By Sarah L. Myers
New York, NY, USA
The first thing Lemmy does is laugh. “It’s getting a bit silly!” he says of the latest premiere for the film about his life. Maybe this one’s more welcome because it’s in LA. Lemmy, as the film reminds us, is LA. Alice Cooper calls him a pirate, Billy Bob Thornton describes him as the rock god/ biker/ guy-who-works-at-the-car-wash, and Nikki Sixx says he doesn’t fit Hollywood at all - Hollywood has to fit him.
His name is just as rock n’ roll as the life he leads, and the life he leads is just as loud as Motorhead. (The loudest band in the world according to the Guinness Book). But the film also shows us what a nice, humble man he is. He’ll offer you a cigarette first before lighting one for himself, and if you’re with Lemmy, you’re drinking with Lemmy, so he’ll always make sure your glass is full. He has nothing but friends in the business, one of whom is Dave Grohl, who gives us some of the best scenes in the movie. It’s like being in hard rock locker room listening to the two friends discuss their own heroes. Dave’s was Little Richard…until he met Lemmy, that is.
I’ve interviewed Lemmy many times, the last being in Austin, Texas, where another premiere and two shows were the focus. I thought it was pretty intimate drinking with Lemmy in his room. Almost a year later, I’m in his apartment in LA drinking that same Jack and Coke under the watchful eye of many Lemmys. His likeness is everywhere, in dolls, action figures, album covers, and fan-made art from all over the world. His signature onstage regalia fill many racks, with three for his hats alone. One stands out - an "Over the Hill!" candle-covered birthday top hat, which he gives to me before I leave.
Motorhead’s 28th record, “The World is Yours” is released early this month, followed by another worldwide tour. What else do you expect? As Lemmy himself states, “It’s Motorhead”.
THIRSTY: Tell me about the LA premiere for the movie!
Lemmy: Oh, it was ok, you know. A lot of our friends went down. You know, it’s not a bad documentary, it’s not too embarrassing, not enough to leave the theatre before the lights came on, you know! It was alright, everybody like cheered and everything, which is really nice, bring polite, you know?
THIRSTY: Who all came out for the film?
Lemmy: Steve Vai came up, cause he’s in it, you know. Older guys from the Rainbow that were on it. Mostly everybody I know from LA showed up, you know? Pascal there, he’s the second biggest bootmaker in the States right now. From nowhere two years ago. Not bad is it?
THIRSTY: You have such a signature look, too, with your boots and hats. I know you pick up a lot of your hats along the way.
Lemmy: Yeah, truck stops mostly.
THIRSTY: Truck stops are great for coffee mugs, too!
Lemmy: I don’t really go much for coffee mugs cause I don’t, like, drink coffee.
THIRSTY: You can get really good Elvis ones.
Lemmy: An Elvis coffee mug. “Live at the…”! The last place was, what was it? What was that last place he played? Philadelphia wasn’t it?
THIRSTY: Indianapolis. My mom was actually there.
Lemmy: Indianapolis, that’s right.
THIRSTY: What other clothing do you have that’s custom made?
Lemmy: My trousers are custom made, too. Shirts I got off the peg, at truck stops! (laughs) And also from places like the Boot Barn in Vegas, we always stop in there. I mean any Western store, I like Western shirts, you know?
THIRSTY: When I saw you in Texas, you were getting ready to go shopping. Did you pick up some new stuff on that tour?
Lemmy: Yeah, I got this belt buckle. A bit flash! A couple of bits and pieces, yeah. Got another hat. It’s that light colored one at the bottom of that pile. Stuff, you know?
The World is Yours
THIRSTY: I love this birthday hat.
Lemmy: Yeah, I know! (laughs) You want it? It’s just taking up space.
THIRSTY: What’d you do after that last premiere in Austin? Did you have some down time here in LA?
Lemmy: Yeah, what we were doing back then? In the life of Motorhead it’s like a year ago. I came back to the studio, I think, yeah. Then we went out last summer for festivals in Europe, like we do every year. And here we are, you know?
THIRSTY: So you didn’t have any down time at all.
Lemmy: I don’t need down time. What for?
THIRSTY: When you’re home, do you like staying in and relaxing, or do you prefer being busy?
Lemmy: Oh, both, you know what I mean? You don’t want to be out of work all the time, cause you fucking, you get out of rhythm, you know? But doing interviews everyday gets kind of worrying and they all ask the same questions, you know? You’d better not ask the same questions! This is my day off, you understand.
THIRSTY: Well, thank you. Thank you for inviting me out here, I was so excited to come over. The last interview we did in Austin was such a huge hit, and that thing you said about listening to Evanescence was really picked up all over the world. Everyone is really interested in what you do in your off time, like what you listen to.
Lemmy: Well, I wasn’t doing Amy Lee. (laughs) Well, Skunk Anansie reformed, which is great news for me, you know? They’re my favorite band I think. I went to see them in London a little while ago. You know they reformed, right? I went to see them in London the day before we played Brixton Academy, they played there so we went down. They were fucking amazing. She walks out on the crowds’ hands. Twice, just in case you missed it the first time. Case you’re at the bar or something, you know. They were so good.
THIRSTY: Are you listening to anything else? Or have you seen any films lately that you’ve liked?
Lemmy: Not particularly. You know, you listen to bits and pieces. Watched a couple of things in hotels, you know.
THIRSTY: The new Head Cat record is already out, right? You’d played it for me in Austin, I’m so excited “Somethin Else” is on it. It’s my favorite Head Cat cover.
Lemmy: No, it’s not out yet. We finished it. (“Somethin Else”) is Eddie Cochran. I’ll play it for you in a minute, if you want.
THIRSTY: There’s got to be a story about every piece in this apartment.
Sarah and Lemmy in his apartment
THIRSTY: I love, in the movie, when you say your son Paul is your favorite possession in the apartment.
Lemmy: Yeah, he’s a good boy. He’s a dirty little bastard, you know. We swapped girlfriends twice.
THIRSTY: Tell me about the new Motorhead record.
Lemmy: It’s out on February the 10th or something, I’m not sure. I’ll play you that, too, if you like…We’re playing about three (new) songs I think, but we’re doing two right now in the set. (“Get Back in Line”) and “I Know How to Die”.
THIRSTY: Briefly tell me when you wrote those and what was the inspiration?
Lemmy: In the studio. War, death, sex, and pain.
THIRSTY: What have you been reading recently? Did you read the new Stephen King?
Lemmy: Yeah, I read that. Short stories, that one? Yeah, I read that, it was pretty good.
THIRSTY: How do you choose songs for the Head Cat records?
Lemmy: We fight. (laughs) Well, it’s like, you know, you suggest things, some of them get picked and some of them don’t get picked. So it’s like that, you know.
THIRSTY: I have to ask you about your Grammy (for their version of Metallica’s “Whiplash”) in that case over there. You hold that in pretty high regard?
Lemmy: The case was there already. (laughs) So I cleared out the top shelf, you know. I mean, if it was for one of our songs I’d be a lot more excited about it.
THIRSTY: What else can we expect on the new tour?
Previous Thirsty interviews with Lemmy: April 2010, September 2008 and July 2007