Q&A with Lemmy
Sheila Rene': Hello, Lemmy my darlin' how are you?
Lemmy Kilmister: Fine, how are you?
SR: I've had the most wonderful two days of Motorhead. I got the six re-issues of your albums that are on Dojo/Castle Records plus the new Overnight Sensation album on CMC. I've done a whole history lesson in two days.
LK: Yeah, they've got the words in them and everything.
SR: It's such a wonderful addition to my collection. You guys are are charting very well. I love all the different voices on this album. Plus I learned a new sex term from "Crazy Like A Fox." Wigwam trouser. I've shared it with all my kinky friends.
LK: That can't be bad. (laughing) Right. Terminalogy has to be shared.
SR: What's the most important thing in your life today as far as Motorhead goes?
LK: We have to tour first. The most important thing in my life right now is trying to remember the chords to the bloody songs we just recorded for the album.
SR: That's funny. Are you happy with your treatment over at CMC International? And what was your Castle involvement on the rereleases?
LK: Yeah, very happy so far with CMC. We didn't get involved in that Castle project. They didn't ask us they just went ahead. They own it now having bought all those tracks from Bronze. We can't do nothing.
SR: I hope you're making some money at least.
LK: Oh, yeah we'll get royalties. They just bought the whole catalog off Bronze.
SR: It's been fun going back and reliving your history in music. Happy 21st anniversary of your career. Happy 50th birthday. I'd love to have been able to fly in for that party last year. I'm coming up on my 58th in 97. I'm still older than you.
LK: It was a good show. It doesn't make you feel any younger though does it? There are some people who're older than me.
SR: You've done so much in your career. Nothing has stopped you from delivering your music, through hail, sleet, snow, bad managers, bad labels, etc. Do you ever get writer's block?
LK: I might get blocked but it doesn't last longer than a couple of days. That's what I've been doing all this time, is writing songs. I'm pretty good at it now.
SR: Have every decade of your life gotten better, are you living better or your happier?
LK: People who expect to be happy fill me with dread. Happy is not a state to which you should aspire. You're going to be disappointed.
SR: You may be right. I just know that the more I learn in this life, the easier things get because you have experiences to fall back on.
LK: You can snatch bits of happiness but most of it is drudgery. Life has not been worked out very well with the powers that be. We're still at work and there's no reason for us to be there. Yeah, it's done with mirrors. I feel good about myself, and I know that I'm doing better than I was doing five or ten years ago.
SR: How have you managed to stay away from all the drugs over the years?
LK: I didn't.
SR: Well, you never have had to put yourself away to detox.
LK: Right, I never did herion or anything like that. That's something you can't use because it stops you from taking care of business. It stops your breathing too. People don't understand that because they think people who are older than them, know nothing. We're all just old, dumb and finished. They're the new brave, young breed and it won't happen to them. They think they're smarter but heroin is smarter than everybody.
SR: Do you think we're coming our of our "alternative" decade? Kids just don't feel they have anything to live for. Everything's gone bad and it's not going to ever get better. "Broken" is a song about this very subject.
LK: I know. Right. Man is nothing if not complex.
SR: What kind of equipment did you use on "Broken" to get that industrial sound on your voice?
LK: No, they did that in the studio while mixing. It sounds like a come out you're surrounded voice' doesn't it?
SR: Indeed. You use your voice in so many different ways on this album. Most of all on "I Don't Believe A word." There are some phrases here that I'll be adding to my music vocabulary. There's nothing left to lose/I have nothing else to say..but you do.
LK: ..I've seen the Devil laugh and I've seen God turn his face away.' (laughing)
SR: "Civil War" is particularly pertinent today. I remember our first interview at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco. We had so much fun I almost couldn't use the tape.
LK: You're supposed to have fun with rock and roll. What's it far otherwise?
SR: I'm still having fun with it.
LK: Me, too.
SR: "Overnight Sensation" ...the bad boys sold the franchise and stole your rock and roll. No stronger words. The acoustic touch is wonderful on that cut.
LK: I'm glad you like that. I did that acoustic playing. It's not a new voice, it's just a voice I haven't used in a while.
SR: I used to think the second team of members in Motorhead were the best. I'm now believing that Phil Campbell is playing better and so is Mikkey Dee.
LK: Phil is definitely playing great. Mikkey is a monster.
SR: I hold Eddie Clarke and Phil Taylor in high esteem, however, I believe Campbell and Dee are the best.
LK: It's certainly got more power. It sticks to the beat a lot better. Maybe we'll get rich on this one.
SR: Have you been able to have the good life?
LK: Oh, yeah. I'm not worried. I don't really want to be rich. You can't get a smile out of rich people with a f**kin' crowbar. They're usually miserable bastards they are. I knew a lot of millionaires in London from the Embassy Club. They're all miserable as shit.
