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 new Lemmy interview

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PostSubject: new Lemmy interview   Tue 25 Aug 2009 - 14:03

I'll merge it with the Motorhead topic later....

From a recent Kerrang! Radio Interview:

"Motörhead frontman Lemmy began his career in the music industry with the Rockin’ Vicars, releasing a string of singles with the band before becoming a roadie for the legendary Jimi Hendrix. He went on to join space rockers Hawkwind, before being booted out of the band and experiencing a stint in prison after being arrested for drug smuggling. However, it was here that Lemmy’s rock legacy truly began, with the formation of Motörhead. 34 years, 21 studio albums, and a rockumentary later, Lemmy and Motörhead are still masters of their craft. Lemmy and Motörhead will be hitting the shores of the UK in November for their 2009 tour, supported by The Damned.

Kerrang!: You didn’t know your father for a long time, can you tell us what it was like growing up without your father around and then when your mum re-married.

Lemmy: It was just me and my mum and my granny. My granny watched me whilst my mum was at work, and of course I was still young so she had a couple of boyfriends, they never amounted to much. Then we moved up to Wales to a little cottage in Anglesey and she met this friend of my uncle Colin’s, her brother who she hadn’t seen for ages, and they finally got married and we moved in with them in this much bigger house, it was much better.

K!: You didn’t get on with your new siblings did you?

Lemmy: Not that well. They weren’t that special to me, they were older than me so I got disdained, like any youngest kid does. They weren’t very keen on him marrying again I don’t think, they had great memories of their mother and she died so I don’t know what they expected him to do. Just because people are your parents doesn’t mean that they don’t like sex or they don’t like having a companion. You can’t expect them to stay devoted to the missing parent.

K!: How did you get on with your new dad?

Lemmy: I got on all right with him; I was a mother’s boy really because she brought me up. I never really got into that father-son mode – “let’s go and kill something small and furry, son and prove we’re men!” I never got into that sort of number; I was always reading a book or something. I turned out funny for a booky person, didn’t I?

K!: We’ve heard that you didn’t enjoy school and you got bullied but then you turned into a bully yourself?

Lemmy: No, I never made the bully charter. I was the only English kid in a school of 700 Welsh and I wasn’t particularly biased, but they were! That’s where I learned to fight, but that’s also where I learned that fighting is stupid, because it doesn’t change anybody’s mind knocking them down, all it does it possibly make them hate you more, and they can always come behind you with a piece of pipe or get a bunch of their friends to come with them. There’s no point, you don’t win anything by fighting.

K!: Did school make much of an impression on you or was it something that you couldn’t wait to get over with?

Lemmy: Just waiting for it to be over. I got thrown out anyway, I got expelled.

K!: What for?

Lemmy: I struck the headmaster. I had a split finger - you can see this on radio boys and girls! - see that scar there, it goes right round to the nail, I did that in Paris on a school trip and it wouldn’t heal for ages, it was just hanging over and I just flopped it back and bandaged it up. It wouldn’t heal for ages and then it started healing and I had this bandage on my finger and the headmaster was going to give me 2 strokes of the cane on each hand for something or other, I forget what it was. I said, “can I have all four on this one because of, you know.” And he said, “no, hup, hup, hup boy.” Whack! Split it open on the first go and I though right, and I held this hand out and as the cane came down I pulled it off him and smacked him round the head with it. That was the end of my schooling! That was the end of my formal schooling anyway!

K!: When did you start getting in to music? Little Richard you’ve mentioned before, was he an influence?

