Blackie Lawless on W.A.S.P.’s Quick Rise to the Top in Los Angeles, “It was meteoric” – Interview – The Troubadour
It didn’t take long for W.A.S.P. to reach their Troubadour sell-out status. Lawless and guitarist Randy Piper formed the band in 1982 and quickly recruited guitarist Chris Holmes and drummer Tony Richards. At first, W.A.S.P. “never had any intention of ever playing live,” Lawless says.
“We had been in California for quite some time, and we understood that to get a record deal, you had to make the best demo tape you could make, and you had to showcase that material that way. That was the way to do it, not playing live. So, we went in and recorded — four times, we demoed that first record — and it ended up being effectively what you hear on that first album. So, after we had done all those sessions, we looked around and we said, ‘Well, you know what, we think these songs are OK. You want to try to take them out and play them live?'”
W.A.S.P. played their first show to about 50 people at the Troubadour on a Tuesday at 8 p.m. — “the worst slot of the week,” since the club was closed on Mondays, Lawless says. Within six weeks, they had graduated to the prime Saturday-night slot, doubling or tripling their audience each week and developing their legendarily depraved stage show, which included roaring flames, half-naked women tied to torture racks and the band throwing raw meat into the crowd.
Eleven months after making their Troubadour debut, W.A.S.P. was playing the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to 3,000 people, all without management or a record deal. “It was meteoric,” Lawless says of the band’s rise.
Lawless specifically cites Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, the first metal album to top the Billboard 200, as a watershed moment for the scene, which had reached a boiling point.
“I remember telling people at the time, I said, ‘When rock encyclopedias are written 20 years from now, you’re gonna see the ’50s are gonna have its own chapter, the British Invasion will have its own chapter, the ’69 San Francisco movement will have its own chapter, but the ’82-’83 L.A. movement will have its own chapter.'”
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