06.05.2011Архив интервью | Русская версия
Talking with famous musicians sometimes brings absolutely unexpected results. During the interview with legendary guitarist Chris Holmes I could hardly believe that this tired and not-so-young man in front of me was the same musician that made so much noise with W.A.S.P., one of the craziest bands of the 1980s. Now Chris and Blackie Lawless are on opposite sides of the fence, and while the latter is doing pretty good, Mr. Holmes is not that prominent in the music business anymore. The reasons for this situation are many, and Chris did not hesitate to tell them all to our portal in this pretty revealing interview. These days when political correctness has become the middle name of nearly all musicians on the rock scene, such thing is very rare, and this is what makes it so interesting.
It’s your second time in Moscow. How do you like the city and the fans?
I like this place, they don’t have the same president as in America. It will be the second time I play here… The club is like every place else... It’s weird because I don’t have my own band, I come and play with a bunch of other people. It’s a little bit odd, but that’s OK. It’s a little cold right now, and I’m used to Californian weather. It’s just as cold in America in places. I used to live in Wyoming, and it has 30 degrees below zero. The girls here are gorgeous. L.A. is supposed to be the most beautiful place in the world where chicks are, because of Hollywood, but it’s wrong. (everybody laughs) If I ever plan to get married again, I’d come over here.
Let’s talk about your newest band Where Angels Suffer. You already worked with Randy Piper (ex-W.A.S.P. guitarist) at the early stages of his band Animal. So what was the reason to start another band?
When I played with Animal, there were conflicts. There were problems between Randy and singer Rich Lewis at that time. They kinda got along and kinda didn’t get along. Me – I’ve been playing with Blackie Lawless, I could play with the devil, so things like working with Randy or anybody else don’t bother me. I’ve worked with the worst person you could work with. I lived in the bass player’s house, and one day he quit the band, he didn’t wanna play anymore. So I didn’t have a place to actually live, as we lived in Cincinnati, where they were out at. Since the bass player quit, I’ve stayed in L.A., that’s where I’ve lived my whole life. I’ve got friends and family there, I didn’t feel like living in Cincinnati, so I didn’t go back and played with them.
And I have to tell you, Where Angels Suffer has thrown Randy out of the band already. He put it together and got thrown out. He’s not in the band anymore. Due to the schedule we’re touring South America the 15th of next month, and we already have somebody else to take his spot. I didn’t want him go, but that’s the way it is.
What do you think about Where Angels Suffer debut album “Purgatory”? Most of the songs on it are from the latest Animal album “Virus”, and you didn’t take part in writing them…
I didn’t write them, but I play them, and I play them my way, and the guys in the band don’t mind it. I didn’t play on the thing we’re selling on the road, but it doesn’t matter.
I’m especially interested in your opinion about the Cranberries cover “Zombie”…
I have to tell you that I’ve never heard the Cranberries’ version of it. (laughs) It’s funny that everybody who’s heard the record says, “Wow, that’s a Cranberries song,” but I’ve never heard them. I don’t know how the song sounds.
They were basically a grunge-rooted band, and you play heavy metal, that’s why everybody asks…
We play it the way metal or hard rock is supposed to be played. We’ve never played it in the set – I learned it, but we’ve never played it on the road with Where Angels Suffer. And The Cranberries – I still need to hear the way they play it. That album was already made before I was in the band.
Randy’s former bandmate in Animal, Chris Laney, claimed he owns copyrights to the material that you released on the first Where Angels Suffer album “Purgatory”, and he went public over your decision to release it again without his approval. How did you eventually settle this issue with him?
I don’t know Chris Laney, and as far as I’m concerned, he can go fuck himself. (laughs) He can’t stop you from playing a song. That album is in the midst of being re-recorded anyway. We’re re-recording it with Where Angels Suffer, and I’m on the re-recordings. Once we’ve recorded the record, he’ll have no rights about it, because he won’t be playing on it, I guess. I don’t know Chris Laney, he might be a nice guy, I guess, but Rich and Randy know him, and Randy got thrown out, so… I think we’ll put some new songs on it.