Lemmy: Little Richard, Elvis, all the usual suspects. Then you had Bill Haley but he was intermediary, it was Elvis really. Elvis showed us how to look and he showed us how to dress, whereas Bill Haley was a tubby man in a tartan, plaid, awful jacket with that kiss curl. And he was old as well, he wasn’t as old as me but he was old! I went to see Black Boy Jungle when it came over, and Rock Around The Clock, even in Anglesey there were Teddy Boys dancing in the aisles, it was a riot. Then he came to England and it was sorrowful. They laid on a special train because he came by ship, there were no planes, he came by ship and then he came up to London in this special rock & roll train, it was miserable, the guy got off and he looked like my dad! Or at least an uncle! It wasn’t right. Then Presley showed up and he was correct. Cliff Richard was correct then, you wouldn’t believe it, Cliff Richard’s gimmick was he never smiled, can you believe it? You can’t stop him smiling now with a crowbar! He was the mean, moody one, he was our Elvis.

K!: Were any of those people your idols?

Lemmy: It was easier to have idols then; there were only about six of them! There was Elvis… Ritchie Valens was big, Buddy Holly was big, especially in England, he was bigger for much longer in England than he was in the States. He couldn’t get arrested in the end in America but even his posthumous records went to number one in England. Shame about Holly, I remember him dying, 3rd February ’59, terrible headline, “Pop Singer’s Dying Crash,” there were pictures of him. Cliff Richard, like I said. Marty Wilde was good for the home grown ones and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, they were great.

K!: When did you start going to gigs? We read that you saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club.

Lemmy: Yeah, that was later, I saw Billy Fury at the first one. He was big too; he was a great singer, died early. Billy Fury at the Llandudno Odeon, that was my first experience of chicks screaming their heads off all the way through a show. My god, they were loud! I don’t know where they got the energy.

K!: Did you then think, “That’s the job for me”?

Lemmy: Oh yeah! He was covered from head to foot in screaming pubescent girls, are you kidding? That’s the job for me all right! It’s still the job for me.

thanks to Pedal Bin from the Hawkwind forum.
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PostSubject: Re: new Lemmy interview   Tue 25 Aug 2009 - 14:04

K!: Can you tell us about the band you were in, where you dressed as vicars?

Lemmy: The Rockin’ Vicars… The Reverend Black and the Rockin’ Vicars. We weren’t really dressed as vicars per se, we had vicars collars and a black shirt on, then over that we had Finnish National costume the smock with the embroidery across it and skin tight white jeans with lace-up fly and reindeer skin boots that we got from Lapland. We were very flash, with hair down to our arse holes. Great fun. We were pretty wild, man! We used to smash up all our gear at the end of the show, like The Who. The Who were very impressive at the time.

K!: So that was your first taste of some success.

Lemmy: It was all local success in those days. You never thought you’d go to London, let alone abroad or anything like that, they weren’t the days for that. We did go abroad with the Vicars. We were the first band behind the Iron Curtain in Yugoslavia. We got the Red Army Orchestra, they got the Rockin’ Vicars! Lots of pictures taken with tractors and milk churns, it was terrible! We went to Finland where we had the number one record, you only had to sell about 200 records to be number one in Finland, it’s a pretty small population. But we did alright with the Vicars, we had Jag each, Harry had a Zephyr 6 which was a big car in those days, a speed boat, lived in this big apartment in Manchester in the posh area and we were all disporting ourselves on the lawn! Cheetham Hill, that’s where it was. All disporting ourselves on the lawn in towels, with long hair and chicks hanging round. They were bemused by us, they hated us. Us animals!

K!: What happened with the Rockin’ Vicars? How did that end?

Lemmy: We moved up to Blackpool after Manchester, and I saw Hendrix at the Blackpool Opera House. He was magic. He just stole the show, and I wanted to be playing that type of music, because the Vicars were very conservative in their choice of music, a lot of covers. I just wanted to do my own stuff and be wilder. So I went to London in ’67 and that was it, as they say!

K!: Why did you become Jimi’s roadie?

Lemmy: I went down there and the only person I knew in London was Neville. He used to be a roadie for The Who and The Merseybeats in Liverpool, and I called him up and said, “can I crash on your floor for a few days?” he said, “sure.” And I got there and he was sharing a flat with Noel Reading. I crashed on the floor for a few days, and they needed an extra guy and I was right there, so I got it, £10 a week.

K!: Did you become friends with Hendrix?

