Chris Holmes on Blackie Lawless, why he made a documentary, and *that* interview

Chris Holmes
(Image credit: Cleopatra)

Chris Holmes made his reputation during two stints with W.A.S.P, who the guitarist’s maniacal personality helped to establish as a major force. After eight years he quit in 1990, then rejoined in ’95 and was with the band for another six years. In recent times he’s fronted his own band, Mean Man. 

Most people probably remember Holmes from his infamous interview, while seemingly drunk in a swimming pool, for the documentary The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years. Now, he’s opened up about his life and music in the documentary Mean Man: The Story Of Chris Holmes.

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In the Mean Man documentary you say some harsh things about W.A.S.P’s Blackie Lawless. Was he asked to participate? 

Yes he was asked, but he said he didn’t have the time. The way he looks now, I can’t see Blackie ever wanting to talk on camera again. That’s why this will probably be the only W.A.S.P. documentary you’ll ever see. 

Given your difficult relationship with Blackie, why did you return to W.A.S.P. in 1995? 

It was a way for me to get out and see the world again. I was also told a lot of things I hated about the band had changed, and that Blackie was easier to get along with. That was all crap. Nothing had altered. 

You allege in the documentary that your publishing rights to songs written for W.A.S.P. were stolen. Have you taken legal action over this? 

No. I did consult a lawyer, who told me that by the time all of this was sorted, not only would it cost me a lot of money but I would probably be about ninety. It wasn’t worth that much aggravation.

You now live in France. Why did you move there? 

My wife is French, and we came down to Cannes because her father was seriously ill. We stayed to help out her mother. Then I met some musicians from the area, formed Mean Man and I’m still here.

Do you speak French? 

Ha, no! I sit at the dinner table not understanding a word everyone is saying. But maybe that’s a good thing. 

You stopped drinking a while back. What prompted that? 

I gave up the booze twenty-five years ago. If I had carried on the way I was going, then I wouldn’t have reached sixty-two, the age I am now. It was a question of survival. 

What are your plans for 2021? 

I have most of a new album called Unbearable Influence finished. It just needs a few touches added. But I’m not sure as yet when this will come out. Maybe towards the end of the year. There are also a few dates booked in England, Scotland and Ireland for November – if touring is possible. 

So was the swimming pool scene in The Decline Of Western Civilization for real? 

Yes it was. Nothing was staged. But that wasn’t my pool. It was owned by Miles Copeland, who financed the film. And I was already messed up by the time the interview even started. My mum tagged along, because she hadn’t seen me for a while. I’m not sure if people know this, but I actually recreated the scene in 2017 – only this time I did it sober. 

Mean Man: The Story of Chris Holmes is available now via Cleopatra (opens in new tab).

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.