“The Road Warrior Cometh”
The first show on the 21st went OK but was a little less memorable than we would have liked. Although Ace and Bill Aucoin had been invited to the first show and were planning on coming to L. A., I called them about 2 weeks earlier and asked them to come to the show on the 28th. It turned out to be the right decision because we just weren’t ready. As a band we had the chemistry but still needed more time to come together. We learned a lot from that first show. We weren’t bad musically but to make the impression on the 2 of them was going to take more than we had presented at that first show. We needed a real visual hook, something that would truly STUN people! Remember, we’re attempting to “wow” 2 of the people that reinvented the genre of “Over the Top/Shock Rock”. This was going to be no small feat. Trying to show them a warmed over, poor man’s version of what they had already done would be a disaster.
There was a type of experimental theatre that I had heard about that had been tried at UCLA (University of California L. A.) back in the 1960’s called “psychodrama”. It was live theatre group that would start out on the stage and progress into the audience and do improvisation. A lot of it was based on whatever the audience reaction was to the performers. Reportedly Jim Morrison had been a member of this ensemble. I had seen the early Alice Cooper group do the “Love it to Death” show in 71’ and that too had a big affect on me. As a band, all of us had been tremendously influenced by 2 new movies that had just come out, “Conan the Barbarian” and “The Road Warrior”. The whole idea of Chris and myself wearing the backless pants came from “The Road Warrior”. That movie had a real impact on me. You must remember, a lot of my musical background (the N. Y. Dolls, Killer Kane) would later be called Punk Rock. To me this WAS a Punk Rock movie! The visual imagery of it was spectacular and it was captured by a terrific cinematographer named Dean Semler. I loved his work. He would later be the Director of Photography on our video’s for “The Real Me’ and “Forever Free”. The day after we shot “Forever Free” he left to do a little movie called ”Dances with Wolves” (which he won an Oscar for). I had been thinking for a while about what would happen if a band could put Heavy Metal together with Punk. It really didn't seem to be much of a stretch to me. I saw a lot of similarities between the two, but more visually than musically, although that musical line would latter be blurred by other groups. Even a lot of our early stuff had definite Punk overtones. Much of me describing all of this might feel to you like I’m rambling around here, but it’s important for you to understand everything that was going on around us in a very, very short period of time. Even the naked girl on the torture rack that would come a couple of shows later, it too was a direct influence from the “Road Warrior”. The chase scene at the end of the movie where the two people are tied standing up to the front of the truck with hoods over their heads. The image of two completely terrified and helpless people also left a big impression on me. To me this was true horror. Even to this day I’ve never seen a “Jason” or “Freddie Kruger” movie. It never interested me because it wasn’t real. I was always more fascinated with the inner workings of the human mind and that scene hit me hard. It was such a pitiful image, so pathetic. What made the whole “girl on the rack” thing work was not the idea that we had a naked woman on stage. It was the helplessness of it all. You could see it on people’s faces when we did it in the show. They were stunned! It was designed to be more physiological than simple shock and that’s why it worked. Shock bored me then and it still does.
So back to the show on the 28th. The idea of “psychodrama” led me to throwing the “Raw Meat”. This was the first “Big” idea that we needed. It was vile, it was rude, it was crude and it was perfect. I later said it was like, “going to a Baseball game, you had to pay attention or you’d get hit with a foul ball”. It was taking what was on the stage and putting it out in the audience. Although to someone talking about it that had not seen it, it seemed incredibly juvenile. But if you were there and saw it, it was terrifying. First of all, when you go to a live show there’s an invisible barrier between the audience and the band. If you're out in the crowd, you're safe, nothing is expected of you, you're basically invisible. NOT AT THIS SHOW!! The Meat DESTROYED that invisible barrier! No rock band had ever broken that imaginary line before like that. Now, nobody was safe, nobody knew who was going to get hit next. A few shows later when the crowds got really big it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Because there were so many people, nobody could move. I’d single people out and there was nothing they could do to get away. I’d look them in the eye and they’d start shaking their heads franticly screaming, “NO, PLEASE, NO!! Now this created the “car wreck on the side of the road” mentality for everybody else in the audience. You watched it in a morbid curiosity even if you didn’t want to. Nobody ever got hurt though because I made it look like I was hitting them a lot harder than I did, but the spectacle of it was intense. It was also where eventually the “Blood Drinking” came from. We put the meat in the “Raw Meat” box and one night during one of the shows I looked down in the box after I had thrown the meat into the crowd and noticed there was about a cup of real blood in the bottom of it. I always loved improvising on stage so it seemed obvious to me, so………down the hatch!! Nothing like a good mistake!! Another W.A.S.P. trademark was born. Not by design but total improv. That’s how a lot of the early stage gags came about, some were defiantly planned, but some were not. I was always surprised that nobody ever saw the connection between us and those movies. It was one of those things where we were waiting for somebody somewhere to bust us for it, but it never happened.
Later on, after the show that night both Ace and Bill came back to the dressing room and it all went well. We never ended up working together for various reasons but we always remained friendly. I often wondered what would have happened if we would have worked together. Both of their inputs were extremely valuable, but we had more growing we needed to do…….and man oh man we grew…….into a Monster!!!!!
More Next Month!!!
Missed last months? no problem click here to read - W.A.S.P. - "30 Years of Thunder" Part One