Interview with Lemmy 6-20-2000
By Ronnie

The tone for the interview was set early as I first met Lemmy right after Motorhead's sound check. He was probably not in the best of moods because some radio station kept coming through the sound system (Spinal Tap deja vu?). We were walking down a long corridor to his dressing room; the walls all adorned with garish "artwork". Lemmy stops dead in his tracks and looks at one of the "pictures". It was either a fish or a bird, you couldn't really tell. "What is this crap?!", Lemmy shouts and proceeds to rip the offending "artwork" off the wall! I'm thinking to myself, "I'm in the presence of one of the true godfathers of punk!"

E.C.: Being a rock music fan myself, I first wanted to ask you about some stories I've heard about you. Were you really a roadie for Jimi Hendrix?

Lemmy: Yeah, about 8 months...

E.C.: Did you ever get to interact with him?

Lemmy: Interact isn't the correct word & no, we didn't interact in those days, we met people. (laughs) I used to score acid for him.

E.C.: I've also heard that you are a huge Beatles fan?

Lemmy: Best band ever on the earth.

E.C.: Didn't you get to see them live at the Cavern?

Lemmy: Beatles? Yeah...anything you want to know about the Beatles, I'm your boy.

E.C.: I also read that the Beatles inspired you to get into music?

Lemmy: No, not really...they confirmed my beliefs. It was Little Richard that got me into music, the same one that got them into music. Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, all them & Chuck Berry.

E.C.: I'd like to ask you about some of the films you've been in. Weren't you in a movie with Paul (McCartney) called, "Eat the Rich"?

Lemmy: Yeah, not at the same time, though.

E.C.: I also saw your appearance on "The Young Ones" in the 80's.

Lemmy: Funny enough, it [The Young Ones] hasn't aged well...

E.C.: Your first album came out in 1977 in the middle of the punk explosion. What did you consider Motorhead, since they obviously weren't punk?

Lemmy: Were not really metal either & were a rock and roll band. After 25 years we should just be called Motorhead Music.

E.C.: Led Zeppelin used to get pissed off when they were called a heavy metal band...

Lemmy: They weren't, they were a blues band & and that's what we are really. You hear a lot of blues in Motorhead.

E.C.: You've influenced a lot of the speed metal bands that appeared in the 80's...

Lemmy: They've just got the wrong bit. They think that being fast and loud is the whole thing and it isn't. The guitar solos are not really difficult for a guitar player, it's just playing scales. To feel a solo and bend into it & I mean Hendrix is the best guitarist you've ever seen in your life. And he learned from people like Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins and people like that inspired Hendrix. To be influenced by something, you're gonna have to play it the same. And these guys are influenced by us, but I don't feel any kinship with them. Cause theirs is vastly inferior to ours.

E.C.: You cover "God Save the Queen" on your newest record...

Lemmy: Oh, you noticed that (deadpans)

E.C.: A lot of bands have tried to cover Sex Pistols songs...

Lemmy: The only one I heard that was any good was Megadeth's "Anarchy".

E.C.: A lot of other bands at that time saw punk as a threat. Did you feel an affinity with the punk bands when they first came out?

Lemmy: We had gigs with the Damned & I always felt more kinship with the punk bands than the metal bands cause I mean, we had a lot more in common with the Damned than Black Sabbath. I mean we have nothing in common at all with Judas Priest. There's like the Damned, the Pistols, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers before he fucked up again. They were great, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers. When they first came to London and he was relatively clean they were tight as a crabs ass. But then, there they go again, heroin one more time helped a generation through their problems.

E.C.: You have one of the most recognizable voices in rock. Do you see yourself as a rock icon?

Lemmy: People keep telling me I'm one & I'm kinda tired of being a fucking icon.

E.C.: I know that "Ace of Spades" is covered by a lot of fledgling bands.

Lemmy: It's an easy song to play, you know & not like rocket science. Since everyone thought that song was so great, how come they didn't buy our later albums?! That's what puzzles me, cause it doesn't work like that for anybody else. Everyone has 'great songs on this album, lets buy the next album'-it doesn't happen with us.

