November 01, 2003

MOTORHEAD

by AZ and Bob Hoeksema

Motorhead's persistence and longevity can be attributed to the determination of its frontman, bassist Lemmy Kilmister. He formed the group in 1975, after being kicked out of Hawkwind because of a Canadian drug bust. He wanted to call the band Bastard, but eventually settled on Motorhead, slang for speedfreak. Despite initial criticism from the media, the band was considered authentic rock dinosaurs from the start, specializing in uncompromising rock'n'roll and restricting their stage show - unaffected by fashionable frills - to the bare essentials. Their brief solos were just long enough "… to open another bottle of beer" (New Musical Express), and the public was delighted with their straightforward audio-visual presentation that thumbed its nose at the showy glam rock acts of those days. "They know they're like animals, and they don't want to appear any other way. In view of the many ugly frogs in heavy metal who think they are God's gift to womankind these Quasimodos even seem charming in their own way," commented Stereo Review in 1997. And indeed: Lemmy & Co. hammer out their musical vision relentlessly from the stage, leaving any notion of pomp or glitter aside.

Lemmy and Phil Campbell have been supported by ex-King Diamond and Don Dokken drummer Mikkey Dee since 1992. Their album, 1916, was a chart success in the early 1990’s, and even earned the group a Grammy nomination. March Ör Die (1992), Bastards (1993), Overnight Sensation (1996), Snake Bite Love (1998) and the impressive live album Everything Louder Than Everyone Else (1999) followed and were all praised by media and fans alike. As the German ´Musik Express` commented aptly on the release of Snake Bite Love in spring 1998: "Lemmy is the best. Nobody roars with such abandon. Nobody has the history of rock music written all over his face like he does. No trend has affected him; no breakfast whiskey has ever knocked this man down. Plus: Mr. Kilmister has turned into a giant since Motörhead have dwindled down to a trio. His guitarist Phil Campbell snorts like Angus Young used to, pretty boy drummer Mickey Dee has a punch like Cassius Clay. That's the way rock'n'roll was made thirty years ago, and it's still going to work like that in 2063. Lemmy is like a good wine: the old rogue from Britain gets better with every year."

This latest invasion of the United States via tour was promotion for the release of 'Hammered' on Metal-Is Records, a division of the Sanctuary Records Group.

Released on April 9, the first single "Shut Your Mouth," is accompanied by other in your face tracks which include "Walk a Crooked Mile," "Brave New World," "Kill the World" and "Serial Killer," a disturbing spoken-word piece featuring guest vocals by superstar professional wrestler Triple H of the WWE.

In an age when not many bands manage to make it to their 25th birthday, even less have the level of influence on the world of rock that Motorhead have exerted. Some of the world's biggest bands continually give a nod to Lemmy and the boys, citing them as the reason they first picked up a guitar.

It seems only fitting that Motorhead would celebrate their 25th Anniversary in real style. Going back to their roots, the band played a special show at London's famous Brixton Academy. With special guests like Brian May (QUEEN), Fast Eddie Clark (ex-Motorhead), Whitfield Crane (UGLY KID JOE) and Doro Pesch (DORO, WARLOCK), the stage was set for a very special evening.

The entire event was captured on film and is now presented as Boneshaker in DVD format. The DVD also features plenty of behind the scenes and backstage material as well as interviews unique to this release. It is the definitive Motorhead concert.

The past 25 years have contained glorious highs and dastardly lows, but absolutely nothing can stop Motorhead.

Alex Zander and Bob Hoeksema caught up w/ Mikkey Dee in the Foundation Room prior to their show at The House Of Blues for this interview.


AZ: We are here at the House of Blues in Chicago for the third time in two years, twice with Nashville Pussy.

Mikkey: That show was MAGIC! You know you walk on stage some nights and everything is just perfect, the crowd, the equipment, the whole thing. It was just magic. I think it was the best show on the tour. It might not have been the best show out there, but for us it was just Bam, amazing. Chicago is one of the best cities, with King Diamond, Dokken, Motorhead whenever I have been touring, Chicago is one of the best. I do miss the Aragon Ballroom, it is a nicer venue , a big theatre. This is one of my favorites.

AZ: I bumped into you briefly and I posted a story where you had gotten into some trouble at a hotel where you were banging on doors and I was so glad that there was still a rowdy rock and roller out there.

Mikkey: Fuckin’ drunk Swede in Denver!

AZ: Oh, what a terrible place to be in trouble!

