Lemmy: Leaving His Mark

By Jeb Wright, April 2012

Lemmy is the person your parents warned you about. His only rule is that there are no rules. He is a rebel without a cause; a ladies man; and the guy at the party that you just want to hang with. In Cowboy movies he is the villain that gets away. In horror flicks he’s the madman and in rock and roll he is the bass player and lead vocalist for what was once called The Best Worst Band in the World. There is also no doubt that he could totally kick that guys ass in the Dos Equis commercial and take the title of ‘coolest man in the world’ for himself.

Classic Rock Revisited took a few moments to chat with Lem and find out what he has coming up in 2012. Motorhead is a featured band on the Mayhem Festival this summer, along with Anthrax, Slayer and a slew of other Metal bands. Lemmy also won a Shorty Award, even though he has no idea what that means and is considered by experts to be among the Top 100 Living Rock Stars. And, if he sells a lot of Motorhead Vodka, to the point where he can’t do all of the quality taste testing himself, then there may just be a job opening for me!

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Jeb: You’re getting ready to embark on the Mayhem festival.

Lemmy: It should be energetic. It should be hell backstage between acts. The first day will be crazy and disorganized. It will be hopeless. More or less, I will just sit back and laugh at all of them. These days, everyone takes everything so seriously. It’s only rock and roll, you know, its okay.

Jeb: Any festival called ‘Mayhem’ should have Motorhead be a part of it. Where are you playing?

Lemmy: That is fair enough, yeah. I think we are going to be between Anthrax and Slayer. We may be before Anthrax, I’m not sure yet.

Jeb: Slayer and Anthrax look up to you, Lemmy. Are you comfortable being The Godfather of Heavy Metal?

Lemmy: I wouldn’t call it that, they might, you know. I just do what I do and that is to be the bass player and vocalist for Motorhead, that’s my title.

Jeb: I think Motorhead’s epitaph will be, “They kicked ass.” How do you explain that America wants you around now? For years they didn’t want anything to do with you.

Lemmy: Well, that is what we do, we kick ass. As far as the popularity goes, I never saw the point of letting them win. If you let them win then the whole thing was for nothing. You’ve got to prove it. You’ve got to say, “Yeah, I was here and I shit on your hydrant – you’ve got to leave your mark.

Jeb: You never did get that hit single in America, though.

Lemmy: We never did and I think that it is a bit late for that now. The movie did alright, though. It went Gold and it was number one on Billboard; I couldn’t believe it. It’s okay though because I thought I deserved it anyway… Seriously, I’ve always felt that we were a pretty good band and I always have thought that we deserved more attention in America. We’ve been putting albums out here since 1982. If it takes making a movie about one of us to get us more recognition then I say, ‘Let’s do it.”

Jeb: I loved watching you hanging out at the Rainbow in LA. I heard that when California went non-smoking in bars that the Rainbow actually built that back patio just for you.

Lemmy: You’ve got to have a night out, sometime. I mean you can’t just sit in the house all of the time. No, they put that up for their smoking customers; it was not just for me.

Jeb: One of my favorite scenes in the movie is where you talk about how you love your son. His face just really lit up and you can tell that he was shocked that you said that.

Lemmy: I thought it was great. I thought he should know. I’m not very good at saying things like that to people. I just thought I should say it. British people keep it pretty close to the chest, you know what I mean? That is kind of why I like Americans; they are keen. They are eager to get out there and they want to get the most out of things. They want to find out how things work. It is certainly different than the British, as they are so fucking stuck on their manners. Manners do not make for progress.

Jeb: Have you ever thought of making an album with your son?

Lemmy: Not really. Maybe after I retire I will think of that. With Motorhead’s schedule we are lucky to have time to make Motorhead albums.

Jeb: You have a new release that consists of CDs and a DVD. Do you enjoy watching the old shows?

Lemmy: You always want to watch the old shows so that you can learn what you don’t want to do again. Sometimes you discover that you really look like an asshole on stage and you really don’t want to repeat that.

Jeb: Revolver Magazine has named you one of the Top 100 Living Rock Stars.

Lemmy: How about that? You see, you can’t believe this sort of shit. Other people can believe that stuff and think it is okay but it is when you think it is okay that you’re really fucked.

Jeb: You have to admit being on the 100 greatest list is coming a long way from when you were called the worst band ever.

Lemmy: We were called The Best Worst Band in the World. I remember seeing that for the first time and I really thought that was unjust. You’ve got to read the reviews just to see what people are saying but, like I said, just don’t believe them – the good or the bad. You’ve just got to figure out what is relevant. Most of what they say is irrelevant.

Jeb: I always have to bring up the odd way of playing bass that you have…did your odd style cause problems with any of the band members?

Lemmy: I play rhythm guitar bass. Brian Robertson had problems with it because he was always bitching about it. He used to say, “There is no bass. How can I do this? Can we set up another bass drum? I need bass.” I said, “What makes you think that I wanted bass?”

Jeb: Why not just be a guitar player?

Lemmy: I was a guitar player but I was so fucking mediocre I switched to bass.

