CHRIS HOLMES (MEAN MAN, EX-W.A.S.P.): “I Don’t Hide Anything, The Things I’ve Said, The Things I’ve Done. I Don’t Hide Anything”

Chris Holmes

Here Comes Trouble With a Capital C

You know Chris Holmes from his time as the guitarist of W.A.S.P. from 1983-1990 (and his subsequent return from 1996-1991). But do you know the real Chris Holmes? With the new documentary MEAN MAN: The Story of Chris Holmes, directors Antoine de Montremy and Laurent Hart set out to answer that question. The new documentary drops on January 15, 2021 through Cleopatra Entertainment and it follows Chris as he tries to assemble a new band in his adopted home of Cannes, France. I had the chance to speak with the notorious guitarist about the new documentary, his new band, and the 35th anniversary of W.A.S.P.’s Inside the Electric Circus. Oh, and his brief work in pornography 10 years ago…

Metal Express Radio: You’re currently promoting a documentary that’s coming out January 15th called Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes. Whose idea was it to put a documentary together?

Chris Holmes: My wife. She’s been wanting to do it since she met me nine years ago. We ran into [Antoine de Montremy] who lives in Paris. He does videos and commercials, and has all of the equipment. [We] decided to do it about six years ago, filmed over those six years.

MER: Were you initially apprehensive when your wife brought you this idea about a documentary and how it was going to portray you?

CH: Man, after The Decline of Western Civilization, nothing would bother me. It doesn’t bother me. What’s important to me is to have the realism. No fake stuff, no lying about anything, no making things look better than what they are. It’s about reality.

MER: Right.

CH: About two years ago [Antoine] went to United States. Went to L.A., talked with bunch of my old friends. Some of the people, I went to the third grade with. Interviewed my mom, all these people. I’ve only seen the rough cut of it once.

MER: And you’re happy with the final outcome?

CH: Yeah, yeah.

MER: Are they going to cover your life now, or are they going to cover your life from the very beginning through today?

CH: It starts out from when I moved to Europe and the hardships of putting a band together. Then it shows up me touring in a regular car, instead of a bus or an airplane acting like I’m Joe Rockstar or whatever. It is the shows the hardships backstage, the people, the fans. It has clips and stuff from my friends growing up. There’s no real W.A.S.P. stuff in it. It’s all about me Chris. Nothing about Chris and W.A.S.P.

MER: This release is coming out through Cleopatra [Entertainment] on DVD and Blu-ray are you going to be streaming it on any format?

CH: No.

MER: Is there anything in the documentary that you think will surprise people about Chris Holmes?

CH: No. It’s not one of those ten things you didn’t know about… I don’t look at it that way, you know? I don’t hide anything, the things I’ve said, the things I’ve done. I don’t hide anything. It doesn’t bother me.

MER: One of the things that that stood out to me in the trailer was a line by whoever’s narrating the documentary. It says the United States looks at Chris Holmes as a has-been from the ‘80s, but now that you’re in France you’re like a local rock star. Where are they coming up with that [statement]?

CH: That [statement] came from a singer that I played with when I was about 17 and in my 20s. Roger is a very good friend of mine. It was [a statement he made] seven years ago. I didn’t think about it much at the time. The older I get the more [I realize] he’s right. In W.A.S.P. I’m a has-been in that situation. Now, I’m starting a new band. Luckily I have the past to go off of. Everybody knows me from W.A.S.P. People in America, the young kids, they don’t really listen to Rock. It’s not like it was in the ‘80s or ‘90s there anymore.

MER: Right.

CH: Look at the Grammy [Awards]. [That’s] what most people listen to America. In that instance, I’m a has-been, right? I don’t mind being a has-been, because at least I was “something” at one time, then to be a nobody.

MER: You know Chris, I think that even these pop stars will be has-beens one day, because America is so fickle and they move on to the next thing right away.

CH: Yeah. Yeah.

MER: Another thing I learned in the documentary trailer, that I didn’t know, is that you were good friends with Eddie Van Halen.

CH: I grew up in a city called La Canada. It is on the borderline of Pasadena. My grandpa was a surgeon at Pasadena Memorial Hospital, so I kind of grew up in Pasadena too. That’s where the Van Halen’s come from. [I knew them] from parties and all that stuff. We used to be good friends.

MER: Is it true that [Eddie] used one of your guitars on Women and Children First?

CH: You know, it’s been so long I couldn’t tell you [laughs]. I think it was Women and Children First. It was 1980.

MER: That sounds about right (it is).

CH: He bought an Ibanez Destroyer. I liked how it looked, so I bought one a few months after. He had cut a big chunk out of his and it changed the sound, and I didn’t. That’s all it was. He leant me his guitar that was on that album cover.

MER: You have new band you’ve put together called Mean Man. You’re transitioning from releasing stuff under your own name. Why the switch solo artist to band?