E.C.: When Motorhead first started in 1975, did you have any idea that they would still be going on a quarter of a century later?

Lemmy: Fuck no...

E.C.: The original name that you had for the band was "Bastard", but your manager changed your mind. You know that you could easily get away with a band name like that these days! It would actually be tame compared to some of the names out there.

Lemmy: Yeah, we found one band in Holland called, "Black Cunt" & and then there was "Semen of Satan". And I thought I'd seen it all and the month after saw in a magazine "Satan's Penis". It for shock value, rather than playing the music? It's like Satan "ooh ooh ooh". I mean, it's not very exciting is it? I say fuck satan, you're responsible for your own deeds. YOU'RE responsible for your own mistakes. And, it's your responsibility to leave the world a better place than when you came into it for your passage through it. That's what you're supposed to do. It's not about God or the devil or freakin' anybody & YOU'RE responsible. You've got to assume responsibility for your own actions. You can't go around blaming' the devil & 'oh, he made me do it' & fuck off!

E.C.: I saw you guys live on the last tour and I've heard the new album. Motorhead is definitely NOT going through the motions like a lot of other older bands.

Lemmy: No, they're not...

E.C.: What makes such a difference?

Lemmy: We believe in what were doing & they obviously didn't. They got together for just the money and you're just going through the motions for the money.

E.C.: Is it because the band feels so at-home on the road?

Lemmy: I've spent nearly my whole life on the fucking road.

E.C.: My fave Motorhead album of all time is "Ace of Spades", but "We Are Motorhead" is a close second...

Lemmy: I think the new album kills "Ace of Spades", it just hasn't seen 15 years to appreciate it yet. I'm sure we're gonna be like Van Gogh, who couldn't sell a painting while he was alive. And then we're gone and everybody will be queuing up to buy.

E.C.: Are there any new bands that have caught your attention?

Lemmy: Not many...except the Skunking Anansa from England, you heard them? They are on Virgin. And the Skwskian from Berlin, they are kinda like AC/DC and Janis Joplin.

E.C.: It seems that every year we get less and less great new bands?

Lemmy: That's right & fucking people like Limp Bizkit, I don't understand it. I don't understand their success. What the fuck is this, its just rubbish! You're just garage attendants with fucking gas masks on & I mean I don't mind kids having their own thing, I'm all for it. When you're 17, you want a 17-year-old band to play for you, you don't want these old fuckers like me. I understand that & but Slip Knot is just crap! And I know crap when I hear it, been listening to it all my life you know? And that's crap, believe me & it's a good example of crap. A lot of these new bands have a riff and no song. I was brought up to admire songs. A good well crafted song. Like the Beatles were 5 years into their career and they were doing "Yesterday".

E.C.: The Stones and the Beach Boys are still at it. And some of the 70's bands like AC/DC have never really slowed down.

Lemmy: AC/DC is the only good one out of the three you just mentioned. And the Stones are all tapes now. And so are the Beach Boys. They keep trying to get Brian Wilson on the road and he's just like barmy. What are you gonna do, he's a loony?

E.C.: Is there an age where a band is too old to play rock and roll?

Lemmy: I saw Chuck Berry when he was 66 and he seemed just fine to me!

E.C.: Can we expect Motorhead to make it well into their 4th decade as a band, like the Rolling Stones have done?

Lemmy: Yep, we're in our third now & I don't think we'll be far into our 4th decade, I mean if you're the size of the Stones you can afford to do it. Cause you can buy all the stuff that makes you sound better.

E.C.: Well, the Stones haven't had a good album since the 70's, but they keep breaking records in gross receipts from concert tours..

Lemmy: Well, cause people want to see if Keith will die on stage (deadpans). That's why you used to go see Johnny Thunders, to see if he'll walk into the orchestra pit again.

E.C.: I was just talking to a friend who was watching a countdown on VH1 called the #1 rock and roll bad asses of all time and he said you were #5.

Lemmy: Did you see who was above me?

E.C.: No, I talked to him right before we started the interview.

Lemmy: Shows you what VH1 is worth & Courtney Love was probably above me & you know, I don't wanna be on that list.

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