By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Lawless says he almost takes offense at being introduced as a musician. “It’s the stigma that goes along with it: ‘Oh, here’s another dumbshit they’re taking advantage of.’ I’ve adopted almost a women’s-lib theory, where you have to be militant. You demand respect. They stick out their hand in the wrong place, you gotta chop it off. It’s like going to a new school. You let yourself get bullied, you’re gonna wear that for a long time, boy.”
So. Lawless knows how to pace his career these days. Whatever the pressures, he doesn’t do anything till he’s ready. After considerable corporate fencing, he controls his entire back catalog, which is nearly all in print in powerful remastered versions, with bonus tracks, new liner notes and the whole schmeer. He plans a video-DVD release for later in the year. He’s overseeing the W.A.S.P. Web site. And there’s the current tour. When asked if the band still raises hell offstage, Lawless requests a definition of terms.
“What’s extreme to me and what’s extreme to other people are just two different things. I don’t know what normal is now. I’ll give you an example. You’re walking down the hall, going to sound check, and one of the guys in the band has some girl pinned up against the wall, screwin’ her right there in the hallway, and there’s crew and everybody walking by. You think to yourself, that’s not that big of a deal. But when he’s wearin’ her dresswhile he’s doin’ it, you go, ‘Well, that’s different!’ You know?”
Don’t expect W.A.S.P.’s inkiest darkness onstage this year. “There’s not a lot of social comment involved,” says Lawless. “This one’s gonna be pure fun. The exploding codpiece, and all that stuff. Big and loud and nasty and noisy and in your face. Hope you don’t get anything on ya if you get too close to the stage.”
Previous concert activity such as the nun bit, routines involving women and saws, and titles like “On Your Knees” and “Kill Your Pretty Face,” as well as lyrics like “I wanna ride ya like the animal you are,” have raised suspicions that Lawless may not be a card-carrying feminist. A question regarding the best traits of womanhood elicits one of the longest stretches of blank tape in Lawless interview history. But then he speaks softly.
“The best thing is when you have somebody you can share something with — I know it sounds probably corny coming out of me, but . . . somebody you can relate to, somebody you can count on.”
It’s just as surprising, to those who’ve absorbed lines like “Pitchfork in my hands/Horns in my head/ . . . I sold my soul a long time ago,” to hear Lawless talk about how he (like Jesus, though he doesn’t make the comparison) seeks inspiration in the desert, and how he feels when he beholds a great natural landscape.
“I don’t know how an atheist could stand at the rim of the Grand Canyon and say there’s no God,” he says. “Something greater than us made this. It’s definitely humbling. It puts everything in perspective.”
He paraphrases Solomon, and a flip through a concordance afterward reveals these words from Proverbs 5:21-22 as the probable context: “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
“I still can’t figure it all out,” says Lawless.
“Most of the time when it rains up here, it either rains sideways, or it rains up. We’re right in the middle of this corridor, and everything is more extreme — the wind, the rain and everything.” He pauses. “Kind of goes along with my personality, now, doesn’t it?”
W.A.S.P. plays the Key Club in West Hollywood Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23; the Galaxy Concert Theater in Santa Ana Friday, April 21; and the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura Thursday, April 20. The W.A.S.P. Internet network may be accessed at www.waspnation.com.