It’s often that we’re beckoned by established musicians to follow them down their solo path, but very few have instilled in us such an unshakeable sense of confidence in their creative output quite like Mötley Crüe drummer, utter rockstar and hyper-active solo artist, Tommy Lee.
As such, it’s been particularly easy to allow him to take us by the hand and lead us on the royal deluxe guided tour through his imagination in the form of ANDRO, his new solo record out Friday, 16th October.
ANDRO – taken from androgyny – began taking shape in the midst of some well-earned, but not-so-down downtime following the final Mötley Crüe tour in 2016. Armed with breathing space and an unquenchable thirst for new sounds, Tommy Lee let the wild horses run, as he explained to Blunt Magazine.
It’s tough to imagine anyone not taking a call from Tommy Lee. I find it interesting that you took the risk of collaborating with largely untapped talent. What encouraged you to enlist Killvein and Push Push over more established artists?
I have a list, right? I keep it on me at all times. I make notes of people that I would love to collaborate with. It’s a long list of people and I absolutely fucking love what they do. This list of people that I have ranges from people that you know very well to people that you’ve never maybe even heard of.
I’m such an underdog guy. Like I love giving somebody a shot that absolutely deserves it. Like I hear the stuff that they’re working on, and I’m like, “How is this not fucking huge?” You know? I don’t do things for clicks, and I don’t do things to please other people.
If being on a track of mine propels them, fucking God bless, that’s awesome. But these people need to be heard. There’s some really talented people out there that you’ve may or may not have heard of. Doing my part man, and getting everybody a riff. You know?
How much did the background radiation of all the current conversations surrounding identity and gender impact the concept of ANDRO?
This just goes back to like even Mötley days. I mean, we were very androgynous in the way we looked. Fuck, we were fucking boys wearing fucking makeup and lipstick and fucking crazy hair and sometimes high heels. We all have a male and female side. I don’t care what someone tells you. If somebody says they don’t, that’s bullshit. Everybody has it.
When this record was done, I literally had six or seven male energy tracks and six or seven female tracks. I tried to sequence them, kind of playing back and forth off of each other. It wasn’t really flowing like a record should. And I was like, “What’s the problem here?”
As soon as I gave them their own sides, and kind of split it up old school like the males one side and the females on the other side, it totally made sense. I was like, “Fuck.” And I thought, “I don’t think anybody’s done this either.” You know, I always try to do things that nobody’s hopefully done yet.
There was a lot of different inspirations at the end of the day for ANDRO, going from way back to Mötley to what’s happening today. And it’s really strange how the timing of this all is sort of surfacing right now, like with what you said.
What’s it like to work with Tommy Lee? Are you a tyrant? Do you just kind of let the wild horses run and it lands where it lands? Or anywhere along that spectrum.
If I was on the outside looking in at myself, I’m one of those guys that just has way too much fucking fun doing what he loves to do. I’m just going on what people say to me. They’re like, “Dude, you’re a fucking maniac. I fucking love you. You radiate fun. It’s just like, well, this is going to be fucking awesome.” And that’s such a compliment to radiate that. God, it would be a bummer if you walk into a room and they were like, “Uh-oh.”
I’m like a vibe guy. I think I can honestly say a lot of drummers are like that. That sense of rhythm, that’s what the universe runs on is rhythm and movement and energy.
You’re still just a human at the end of the day. That may be the case on a ‘good’ day, but what’s Tommy Lee like on a ‘bad’ day?
I just walk away honestly, because… But you know what…well…hold on, let me rephrase that…
There’s moments where I’ve been incredibly sad and written fucking, amazing pieces of music. Because for some reason, I gravitate straight to the fucking piano.
The piano just makes me feel good, and the melodies, the sound of the instrument just makes me feel good. If I’m having a shitty day, you know what’s fucking amazing? Is just sitting behind the drums and just going crazy for an hour. I guarantee you, that is therapy that should be used for anybody. Someone’s having a bad day, hand them a pair of drumsticks and a drum set and say, “I’ll see you in about 15 or 20 minutes.” And you walk out of there going, “I’m fucking great now.” It’s like a punching bag almost.
From your perspective, from what you’ve seen, what do you think the future for the entertainment industry will be post-pandemic?
I think about this. Like a lot of people say, “Well, what are you going to do when everything’s back to normal?” And I use that term lightly.
Just imagine, okay. Let’s say we’re all cool. And everything’s a-fucking-go and it’s cool to pack a stadium full of people. When people ask me what I want to do, that’s what I want to do. I want to be sitting behind my fucking drums in a stadium with fucking 60,000 people going fucking ape shit because they can again. That, to me, that is priceless. You can’t buy that. You can’t fucking rent it. You can’t fucking… You can’t do any of it, but be it.
It might be something that I will personally never experience again in my lifetime ever. And you may not either, you know what I’m saying?
One last question, Tommy. You’re clearly such a music fan, and a student of your craft. I have to ask – did you ever feel as though you missed out on being a fan of Mötley Crüe because you were too busy being Mötley Crüe?
Wow. That is maybe one of the wildest questions I’ve ever been asked…That’s fucking wild. Nobody has ever asked me that.
I don’t feel like I missed out on it because I was fucking doing it. You know? I couldn’t have been any closer to it because I was physically doing it. I don’t feel like I missed out. Although I guess maybe for some people that might be true. I feel like I didn’t miss a fucking thing.
I remember this, I was sitting on a fucking beach. I remember it was in between tours and I was… Oh, it was in this fucking French Polynesian island. It’s called Bora Bora. Right?
Out of the corner of my eye, I see this guy walking down the… I mean, there’s fucking nobody where I’m at. It’s pretty mellow, right. I see this guy walking towards me…Then I look a little closer and I see he’s carrying a book: The Dirt.
As he gets closer and closer, I’m like, ‘Oh fuck. He’s coming over.’
I think ‘I know what this is.’ He’s like, “Dude, dude, I would never, ever fucking bother you on your fucking vacation, but I’m here on my honeymoon. And if you could, would you sign this book? Because this is literally the fucking soundtrack to my life.” And I was like, “Wow.”
For someone to say that you’ve been the soundtrack to their life. And for somebody to be reading The fucking Dirt on your honeymoon, I’m like, “Whoa, bro, what the fuck?” That’s pretty wild, man, to be bringing that book on your honeymoon.
I was like, “Whoa, dude. That’s fucking gnarly. Okay. You party…Jesus, of course I’ll sign it.”