Interview with Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.)

Following overwhelming reader interest, here are the leftovers from the recently published interview with Blackie Lawless, organized as separate statements, as it’d be hopeless to try and recreate the flow of the original conversation with the interview being published in two parts. Anyway –- Blackie was indeed in a talkative mood that afternoon, and hopefully this makes for an enjoyable read.

Blackie on what motivates him:

There’s two things that motivate me nowadays, and that’s the will to create the best possible music, and the will to deliver my absolute best when on stage. People try to make me do all these ridiculous things, say things I don’t really mean, be places I don’t want to be, do interviews I don’t want to do. My response to all this is that I just really can’t fucking care less; I don’t give a damn if I make this or that much money, you know.

Blackie on the role the press plays in today’s music business:

The press has turned so tabloid, so hopelessly obsessed with bullshit. As a consequence of this, I nowadays do only 2-300 interviews a year, as opposed to 5-600 as I used to do. I’ve no need whatsoever to make myself into some kind of media whore. If my music doesn’t speak for itself today, after some 25 years in the business, then there’s really not much I can do. If people can’t get a thrill by listening to The Crimson Idol or The Headless Children without having to see my face in a magazine first, then all hope is basically lost.

Blackie on playing live:

For me playing a concert is hard work, just like recording an album is hard work. Whether the crowd response differs from song to song and so on really doesn’t matter to me, my goal is to make every second of that gig just as great as the last second and the next second. If people enjoy some songs more than others, then that just means that we’ve not done well enough overall. Still, I really don’t see or hear that much of the crowd anyway. When we play live everything sort of passes by in slow motion, and I’m really able to absorb neither visual nor sonic impressions. I know there are people out there, but I can’t really see or hear them. For that reason I’m not at all able to identify myself with the artists that brag about the thrill and rush they get from being on stage. I see it as my job, and that’s it really. Still, I’m not one to complain. This is the hand I’ve been dealt, as they say, and to be honest it’s not a bad hand at all.

Blackie on the provocative metaphors in his lyrics:

Look at ”Take Me Up,” for example, off the Dominator album. That song is about temptation and greed in general, and especially the big credit card companies that screw up the lives of hundreds of thousands in the US every year. People are tricked into believing that they get a certain amount of money for free, but of course that’s not the truth. Instead, they have to pay insane amounts of interest for these loans, and they all become slaves of the system. The sexual references are put in there just to make people listen, and according to me it works pretty damn well. It’s the same thing in “Mercy,” where the lines “I’ll make you cry for mercy/I’ll make you cry out loud” really deals with world politics, and the relationship between the superpowers on one hand and the smaller, poorer nations on the other. This is once again about addiction, and how big nations make smaller nations dependant of them.

Blackie on copyright laws and the future of popular music:

What people never seem to be able to realize is that there is one, and just one, reason why we’ll never see more bands the size of AC/DC or Pink Floyd. These were bands that were allowed to try and fail, allowed to grow, allowed to go on at their own pace, and evolve without record companies or other stress factors interfering. Do you think AC/DC would have been able to make an album like Highway To Hell if they had not been allowed to do things at their own pace? I don’t. Music needs support, bands need support, and stealing an artist’s work will never ever be labeled “support.” Illegal downloading does not support the artists; illegal downloading is one of the biggest reasons why popular music is past its peak. Most new bands are not able to play, they’re not able to write decent songs, and will be forgotten before this interview’s over; and the reason for this is exactly what I’ve told you now. They’re not given the opportunity to try and fail, and take the time to learn their craft properly, and illegal downloading is a major factor in this.

Blackie on being Blackie Lawless:

I have three big passions in life, they are music, baseball, and architecture. Whichever of these I’m allowed to occupy myself with I’d be happy, and I really can’t say how fortunate I’ve been. My mantra has always been “never be afraid to die; be afraid not to have lived,” and I’ve done my very best to live up to this sentence. I’ve been on top of the Eiffel Tower, seen the Grand Canyon and Mount Fuji, taken a stroll in the catacombs underneath the Colosseum, crossed the Red Square in Moscow, climbed the Hollywood sign, and hiked in the Amazons. Dude, I’m one of the luckiest guys every to walk this planet!



  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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