I (sort of) interviewed the infamous Lemmy of Motorhead for the September 2008 issue of Melt Magazine.
It was to be the opportunity of a lifetime, one that I could brag about for years to come the same way I brag about Joey Ramone taking my interview virginity back in 1990 when I was just a cub college reporter. Lemmy, Motorhead’s outspoken singer and bassist, was going to call me just hours before hitting a Texas stage as the second of four bands on the Masters of Metal tour which also featured Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell (aka Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals) and Testament.
By all accounts, Motorhead was holding their own on this tour (and nobody should have thought they wouldn’t be able to), a friend of mine even texting me from the Pittsburgh show a few weeks earlier to say that, “The dude may be 62 years old but he’s STILL GOT IT”.
After playing phone tag with somebody from Motorhead’s management team on Saturday afternoon, the call finally came in at 10:30pm saying that Lemmy was behind schedule all day and would call the next afternoon at 5pm. Sure enough, at almost 5 on the nose, I answered the phone to be greeted by Lemmy’s voice and the interview started.
Me: You’ve done package tours like the Masters of Metal before. How does this stack up compared to the other packages you’ve been part of?
Lemmy: It’s a very good one; we’ve got four great bands.
Me: Motorhead has toured in the past with both Judas Priest and Black Sabbath but never with all 3 bands on the same bill. Is this tour sort of like summer camp where you haven’t seen these guys all school year but now have the chance to get together and have fun all summer long?
Lemmy: It’s just like that. Old friends, war stories, you know.
Me: Is it hard to find people on this tour to keep up with you with all your post-show partying?
Lemmy: Everybody’s got different habits. I mean, I go to the strip clubs and these guys don’t. The guys in the other bands don’t usually hang ….
Me: Hello? Lemmy? You still there?
The call had been dropped, maybe by the cell phone Lemmy was using, maybe due to the thunderstorm that rolled in (rather fittingly just as Lemmy called). When the representative from the management team called back, he said Lemmy had stepped out to “freshen his drink” and that’d he call back soon.
He never did.
While it would have been ideal to chat away the afternoon with the man’s whose name is synonymous with “heavy metal”, Motorhead’s music really speaks for itself. Very few bands have stayed on course over the duration of a career the length of Motorhead’s without taking a shot at bigger and better things and maybe compromising their values in search of the almighty dollar. Not so with Motorhead, which was started after Hawkwind bassist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmeister left that band in 1975 to start something heavier and louder.
And heavy and louder Motorhead is, even when stacked up against today’s crop of metal bands. Without a doubt, Motorhead has been one of the most influential bands in the metal world since their formation, their stacked sound which blends metal with certain punk qualities serving as the blueprint for bands ranging from Avenged Sevenfold to Metallica.
Motorizer is Motorhead’s 20th studio album (don’t even try to count all the live albums, greatest hits, bootlegs, etc.) and, if it’s possible, the trio sounds as energized and heavy as ever, Phil Campbell’s guitar playing sounding particularly amazing on tracks like “Teach You How to Sing the Blues” and “When the Eagle Screams” which finds the shredder keeping company — metaphorically speaking — with the likes of Kerry King (Slayer), Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and Dimebag Darrell (Pantera). Lemmy honors his punk roots (hell, Motorhead started within the same year as bands like the Sex Pistols and The Ramones) on the speedy “Rock Out” (chorus: “Rock out / With your cock out”) and throws out opinions about the current war situation on “The Thousand Names of God”. Basically, more of the same from a band who has constantly delivered quality metal for the better part of 4 decades.