Lemmy of Mot?rhead
Interviewed by Duke
As seen in the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter
Live pics by Lord of the Wasteland
It?s not every day that someone gets to talk with god. Recently, Duke from Metal-Rules.com did just that when he had a discussion with Lemmy of Mot?rhead. With the band celebrating its 30th anniversary and Lemmy?s recent lifetime achievement award Duke speaks to Lemmy about his career, unfulfilled goals, WWII memorabilia, smoking bans, and lots of other topics. So enough out of me, let?s hear from the man, the legend?LEMMY!
For the 30th anniversary, do you have anything special planned like you had for the 25th?
Nothing like that really. We did the 30th anniversary gig in London in June you know, so this will just be a general tour.
No special surprises?
We?ve got a couple of new songs from ?Inferno?.
That?s the surprise!
The current lineup of Mot?rhead is by far the longest lasting one so far?
What do you attribute that to and how does it compare for you to the other lineups?
I think this is the best one. You can say that the golden age of Mot?rhead was Eddie and Phil, but it doesn?t really mean that it was. It?s just that the guys who like that lineup were 16 or whatever then. There are kids now that think that ?Sacrifice? was our first album, which is fine because musically this is definitely the best lineup and I think it is for songs too.
Are they more professional than some of the other guys, easier to work with?
No, it?s just that this is the one that?s on fire, you know.
You seem to have done a lot more technical songs since Mikkey Dee came along.
Well, it helps when you have a drummer who knows what he?s doing technically. We wouldn?t have thought of a song like ?Sacrifice? without Mikkey.
You have a lot of young kids coming to your concerts now, have you been targeting a young audience?
How would you do that? We play young music, you know.
Well, you did the WWE song, the Tony Hawk thing?
We were invited to do the WWE thing and Tony Hawk took our song and we didn?t get paid for it, so?
Do you think the current musical climate is better for Mot?rhead than it was ten years ago?
Probably yeah, we got a Grammy this year, which gave us a little boost. I don?t know, it?s just come around again where it?s fashionable to like Mot?rhead. The shirts have always been fashionable, but not the music!
There are always a lot of stories about you as a person in newspapers and on the Internet. Do you follow that kinda thing?
I don?t have a computer so I can?t follow the Internet much.
Does it bother you in anyway that people are telling untrue stories about you?
Yeah, when I find out about them. Like that guy who wrote that I was bisexual, I called him and said ?You?re printing things that aren?t true? and he said ?Yeah, so what?? So I said, ?Well, you can?t collect your money if you?ve got a screwdriver through both fucking knees!? He saw my point so he printed a retraction.
How did you find out about it?
Somebody told me. Someone always brings bad news. I think that?s fucking disgraceful, you know, that a guy does that for a sensational headline. If it was someone not like me, who can fight back, it could ruin your fucking life. I think it?s fucking disgraceful to use the power of the Internet for shit like that. It?s a great communication tool and people are using it to spread child pornography and insults, fucking brilliant!
Speaking of the Internet, how does downloading music affect a band like Mot?rhead?
I don?t think we get downloaded a lot. We don?t sell that many albums. It doesn?t really bother us, but it?s a bad thing for a band because you don?t get paid.
I guess you have a pretty loyal fanbase.
Yeah, they want the cover and everything, the whole package.
Or to see what name you?ve made up for Phil this time.
Yeah! (laughs) I don?t make them up, he makes them up.
?The Artist Frequently Seen Down The Liquor Store? was brilliant.
The artist formerly known as? (laughs) Yeah, right!
In these 30 years, have you ever thought, ?That?s enough, I?ll do something else??
Yeah! (laughs) No. If you?re not committed, you can?t do this job, it?s not easy. But it?s not that hard if you love it and I love it, so?
So it?s still fun?
Are there any things you?re bored with, like playing this song so many times?
Occasionally you get a bit of that, but you get bored with any job and I think I would get bored a lot quicker with? house painting. (laughs) You know what I mean?
You finally got a Grammy, how did that make you feel after the last two times?
They managed to get the knife in, even though it was a Grammy they gave it to us for somebody else?s song that we covered, so they didn?t give it to us for one of our own records. It would have meant a lot more to me if it was for one of our albums. But it?s nice to have it, sure.
Out of the 21 studio albums, do you have one or two that you?re especially proud of?
I like ?Inferno? obviously, it?s one of the best we?ve done with this lineup. I like ?Sacrifice? a lot, I like ?Bastards? a lot. That?s about it really. I obviously like ?Ace of spades? and ?Bomber? and all that, but not as much as the later ones. And ?We are Mot?rhead?, I like that too.
On the other hand, are there any albums that didn?t come out as well as you hoped?
On ?Snake bite love? I didn?t like the last two songs much. We did them in a hurry and it just didn?t get together for me. Other people say ?Those are my favourite songs!? so what the fuck do I know? ?Iron Fist? I was never satisfied with, but there?s a couple of good songs on it.
There?s some weird production on that album.
Yeah, I know, it goes up and down, doesn?t it?
I read your autobiography and it?s coming out in Swedish pretty soon?
Oh, is it? The first translation was into Finnish, that?s weird isn?t it?
Reading it, it seems like you?ve had your share and then some of record company troubles in the past.
Oh yeah? (sighs)
But recently it seems pretty stabile with Sanctuary in the US and SPV in Europe.
How are they different from all the other companies you?ve worked and fought with?
They actually like the band! (laughs) It wasn?t just a financial proposition for them.
Do they try to have any creative influence?
