Tommy Lee Talks Mötley Crüe and Poison Tour, Electronic Music, "Due Date" and More
Mon, 14 Mar 2011 12:58:39
"People know they're going to see some crazy shit," says Tommy Lee of the Mötley Crüe live experience. "That's the one thing that keeps them coming back."
They'll have reason to attend this summer when Mötley Crüe hits the road with Poison for a national tour that promises to bring "some crazy shit" and then some. This pairing promises to be one of the biggest, brightest, and most bombastic this summer, and it's bound to go down in history as one of the best jaunts that either legendary rock 'n' roll band has embarked upon. However, as always, Tommy Lee has an endless number of projects firing on all cylinders.
His most recent Methods of Mayhem album, A Public Disservice Announcement, is locked and loaded with all kinds of unforgettable anthemic hard rock. Meanwhile, he's been spinning up a storm in venues across the U.S., bringing his own brand of propulsive electronic music to the masses and sparking up dance parties and mosh pits wherever he goes.
Tommy Lee sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Mötley Crüe and Poison's summer tour, DJ-ing, some recent favorite flicks, and so much more.
How did the idea for the Mötley Crüe and Poison tour come together?
For awhile, it's something that the fans have been asking for. When promoters and enough people start asking you to do something, you're like, "Ah, okay, cool! Let's go do it!" [Laughs]
So was the tour created by that demand?
Pretty much! That's definitely how the ball started getting rolling. Then, we started kicking around some band names. The New York Dolls came up first, and it was like, "Yeah, that sounds awesome!" That's how it all started.
Do you remember the first time you heard Poison?
I think the first time I had seen or heard of them was a video. It was "Talk Dirty To Me." I remember seeing them, and I was tripping out, going, "Wow, these guys are kind of like us!" [Laughs] There was something a little different musically, which I remember liking. It was less metal or rock; it was more pop. It was more like Cheap Trick. Even in the riffs, you could hear it. I thought the riff in "Talk Dirty To Me" was a bit like a Cheap Trick riff. I was a big Cheap Trick fan growing up, and that's my first experience of Poison.
Is there anything about this summer's stage show that you're particularly thrilled about? What do you build the show from? Does it start from the setlist?
We're just getting started here. We've got some production meetings and stuff like that. It starts with a concept or a feel, and then we put the music around it. The music hasn't changed. We have our catalog of songs that we play. That pretty much stays the same, other than the order it's played in or different versions we create. As far as the show goes, we put the show together and figure out how to get all in there and make one big crazy rock show.
What's been your favorite stage setup from recent tours?
I really thought that the Dr. Felgood show was fucking rad. It was the one where we started out in a tiny box that was like a little padded cell on stage during CrüeFest 2009. That was fucking retarded, man [Laughs]. I like things that are forced perspective. We looked like these giant people in this little box with the room shrunk down and that room opened up into that gigantic stage. I love shit like that. Anytime you can fuck with everybody's mind like that, I'm in [Laughs]. That was probably one of my recent favorites. Going back a little further, the Carnival of Sins tour was pretty fucking epic. People remember those big moments. You remember that whole thing took place under a big-ass circus tent. There were flying drums and all kinds of wild shit. Those two are probably my most recent favorites.
During the Dr. Feelgood show, the stage show evolved with the songs.
Yes! It was definitely Transformer-ish and it kept taking on different shapes. There was a two-minute intermission where the set completely changed with this whole steam punk vibe. That was cool. I think that's the one thing people have grown to know—when they're coming to see Crüe play, they're going to get a fucking insane show that probably the other 42 bands who came through town that year didn't bring. That's for damn sure.
Is there any chance that you and Poison may share some stage time together?
It's still early! Who knows? You never know with that kind of stuff. We'll see what happens.
Is it especially gratifying to see young kids in the audience with their parents?
Of all the things that give you goosebumps and leave marks on you as an artist, that was a fucking huge one. I don't think there's anything cooler than looking out there, seeing a four-year-old kid on his dad's shoulders with his fucking devil horns up in the air screaming, "Shout At The Devil." You're like, "What the fuck?" [Laughs] Right there, my man, that is of epic proportions. It doesn't get any better than a whole new generation of people rocking to your shit. It doesn't get any better than that; it's fucking amazing. That's a big stamp saying, "You guys are going to be around for a long fucking time." You know?
It's a testament to the music. People are always going to need this kind of release.
They're always going to need some kind of release. It's nice to be a part of one of many releases that they look for in their lives.
Does it get challenging to always up the ante live?
That's the fun part [Laughs]. You put a couple of guys in a room—it's usually Nikki Sixx and I—and we just go nuts. Especially now, with the way technology is, anything that you can imagine, you can have. That's scary! They've got to get us out of the room. They're like, "Guys, you're spending way too much money!" That always happens [Laughs]. We call them "Dr. No." That's when the accountant comes through and goes, "You guys are out of your fucking minds!" We've typically always done that. We take the money that we've made and put it right back into the show because, why not?
Are you working on new music?
We haven't started yet. Nikki and I have both been busy making music for other projects. Everybody has been doing his thing. A lot of times, we write shit during soundcheck. Someone will bang out a drum beat or a bass or guitar riff, and we'll say, "Fuck, someone record this really quick! This is dope!" It's rare that all four of us are together unless we're on tour. That's always a good place to start stockpiling some ideas. I have a studio on my bus too. I'm sure this summer we'll end up throwing some shit down. We'll see what happens as far as new music goes.
Do Mötley Crüe, Methods of Mayhem, and your DJ project all come from different creative places? Or, is it all one mindset?
They're all really different. They're very different but all connected. I'm inspired daily by different styles of music constantly. It really comes from all over the place. I remember when I was first getting into the electronic music scene, and the hardcore Mötley fans were like, "What the fuck is he doing?" [Laughs] It was the strangest thing to me, when people would say that. I'm a drummer though; it makes all the sense in the world. I've seen 80,000 people pogo-ing up and down and moshing to The Prodigy, and there's not one guitar anywhere near the building. There's some serious energy in electronic music.
A lot of metal musicians have been crossing over to electronic music. You set a bit of a precedent.
Totally! I just got off a tour with Skrillex. For all of February, we went around and fucking ripped it. It's that same energy. I know the difference. I've been to and been a part of many chaotic shows. We're sitting there playing a place like Webster Hall, and we're playing some hard ass electronic music. People are moshing and fucking diving off of the stage. I'm talking about crazy punk rock shit to electronic music. It's pretty wild. People in the rock world would trip the fuck out.
There's not that much of a difference between electro and metal at the end of the day.
You totally see that. Guys like myself and Skrillex have played humongous crowds and being a drummer I know what makes people fucking jump and down and move. You take that stuff and interject it into a new style. You're bringing in your rock influences and electronic influences and balling it all up into one. You've got yourself a pretty explosive combination.
Have you seen any good movies recently?
I watched a movie the other night with my girlfriend that had a really cool ending. It was It's Kind of a Funny Story with Zach Galifianakis. They're in a nut house, and it's very One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It's a really cool movie with a cool story. I just saw Due Date, and that was pretty funny!
Will you be there this summer?
For more Tommy Lee click here!
For our exclusive video interview with Nikki Sixx click here!
Photo By: Kevin Estrada