Interview with Blackie Lawless
Interview conducted by Christian Marti
Date online: February 3, 2003
“Lawless Letís Loose On The Media”
Blackie Lawless is out to make his feelings regarding his mentor Pete Townshend clear to all. Lawless has been disappointed in the lack of support from other artists while the scandal broke and sent a one-page statement to the media. Blackieís opinion is, “If your somebodyís friend you stick by them until youíre shown otherwise.”
“I was walking on cloud nine,” is how Blackie Lawless describes feeling after first meeting Pete Townshend. Lawless first met Townshend at Radio City Music Hall where Tommy played and presented him with the gold disc for the WASP cover of the WHO classic The Real Me. Townshend told Blackie, “No one has ever done a WHO song the way you did.” Lawless felt that was the biggest compliment anyone had ever paid him. As a result Lawless followed up Headless Children with an even more successful and dynamic album, The Crimson Idol. In the liner notes for The Crimson Idol Blackie refers to Pete as his mentor and thanks him for his “pep talk” during that meeting. According to Lawless, that meeting was pivotal since his spirits were low and he felt out of focus after guitarist Chris Holmes left the band. Lawless explained “Iím just returning the favor now.”
C. Marti: What did you mean when saying, “the media DO know what they do”? Are you referring to sensationalizing?
Blackie: Of course, the thing is like a giant hay bailer. You get in front of it and it chops you up into a million pieces. If they had this Iraq war, that theyíre gonna have in the next six weeks than you wouldnít have heard a blip about this. In the meantime they have to stoke the fire. It ruins peopleís life sometimes.
C. Marti: In your statement you mentioned that the Vatican is guilty of having Child Porn.
Blackie: Well that was a statement they released in 78í. I was taken back when I first heard it. Here is an organization that in the past five years recognized Israel as a state. Within the last three weeks publicly acknowledged that they supported Mussolini during the Second World War, hid gold for Hitler and was responsible for a little thing a couple hundred years ago called the Inquisition. If they can do that, what the fuck is it really capable of?
C. Marti: Are you interested in learning about religion?
Blackie: I was brought up in a pretty religious household. I wouldnít say Iím a scholar but I can carry a conversation about it.
C. Marti: Hypocrisy is something you have hated in both aside from this scandal correct?
Blackie: Well yeah, I feel like the Matt Dillon of rock n roll sometimes. Donít do stuff to hurt people. Why is there so much of that in the world? Why do we need to feel superior to other individuals? Thatís a bad bad place to be. Itís a negativity that will infiltrate every portion of a personís being if they choose to live their lives that way. Thereís a lot of it out there.
C. Marti: Do you believe in or relate to any religion or ideal? You seem well informed about religion.
Blackie: Well there is a difference in believing in religion and believing in God. Theyíre night and day because my view of organized religion is not very good.
C. Marti: Do you believe in any ideal?
Blackie: Oh yeah, definitely. I do believe in a supreme being. In the record I did before last, Unholy Terror, I went into great detail as far as not getting manipulated by organized religion because of what they do to their people as far as their institutionalization. The way they institutionalize peopleís thinking. People donít think for themselves, they end up being a by-product of Christianity. My father was a Sunday School Superintendent, my grandfather was head deacon of the church and my uncle was the preacher. So when the doors were open I was there. When it comes to organized religions, I donít care what anyone says, they are cults. It is up to individuals to decide for themselves. There are five levels of existence on this earth. The first one we go through is survival, and we move from there to security, then love and self-fulfillment. I think.
C. Marti: Pete said he couldnít remember exactly how he was abused. He mentioned that he was in the custody of his grandmother who was mentally ill: “my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows - particularly in Tommy.” Peteís writing an autobiography and wants to include information about abuse he suffered as a child. In addition he said he wants to send his anger towards people with mental problems that enjoy child pornography. How do you understand his stance on things after backing him up so strongly? Can you relate?
Blackie: Sure we all have childhood memories of things that have affected us. If you listen to psychologists and therapists, they mention that what happens to you in the first few years will pretty much determine how you will be for the rest of your life. If you will, Iíve got my own theories on this, when we look at our life we think of childhood memories. I think of children that are all inside of me. When a child is abused by someone, and I donít mean sexually, lets say from a beating. The image that that child forms in his mind is frozen forever and I donít think that the kid ever matures past that. Then itís almost like another child picks up from where that one left off. This goes on and on. We look back on our lives and remember, but that child thatís still inside of you is going to have to have those issues resolved one way or the other. Or theyíre going to have to carry around that baggage for the rest of their lives. And this is not just me everybody goes through this. Those kids are always asking questions to themselves. Whether itís Pete or anybody else.
C. Marti: After the attacks, you were quoted saying that a child may think, “why is this happening and where am I going to go from here?” In your statement regarding Pete, you mentioned that child-abuse victims are on a quest to learn how and why things occurred as adults. You seem in tune with the pain a child may go through. How does that relate to you as a person and isnít it ironic that many would never perceive you this way?
Blackie: Yeah sure, it depends on whom youíre talking to. WASP are a subculture and the hard-core fan base understand me fine. Itís only the peripheral notoriety that I have of people that really donít understand the band. They are the ones that see it and get it in that light. To answer your question, yes I understand it, but it doesnít affect me because I know who Iím talking to with what Iím doing.