Lemmy: I wouldn’t say that. He was a good guy, but he was cataclysmically stoned all the time! He was a really well mannered guy, people now are saying he used to beat up chicks, I never saw any evidence of that, as far as I can see if a chick came in the room he would shoot to his feet, old fashioned good manners, open doors for chicks, I never saw him visit any kind of brutality on chicks at all. But then again, I didn’t see his more intimate moments.

K!: Is it true that he got you in to drugs?

Lemmy: No, no, no, I got me into drugs. I got me into drugs because I was curious. That’s how everybody gets into them, I think.

K!: Then you bumped into the guys from Hawkwind?

Lemmy: Yeah, I met Dik Mik who played audio generator, which was actually a ring modulator on a coffee table, or a card table, that green thing with a wah-wah pedal fixed to it and it went up out of human hearing and down out of human hearing. The interesting thing about that is that if it goes below human hearing it loosens your sphincter muscles and you s*** down your leg, and if it goes above human hearing it damages the thing in your ear, your balance in your ear and you fall down and throw up all over yourself! So with one thing or another it was quite an interesting thing. He used to come over, he used to wear a straw hat and a tambourine, he’d come over and say, “the blonde guy on the right,” (makes a noise). It was very hysterical!

K!: Did that teach you about stage craft? You’ve got the light shows and the women dancing around not wearing very much!

Lemmy: Well, with Hawkwind there wasn’t any stage craft, because nobody could see us, all they could see was the light show. We were just these five indistinct figures mooching about on the stage below this incredible scene, and I never got to see it. The only time I ever saw it was in still photographs or the very rare tape, because in those days there was no video cameras, there was just a huge, unwielding camera with no sound on it usually.

K!: And you had the dancer; that sounds like a good idea.

Lemmy: Yeah, she showed up one night in Devon at this gig, that where she’s from, and she took all her clothes off and painted herself blue and came on stage and writhed about. Then later on, I shared a hotel room with her for two tours and she used to come home with these young, inexperienced boys and initiate them into the joys of sex! It’s terrifying! These little kids, they thought it was their birthday! In a lot of ways it was.

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PostSubject: Re: new Lemmy interview   Tue 25 Aug 2009 - 14:04

K!: How did you get on with the guys in Hawkwind? Was it harmonious?

Lemmy: No, not really. The drug thing is very hierarchical. The acid people look down on the speed freaks and all that, I don’t know why, because they’re just as bad! I think the craving for the high is just the same, there’s no special dispensation that makes you smarter if you take acid. It was great on stage, I really enjoyed that band on stage, I would have never have left them, I would have put up with all the bad stuff, soldiered on to the very end, but they fired me in ’75.

K!: Tell us about what happened then and where that left you, how you felt?

Lemmy: It left me in Toronto with two suitcases and two guitar cases to bring home on my own, that’s where it left me! Completely pissed off, out of a job, broke, I had my air ticket I think and then I had to call the office when I got home to take me home in a cab. But then I had Motörhead formed by the end of ’75.

K!: It took 5 years for Motörhead to get successful and become big - did it feel at some points like you wouldn’t make it?

Lemmy: Eddie and Phil were going to leave and that’s why we called Ted Carroll from Chiswick Records. We wanted to do a posterity live album for the show at the Marquee, and Ted didn’t bring his mobile recording studio but he came along himself and he said, “I’ll send you down to do a single in Escape Studios,” down in Kent somewhere. It was owned by Speedy Keen, who was in Thunderclap Newman - who had the one big hit, Something In The Air. I think Jeff Beck owned part of it too. So we were down there for a few days and we did 11 backing tracks and no vocals and then Ted came down on the second day and we played him these 11 backing tracks and he was all jolly and bopping about so we knew we’d got him! I said, “can we put vocals on it?” He said, “yeah, put the vocals on it and we’ll do an album.” And that’s how we got the first Motörhead album out, and that was in ’77.

K!: That time when you were having huge success, do you have any favourite memories from then?