Jeb: Ian Anderson told me that the guitar he traded for his first flute was a guitar that you used to own.

Lemmy: I don’t know. He might have ended up with one of my guitars. He was with The John Evans Blues Band back in the ‘60’s and I was in The Vicars. It is very possible that he ended up with one of my guitars. When I left The Vicars, the guitar stayed. It was a band guitar. When people left that band then the instruments stayed and I think that really made a lot of sense. If you need a guitar player but he hasn’t got a guitar then you have one for him to use. When he leaves you have one for the next guy so you don’t have to run around.

Jeb: Why not do that with Motorhead?

Lemmy: We can’t as Phil collects all of his guitars – there are no spares.

Jeb: You’re a man that enjoys a drink. Tell me about Motorhead Vodka.

Lemmy: Well, the company takes care of the business end and all I have to worry about is the quality. I am not going to sell shit to people, you know. We have a wine as well, that is very good. It was really simple how I got into it. This guy came up and said, “You know, you could make money if we make this wine.” I said, “Okay.” I think it is a California wine or it might be Spanish, I don’t know. The Vodka is Swedish.

Jeb: I would certainly be available for a quality control job, if you need a wine taster.

Lemmy: Yeah, I know but I’ve already got that job. I will keep your number though, in case I get overwhelmed.

Jeb: You are doing okay these days. The business has been hard on you in the past. Is Lemmy happy?

Lemmy: Pretty much. Most of our dreams have come true. There are only a couple left that have not come true; like having that hit in America.

Jeb: In retrospect, with the resurgence of your career, can’t you call “Ace of Spades” a hit in America?

Lemmy: By word of mouth, yes, but it wasn’t on the charts.

Jeb: Did you even know you were nominated for a Shorty award?

Lemmy: What is a Shorty award?

Jeb: A Shorty award honors the best social media on the web.

Lemmy: I didn’t even know about that. I suppose we do an okay job with keeping up with our fans but I am not sitting around on Facebook. I think this stuff is not social; I think it is anti-social. You don’t get to meet people anymore, you just type things out. You can just send anybody’s picture out and nobody will ever know if it is really you.

Jeb: Well, like it or not, you did get nominated for an award.

Lemmy: I guess so.

Jeb: In 2011, you turned…

Lemmy: I was 66 at the end of last year.

Jeb: You had a party and you jammed with famous people and you got a video birthday card from Ozzy. Is it still cool, at age 66, to be recognized by your peers?

Lemmy: Yes, of course it is. It means that you’re doing it right. For me, music and friendship come together.

Jeb: I have to ask this… I talked to Fast Eddie and I interviewed him and he said to say hello to you. I told him that I would try and put the band back together. Would you ever consider a tour with the original three?

Lemmy: The thing is that I’ve had this band together with these two guys now for a lot longer than the original band. They have been through a lot harder times than the first band. I don’t see why I should put this band on hold for a bit of nostalgia. I don’t see why I should put these guys out of work while I go and tour with the old guys. I don’t think its fair of us to do that. I don’t know if Eddie and Phil [Taylor] can still do it at this point.

Jeb: Eddie has a new Fastway album coming out and it is really good.

Lemmy: Eddie has always been a great player.

Jeb: Eddie said that when you did “Stand By Your Man” with Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics it was bad for Motorhead.

Lemmy: He left the band over that.

Jeb: He said the day after you had the big fight that you and everyone else on the bus were all wearing Plasmatics t-shirts.

Lemmy: Yeah, I remember that. It was really funny. He was mad but it was really funny. If you haven’t got a sense of humor about you then you might as well check out.

Jeb: Was Eddie the best guitar player in Motorhead?

Lemmy: I think they’ve all been good. Brian Robertson was great. I just couldn’t get along with him but he was a great player. Phil is a fantastic guitar player and so is Eddie.

Jeb: What is the fastest album you ever made?

Lemmy: We made Orgasmatron in two weeks.

Jeb: What was the hardest album to make?

Lemmy: Probably Iron Fist. I didn’t like that album. We let Eddie produce it, which was a mistake. It was also following No Sleep Till Hammersmith, which didn’t help. The next studio album after a great live album is always going to sound a bit wet.

Jeb: I think Motorhead has had success because you have never tried to have a hit.

Lemmy: I never did see the point in it. I am not going to throw my heart away for money. You may be able to do that but you will lose all of your original fans because they will know you’re selling out.

Jeb: Motorhead has a worldwide fan base. You transcend language and governments.

Lemmy: Rock and roll has always done that. When Pink Floyd did that Berlin concert at the wall there were kids on the east side getting fire hosed because they were trying to get up close to listen to it. They just kept coming back until they stopped doing it.

Jeb: What is it about Motorhead that appeals to so many people?

Lemmy: It pisses your parents off. The best rock and roll has always pissed off parents. The best stuff makes them go, “Turn that rubbish down.” If they are saying that, then you’re on the right track.

Jeb: Last one: Is there a new Motorhead album on the way?

Lemmy: We have not started writing any songs yet but we will. We put out an album out every two years. I will continue to do that as long as I can afford an amp.

www.imotorhead.com