In your opinion, can you reach big success with your new band like you had in the 80s with W.A.S.P.?
No. Music’s changed. I don’t know about here, but in the States it’s all black rap, all white kids are listening to black stuff. Gangsta rap – white kids are into that, too.
Yes, I know, but I don’t like this music.
Yeah, it sucks! It’s so called nigger music. I’ll say that word, I don’t care if niggers are in the room or not to get my opinion, that’s the way it is. Rap is just starting to hit Europe, and it kind of makes me sick, because I don’t like it when kids act like niggers. Is the word “nigger” bad to say here? When you say it in the States, everybody is pissed off.
I think here you can say it to everyone…
That’s cool. And in America black rap has taken over.
Last year you were also seen playing with two other bands – Dropout Stoner Clan and Secret Society. Can you say a few words about those bands? Are you still a member of them?
(laughs) That’s a good question! Dropout Stoner Clan was a revolving door of famous musicians that would come and play at that time, it changed its members all the time. When it started out, it was Big Ball All Stars, but the management wanted this name in the States. I guess I’m a member – yeah, I’m a member of them, you can say so.
Let’s speak about your career with W.A.S.P. a little bit. I heard that in the beginning Blackie Lawless offered you to change tour name from Chris Holmes to Chris Savage…
He offered me? No, I wanted to use this, but he made me use Chris Holmes. Blackie Lawless isn’t his real name either. But that’s what the guy really is, he’s not a nice person. He made 20 years of my life miserable, playing music wasn’t fun, I hated it. That’s why the last two W.A.S.P. albums – I hate them, I’d like to rip them up and throw them in a trash bin. Blackie Lawless can go fuck himself, excuse me for saying it. Put this in your mag – he’s a fucking nigger!
In 1985 you toured with Metallica and Armored Saint. Tell me some stories about that tour! I heard it was very a hard tour in terms of drinking with Metallica’s guys.
Oh yeah, we just had a good time. (laughs) One time me and Cliff (Burton) were wasted, we sat in a room, and he said he would allow his hair to be as long as it gets, he parted it in the middle. I said, “Cliff, you’re like a refugee from the 1960s, you gotta cut your hear up to be a rock’n’roll guy”. And he said, “Man, it’s just me!” I said, “Cut your hair different! Look like a rocker! You’ll get more chicks!” and he was, “It’s just me, it’s too fucking bad”. We would switch the headlining, once they would headline and the next time we would headline, it was like that. That night they headlined, and we were already getting ready to go to the next show, and halfway into their set some guy came to our bus with about 10 pizzas, and we didn’t worry if they were theirs. “Here are some pizzas for Metallica! Is this Metallica?” “Yeah, yeah, we’re getting ready to go, so get them on the bus!” And we got off laughing! (laughs) One time we played this place in Boston, it was as cold as it is here, and Metallica had their dressing room outside, it was freezing. We had an inside one, and I can remember Lars (Ulrich) come in and say, “Hey man, is there a heater here?” And there was a heater in our room, it wasn’t in theirs. “Can I borrow it?” But Blackie told him to fuck off and get out of here. It was kinda cool.
They’re cool people, they’re from Southern California, and I’m a native there too, so you think the same, you have a good time. Blackie never treated them very good, he’s from New York, and most people from New York are assholes. Most bands from New York – I don’t respect them. Come on – Kiss? The New York Dolls, the guys who wear girls’ clothes? Twisted Sister? The Ramones? Just compare them to the bands from L.A. Take The Doors as an example. Or Van Halen – I grew up with them, we’re friends, they rock, they’re real people. And New York bands are not the real people, when Twisted Sister go onstage, they’re not the same people as offstage. Maybe The Ramones are. There’s a difference of opinion, I have my opinion, there’s a lot of people I don’t like, and I’ll say it right in their face. If they don’t like it, fuck with them, I don’t care.