CH: I’ve always wanted to be a band. When I was in America, I couldn’t find any [players] that would be my band. When I came over here, I had members that wanted to go their own ways and stuff, but I finally got enough guys, and I hope this will stick together. People get tired of each other after being around each other for a while. That’s what happens in groups. I always wanted a group that would stick together. You take W.A.S.P., they changed members like you change underwear.

MER: You have a new album scheduled for 2021. Is that still going to happen with everything that’s happened with lockdowns, and no live shows, and all that stuff?

CH: I hope I can get it out by March or April. If not it will be a little bit later than that.

MER: Do you have a title for the new album?

CH: Yeah, it’s called Unbearable Influence. If you look at the decline.. what people know me as, or what people look up to me as…or a lot of things I’m famous for… that’s an unbearable influence.

MER: You mentioned in the [documentary] trailer that you write one song from each of your albums about Blackie [Lawless]….

CH: Well, do you know where “Mean Man” comes from?

MER: That’s allegedly about you, right?

CH: There’s a song written about me, on the WASP 4th studio album, which is The Headless Children. So I just write one song about Blackie on each album.

MER: And what song on the upcoming album is about Blackie?

CH: I’d like to say you have to hear it to figure it out.

MER: Come on…

CH: It’s called “The Truth.”

MER: You released an EP earlier this year, Under the Influence. Is that supposed to be meant as the soundtrack to your documentary.

CH: No that’s EP to the record coming up.

MER: 2021 is going to be the 35th anniversary of Inside the Electric Circus. What do you remember about recording that album and touring on [it]?

CH: It’s a little lighter than the early W.A.S.P. It’s flashy with all the colors. Have you ever been to Las Vegas?

MER: I haven’t personally, but I know what it’s all about.

CH: They had a casino out there called Circus Circus. The whole idea for [Inside the Electric Circus] is stolen from that casino. I’ve never been into that kind of crap. That circus thing. The songs on there, they’re okay. It’s not my forte. I like the stronger, heavier stuff like The Headless Children. It was the way I always played.

MER: With Inside the Electric Circus, it was probably one of your bigger tours, right? At least stage production wise.

CH: Yeah. It was just a little too flashy. It [wasn’t] like the first album, the darker side of music. Inside the Electric Circus was more happy and sweet. It’s not my bag.

MER: Was a lot of that influenced by the record label? I would say that a lot of bands at that time were doing that brighter, glossier stuff.

CH: You can look back on YouTube and look at the history of W.A.S.P. videos. In fact, Blackie had a band before W.A.S.P. called Circus Circus. Look at that, then look at the change, Where I came in, the whole concept of the clothes, the stage persona, and what we did was taken from the movie called Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. That came out in, 1981-82?

MER: Right.

CH: That’s what [W.A.S.P.] started out being. That rugged image. The label never told us what to do. It was in the contract. They weren’t even allowed to be in the studio until we gave the masters.

MER: That’s a good deal.

CH: You don’t want someone that sits in the office with a suit and tie telling you what to do.

MER: Back in the ‘80s, at least he early ‘80s, you weren’t the only famous Holmes in California. Did you ever get confused with John Holmes?

CH: Penis wise? [laughs]. My actual name is Christopher John Holmes. My Dad’s name is John Paul Holmes. Everyone calls him Paul. So if I had a son, his middle name would be Chris. I did work, about 10-15 years ago, in there the porno industry. Not in the movies! Doing the sound.. When I signed my W2’s I signed Christopher John Holmes. Larry Flint (Hustler) was pissed off and he called up the guy I worked for. He said tell this Chris guy this isn’t funny. So we had to send him a picture of my ID to prove it was my real name.

MER: All right, we need to talk more about this pornography thing. You must have met some interesting people?

CH: Yeah, I’d go to Larry Flynt’s Christmas dinners and stuff. It’s a business, you know? It’s a job that guys would give anything [to be in], but it’s actually boring when you are filming all the crap.

MER: Well, I would imagine trying to get a mic up into the right positions isn’t exactly fun.

CH: It’s actually boring. You set it up, film it, then go sit down and wait. Unless you’re the camera man or whatever. It’s not what you think.

MER: Besides the documentary and the new album, do you have anything else going on?

CH: I’m trying to not get this COVID, because I smoked cigarettes since I was 12. I’ve got COPD. I stopped smoking 6 years ago, but if I was to catch it, it would probably kill me.

MER: Do you do any online interactions with your fans, or music stuff online?

CH: I’ll do guitar lessons sometimes. I also work with the Metal Voice [doing interview segments].

MER: That’s all I’ve got for you today Chris. I really appreciate you speaking with Metal Express Radio and I look forward to seeing your new documentary.

CH: Thanks for talking with me.


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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