C. Marti: What did you learn from Peteís songs aside from telling the truth?
Blackie: Oh man, I learned the craft of writing lyrics from him and John Lennon. I remember the first time I heard “Slip kid” and he said Iím gonna run tillí my feet are raw. Conjure that image in your head for a second. What does that look like? Have you ever seen anybody with bloody feet from marching like soldiers or anything like that? Not a pretty sight, you know, so I just use that as an example.
C. Marti: Pete used his credit card to gain access to a site. No matter what, he should have thought that over. Roger Daltrey agreed, saying that Pete was naÔve in the way he went about things.
Blackie: Well, weíve all done stuff we ain't supposed to. I think the real issue here is the intent. Iím doing these interviews for two reasons. Number one, Iím trying to keep this thing from being tried in the world court of public opinion before anybody really understands what the hell theyíre talking about. Secondly, in an effort to get other credible musicians to show some support here and if that can happen then weíve done what we needed to do. When you see images of Pete with silhouetted images of a kid, I mean theyíre trying to convict him before he even gets his day, you know? Youíre exonerated later, fine, but the damage is done. Thatís whatís so wrong with this tabloid, sensationalistic media we have in this country. I mean itís so sad. How long has Jerry Springer been on the air? That tells you there is an element out there that thrives on this. I donít know how long the National Inquirer has been in business. Itís that sort of mentality.
C. Marti: Gary Glitter, I believe went to live in Guam where child prostitution is rampant after getting busted. I see that Pete is ready to tour instead of hiding out.
Blackie: I canít speak for him or anyone, but I can imagine that when this is sorted out that heís going to come out with a strong statement and I canít blame him. I know if it were me boy, Iím a great believer that the best defense is a good offense and Iíd come out swinging.
C. Marti: It seems like an issue of fame.
Blackie: Sure it is. Itís that morbid curiosity and fascination we have with fame. Fame is a screwed up thing. We all grow up thinking we want it and I underline “thinking.” Itís not what its cracked up to be. As an artist itís more of a hindrance than an asset.
C. Marti: A crackdown on child pornography went down and that is a good thing. Pete got tangled in this as a result. Are you more angered by the fact that the public received this information before all of the facts were discovered or that his peers did not back him up?
Blackie: Column A, Column B, I mean yeah all of the above. The first time I heard of it my back stiffened up and I took twenty-four hours to think whatís going on here? Than I mould it over and I thought, “This is Bullshit,” because whatís happening to me is the same thing thatís happening to everybody else. Itís the images that they were plastering on TV. Like I said, the kid silhouetted in the TV and I thought (to myself) “You fucking know better than that. You know better than to let the media bombard you with visual images.” This is how governments control their people. Which was with visual images via that box you know and itís a scary thing, the way they can do it. Then I got mad at myself. Iím in this game, I know how the game is played and it can still happen occasionally. You catch yourself and you go “This is crap.” Think back to conversations youíve had with him, the work that Iíve studied the people I know that know him. This is bullshit beyond compare.
C. Marti: When you first became a fan, was it because you were a guitar player and he was a guitar player?
Blackie: No, it was “Live at Leeds” that did it. It just completely killed me. A lot of people donít know this but I originally wanted to be a drummer. Listening to Moon play on that stuff, it just killed me.
C. Marti: Whatís your favorite “Who” album?
Blackie: Whoís Next
C. Marti: Do you still collect their recent recordings?
Blackie: I got sent that whole thing as a Christmas gift from the record company. I got a recording of every night that they did on this last tour.
C. Marti: After meeting Pete a few times, was he the way you thought he would be?
Blackie: Absolutely. He would think about everything he would say before he said it and when you looked into his eyes you knew he wasnít bullshitting you. I was surprised he knew more about me than I thought he would. At the after party at Radio City for Tommy they had a backdrop for the presentation of the gold disk and everybody was there I mean Robert Plant, it was a huge event and I thought well, him and I are going to do this and others are going to do photo ops as well. As soon as we did the photos they tore the backdrop down and took the cameras down and I was shocked and I asked my publicist, “Is this just for me.” He goes “Yep, he did this just for you.” I went “Whoa!” So it was a huge thing for me.
C. Marti: Pete faced the issue in an upfront manner with flat out denial. He has four children and no prior record of sexual misconduct.
Blackie: You know what its like, hereís where the whole thing is so disturbing, the credit card issue aside. To my understanding he was surfing the net with his son, this is back in 99í and because he had been writing papers on this subject and had done his fundraising. Itís like going to a bank and witnessing it getting robbed and you do something to intervene and when the police show up they inadvertently think your involved in it and they arrest you and take you away. Yeah, you get exonerated later when the truth comes out, but in the meantime when you are a famous person and youíre in the bank the only thing people are going to hear is that you were in the damn bank. So will they (news media) ever give it time later for the exoneration? No they wonít.
Interview conducted by Chris Marti, NYC Journalist
Picture of Blackie from the 1999 Helldorado tour from the W.A.S.P. webmaster's personal collection: www.waspnation.com
|Other information about W.A.S.P. on this site|
|Review: Unholy Terror|
|Review: The Sting|
|Review: The Crimson Idol|
|Review: The Last Command|
|Review: Still Not Black Enough|
|Review: The Headless Children|
|Review: Live... In the Raw|
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