News Segment


March 17, 2006

When he first broke big during the “hair metal” days of the early 1980s declaring “I Wanna Be Somebody,” vocalist Blackie Lawless had no idea that nearly a quarter-century later he still would be recording and touring under the W.A.S.P.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think back then, that I would be talking to the press in 2006 about a new W.A.S.P. album,” reflected the rocker who’s now in his early 50s.

“The only thing a band tries to do when they start out is to keep one foot in front of the other, which in reality is what we’re still doing. At that point in your career, you just want a record deal and to hit the road and play for people. You don’t project that far ahead.”

Bands like Motley Crue, Ratt and L.A. Guns were all brothers-in-arms at that time as Aqua-Net and mascara sales rocketed and heavy music came back to the forefront of popular music.

“It was a really wild time back then. ‘Intoxicating’ would be a good word for it,” reflected Lawless. “There were dozens of bands getting record deals and the whole (Southern California) scene was just exploding.”

While most of the L.A. glam bands long ago gave up the ghost, Lawless can thank his detractors for a large part of his enduring success. Being in the crosshairs of Tipper Gore and her Parent’s Music Resource Center (P.M.R.C) during their 1980s moral crusade against crudeness and ludeness in music, made him a hero in the eyes of heavy metal headbangers everywhere.

Lawless, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and old school avant garde rock genius Frank Zappa, were the point men when it came to defending music from the slings and arrows of censorship during those early years of MTV excess.

Though Lawless is the only original member still left from those high-profile days, W.A.S.P. as a group still are going at it fast and furiously.

“It’s always been about ‘the show’ with W.A.S.P. It has always been my goal for people to leave our concerts a little numb, wondering, ‘What the hell did I just see?'” he mused.

While the band’s early music may have been as raw as the bloody meat they once dressed their stage with back then, W.A.S.P. have released a pretty solid body of recorded work ranging from loud and proud celebratory rock collections (“Helldorado”), to disturbing explorations into life’s dark side (“K.F.D.”), to powerfully horrific conceptual stories (“The Crimson Idol”).

“I don’t look back album per album,” noted Lawless. “I look back at the entire body of work. Every artist has a song here or there they wish they had never recorded, but overall, I am very proud of the body of work that has been done by W.A.S.P.”

That pride especially shows when Lawless speaks about 1994’s “Neon God: Part One — The Rise” and “Neon God: Part Two — The Demise,” a conceptual tale about the rise to power of a disturbing messiah-like character.

“This one is my ‘War And Peace,'” said Lawless, who looked to real-life cult leaders David Koresh, Jim Jones, Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson while creating his lead character, Jesse Williams Slane.

“This had been rolling around in my head for over 10 years. It also took me that long to ‘face the beast’ once again and tackle doing a concept album. Quite honestly, ‘The Crimson Idol’ just wore me out. This one being a two-record set, was completely exhausting.”

While originally conceived as a two-CD set, Lawless discovered that most retail stores are hesitant to order and stock multiple-disc new releases, so he agreed to split the collection into two separate CDs released nearly a year apart.

“They’ll carry historic double album titles like The Beatles ‘White Album’ or Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall,’ but they don’t want to mess with any new music that is more than one disc,” he said.

“You’ve got to give things to an audience in small pieces,” said Lawless of why W.A.S.P. is not performing his conceptual masterpiece in its entirety.

“You can’t whack people over the head with new music, because typically most come to concerts to hear their favorite songs. For me to go onstage and perform the whole ‘Neon God’ (story) would be way too self-indulgent on my part.”

A few of those songs will be included, naturally, but a lion’s share of the set list is comprised of MTV hits and fan favorites spanning W.A.S.P.’s vast musical canon. Fans will even be treated to at least one brand new, never before recorded song in each city the band visits.

“To be honest, the whole reason that we are even out on the road doing this short three-week run of dates, is to try out some of the brand new material we’ve written for the next album in front of a live audience,” noted Lawless. “We’ll most likely play just one new song at every show, but over the course of three weeks, if we do a different song in each town, we’ll get an idea on how the new stuff is going to work.”

Though he has not settled on a title for it yet, Lawless will start recording the next W.A.S.P. album in the beginning of April, with a target release date in September via his current label Sanctuary Records.

“When you come to see us live, you will always get your money’s worth of entertainment,” promised Lawless. “It just wouldn’t be W.A.S.P. otherwise.”

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