Tommy Lee Ė Never A Dull
MomentÖÖTo Say the Least
Interviewed by Keith McDonald
Lee was as wild as they come. Having honed his rock star skills as the
drummer for the heavy metal outfit Motley Crue, Tommy has began a new
chapter in his rock n roll diary. After leaving the Crue a few years
back, Tommy has tasted some success as a solo artist with his Methods of
Mayhem project and now with his first official solo release. With the
MCA Records release, Never A Dull Moment, Tommy has been separating
himself from his past with a new style of music that has little to do
with his hard rockingí Crue days. From MOMís rap material to his
newer, modern rock sound, Tommy has been gaining attention as a
songwriter guitarist and frontman. I recently had the opportunity to sit
down with Tommy while in New York and get an update to whatís been
going on. You can check out the website at www.mcarecords.com
Why did you leave the Crue and go solo in the first place?
There were two reasons. One of them was creativity. I remember in the
early and mid 90ís music was changing and I was changing. I was
bringing stuff to the table, songs, like the stuff Iím doing now, and
the guys were like Ďsounds awesome but itís not really Motleyí. I
kept putting it aside. So on a creative level I think we were just going
different ways. Then on a personal level Vince and I donít get along
at all. You have to look at those two things and said I gotta get outta
Why did you jump over to MCA while you had Motley Records? Nikki
started his own label, why didnít you?
I wanted to go to a major label. I didnít trust and still donít
trust the organization, Left Bank, the management company. Allen Kovac
is a bit shady and I donít think Nikki has his label anymore, not that
he did anything with it. I wanted a major label behind it.
Now with your new solo project you really have jumped around
musically. You went from Motley Crue, which was hard rock to Methods of
Mayhem, which was rap to this project, which is a type of modern rock.
Why the drastic change in musical styles?
Like I said before, I was changing, music was changing. Iím such a
big fan of so many different styles of music. I love industrial metal,
hip-hop, and techno. I guess because Iím a drummer Iím attracted to
the beats, I love all that shit, itís all drums. You have to put
yourself in my position for a minute. I had been doing one style of
music for 20 years. Then I became a creative kid in a candy store. I
wanted to get my hands on everything. Then I toured with Methods of
Mayhem on Ozzfest and in September of 2000 I started writing the Never A
Dull Moment record and thatís where my heart was. I think I sort of
dabbled in some of the things I wanted to play with.
Did the Methods of Mayhem album do better than you expected?
Yeah. It went Gold in America, Gold in Japan and Canada. I did not
expect anything. I thought people were going to trip out when they heard
this record. Some hardcore Crue fans were like Ďwhat the fuck is
thisí. I expected that. Some parts of America there are people stuck
in a time warp. You drive through Peoria, IL and theyíre still playing
old Scorpions. In LA, where I live, you never hear them on the radio.
Since weíre talking about radio, how has it been to the new
record, any problems getting airplay?
For about five months ďHold Me DownĒ has been Top 10 on the
Active Rock N Roll charts which I thought was crazy. In the last two
weeks itís started to drop down because itís time for another single
to play the fuck out of it. There are some modern rock stations that
wonít play my record, like K-ROCK here and K-ROCK in LA and Chicago.
Three of the biggest cities and thereís no airplay. Iíve been
beating my head trying to get my music on the stations. Iím going to
K-ROCK today, which doesnít mean theyíll add my record.
How hard was it to go from being a drummer to fronting your own
band? How hard of a transition was it?
Itís not easy at all. Itís sort of natural because in Motley I
always wanted to be in the front, like the drum solo. Out in front or
spinning over their heads or blown up or in a space suit. I always
wanted to be a ringleader. So the transition was difficult but not as
difficult for another drummer who just played in the back and didnít
do much. I think what made it easier is that Iíve been playing guitar
and singing forever.
I didnít realize that you did that.
Even back further I wrote a lot of the hits. Girls, Girls, Girls I
wrote on guitar, Home Sweet Home and Wildside I wrote on piano. Iíve
been playing guitar for a long-ass time. I would write music for the
band and I would have to thank Vince and Mick for not showing up at my
house because that made me work harder. I would ask Vince to come by and
he would be like ĎI gotta take helicopter lessonsí or ĎIím
racing carsí. So I was like Ďfuck ití, Iíll sing it. I used to
sing everyday in my studio and Iíd bring in finished demos, me playing
the bass, guitar, drums and vocals. Then we would go in and record them.
That transition wasnít difficult, it was just getting comfortable.
Itís always easier in the studio; live you are singing and playing
guitar at the same time. Doing the Methods of Mayhem tour, thatís
where I really got the bugs out and got comfortable. Now Iím totally
comfortable and having a blast.
Do you find it harder to break as a new artist than you did when
Motley was breaking in the early 80ís?
Itís a lot harder now. When Motley was first busting out it just
seemed we were really lucky to get that Ozzy tour and be able to play in
front of that many people every night. That helped us and radio wasnít
like it is now. Now major corporations own them and theyíre the
gatekeepers. If youíre not on radio you ainít shit. That means no
one gets to hear you. Thereís some shady pay-olla; itís whacked
Does the album title Never A Dull Moment reflect your wild
How does your lifestyle affect your music and writing?
I pretty much write about experiences, shit Iíve been through that
I wanna share with people. Iím not a fiction writer; I like to write
about real shit people can relate to.
Why did you part ways with Tilo and was it hard to do?
He was bummed, he understood. Between the label, my manger and the
producer, they were like ĎTommy, you donít need two frontmen, you
can do this on your own. I dig Tilo. Eventually I had to let him know I
was going to move on without him.
Why did you go out on tour alone and not get a package together
like you did with the Ozzfest?
We were offered Ozzfest and I didnít want to do it again. I donít
care for going on during the day while people are still pulling up in
their cars. Half the people werenít even there. You play in front of
people just getting there, not in their seats. Iíd rather be playing
House of Blues style venues packed with 1,200 people. Itís dark in
there with a light show. Iím not a daytime guy. Weíve been touring
and then in August we go home. Weíve been talking with the guys in
P.O.D. and maybe some dates with Disturbed.
What can we expect from live show?
Weíre doing everything. Mostly the new record, a Crue classic
thatís heavy as fuck and Methods of Mayhem. My band is tight as fuck;
the drummer is a badass. I spent a long-ass time and about a month in
pre-production rehearsal making the show look the way it looks. We do
meet and greets after the show, itís awesome.
There have been rumors flying around that Nikki has said there
will be no new Motley Crue music and that what heíd like to do is a
Farewell Tour with the original members. What are your thoughts on this
and would you be interested?
Heís not going to make new shit? I might consider it. I wouldnít
say no. It would probably be awhile because Iím really enjoying what
Iím doing now. If that were to happen it would be much later.