Lemmy: When you’re broke together, it’s always great fun, because you know no one’s stealing any money, because there isn’t any, and you get these great stories. At the time, we broke down in Bradford and we had to get brought home in a succession of AA wagons, winched into the back and we had to sit in the back freezing our arses off. You can swap experiences like that together, that’s why you have bands with all these in-jokes that nobody else understands, because you only have to say one word to bring everybody in the band back to that thing, nobody else will ever understand it. That’s how bands get close knit. We were very close knit.

K!: Was there anything like getting to a good position in the charts or playing a really good gig that stood out?

Lemmy: Well you get different objectives as you go along. First we wanted to play the Marquee and then we played the Marquee, and then we wanted to get a residency at the Marquee and then we got that, and then we wanted to play Hammersmith Odeon, and then we wanted to do a big tour on our own, and then you achieve that and another ridge appears with the next objective written on it. You just knock them down as they show up, and with a bit of luck you do alright, and we did alright. ’78 was Overkill, which got into the charts at about 12 or something, and then Bomber got in a bit higher, and Ace of Spades got in at 4, so we knew we were on a roll. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith went straight in at number 1, which is unprecedented. This was not in the regional heavy metal charts, this was in the national charts, so you can be proud of that, because it’s against everybody; it’s against ABBA and Barbara Streisand and everybody who was around. Going in at number 1 was I think one of our big moments, but then again, you can’t follow a live album that goes straight in at number 1, can you? We made a sub-standard album in our arrogance, Ironfist, which I never liked much.

K!: Skipping back, how did you make that switch to being a singer, because you weren’t a singer in Hawkwind? Did you find it difficult to stand up front?

Lemmy: No, I was a singer in bands before. Before even the Rockin’ Vicars, I was a singer in a couple of bands in Wales, I’d done that, so it was no problem. Then in the Motown Sect, I used to play harp and sing a couple of songs in the set and the singer would sing a couple of songs and play harp, swap over, so that was no problem. We did all right.

K!: You’re just known as Lemmy and there are action dolls of you, you became this rock icon, did you like that?

Lemmy: Well, you have no control over it after all, do you? People are just doing that stuff because they make money out of you, you have to realise that. It’s not because they love you. They can make a few bucks out of you, so they do that. What are you going to do? You can’t stop it. It’s like records, you can’t stop people doing them, and bootleg t-shirts, you can beat them with sandals until they move down the street fifty yards and sell them again, you can’t stop them, you grin and bear it.

K!: Do people expect you to be Lemmy 24 hours a day?

Lemmy: I always said that you stop being a journalist when you go home. I don’t, I’m Lemmy all the time. But I don’t mind. If you try to be famous all your life, don’t complain when you are, it’s miserable, isn’t it? I can’t stand all these people, “oh, the eye is constantly on me, I can’t bear it!” Stop making records and go back home and work in a sheet metal factory. The public are fickle, they’ll forget you in a year, you’ll be alright again, nobody will care who you are, won’t that be great! They want their cake and eat it too, you can’t do that, it doesn’t work.

K!: You like a drink and you’ve taken a fair amount of drugs over the years, but you’re completely unrepentant, there’s not a problem with it.

Lemmy: Why should I repent? Why should I? I wasn’t doing it with any malice or forethought for anybody, I was just doing what my entire age group did. If you don’t like it, go and wear another hat, turn me down if you like. It’s not important anyway where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going that’s important.

K!: What do you think about people going to rehab?

Lemmy: I just think that the people pretend that they never took drugs. “I’m clean now,” as if it’s a good thing! It’s all a personal joy, a lot of people died and a lot of people didn’t, a lot of people went into rehab and a lot of people didn’t. It’s a personal thing and it’s up to you.

K!: Did it ever become a problem or did you always keep control of it?