SR: "Listen To Your Heart" is another voice that says it all.
LK: Not another voice just one I haven't used lately.
SR: The words I ain't no beauty/but I know who I am. To live outside the law, my dear, you have to give a damn. That could be the Motorhead creed.
LK: Yeah. Live smart, eat well and die anyway.
SR: I hear you'll be playing Austin. The tour kicks off in November and you'll be out through August of 97. Whew!
LK: We've played Austin over the years. It's a fun town.
SR: Would your luck have been changed any if you'd won the 92 Grammy Award for the 1916 album? Metallica won that year.
LK: No. It wouldn't have lasted. We don't play the game. I had a great speech ready in the event we had won. I was going to say 'I'm not going to thank anybody. None of you f**kers have ever given us a hand. You didn't do anything. We did it all by ourselves. Thank you very much. Good night.'
SR: Killer. I would have been on my feet for that.
LK: (laughing) It would have been great.
SR: Over the years have you ever had offers to play in any other band?
LK: Yeah, a couple of times. I almost went for a job with The Damned once.
SR: You recorded with them.
LK: I did a gig with them. I played bass on their first show after they reformed. They got another bassist after that. It was such fun breaking everything to bits like I used to...smashing up equipment and falling on the floor, you know it's great fun. There again I'm better off staying where I am. I have control.
SR: I'm working on opening a restaurant here in Austin. Food is always happening.
LK: That's good. Austin seems to be a happening little town.
SR: Yes, it claims to be the "live music capitol of the world" however, the powers that be are always hassling the clubs and doing their little sound checks. The public seems to be blaze' about the whole thing and they don't support the artists that live here.
LK: Now, that's not good. As long as you can have a good time and there are lots of places to go, it's okay
SR: I guess so. Over the years you've collaborated with some fantastic folks. Was there a favorite or perhaps something new on the horizon?
LK: Let's see now. The best one was probably Girlschool. That single, "Please Don't Touch" off The St. Valentines Day Massacre EP made it to #5. That was higher than we had done with our individual records.
SR: You worked with Lita Ford and Wendy O. Williams.
LK: Those were good runs, too.
SR: How did writing go down with Ozzy?
LK: I never really sat down in a room with him and wrote a song. He used to do tapes and send them to me with a rough vocal. I'd write them and send them back to him.
SR: He was the first guy to take you out on tour? It was the Ace Of Spades album then.
LK: Yeah, back in 1980.
SR: I have my top ten albums. I'd like to compare mine with yours.
LK: I don't really know. I've got so many albums out there. I'll do a list for the magazines if they ask. I've got too many.
SR: I had a hard time breaking it down to only five but here goes...Ace Of Spades, No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith, Orgasmatron, Overkill, Sacrifice, Overnight Sensation, Bastards, 1916, Iron Fist, Motorhead and Another Perfect Day.
LK: That's a pretty good list.
SR: I hated it that Robbo was not given his due on Another Perfect Day. It was great pickin'; however, I got pissed when he refused to do the old songs.
LK: He's a great guitar player, too bad he's such a dickhead.
SR: He did get judged by his appearance and not his ability.
LK: I know, he just didn't have any idea what was going on. Not playing the old songs was most of it. The rest of it was how crazy he dressed.
SR: It was your first show with Blue Oyster Cult that the press deemed you the best worst in the world and you still are. I want to name a dish in my restaurant after Lemmy. Any ideas?
LK: Something hot. Chili or curry. It could be a total surprise, something filled with laxatives. (laughing) Surprise.
SR: Let's do a one or two word association with some names from your career.
SR: Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor
LK: My brother, my enemy, too bad.
SR: "Fast Eddie" Clarke
LK: Still my brother, fondly enough.
SR: Black Sabbath
LK: Brutal with potential.
SR: Your first producer, Jimmy Miller
LK: Tragic. Excellent and tragic. He's dead.
SR: Producer, Vic Maille
LK: Another tragedy, wonderful person. He died of diabetes.
SR: Wendy O. Williams
LK: I haven't seen her for years. I don't know where she is. She was great. She was like a female me. Bigger tits.
SR: Lita Ford has remarried and is living in Florida.
LK: Yeah, I know. Lita, low attention span.
LK: Excellent, but inconsistent.
SR: Are they still working together?
LK: Yeah, they're still going. They have these periods when they don't do anything, people forget about them and they have to start over again.
SR: That's one thing you've never done. Start over. You just keep going. How about Brian Robertson?
LK: His own worst enemy.
SR: Producer, Bill Laswell
LK: Good, but could have done better.
SR: The Ramones
LK: Excellent. Black day for rock and roll when they split up.
LK: Excellent, unstoppable.
SR: Record company executive Ted Carroll who released the Motorhead album in '77.
LK: Pretty well unstoppable too. Just thank you.
SR: Any words of advice to the newcomers?