Mikkey: To tell you the truth, it was quite innocent and what came out of that was I became really good friends with two cops out there that were super Mikky Dee “freaks”. I was in jail down there and they would stick thier heads in and say “Oh my god, it’s Mikky Dee” They were great to me, they said “we’ve got tickets for tonight, we’ll get you out of here” it was a real mess, our bus driver was a real drunk, and you know... .

AZ: What is your Rock and Roll history and how did you get into Motorhead?

Mikkey: I joined Motorhead eleven years ago, I actually helped Lemmy on the 1916 album. You see, Lemmy asked me since 1986 to join the band. I wasn’t ready at that time but I know now that I look back I can see that I was not ready to join Motorhead. I never dropped off a band for a bigger band. I stay where I am happy. At that time, I was with King Diamond and we did super, we did two fucking nights - sold out nights at the Aragon Ballroom. We were a bunch of friends from Sweden and Denmark and in 1988, I was very unhappy after that and I said to King, “I am out of here, we are running the band down to the shit. I left the band and hooked up with Don Dokken right away. It was great, John Norrum, another “Swede” so we had a blast and Lemmy asked me again, I turned him down because fuck, I had just joined Don and that was a band, it was not a rented musician thing, Peter Baltes from Accept, John Norum from Europe, Billy White from Watchtower, Don and myself on drums. After a year of touring I knew this thing was going to fall apart, and I knew that and told Lemmy. Then, he asked me again and I said “OK Lem let’s go.” We have some touring left with Don and I did not want to jump ship. Grunge was coming out, all the bands got killed and I helped out on 1916, I was arranging drums. Philthy Taylor couldn’t really play and Lemmy was unhappy with him, so we kept going. Today Phil and I write the music and Lemmy writes the words, we have been working that way for 8 albums.

Bob: The new album Hammered, “Voices of War” is a very powerful song, did what happened Sept. 11 help you write that song?

Mikkey: We did press for about five weeks before we started this tour. And that question has popped up. Me and Phil flew in Sept 10. And I did everything I could to fly out the eleventh but our manager said Mik, if you fly out the eleventh you will be in coach, the tenth you will be in business class. And I said fuck it or I would be stuck in Canada. It was a mess. Sept 11 happened and that was the five or six weeks that we wrote the songs after that, and a lot of people ask because this album is moodier, more melodic and a bit darker. A lot of it might have had something to do with it, but I think more the vibe of what was happening in California and LA and for the whole U.S. I mean just to go to buy a six-pack or something, and people were watching each other, it was a vibe, you guys know…

AZ: Here they attacked cab drivers and anybody that looked like that.

Mikkey: The U.S. thought L.A. was next, the East coast was done and next was hot flashy money-making California. Hollywood-BAM flattened, you know. Maybe that has something to do with this album, a small, small factor.

AZ: One thing I findvery interesting is just because the thing I hate about the music business is that it is a business, why is it that metal bands and heavy rock music is still so much more popular in Europe than it is in the U.S.

Mikkey: Well that is a very simple explanation actually, because well number one the business, Lemmy hates the business. He hates this part of the occupation, by being a musician, he don’t want to know about it. I think that is wrong, you can make it into your friend or your enemy. You can walk around pissing and moaning about it, or you can become more involved in it, that is the road I choose. So the thing is, Europe, or you have to say the rest of the world other than America is unique with this. I used to say “the flavor of the year” with bands, now you have to say “the flavor of the quarter.” Here is what’s happening – its campus, if your’re not a campus band your not going to fucking do it. If a record company, whatever style is the flavor of the quarter, that is all you can hear, the radio ain’t going to play it, you ain’t going to be signed, you’re not going to do shit. This is a conspiracy with the high-rollers, the ones that actually sign bands, the record companies, the radio stations, the media. You can’t even get in the fucking local paper unless you’re the flavor of the quarter, I am not going to say “flavor of the year” because some bands do one record, and they are gone. Understand that if the record company signs up twenty bands, they pay them, they put them up in a Holiday Inn for three weeks and pay them a couple grand without any exposure, they have a world-wide net of distribution, they are going to make their money back 10 or 15 times. So if you sign 20 or 40 bands that sell on its own, then you have bands like Motorhead or Dokken that wants half a million dollars for an advance on an album. They can sign 100 bands for that money. So it’s all money, money, money. Here kids have no chance to like other bands, they don’t have a choice. You ain’t going to read or hear about them. You’re not going to hear them on radio. If you have a band playing they are not going to have a shot at getting signed if you play anything else that what is a campus band or what is in right now. In Europe Motorhead, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, DIO, Saxon, Deep Purple, I’m never going to give those guys up. It’s OK to like a lot of bands. Here they want you to like one band that is happening today. A couple of months from know I can come back and a popular band now, sounds like shit then.

