Sunday, 19 January 2020

Motörhead: We Talked To Lemmy About "March Ör Die" & Got The Scoop On New Drummer Mikkey Dee For AMP #1

Originally published in American Music Press #1 (October 1992)
Interview by Devorah Ostrov & Schneider

Motörhead at the time of this interview
L-R: Lemmy, Würzel, Mikkey Dee, and Phil Campbell
March ör Die (WTG/Epic) is Motörhead's latest offering, but it comes with a new drummer.

Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor has been officially replaced by mighty skins-basher Mikkey Dee, whose claims to fame include stints with King Diamond and Don Dokken.

Although Philthy parted ways with the group once before (to work on a project with Brian Robertson; he returned a couple of years later), this time his departure looks to be more permanent and not without some turmoil.

Philthy seems to have left/been sacked early on in the recording process, as he only appears on one track: "I Ain't No Nice Guy" (which also features Slash on lead guitar and guest vocalist Ozzy Osbourne). Tommy Aldridge — previously with Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers, and Whitesnake among others — plays drums on everything else except "Hellraiser" which features Mikkey. To get the scoop, we spoke with Mikkey and iconic Motörhead frontman Lemmy.

Back row L-R: Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee & Würzel
Lemmy front and center!
AMP: Mikkey, what's the first thing you did when you found out you were Motörhead's new drummer?

Mikkey: I gathered my thoughts and thought about how I was going to approach the whole thing. I had to sit down and kick back for a while and think about it.

AMP: You didn't shout "Whoopee!" and get drunk?

Mikkey: Oh, I probably did — but it wasn't just because of being in Motörhead. I get drunk all the time! I was happy, don't get me wrong. I was super happy! But work comes first. After I got my shit together, of course we went out and shot down a couple of tequilas... and fifteen beers!

AMP: How did you originally meet Lemmy and the guys?

Mikkey: I've known these guys for years! King Diamond opened for Motörhead in Europe in 1987. Lemmy actually asked me at that time if I wanted to join the band, but I turned him down.

AMP: Was this when Philthy had quit before?

Mikkey: No, this was when Phil was back in the band again!

AMP: What?! Phil was in the band and Lemmy asked you to join? This sounds like a big scandal!

Mikkey: Not really. They had problems with him. It's no secret. Not personal, but playing-wise. As Lem says himself [in someone else's interview], when Philthy came back it didn't sound as good as it used to, and he didn't seem to have that much fun. When they toured with King Diamond, they kind of fell in love with my drumming, and we got along good. We were talking about it, you know, and we always kept in contact over the years.

AMP: Lemmy, tell us about the new album, March ör Die. Does it reflect your state of mind at the moment?

The classic three-piece Motörhead lineup (circa "Ace of Spades")
L-R: Lemmy, Philthy, Fast Eddie Clarke
Lemmy: It's not completely autobiographical. If it was, I'd be baring my soul to the nation — and I do that all the time! Basically, what I'm saying is that we're all fucking doomed, so there's no need to lay down and whimper about it.

AMP: "Cat Scratch Fever" was a cool choice for a cover song. Has Ted Nugent heard your version?

Lemmy: Yeah, he doesn't like it. Probably because it's better than the original!

AMP: Motörhead's last album, 1916, was killer! But if you weren't already a Motörhead fan, you weren't likely to hear about it. What happened?

Lemmy: No promotion. Our record company's got no budget. They're the low man on the totem pole. We're with WTG, which is a subsidiary of Epic, which is a subsidiary of Sony, etc., etc. We've got no chance.

AMP: Oh no! Does that mean March ör Die won't get any promotion either?

Lemmy at the Omni in Oakland - 1988
Photo: Devorah Ostrov
Lemmy: We got a billboard on top of the Rainbow, but I haven't seen anything in the papers. I don't think Tommy Mottola [head of Sony Music Entertainment] is very interested in Motörhead. We've done a video this time, though. A real video — for the song "Hellraiser" with Pinhead!

