, they may never be the same.

W.A.S.P. bassist/singer/frontman/lyricist Blackie Lawless himself too has experienced the pain and suffering that has risen from such a tragic event and instead of signing up to go overseas to carry a gun and fight a new war, he put the pen to the paper and has assembled one of the most intense and brutally honest W.A.S.P. records to date: _Dying for the World_.

"This truly is a great record. It is very powerful and it says a lot about what we are doing as W.A.S.P. right now", begins the always straight-to-the-point frontman. "When we finished recording the album and we were in the studio playing back the final mix, Frankie [Banali, drums] looked stunned. He was stunned for about 30 seconds and said, "This is the beginning of the third chapter for W.A.S.P.", and it took me a while to see what he meant. I eventually understood. We had the "I Wanna Be Somebody" phase when we started off and then we moved into new ground and material with _The Headless Children_ (1989) and _The Crimson Idol_ (1992), and now we have this record. I think it says a lot about what we can do with the band's music."

I agree. I think doing a really heavy, emotional record like this shows people that W.A.S.P. isn't just some run-of-the-mill band. There is definite room to try new things -- as the band has done in the past -- and keep expanding the sounds and visions, while at the same time keeping the core of the band alive and kicking.

This record holds a lot of emotions within; how hard was it to assemble this album? "I poured a lot of myself into this record. I went down to ground zero of the World Trade Center a month after the attacks and I just stood there in shock. The song "Hollow Ground" came to me right away. The smell was awful and it was just a mess. A huge pile of wires, rubble and metal. I didn't know how to feel after being there, but I knew I had to write about the experience. About a month later, after the shock had worn off, my sadness turned to anger. I thought very long and hard and I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to make a record that was reactive. With one song like "Hollow Ground" it is okay to pay homage to it, but I didn't want to react and write a whole album about what happened. That is an emotion that can get you into trouble big time. I tried to think of this as clearly as I could. If I was in a position of power, say in the Pentagon, you are not going to try and think with your heart, you are gonna think with your head. I know why this happened. What is done is already done and I can't fix that. Where are we going? What does it mean? Where is this all taking us? And then I started thinking that we are dealing with is a culture that is seven or eight centuries behind us and thinks that anything Western is evil. Let me tell you something, man. If anybody has the balls to do what they did, them motherfuckers are dangerous. They came into your front yard and did this. They are capable of anything."

There seems to be a lot of people dedicating their work and time to remembering those who lost their lives and the tragic events. It is good to see, kind of like a healing process don't you think? "I think it is up to the individual how they want to go about handling it. I wrote one song about what happened and it meant a lot for me to write it", he says. "My focus now is, "What do we do about it now?" There is a song on the new album called "Revengeance" and it is giving into that emotion somewhat, but I am trying to look at this as level-headed as possible. Where is this going? This is not going where we want it to go and we are going to eventually have to deal with it. This is a big problem for the Western world, not just the US, countries like Canada and countries in Europe are affected too. Basically if you don't agree with their edict, you are on the wrong side."

"This record to me is more about what is getting ready to happen in the future, in the sense that I want people to get their heads out of the sand and to think just what may happen", Lawless explains. "I understand people want to get on with their lives, but this is going to be around for a while and is part of the new generation. We need to tackle these problems head on."

And what better way to get one's thoughts across than with. music It has been that way for generations and continues on...

Responds Lawless, "Rock 'n' roll doesn't really change anything except for the individuals listening to it, and then the individuals go out and make a change. Music is a powerful tool and it has scared governments all over the world. When music is doing that, then it is doing what it is supposed to do."

As I mentioned before, _Dying for the World_ is one W.A.S.P. record that offers me everything I ever wanted in a record by the band and more. It has grittiness, a drive to it, power and a message. The message within this album is not something Lawless intends to ram down people's throats, moreso messages that get you thinking.

"No one out there is thinking nowadays. It is a scarce commodity", points out Lawless. "Everything out there in the music scene nowadays is fueled by Nintendo and there is very little effort. People are given people pre-packaged ideas to consume. People need to think and get out being told to be a certain way and just grasp what is going on. I hope people get something out of this record. I am sure they will."

Fans of the band will note that with _Dying for the World_ longtime guitarist Chris Holmes is out of the band -- replaced by Darrell Roberts (bassist Mike Duda rounds out the band). About the new axe-slinger, Lawless says: "It must have been tough for Darrell who had toured and played guitar with us, but had never worked in the studio. He was given the inevitable task of joining a band that has been around for almost twenty years. It is kind of walking into a movie that is halfway done", chuckles Lawless. "He was expected to fit in immediately and it was tough, I'm sure. That is a gig I wouldn't want."

"As time went on in the studio, after the initial uncertainty of joining the band in the studio environment, he started to get good feel of what was going on and what was going to come out of this experience. In all honesty, after the whole record was done and I played it back, I told him I thought the best thing on this record was the guitar playing. I may feel differently a year from now, but right now when I hear his guitar work I think it is pretty damn good."

One thing I have noticed about Blackie Lawless having talked to him numerous times over the years is that he doesn't bullshit you. He always tells it like it is. He knows he has made mistakes and he knows that not all that W.A.S.P. has done has been stellar, but he also knows that the music he creates comes from the heart and what he is feeling at that particular time in his career. I have been 50/50 with the past few albums by the band, but something must have clicked this time around. No doubt certain events easily pushed Lawless into a serious mode of thinking/creativity.

"I can't tell you if we did anything good. The only thing I can do is trust my initial instinct of what I got when I first wrote the material and that will see usually me through", he ends off. "I got a good sense of trust with what I was doing with the material here on _Dying for the World_ and went with it. It seems to have paid off."

(article submitted 1/9/2002)


CHATS
5/13/2001 A Bromley W.A.S.P.: Unleashing Terror Once Again
5/13/1997 A Bromley W.A.S.P.: They're Back...
ALBUMS
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
GIGS
11/21/2007 K Sarampalis W.A.S.P. / House of Games An Evening with W.A.S.P.
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