Sunday, April 6, 2014

Episode 9: W.A.S.P.

One of the original acts on the PMRC's "Filthy Fifteen," few bands captured the shock, glam, sex and booze aspects of '80s rock like W.A.S.P. The band started in 1982, and  infamous frontman Blackie Lawless is the only founding member who's still a there today. W.A.S.P. was mainly known for their outrageous live stage shows and their sex-infused lyrics, but Blackie Lawless is an amazing musician, which I always felt got overlooked because of their act.

My first W.A.S.P. album was 1987's Live...In the Raw. I'd sought it out after seeing the video for "Scream Until You Like It," which was featured in the B-horror movie Ghoulies II. The cover of that album, and the prominent Parental Advisory sticker on the front were an instant draw for me. I'd seen W.A.S.P.'s early videos so I knew who they were, but Live...In the Raw made me a huge fan.

W.A.S.P. was a band that covered a lot of songs from other artists as well, from Ray Charles to The Who. They usually did a great job of it too, as evidenced by their hits "I Don't Need No Doctor" and "The Real Me." Lawless had a knack for putting his own spin on those songs to the point where they sounded like they could be proper W.A.S.P. songs.

W.A.S.P.'s sound really started to evolve with 1989's The Headless Children, and my interest in them started to wane, until I jumped back in with 2002's Dying for the World. W.A.S.P.'s first four albums, as well as the fantastic Live...In the Raw still hold up today as great rock/metal albums.

Of course, no discussion of W.A.S.P. would be complete without asking what the letters in their name stand for. Blackie Lawless has always been evasive around the question, preferring the element of mystery that the band's name evokes. The prevailing theory is "We Are Sexual Perverts," and the original US release of the album allegedly had those words around the logo on the cover.

In tonight's Sunday Night Videos, we're looking back at five of W.A.S.P.'s video from those early albums.

I Wanna Be Somebody

L.O.V.E. Machine

Wild Child

Blind in Texas

The Real Me

In 1987, W.A.S.P. released Live...In the Raw. In addition to the live songs, the band recorded a new studio single for the horror movie Ghoulies II, called Scream Until You Like It. The video actually features the titular creatures from the movie. If you've never seen the Ghoulies movies, they are worth watching if you're a fan of Puppet Master or Critters. After the video, you can see a trailer for Ghoulies II.

Scream Until You Like It

Ghoulies II Trailer

This is a fascinating interview with Blackie Lawless from 1986, right after the release of W.A.S.P.'s second album, The Last Command. Blackie actually says some pretty prophetic things about the rise and fall of metal, and he also explains the origins of their crazy stage show in their early days. Great stuff.

Sadly, one of the things W.A.S.P is most famous for is the interview with guitarist Chris Holmes that was featured in Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Holmes is completely obliterated and is floating, fully clothed, in a pool lounger. The worst part is that his mom is present during the interview. Spheeris tries to get at what some of the issues behind his drinking might be, but Holmes is so incoherent, she doesn't really get anywhere. You can watch the scene from the movie below.

Tune in next Sunday night at 8PM EST on Twitter ( for another episode of Sunday Night Videos, and right here on the blog for the episode notes, which will go up shortly after 9PM EST. You can tweet me recommendations or get in on the discussion every Sunday night by using the hashtag #SundayNightVideos. Rock on!

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