Fifteen years after his last solo release, Tommyland: The Ride, back in 2005, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is unleashing his latest blending of rap, hip hop and R & B, Andro, on October 16.
Never one to conform to life’s – let alone musical – expectations, Lee has spent the last couple of years crafting a body of work that highlights perfectly the musical enigma that gives him voice.
“I would assume people would expect this record from me,” he laughed, “because I’m always coming at things at such a fucken crazy… genre-wise it’s all over the place, that’s just who I am. I don’t just do one thing so I think – more so with this record than any of the past Methods Of Mayhem stuff – this one has two distinct sides to it. There’s the all-female side to the record and an all-male side and when I say side I mean energy-wise. I feel like there’s… I dunno… I just feel like there’s something for everybody on the tracks no matter what your thing is. Unless you’re a country music fan, then don’t get my record (laughs).”
To date Lee has released two singles from Andro, ‘Knock Me Down’ and ‘Tops’, both of which he feels epitomise the overall feel of the album as a whole.
“They are a very good representation,” he nodded. “It’s right down the middle and it goes bonkers from there. If you love that, boy, there’s all kinds of that stuff on there. It’s insane. I can’t wait. I’ve been working on this thing for two years and it’s really rare that when you work on something that long and you’ve heard it that many times and you’ve recorded it and all those times that you’ve been in it and around it and on top of it. Typically, I would probably be over it by now but I still listen to it and I still love it which is rare. I’m very proud of it and I’m excited for everybody to hear it because I’ve worked my friggin ass off on it (laughs).”
Both of the film clips to the singles were directed by none other than Limp Bizkit‘s Fred Durst, with Lee admitting Durst was his first, second and last choice.
“The songs were already done but as far as the influence on the videos goes, when it was time to find a director my manager and I were talking and thinking ‘who can we get to do these that gets it’?” Lee mused. “These are two very different singles and Fred Durst came into the conversation and I was like ‘that’s it, we don’t even need to talk to anybody else’ because of all people on the planet I don’t know anyone else that gets it more than Fred. Fred gets the heavy shit and he also gets the funky shit so he was the guy. We didn’t even consider another director. He heard both songs and said ‘oh man, let me at this shit dude’ and that was all I needed to hear.”
Andro is a beast of a record, utilising a slew of guest artists such as Killvein, Push Push, Lukas Rossi and Brooke Candy on vocals, which begs the question of what Lee’s actual role was in bringing this solo project to life.
“First of all, thank you for calling it a beast of a record,” he smiled. “My role in the whole thing is pretty much writing, producing, recording, mixing – I do everything – and in the process, I don’t really have a go-to way that I go about things every time. Usually, the music is written first and then I’ll sit around and it will either take a second or it will come to me right away like ‘oh my God, this person will murder that track’ and I will reach out to them and within a couple of days we’re in the studio cutting vocals. I guess… I dunno what role you would call that… the fucken Master of Ceremonies?” (laughs)
One single that grabbed my attention was ‘Hot Fudge Sundae’, a short but sweet vocal interlude that seems to be discussing the virtues of the aforementioned sundae. It stands out from the other 12 songs not only for it’s short running time but also for the vocalist performing the song.
(laughing) “That’s just a fucked up…,” Lee began. “My friend Josh (Todd) is the singer from Buck Cherry and we have this thing that we do and it’s gone on for years where we are constantly leaving each other ridiculously fucked up voice messages or voice mails back and forth. He left that one for me one day and I was like ‘dude, can I use that on the album because it’s fucken hilarious’ and he said Hell Yeah! That’s just a voice message he left me, we do that shit all the time (laughs). There’s some fucked up ones.”
Lee, of course, is better known as the drummer for metal outfit Motley Crue, a band that has dominated the world metal scene for nearly four decades. While the music put out by Motley Crue and Lee’s solo project is worlds apart to the ear, he argues that in a strange and almost subliminal way one outlet complements the other.
“Of course, I’ve been playing heavy metal for nearly my whole life,” he agreed, “so that’s gonna come into play at all times. If anything, even though it’s wonderful, there are also times when it wants to jump up and come in and it’s like ‘no, no, no, I’m not working on that kind of track right now’, you know what I mean? ‘You just go and sit over there for a minute and I’ll be right back’ (laughs). There’s so many styles that I love but metal is one that’s always there; always in the room, pounding on the door and going ‘let’s do some heavy shit’. Always. What I do though, if you think about it, and if you listen to the beats, a lot of the sounds on the record are not your typical fucken electronic sounds. There are some pretty beasty, gnarly sounds from the dirty ass bass to the drum beats to the hyperness of them. My background and my influences are constantly sneaking out in all sorts of ways and all over the place, just in different forms.”
It wasn’t until after being incarcerated for six months in 1998 that Lee branched out from his metal roots in Motley Crue and embarked on a separate career with Methods of Mayhem. It was a period of his life that was shrouded in darkness, but also one which gave him the motivation and means with which to follow a parallel dream.
“If I’m not mistaken that Mayhem record came out in 2000,” Lee recalled, “but nonetheless that was a crazy, cool, exploratory time for me. I left Motley and creatively I was on my own pretty much doing whatever I wanted to do.
When you’re in a band you’ve got three, four, or five other band members and you’re always… there’s compromises; there’s all kinds of things that go on in a unit and everyone has to work together for it to work. When you’re on your own and you don’t have anybody to steer the ship in different directions you just go and do whatever the fuck you want. That’s a real fun place to be also – not taking anything away from being in a band – but when you get to create whatever it is that you want and not have to have other people approve of it or follow you along one direction where you might not necessarily like that direction… it’s really liberating. Creative freedom is something that is amazing and I never really experienced that until around the 2000’s when I did Method. That was kind of a creative free for all.”
While professing his undying love for playing behind the kit of a heavy metal band, Lee also admits the general sounds that combine when creating music and listening to bass and drums are the driving force behind his differing passions.
“Yeah, for sure man, bass and drums definitely,” he nodded of what compels him towards electronica, rap and hip hop. “I’ve always gravitated towards the bass and that edge. Back before hip hop, I was listening to funk – everything from George Clinton to The Gap Band – I was really into that shit. Prince, you name it, I was listening to that stuff pre hip hop and rap, and then Beastie Boys came around and all these other things started bubbling up so I’ve been a big funk fan and I think that’s because I’m a drummer. I’m always gonna gravitate towards something funky for sure. That’s the drummer in me.”