AMP: Do you think MTV will show the video, other than on Headbanger's Ball?

Lemmy: Probably not, but I hope they do. It's a shame to make a video and have no one see it. The only thing that I can promise you, is that this band delivers and always has delivered!

AMP: Mikkey, are you worried about the fan reaction to your replacing Philthy?

Mikkey: No, not at all. I know they're gonna be skeptical. They're gonna watch me. But I'll tell you, they're not gonna be disappointed.

AMP: Do you get to change any of Phil's drum parts when Motörhead play live?

Mikkey: I get to do whatever I want. Philthy did some cool shit and he did some goofy shit. There's drum fills, like in "Ace of Spades" — that little break. I could do something incredible in there. But I don't wanna do that. I wanna keep it as simple as he did because that's the way the kids wanna hear it. Certain trademarks have to be there. Actually, what I might do is add more drums. I don't think Philthy really built up to some of the choruses. I think a song should lift, and that's where I think his weakness was. He was pretty monotone over the songs. I wanna make it more exciting! Give it a kick in the ass!

AMP: What are the similarities and differences in playing with King Diamond and Dokken, as opposed to Motörhead?

Lemmy and Pinhead from the video for the "Hellraiser" single. 
The song was also featured in the film Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com
Mikkey: They're all very, very nice guys. But musically, there are no similarities. Being in Dokken, I entered a different kind of music scene than what I was used to in King Diamond. I was suddenly up against Slaughter, Warrant, Poison...

AMP: The MTV hit-making machines!

Mikkey: Exactly! MTV, money — the business, crap, bullshit! And that was a very big difference. That's what I like about Lem and Wurz [Würzel, guitarist] and Phil [Campbell, guitarist]. By playing with Motörhead, it was suddenly fun again. I'm back with a really heavy band, and that's where I belong. I realized that playing with Dokken.

AMP: Lemmy, do you listen to your own records?

Lemmy: I listen to 1916 quite often. I hadn't listened to any of the others for years, but when they were reissued on CD, they sent me a box and I listened to 'em. They were really good!

Lemmy & Würzel (with Philthy on drums) at the Omni - 1988
Photo: Devorah Ostrov
AMP: Mikkey, do you have a favorite Motörhead song?

Mikkey: I've got tons of 'em! "Ace of Spades," of course... "Killed by Death," "Traitor," "Metropolis"... The whole new album is a smash to me! I wouldn't have joined the band if I didn't like what they were coming out with today.

AMP: Were you guys in LA during the riots?

Lemmy: We were right in the middle of recording "Hellraiser."

Mikkey: We were in the studio while Wurz was putting down the guitars. We had to get out of there because we were just a couple of blocks away from where Reginald Denny got beat up — where it all started. We were seeing people on the street with fucking baseball bats, and pickup trucks with 15 guys in the back. I had my new Corvette parked right out front, and I said, "I'm outta here!"

AMP: With the political climate at the moment, we're wondering which presidential candidate you might vote for — Bush or Clinton?

L-R: Würzel, Lemmy, Phil Campbell & Mikkey Dee
Lemmy: I wouldn't vote for either of those mealy-mouthed bastards! Tipper Gore [wife of Clinton's running mate Al Gore, and founder of the P.M.R.C.] has ruined the last chance for anything good. And I can't believe Ross Perot has dropped out. He probably got a phone call in the middle of the night with someone saying, "It's your ass." And the next day, he dropped out.

AMP: One final question, Lemmy... Motörhead is supporting Ozzy Osbourne on what will probably be his last concert tour. Do you have any retirement plans yourself?

Lemmy: No plans yet. You fuckers stick with me. You'll get what you deserve!

* You can find my 1989 interview with guitarist Phil Campbell here: devorahostrov.blogspot.com/2019/02/Motorhead-Phil Campbell

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