Tommy Lee is the greatest drummer of all time
Tommy Lee: "I don't have a timetable for my craziness"
In the 80s he became a superstar with the hard rockers from Mötley Crüe. Tommy Lee also caused quite a stir in his private life. In an interview with t-online he talks about his antics and explains why he doesn't care about the attitude of some fans.
Teased hair, make-up, boots with heels and still upside-down pentagrams: Mötley Crüe defined the sound and look of heavy metal of the 80s. Drummer Tommy Lee, however, kept up with the times. In the 90s he cut his hair, rapped with another band and married Pamela Anderson. Even if he will go on tour with Mötley Crüe again, Tommy Lee is in the mood for fresh sounds. So he surprises with an album that is more dubstep and electro than hard'n'heavy.
t-online: You always played music with men in your bands. On your new solo album "Andro" you also have women like Push Push on the microphone. Is it something different for you to work with a singer?
Tommy Lee: It's something else. At Mötley Crüe we also worked with women, but they were mostly background singers. Now it was a cool way to make music with female singers. It's a lot of fun and it's cool. But it is different whether you work with a man or a woman. Phew, how am I supposed to explain that?
Sometimes you do things differently than you would with a guy. You have to adapt to something. But it was exciting.
Did one of the singers ask you about Mötley Crüe? Some of the lyrics could be interpreted as sexist today.
In fact not. The girls I've worked with never approached me about it. Push Push, for example, is wild and a little indecent in itself. Mötley Crüe were not an issue there.
In terms of sound, your new album doesn't sound like I would have expected.
That's a good thing!
At least very surprising. I think most people expect you to have a rock album, now you make electronic music. Where did you get the guts to dare to do something radically different?
I think it's heavy at times. I don't want to meet any expectations either. My solo records or the ones with Methods of Mayhem are stylistically totally different from Mötley Crüe.
Most of your fans will also be fans of Mötley Crüe and will be more of the rock genre. Are you concerned that for some people your new record will be too electronic?
I'm really in an interesting position there. Of course, it is important to a part of me what these Mötley fans say. But someone else doesn't care, because then I wouldn't be able to make new music. I can't always write songs that sound like Mötley Crüe.
Tommy Lee 1983: Upper body, make-up and pentagrams were part of it back then. (Source: imago images / MediaPunch)
Did you do all the programming?
Yeah, I love making music so much. I actually did this back in the 80s. Even before Mötley Crüe made "Girls Girls Girls". That was around 84. I had just bought my first Mac. There was software called "Performer". I just started playing around with it. It was a whole new world for me. I was blown away at what you can do with a little editing and putting together with music.
Did you use the lockdown to "play around" a bit again?
No, I started in 2017 and worked in my home studio for over two years.
What does a day in the life of Tommy Lee look like? Playing music in the basement for two hours and then back to the family?
Hmm, sometimes all day. (laughs) Sometimes I would look at the clock and it would be 2 in the morning. But when I'm working on something, I have to implement it, otherwise I'll forget about it. I don't have a specific timetable for my craziness. (laughs)
In 1989 Mötley Crüe reached their commercial high point with "Dr. Feeldgood". The LP has sold over six million times in the US alone. (Source: imago images / ZUMA Press)
What I actually found more amazing than the music were the guest singers on the songs. We already mentioned push push. The singers are all not really known. Surely you could have got anyone ...
I've already recorded songs with Snoop Dogg, Kid Rock or Lil Kim. That was great, but I've never worked with such newcomers. These are all people that just came to my mind. I just contacted people. A day or two later we were mostly in the studio.
Did you know the guests beforehand and did you just call them or did you have to make more formal inquiries?
I knew about half of them because I'd worked with them or met them. I contacted others in other ways or just wrote to them on Instagram.
How did the unknown artists react? Surely they didn't get up in the morning and expected Tommy Lee to write to them.
No, that surprised some. (laughs) Killvein, the rapper who can be heard on "Knock Me Down", for example. He later told me that he initially thought I was a fake account. He couldn't imagine that I would just write to him like that. (laughs).
Tommy Lee's new album "Andro" will be released on October 16th. On October 17 and 18, the drummer will also ensure a whole weekend of party atmosphere on MTV. There are videos by and with Tommy Lee, but also rock greats like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Korn or Green Day.
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