Lemmy: I was always in control of it. You can’t let it get control of you, you can let it do things for you and then when it gets to the point where you think, I can’t move a muscle if I don’t have something, then that’s bad, then it’s taking you. The only thing I ever saw anybody die on was heroin, and downers, which is a longing for heroin. I never did heroin, I always had enough sense, touch wood, to stay away from it because it killed my old lady and it killed a lot of my friends, and it didn’t kill them well. First it turns you into a thief and then it kills you. It’s a miserable drug, I wish people would realise that. It’s fashionable again now, isn’t it? Escapism. But you can only escape so far. When you wake up after escaping, the problem’s still there, so it’s worse.

K!: When did you move to LA and what prompted the decision to do that?

Lemmy: Once you’ve been to America once, then it is fascinating. Either you love it or you hate it, I think. A lot of people in Britain are Amerophobic; they hate America even before they’ve been there, it’s so false… like London isn’t! That always killed me. Los Angeles has the monopoly on false people, and there are at least as many good people, it doesn’t compute. Society is society anywhere in the world, you will find people who will screw you and people who will help you. That’s the only two kinds of people that there are, and they’re international.

K!: What’s your life like out there?

Lemmy: It’s just nice, because the sun belts down all the time and the women wear less clothing, and everything’s half price! Any questions? And it’s America; I’m living a stone’s throw from the real Hollywood, not something that looks like it from the West End or Islington or something like that, I’m living right by the real Hollywood with stars on the pavement! It’s great, I love all that stuff. We’ve got our own Guitar Centre, we’ve got a paving stone, the walk of fame, everyone’s put their hand in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the old Hollywood days, and I did that with one of them! Put an iron cross there in the middle of it!

K!: You had your first kid when you were 17 or 18, and you’ve had two and a half, you’ve said?

Lemmy: I’ve never seen him though, he was adopted at birth.

K!: So what’s your relationship been like with your kids? Apart from the one who you haven’t seen.

Lemmy: Well, I’ve only got the one other one that I know about, that’s Paul, he lives in LA now. I see quite a lot of him, a lot more than I did when he was growing up, which is a shame, but I was on the road and he wasn’t. He’s a better guitar player than me anyway! He’s a great guitar player. I was so good on the guitar, I became a bass player!

K!: What people throughout your life do you think have made you the person you are?

Lemmy: Everybody I’ve ever met. Everybody has an affect upon you whether it’s to encourage you not to be like them or to be like them. You have your heroes and villains. Everybody really. Everybody I ever met had something to offer in terms of knowledge.

K!: What other musicians would you count as good friends over the years?

Lemmy: Dave Grohl, he’s a great guy. Phil Campbell from Motörhead, he’s been with me for 25 years so he must be a good friend. Tim, my roadie, Dan, my personnel guy, Eddie, our tour manager, the whole band is a family, and crew. Dave Edmunds, I wouldn’t say I was a great friend of Dave Edmunds but he gave me a lot of inspiration and he was a good friend, he did the first four tracks that Motörhead ever did, he produced them, he was great. Mogsy from the Rockin’ Vicars, he was funny, obviously the meanest man in the world and he learned it from his father. I went round his house once and I said, “can I use your toilet?” and he said, “yeah, it’s at the top of the stairs on the left,” and I was half way up the stairs and his dad skidded out the front room, “only use 4 sheets!” It’s terrible, isn’t it? Steve Vai, he played on one of our albums, and Slash, I get on really good with Slash.

K!: You’ve basically met everyone, haven’t you?

Lemmy: Pretty much, except Elvis and the Everly Brothers, and I never met Little Richard. I don’t want to meet him now, because he’s had it. I’ve seen him play live in the last 4 or 5 years and he’s no good any more, he can still do it but he doesn’t do it, he sits there telling stories and hands out bibles. This is not what I came to see!"
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PostSubject: Re: new Lemmy interview   Tue 25 Aug 2009 - 22:13

Very interesting. I love that kind of interview, particularly when dealing with early years of mythical bands (but not only 'bout that), not just "hello, when does the next record come? what about the tour?".. He's still being an interesting guy. Let's put some Motörhead in the CD player.
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