In a world dominated by larger than life characters whose on and off stage exploits are followed by fans with a nearly religious fever. It's hard to find a band that can ruffle the feather of the "I've seen it all before" metal mavens. If there is such a band, it's W.A.S.P. From their early days as a meat tossing, blood-dripping Los Angles- based club attraction, to their recent national tour when they performed as "special guests" for the likes of Krokus and Kiss, W.A.S.P. has garnered the reputation as metal's first X-rated band. After all. when you parade around the stage in seatless pants, and release a debut single called. Animal (F**K Like A Beast), one can't help but gain instant notoriety. Recently, we had the chance to talk to the groups driving force, bassist/vocalist Blackie Lawless, about what motivates W.A.S.P. to the heights of outrage they continually aspire to.
Hit Parader: Blackie, let's clear up one bit of confusion right off. What do the letters WASP stand for?
Blaclcie Lawless: They can be interpreted a number of ways. Originally, the name didn't have any punctuation marks, and we viewed it as the ferocious insect thatll keep stinging you until you die. Then, we put the punctuation in to take advantage of the religious. aspect of it. The bottom line, though, is that WASP. has always stood for "We Are Sexual Perverts."
HP: Are you really perverts?
BL: Well yeah. I guess it depends on what you call perverted, but we can be a weird group of guys at times. We all honestly like women - in fact, we love them - as often as possible. But onstage, our attitudes are very sexist. We've tied women up on a rack during shows and pretended to cut their throats. Of course, it was all done for shock value, but we started getting letters from womens groups who actually accused us of killing women onstage. It was ridiculous.
HP: How do you weigh the bands theatricality against your musical content?
BL: I don't think you have to do one to the detriment of the other, I like to think of what we do as "electric vaudeville," meaning that there's a blend of entertainment qualities. When you listen to the albums, the music is there, and when you see the shows, the antics we use only add to the fun.
HP: How did you come up with the idea for WASP.?
BL: I've put a lot of time and effort into planning the approach this group took. I've been around this business a long time, and I've observed whats gone on and whats been successful. I've tried to take certain elements that have always appealed to me and mix them with some new things that would attract a great deal of attention. I think it's worked.
HP: Still, considering the amount of press attention your first album generated, it really didn't sell that well.
BL: Maybe thats true, but whats selling well? With our approach, we're never going to challenge Van Halen or Def Leppard in terms of units sold. We know there's a limit to our market, but that doesn't mean that I don't expect to be selling a million copies of every album we do from now on. The degree of press support we received helped us a great deal, but it probably hurt us as well. It really made us the focal point for a lot of negative reaction. I've always believed that any press you receive
is good because it focuses attention on you, but some of the things that were said about us didn't necessarily help us sell records.
HP: How does your new album differ from your first one?
BL: I think the songs are a little better, and it's definitely produced better. The overall sound is light years ahead of where the first one was. This one should be listened to with headphones on. Other than that. I hope this one is able to attract a few more fans to our side - to join the cult we already have. It's more progressive - almost like "Pink Floyd Goes Heavy Metal.
HP: It's been said that WASP. is nothing but a bastardized version of Kiss. How do you react to that?
BL: A few years ago, some of my best friends in the world were the guys in Kiss. Ace Frehley is still one of my closest friends. I knew all about what they were doing but, while I don't deny that certain elements are similar, our attitude is very different. WASP. is every parents nightmare.
HP: What new stage tricks do you have lined up for this tour?
BL: It all depends if we are going to headline our own tour or still be special guests. If we only have 45 minutes, we will probably stick with the things we've done over the last year or two - an incredible stage set, tossing posters into the crowd - things like that. If the album breaks big and we get to headline some arena shows, all hell is going to break loose. I'm almost scared to think about some of the things we might pull off in that situation. If you think we've done anything outrageous up to this point, wait til we start headlining.
HP: Do you feel that W.A.S.P. can outlive the current heavy-metal resurgence?
BL: Hell, man, WASP. can outlive nuclear war. If we got attacked tomorrow, the only things that would be left alive on this planet would be the cockroaches and us.