Since “The Last Command” (1985) almost all cover artworks depicted only Blackie, but you contributed a lot of songs to “The Last Command” and “Inside The Electric Circus” (1986) albums as well. Don’t you think that you and Randy deserved to be on the covers too?
Blackie wants to be Elvis Presley, he wants to be the only guy. Let’s put it this way, he has an ego. He does really shitty things to everybody in the band. The only reason why he kept me that long is to get more ticket sales. You wanna get some really shitty? The money you make off the records is called publishing, and he made me sign my contract in the way that this goes back into the band, so I never saw any of publishing. I was young, and I said, “Is this the right thing for me to do?” He said, “Yeah”, and he knew exactly where it was gonna go. That’s why I had really bad issues with the guy. Even today – I’d never play with the guy again, I’d rather be dead. He’s only out for himself, he’s not out for the whole band. If he was a nice guy, would he please keep a few band members? He’s always changing band members. I hate signing those… Well, I wouldn’t say I hate signing those records, I played on them, I guess. So what I do is I sign them right on Blackie’s face.
Randy and I were talking last week. We recalled how we were told to go down and choose the pictures out of like 500 to put on the record, and why choose the pictures if they didn’t go on the record? Blackie turned around and changed them. Did I choose that picture to be on the record? (points at his photo in a CD booklet) No! It was all him. The worse we look, the better he looks. And that was the case with every album. That’s him on the cover, it’s not the band, and this sucks. I have to live with it, because it’s part of my past, and that’s OK. But why should Blackie call it WASP? It’s Blackie Lawless and nobody else.
Now it is, but I guess in the 1980s that was different…
Yes, but the reason why is that – do you think he would have got anywhere being by himself like he is? Here we’re talking about negative things, but this is reality, that’s what the guy was. I have nothing good to say about him. The other guys, they’re friends, they’re cool…
Maybe you can say something good about this album (showing the booklet of “Inside The Electric Circus”)? Blackie has always said that he isn’t really satisfied with it…
That album sucked! I wouldn’t buy it!
Because it sucked! Who produced it? Blackie Lawless. I don’t even know what songs are on here. (looks through the booklet) “9.5 – N.A.S.T.Y.” – that’s the one I wrote. “King Of Sodom…” too. Oh, Johnny Rod played bass on it, Blackie wanted to play guitar. (pause) I think that album sucks. That album (points at the booklet of “The Headless Children”) is a killer. I played all the guitars on it. There’s a different sound, I’m damn proud of that one!
In the 80’s and 90’s WASP did really cool shows with raping nuns and stuff on stage, but now Blackie is a Christian. What can you say about this? It’s a little bit strange for me…
I’ll tell you what kind of person he is – he’s full of shit! If being a Christian can make money, that’s what he’s doing. It’s all about making money and nothing else. And about raping nuns – religion to me is a crock of shit. The god? The devil? There’s no god, there’s no devil. This plan has been here too long – to have some kind of god. I’m too much of a skeptic – if there’s god, show me god so I can believe it. When I was young, I was brought up a Mormon by my grandparents, and I asked too many questions on things like god and Jesus that they couldn’t deliver. Now if people bring me religion and shit, I tell them to fuck off and get out of here. I’m not for the devil either, I’m not believing the devil thing either. That’s what makes me funny – Blackie is religious! (cracks) There’s got to be some catch in there to make money.
After you parted ways with WASP for the first time, you formed your own band Psycho Squad. Can you say a few words about it?
It’s funny you asked. Everybody in that band was born in Southern California, and when you’re born in a certain place, the way you are, your mechanism, the way you think about things are completely different. If somebody’s born in New York, he’s completely opposite to somebody born in California. We all went along great, there were no quarrels about anything, we had the songs, they were cool, but we never had much money. When we recorded those songs, we were working on a used 24-track deck. I love everybody in the band, they’re great people, we’re still friends today with most of them.