LK: Don't do anything you're going to be ashamed of.
SR: You're talking musically there.
LK: Both. Don't be ashamed of your music or your personal behavior. You shouldn't do either. Just do the right thing. Everybody knows wrong from right.
SR: That sounds like a song on this album, "Listen To Your Heart."
LK: Oh, yeah that's right. Everybody knows wrong from right. Else, why do they do the bad s**t in the dark?
SR: That's right. Do you have any feeling about music in the 21st Century?
LK: Don't know. I ain't gonna be here. I won't be a big musical force in the 21st Century. It's going to be very difficult chronologically-wise. People don't take much notice of us now as a musical direction. I think it's going to be very interesting and I'm probably glad I'm not going to see most of it.
SR: I think if I still have my ears, I'll still be rockin'
LK: Yeah, me too. I don't see any reason to stop apart from that.
SR: You've never thought about retiring have you?
LK: What have I got to do that's better.
SR: Will we ever hear the music from your birthday party in '95 with Metallica playing under the name the Lemmys?
LK: That's already a bootleg. They had it out on the street in two weeks after the party. If they can do that, why can't record companies, eh?
SR: I'd love to hear it. Was the party an exciting night for you?
LK: I don't remember most of it. I was so busy all night. I didn't party at all. All I heard was 'Lemmy, Lemmy, Lemmy come over here, do this, do that. It was taking pictures, 'stand over here.' That's all I did my whole birthday.
SR: They kept you busy.
LK: F**k, yeah. It was good fun playing with Metallica, at last. It was nice of them to give me the tribute. They're the only band that ever did that.
SR: Certainly the Ramones look up to you and probably influenced by you.
LK: Kind of. I wrote a song about them first.
SR: I interviewed Johnny about the Adios album and when I asked him if the whole band had talked it over. His reply was 'there was no need to talk, it's done.' I think it must have been all his idea.
LK: Yeah, it was Johnny that broke it up. They could feasibly get another guitar player. Johnny ain't that important to the fans. I think they should keep the musical thing going.
SR: Remember when KISS came back with all these musicians who said they had been influenced to get into a band because of them?
LK: Not me.
SR: No, not you but are there any strange band's that we wouldn't know about? I think the Ramones were.
LK: We influenced each other. We came out the same time. I remember they were visiting in England when we were still trying to get a record deal.
SR: I'm just overwhelmed with your first 21 years.
LK: Thank you.
SR: Is the 1996 Motorhead philosophy any different than the '75 Motorhead.
LK: It takes longer to get up in the morning. Apart from that, no, nothing has changed. There is still plenty of injustice to write about. Perhaps there is even more now. Perhaps I just know more about it now.
SR: Like in "Eat The Gun" about all these camouflage uniformed SAS-looking guys who're looking to kill a deer that has it's fur and four hoofs and that's it.
LK: Shoot them all, cut their heads off. (laughing)
SR: How was Concrete's Music Fest this year?
LK: We did a bad show as usual. Everything went wrong. We seem doomed at that event. We can't do a good show there. We played last year too and it was horrible. We did it this year and it was horrible.
SR: What was so horrible?
LK: All the gear went off in the second song.
SR: That's the damnest thing.
LK: Never mind.
SR: Biohazard played a new club here last week and the kept losing their sound.
LK: These places don't have enough electricity to put a band on. I don't know why they do it.
SR: What's been the biggest change in the music business in the last year or so?
LK: Obviously, they're trying to kill rock and roll again. They're not going to do it. They tried before with Elvis and the Beatles. Burn your Beatle memorabilia, pick up points all over the south. It really didn't work that well did it? It's not going to work this time either. There are bands out here that are playing and the fans go to watch them. It's no different. Everything is just fine. It's only the media who say it's dead. I don't see any people on the street saying it's f**kin' dead. They still come to the concerts and tell me that I've changed their lives and s**t.
SR: You know what? The European market, 44 countries, make up 95 percent of the CD business worldwide. Japan is 19 percent of the market and Germany is eight percent.
LK: It sure is. The South American market is really big now. Iron Maiden, Skid Row and us played to 56,000 in Sao Paulo three or four weeks ago. I wouldn't say rock and roll is dead. If it dies over here we can go over there til it revives itself. America should be ashamed of those statistics. One reason for this is that everybody plays video games today because the tickets are out priced. They're pricing themselves out of the f**kin' market. They're cutting their own throats.
SR: Are you into the internet thing?
LK: Not yet. It's kind of suspicious in a way. I think it's like 'Hello, FBI, here I am.' (laughing) It isn't but it looks like it might be.
SR: I think it could be but right now it's our only form of anarchy.
LK: I know but it's not going to last that way, is it?
SR: Yeah, I think it will.
LK: You're an optimist. I hope you're right.
SR: I'll catch up with you when you hit Austin.
LK: Great, I'll see you there.