AZ: We did an interview with DORO, her album was a good hard rocking album. As good as that album was it didn’t do shit here.

Mikkey: Why doesn’t Motorhead sell, this album has sold more in most European countries in the first two weeks than any of the other albums all year.

AZ: It entered the European charts at number 17.

Mikkey: This album has gone through the roof in a Motorhead way, it is not going to be a Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit with eleven million sales, but it is selling really good for Motorhead. It is selling good here, better that the other albums, we’re not a campus band. The only ones buying albums today are the kids in high school or colleges. They phone MTV, the radio stations and the magazines. That’s where the money is that’s where the focus is for these big guys. People were laughing at Metallica before they became a campus band. All of a sudden Enter Sandman, I was dating a girl when they really hit from ASU, a snobby little bitch. Then Metallica hit and everybody was walking around with Metallica T-shirts on. I don’t blame the kids here because you don’t have a choice. It is easy for me to sit here and say this, some European bands ask me what would you tell a new young band. I tell them to “Stick to your fucking guns,” write your own music, don’t be polluted by what the record company says. It is easy for me to say. In Europe that still works. I know people that turn down offers from record because they got too much involved. The record company says we want two radio songs, do this. The band tells them we don’t want your contract, we are five friends, and they go well you’ve got to get rid of your bass player, he’s not happening. I have four or five bands in Europe that turned down their first record deal. Here in the U.S. I can’t say that the kids are in a different situation, you don’t get a second shot. You don’t get the first shot unless you play what the media and industry want you to play. I feel real sorry for them. Sometimes Lemmy might bitch on stage, “OH THAT FUCKING RAP MUSIC IS SHIT.” The kids don’t have a choice, you can’t flip the radio station and listen to 747 from SAXON, and next might be Thin Lizzy. Everything out there is flavor of the quarter. In defense of all of the shit that has been exploding in the U.S. over the last five years, I hear bands today that sound really, really good I can hear melodies again, I hear musicianship. All of the one finger solo stuff or the clown acting like a fucking circus is faded away. I hear some great new bands today.

AZ: Ozzfest, I want to talk about festivals but what about Ozzfest?

Mikkey: Nightmare, Nightmare!!!!!!!!!!

AZ: In what way?

Mikkey: Every way shape or form, everything with Ozzfest should be boycotted by every fucking kid that gets the offer to play it. That’s all Sharon and her fucking money. We were beer entertainment on the second stage. You don’t know the shit we went through. We went through that because Ozzy is a friend, that doesn’t mean that Sharon is, she hates me to begin with. The first show we did, I think it was out in New Jersey, we had laminates and we did our show, we went on at 7:30 and then we walked up to the main stage to see TOOL and OZZY and no, no we weren’t allowed anywhere. All of the bands, when you are done playing, pack up your shit and get the fuck out of here, don’t mess around, don’t hang about. I mean bam, bam, bam business, this is a joke.

AZ: When I got to hang out with Lemmy at OZZfest, I had to go on the bus!

Bob: Did you do the whole tour?

Mikkey: Yeah, eventually, but we said ,this is a joke. Eventually we got universal laminates so we could walk. We were supposed to be thankful to Sharon for that. There were no lights, eight cans like that, no monitors, so before we got to the stage where we could do a decent 35 minutes of Motorhead, not unplugged, not in total darkness, and you know, be able to have a fucking drink on stage, you don’t know what we went through. We left 10 times over the first two weeks and then it smoothed out about.

AZ: Ozzfest is getting more expensive for a ticket, I look at some of the European festivals and see two days, great bands about $30 American dollars for two days. Here I see the same show for about $250. How was touring with Nashville Pussy?

Mikkey: It was great, musically we go hand in hand. We would like to tour with them again, but we can’t now.

AZ: What about Sanctuary (record label)?

Mikkey: Tom and the boys are doing a good job for us now, really. I said this other night, if I had more cash I would start a label and only sign real fucking bands. Tom had the right idea to sign some of these old bands and the minute one of these bands hits again, all of these labels are going to come running. This is the best tour we’ve done, Motorhead is on an upswing. When we write, we write for ourselves! Otherwise we would be a bad copy of ourselves!

Posted by Alex Zander at November 1, 2003 12:00 AM
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