No, we?re better than them at that, no? If you sign Mot?rhead, you sign to release what we give you and you have to trust us. These people trust us, they?re great. CMC, our label within Sanctuary, they bought CMC, they shipped ?Sacrifice? before we signed the deal and that?s amazing.
Has the record company being cooperative made an improvement to the records?
Yeah, they give us time to finish the albums, we?re not working on the clock all the fucking time. Also if you have a stabile relationship and you know it?s gonna be ok, then you can relax a little bit. They?ve been very good to us, both labels, I?m very pleased with them.
Speaking of the book, how did you decide that it was the right time to make your autobiography?
This is the first time anybody offered me money! (laughs)
How did you find the time, writing a book takes a long time?
It took two years on an off, cause I was doing interviews between tours and things. I did three days here, three days there, she translated it into English, I proof-read it and did two bit here and there.
Translated it into English?
I don?t speak real English, I speak rubbish and jibberish.
I don?t have a problem understanding you?
Not now, but on the first show you saw, you did, right?
I?ll pass on that!
Do you have a long term plan on what Mot?rhead will be doing or do you take it one album and one tour at a time?
More or less, yeah. We?re pretty comfortable with each other, we?re a good band and we know it. Apart from that, it?s just let?s do this, let?s do that.
How does the song writing process work? Most songs are credited to all band members, but who starts them up, is that you?
Occasionally I?ll come in with a song all finished, like ?I Ain?t No Nice Guy?, I wrote that all by myself. On a couple of songs on ?Inferno? I came up with the original ideas, but mostly it?s Phil and Mikkey who come up with a tune and I puts words to it and fuck around with the arrangement.
There have been a few surprising songs like ?Whorehouse Blues? and ?Don?t Let Daddy Kiss Me? since Phil and Mikkey came along?
Well, there are no drums on ?Whorehouse Blues?, me and Phil did that after Mikkey had gone back to Sweden after he had finished doing the drum tracks. And ?Don?t Let Daddy Kiss Me? was me and Phil mostly, really.
Do you think there are limits to what can be done under the name Mot?rhead, like ?I?d like to do this but it?s not Mot?rhead??
Oh, I?ve got a solo album coming soon. I?ve got eight tracks with different people on it. I?m gonna do a track with Mikkey and a track with Phil. I?m trying to get a track with Joan Jett. So far I?ve got two tracks with the Reverend Horton Heat, two tracks with The Damned and two tracks with Skew Siskin from Berlin. And a track with Dave Grohl. We?ll see what happens.
Do you have a title for it yet?
No. Possibly ?False teeth to the deaf?. (laughs)
Do you know when it will be out?
No, I gotta finish it first.
Are you working on any new Mot?rhead material as well?
Yeah, we?re gonna put a new album out next? June, maybe. We?re gonna go into the studio and write and record it in February or March.
As a musician, do you have any unfulfilled dreams?
Yeah, I always wanted to play d?cima! (Latin American folk music) (laughs) I don?t really have any unfulfilled dreams. I?m pretty lucky, I got to do what I wanted to do and get paid for it. That?s really great, you know!
You have a famous collection of war memorabilia, have you had time to keep it up lately?
Whenever I go back and I have a couple of weeks off I look at the catalogues and pick something out. But mostly it?s pretty static at the moment, I got a couple of new daggers but that?s about it. I haven?t really been home for a long time lately. I?ve got a lot of Swedish stuff there as well, actually.
Yeah, the old Swedish Nazi party, those guys didn?t give up until 1950, you know that?
Some of them haven?t given up yet, actually?
Yeah, but as an organization, they lasted until 1950, still marching around Stockholm hopefully! (laughs) They used to have the Vasa flag, yellow and blue.
When you go out somewhere you must be recognized all the time, do you get any privacy?
See, if you wanna be famous all your life and then you achieve it, don?t fucking bitch! (laughs) The day they stop asking me for autographs and pictures I?m fucked, aren?t I? That?s when it?s over, when they stop asking me, so it?s ok with me. Mostly it?s ok with me?
If a fan meets you at the bar, what should he do not to annoy you?
Don?t shout at me, don?t shout the lyrics of ?Ace of spades? in my face, I?ve heard them already. And don?t tell me I?m you?re favourite and then say ?Oh, that album ?Ace of spades?!? (laughs)
Smoking is banned in public places in California and now it?s the same in Sweden. How does that work for you?
I smoke in private. Simple! (laughs) It?s stupid, to ban smoking in bars is just dumb. In a restaurant it?s ok, you can see that, it?s acceptable, but not in a bar, man! People wanna smoke in a bar, that?s why they?re standing outside freezing to death in Sweden!
How long can a band keep going and still be good?
I don?t know, I?ll let you know when I found out! (laughs) We?re not fucking stopping anyway!
Do you listen to any new music and in that case, what?
I do, but I can?t often tell you what?s on the radio. I really liked the Evanesence album a while back, I thought that was excellent. You know that one?
It?s a sham live, but a very good record. She hasn?t quite got a hold of that yet, but I?m sure she?ll get around to it if she had the right people around her. Somebody is not telling her the secrets, you know.
Is Mikkey shoving some Swedish bands down your throat?
Luckily, Swedish bands are pretty good. We?ve had a lot of Swedish bands on tour with us, we?ve played with Meldrum a couple of times, they?re great. And Backyard Babies are great, Hellacopters, Hardcore Superstar, we?ve had a lot of Swedish bands on.
That was it, thank you very much!
All right man, come and see us!
You bet I will!
Come and say hello, I?ll buy you a beer!