Don’t you want to use some ideas of that band? I think such a track as “Born, Work, Die” deserves to be recorded…
Yeah, I’d like to, but it costs money. And in the last two or three years I haven’t had really the time to get everybody together and record. I do wanna use a few songs. We’re re-doing “Purgatory”, I asked them to put some Psycho Squad songs on “Purgatory”, but sadly those guys never heard it. That means you gotta fuck off, right? (laughs) There might be a Psycho Squad song on the “Purgatory” album, but it won’t be “Born Work Die”. Do you know the album “Kill Fuck Die”? Doesn’t that sound like “Born Work Die”? I went mad, I told Blackie, “These two songs are the same I’m sure you ripped it off”, but he told me, “No”.
With Psycho Squad you also recorded a song called “Let It Roar”, and…
…Blackie also has this song. We wrote that. (pause) Do me a favor! On the Internet, I’m sure, when you type that shit it goes America. Put my name in it and look up pre-W.A.S.P. “L.O.V.E. Machine”. You’ll see Randy Piper and Blackie playing the song, it was in 1981, and you’ll see the same song being played after I joined the band. You’ll see the difference between both songs. Look up Circus Circus, that was the name of the band, it has them playing it. When I joined the band, we re-did the song, and you’ll see the difference in music, you’ll see what I put into it. You’ll freak out. It’s still the same song, still the same notes, but it’s just the input. I’m not saying I did it any better, but you’ll see the difference, you’ll see the contribution or whatever.
Do you remember you interview for the “Decline And Fall of Western Civilization” movie? Don’t you think that this interview presented you in a negative light and affected your career?
Oh yeah, it did. They ruined it. (cracks)
But why did you do such a crazy type of thing?
It’s as crazy as my life used to be. I used to drink like that. I got in trouble with W.A.S.P. for doing it. When I was off the road, I used do what I want. That’s embarrassing for me to say right now, I haven’t been drinking since 1996. I didn’t quit because of health problems, and even having six D.I.Y.s in the States – driving and drinking – didn’t make me quit; I’d be right back in my car and drinking, I didn’t care, it’s only jail, fuck it! (laughs) I used to live like it. I maybe got over it thanks to a rehabilitation program that corks run for D.I.Y. convicts. I went into a program, that’s really weird, I listened to one of the counsels had to say, and she told me if I’d quit for one year I’d drink again. I quit for a year, and the only thing that keeps me from drinking again is my friends who do such incredibly stupid things as drinking. (cracks)
Why did you decide to invite your mother to that interview?
She just happened to be in my house on that day. She wasn’t planned, I said, “Mom, I gotta go do this interview, do you wanna go? Or you can wait and I’ll see you tomorrow.” She decided to go. She wasn’t very happy with it. That was a mistake that it happened that way.
You eventually left W.A.S.P. in 2001…
I never left, Blackie forced me out.
Blackie always says that you left because you were unhappy…
Because I was unhappy? Oh yeah, when somebody treats you like shit… He didn’t want me in the band anymore because I got more attention than he did, he always put me down. Remember when I married Lita Ford, the singer from Runaways, and he made sure I couldn’t go to the American Music Awards when she was nominated for “Vocals of the Year”. I hated him ever since that. And the last thing I ever said to him in the rehearsal room was, “Why the fuck would you do that to somebody?” He got up and as he was walking out of the rehearsal room, he mumbled to me, “I was jealous”. That’s the reason why I hate him today. The next time he’s here again you ask him about that – why he didn’t let me to the American Music Awards.
There were some rumors that outside W.A.S.P. you worked as a carpenter…
When I got off the road, I had to work a job, because he wouldn’t give me any money, and I gotta pay the rent, right? He wouldn’t pay me, he wouldn’t pay the roadies, he wants all the money. That’s why I had to do construction, concrete stuff. They say, “Sell your soul, play rock’n’roll”, and that’s what I did.
Chris Holmes on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/chris_meanman_holmes
Special thanks to Pavel Potapov for arranging this interview
Interview by Konstantin “Hirax” Chilikin
Photos by Alexander “SUMRAK” Nefedov
February 25, 2011