Bassist Rik Fox recalls his time in W.A.S.P. including how he came up with the band name
Steeler bassist Rik Fox was recently interviewed by The Cosmick view and he spoke about his time in W.A.S.P. back in 1982 including how he came up with the band name.
Fox indicated (with slight edits): “Once again, for the record, I arrived on February 4th, 1982. After getting over the jet lag, Blackie [Lawless] brought me to the audition at Randy Piper’s rehearsal space studio in Buena Park, Magnum Opus on February 6th. They went through their set of about five songs; “On Your Knees”, “Hellion”, “B.A.D.”, “Sleeping In The Fire” and “School Daze.” Holy Shit! These guys sounded like thunder. There was definitely something different about this band. I was about to step into my dream once again. I listened twice and then he called me up to plug in and try out. Not only did I pass the audition, but by February 8th, I was co-writing “Master of Disaster” with Blackie. We continued rehearsing as often as Blackie could arrange a ride from Mike Solon (brother to Eddie Solon, Ace Frehley’s guitar tech and early KISS soundman – Mike is the bartender in the W.A.S.P. video “Blind In Texas”).
Because Blackie was so broke, we built fog machines and stage monitors to get a few bucks to live and eat on. It was the first time in my life that I was forced to steal food from the grocery store to survive; it was “that” bad. Blackie used to open his electric meter and dial it back so he wouldn’t have to pay his DWP (electric bill). I had a day job set up for me, transferring from another company in NYC, but they reneged at the last minute and said there was no openings at that time, which really fucked me hard. Otherwise Blackie would have been living off of my paycheck, making me more valuable to the band. Blackie said he wanted to change the name of the band because there were other bands using the name Sister (White Sister, Twisted Sister, etc.).
So, It’s now March of 1982, and while I was on his phone outside his Hollywood rental cottage, I was kicking over some leaves and stepped on a hornet under one of the leaves. It wasn’t dead yet, but dying. It looked like the curled-up logo from the 60’s TV show The Green Hornet. So I went in to the house and he’s watching the ballgame on TV slumped in the chair, and I said “You said you were looking for a new band name; I have a great name for the band.” Blackie looks up at me and says “What?” And I said “Wasp. I just stepped on one outside, and I thought it’s a cool name.” Blackie looks away thoughtfully, and says “That’s a great band name, keep thinking like that.” I drew up a logo of the curled up wasp, and a few days later at rehearsal it’s announced that the new band name is WASP (no periods yet). So, technically, since all four of us, (Randy, me, Tony and Blackie), are standing there at the birth of the new band name, that makes all four of us original, co-founding members of the band that was now WASP.
On April 12, 1982, we recorded the first (live, 3-track) WASP demo at Randy’s studio, and it sounded like thunder (and no, it was not called ‘Face The Attack‘ – that was the name I had drawn on my copy of the cassette which was stolen and tape traded all over the world)… Blackie looks at me and says he’s glad that I worked out, and that I was the missing piece they were looking for. Three days later, on April 15th, Blackie had booked our first (and only) photo session with local scene photographer Don Adkins, whose infamous photos are all over the internet, and which had caused a firestorm of controversy, because some 30 years later, Blackie has censored and denied that I was ever in the band, despite that all the other members have gone on record admitting that I not only was in the band, but that I created the band’s name. I had contacted some of my friends in the record industry and they listened to the demo and liked it, but said it had no ‘hits’ on it, and they passed. I think that bugged Blackie. I was outliving my usefulness perhaps?
After seeing the first promo photo of Mel Gibson in the newly released film ‘The Road Warrior’, I suggested to Blackie that as a band, we should look like that. Ironically, he said “No, we’ll scare away the record people.” Little did I know, he was keeping notes on all my suggestions. Blackie was a big fan of Hitler’s Nazi generals and said “If you’re going to lie, lie big — the bigger the lie, the more outrageous it is for people to believe it.” How prophetic that would be… By the end of May, 1982 Blackie suddenly stopped talking to me, which was awkward because I was still staying at his place. I would occasionally bring a date back to his place and I believe that it was beginning to annoy him, which Randy later confirmed, saying that Blackie is extremely jealous. Out of nowhere Blackie says “you’re out of the band–it’s not working out, and you are to surrender all your copies of the band photos.” I was stunned, shocked. Why? What did I do? The band sounded great, listen to how tight that demo sounded. So by the end of May, about four months — sixteen weeks later, I was out of the band. Welcome to Hollywood. That’s when I was staying with various friends, and trying out for bands. I didn’t know that many people and didn’t know who to trust. I eventually auditioned for Warlord and played with them for about four months until they said they weren’t going to be a live band, I walked out. I auditioned for Ratt, and the Greg Leon Invasion, I hosted a couple of Rock n’ Roll BBQ’s, networking with various bands, and jammed a couple of times with Hellion and then put an ad in The Music Connection Magazine. That story has been so misquoted and twisted over the years by bad gossip, that it should look like a pretzel.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Rik Fox at The Cosmick View‘s website.