Motorhead have built a legendary career that shows no signs of slowing down as the band celebrates their 40th year of operation with a brand new album en route, the return of the Motorhead Motorboat Cruise for its second year and a late summer run with Anthrax and Saxon that’s sure to thrill metal fans. Loudwire had a chance to chat with iconic vocalist-bassist Lemmy Kilmister about the band’s Bad Magic album, the cruise, the 40th anniversary and plenty more. Check out the chat below:
Seems like a pretty good time in the band’s career, would you agree?
Yeah. Yeah, it is. Firing on all pistons, isn’t it? Working all year.
For this album, you guys went in and recorded live in the studio together. Can you talk about the change in approach for this album?
Not really, because they’ve made a lot out of that in the press. We didn’t do all of it like that. Sometimes we’d go in, sometimes me and Mikkey would go do it. It just depends. We did about five tracks all together, so that much is true. It wasn’t the whole album.
When you record like that, the whole band in there together, do you notice the effect it’s having on your sound? Does it change it up for you at all?
Not really. It decides which one in the band isn’t getting it [laughs].
[Laughs] Getting into the disc here, “Electricity.” I’m loving that song, can you tell me a little bit about the creation of that track?
I just got the title and we wrote around it, I sometimes do that. I usually have the music first and then write to that, you know?
Listening to that track, just having Mikkey Dee behind you, Phil Campbell, as well. Can you talk a little bit about how great it is to have those guys playing with you and the power they provide?
It’s great, if I get it wrong they’re firing on all six, then you’re alright [laughs]. They don’t always do that, of course. You get the bad gig but mostly we’re firing on all six on all of them these days.
Also, heard a little bit of “Thunder and Lightning,” as well, great track. I love that you have fans submitting footage of themselves rocking out to the song. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like to see the fans getting involved and what you get out of that as a frontman seeing them just rock out on your music?
It’s very flattering. Motley Crue used to have a track of ours they used to play before they went onstage, no one noticed. This is more flattering. I might not be selling a million albums, but inspiration for a lot of people is even better.
On this album, there’s a guest spot from Brian May from Queen. Can you talk about how long that relationship goes back, and what it was like to get him on this record?
Yeah, he came onstage with us 10 years ago and did “Overkill” he went f–king cracking. I like Brian. He did this thing where he came coming at you like 1,000 miles an hour and he went down on his knees like they do in all the movies. I was very surprised. I was very pleased we got that out of him [laughs].
I see there’s a cover for “Sympathy for the Devil.” Always loved that song.
Oh, we killed that.
Can you tell me why that song in particular?
Triple H, the wrestler. He asked us to cover a few songs or his TV show. He’s got a TV channel now, so we recorded that and we decided to keep it.
What was your first experience with the Rolling Stones, hearing their music and picking up on what they were doing back in the day?
It came all at once. First in 1957, then ’58 and then 1964 and it was really exciting in those days. Some of those kids don’t seem to be excited about it. You figure they want another war [laughs].
This is a big year for the band, 40th anniversary for Mötorhead. Can you talk about how you feel about reaching that landmark?
It’s just another year. I was in bands 10 years before Motorhead, so it’s 50th anniversary for me.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in how you approach music now as opposed to how you did it years ago?
It hasn’t changed very much. The charts are always s–t. The dressings are the same except some of the record companies have squeezed themselves out of business. Didn’t have the nerve to see that coming, so, I don’t know what you’d say about that. It’s a good effect at least, but who knows what will replace it.
Looking back over the history of the band, for you personally, was there an album or tour cycle that was the most rewarding or enjoyable for you?
I don’t know, I can’t remember all of them. Being in the studio for 40 years, it seems to me the most fun one was probably the first one because you’re new at it, discovering all these things that you’re doing in the studio.
Later this month is the anniversary of the self-titled album from 1977. Can you remember that time in your career? Trying to establish the band …
Yeah, I remember all of that. I’d actually go around telling people to go buy it, steal it, or hear it because it’s a great album and we were a new force and you’d never seen anything like it.
What stands out to you recording that album?
We’d been doing that whole set onstage, so it was really easy that first one because we just did what we’ve been doing live.
You have a tour coming up with Saxon and Anthrax. What about those two acts has made them among your favorites?
Oh we’ve done a lot of tours with those guys. It’s easier to have a band you get along with.
I saw Scott Ian’s spoken word show where he shares stories, including ones about meeting you for the first time. I’m guessing you have a real good relationship with Scott. Can you talk a little bit about what that relationship has been like over the years, seeing him go from fan to friend?
The first time I met him, he was in a band. He was in Anthrax then, playing one of their first shows in Britain. Fans were going just mad. [He was] f–king jet lagged. Lying around in total disarray. Somebody introduced me, the usual f–ing, ‘Hey come meet that bum! Hello there boys! How ya doing?’ and then back to sleep. It wasn’t that very auspicious, meeting back then, but it got better later.
You did the Motorboat Cruise last year. What did you enjoy from the first one and what are you maybe taking towards the second one?
On this next one, I’m going to explode onstage to silence a few rumors. Then I’m suddenly going to be resurrected by Jesus Christ later in the year, around Easter I think. So it should be interesting, then I get some time off. [laughs]
[Laughs] Great lineup you got with Slayer playing, Anthrax, I see Exodus is on there.
How fun is it to spend this time with your friends in the industry?
I think we’re out for about 7 days, we go down to Barbados and back. Seems quite reasonable.
I also saw in the news in the past week you’ve joined this new film, Gutterdämmerung?
The Death of the Gods.
Can you talk about what you’re doing in the film? How did you get involved?
A guy brought something to me at some point, somewhere and said do you want to do a bit in this movie? I said yeah. [laughs] As long as it doesn’t take more than two days.
Anything else on the horizon that we should be looking for from Motorhead at this point?
Yeah, lots of p–sy hopefully. [laughs] I’m getting a little old for the chase, but I like the catch. So we’re gonna see what we can do with that, and then what else will we do? Hopefully we burn something in ritual frenzy and surround it [like a bonfire]. Probably our first manager will be burned, or the record company.
[laughs] Thank you Lemmy for your time, much appreciated.
Thanks a lot man, appreciate it.
Many thanks to Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister for the interview. The band’s Bad Magic album arrives Aug. 28 and is currently available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. Motorhead’s North American tour kicks off Aug. 19 in Riverside, Calif. with Anthrax and Saxon providing support. Dates can be found here. As for the second annual Motorhead Motorboat Cruise, it’s scheduled to set sail Sept. 28 from Miami to Nassau and the Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, returning to port on Oct. 2. For additional details, check here.
You Think You Know Motorhead?
See the Birthdays of Lemmy Kilmister and Other Rockers