We Do Not Bend The Knee. by Michael Hannon


Motorhead has been around for 20 years due in large part to the of the band. Lemmy Kilmister, just to be politically correct, if he thinks your music stinks, he will let you know, no matter how big of a draw you are and even if it costs him an opening slot on your tour.

Lemmy's honesty is probably one of the reasons the band isn't as big as it should be. Also, you see, record labels don't like it when you tell the truth — they like it better when you say "Oh, we had creative differences and went our separate ways amicably."

But that's a load of shit; if you were getting along as partners, you'd still be working together. Lemmy doesn't pull punches. He'll tell you what the label, a music company or the band itself has been or is doing wrong.

Now our interview with Lemmy Kilmister and Phil Campbell of Motorhead. If we could only find politicians this honest.

Moo: Is Wurzel (Mick Burston) on the new album, Sacrifice?

Lemmy: He played two solos: "Dogface Boy" and "Out of the Sun", and he did rhythm guitar on the other tracks as well. He quit a week and a half before we went out on tour in Europe.

Moo: (Lemmy gives me the someone's-fucking-up-on-me-again look). You guys were great as a three-piece when you were here with Sabbath the last time.

(The conversation then shifts to the consistency of Motorhead as a band, even though the group seems to change labels every couple of releases — my Motorhead CDs are on nine different labels).

Lemmy: Yeah, we're notorious enough to get signed up, y'know. That's no problem, but a lot of people are scared to death of us.

Moo: I don't get it.

Lemmy: It's because we tell the truth. But they won't spend any money to promote the fucking albums, and then they blame the band for not selling records. Then they fire us off the label — fuckin' stupid bastards! Phil Campbell

Phil "Wizzo, Zoom or whatever he's going by this week" Campbell joins in the conversation.

Moo: Do you enjoy being the only guitarist in the band now?

Lemmy: He loves it.

Phil: Yeah, now we sound better. It's a lot less messier onstage. I've still got the chorus delay, y'know; more controlled power now.

Moo: I noticed you airbrushed Wurzel out of the photo on the American copy of Sacrifice.

Lemmy: I didn't; the record company did.

Phil: We didn't know about it. It was our manager's fault.

Lemmy: It's stupid, seeing how Wurzel could sue us and he'd be right, `cause he's on the album.

Phil: He didn't contribute hardly anything to the writing. He was there when we wrote it, but he didn't contribute hardly anything, really. And he did only a couple of solos, but he played on the album and he should be credited with it.

Lemmy: Yeah, he should be.

Phil: In Europe, his photograph is on the back of the album.

Lemmy: Four of us on there.

Phil: It's the same album, only his photo is not on it. See, something is wrong.

Moo: Is it on CMC in Europe?

Lemmy: No, it's on GBH.

Phil: No, Steamhammer.

Lemmy: Steamhammer... yeah.

Phil: GBH?

Lemmy: GBH, isn't it?

Moo: Are you almost finished with your tour?

Phil: In four or five weeks.

Moo: Are you headed anywhere else?

Lemmy: We're going to do an album next.

Moo: On CMC?

Lemmy: Yeah.

Moo: Two in a row on one label?

Lemmy: Well, we did two on Sony.

Talk of Sony brings up one of the many war stories that have plagued Motorhead throughout the band's career. This particular war story is about the song and video for "I Ain't No Nice Guy," a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, on Motorhead's March or Die.

Lemmy: We said to Sony, "Let's get this played on AOR `cause it has Ozzy and Slash on it, so it would be easy to promote and Ozzy's on Epic anyway." They said they couldn't do it because they wouldn't take it on AOR. I called them fuckin' liars. So we said "Fuck you" and got two guys on phones, and we got 82 AOR stations in a month across the States all playing it, five on rotation. Then we went to Sony and said, "Well, we're No. 10 on the radio charts now with the album you couldn't push to AOR. Can we have the money for a video?" And they said "no" and Ozzy and Slash had already agreed to be in the video, so we made our own video for $8,000 — eight fuckin' grand!

And then they held it up at MTV until it was dead on the radio. Sony wouldn't sign the release. You know MTV was going to play it — for once they were willing to play one of our records. And then the funny thing is they couldn't because our record company wouldn't let them. Hot Dog! That's stupid as shit.

I mean, that's not even the case of not getting behind the band. It's like, how can you afford as a record label to throw away a hit record?

Phil: We're still not sure if we were a tax loss to Sony.

Lemmy: We must have been. The entire WTG label was a tax loss for Epic, `cause they fired the whole staff there. We went up there one day and there was only Jerry Greenberg there and his secretary. All the other desks were empty.

Moo: What do you think of CMC, your new label?

Phil: There have been advertisements everywhere. We've got no complaints so far.

Moo: CMC seems to be one of the few labels that signs hard rock/heavy metal bands.

Lemmy: They sign a lot of them, too.

Moo: They just signed Iron Maiden.

Lemmy: (laughing) There goes our promotion budget. I couldn't believe it. Last year, they spent three million promoting Michael Jackson. I mean, he really needed promoted, right? Hell, just put him on a talk show and say the new album's out and people go buy it. Shit, it doesn't make too much sense to spend all that money because it's such a bad album.

Phil: The single's good.

Lemmy: Yeah, but I'm kind of disappointed after stuff like Thriller, y'know?

Moo: Are you happy with Sacrifice? I know you had to do it very quickly.

Lemmy: Oh, we do all our albums real quick. That was one of the longer ones. (laughing) We actually had time to write all the songs before we got into the studio. Fucking Orgasmatron we did in 10 days.

Moo: Since 1916, the albums have really gotten better. Bastards was incredible.

Lemmy: Yeah, that was good. The next one is going to be slightly more like Bastards than Sacrifice. We've got three ideas for songs already.

Moo: You churn them out them so quickly. Do you write songs on the road?

Lemmy: No, not really. We're trying to do that this time, but we aren't doing that real well because we're so fucking lazy. Plus we don't have time at soundcheck `cause there are two other bands to get up there to check and that wouldn't be fair to them.

Moo: Tell us about the book that is being written about the band.

Lemmy: Well, we've got a few chapters laid out. But there's still a lot to be done.

The lyrics that Lemmy writes are very well thought-out; read along to the words of the song "Orgasmatron" or "March or Die" (if you can understand them). If you haven't yet been converted to Motorhead, you will at least be appreciative of what this band can do. This is not half-ass David Coverdale-type nursery rhymes.

Lemmy: Yeah, I use big, difficult words.

Phil: Lemmy is way ahead of anyone else.

Lemmy: Well, thank you, Phil.

Phil: People like yourself pick up on it now, but it has been a slow progress. Lemmy has been writing great lyrics for years, and nobody has said a word about them.

Moo: It's like a stereotype: you're in a loud, heavy band...

Lemmy: People think you're a hoodlum with your leather jacket on.

Phil: Compare some of David Coverdale's lyrics to Lemmy's and have a laugh.

Lemmy: "Slide it in. Right to the top. Slide it in. Never gonna stop." (disgusted sigh and then a grumble out of the side of his mouth) Fuckin' cunt.

Moo: Your lyrics are like Warren Zevon's.

Lemmy: I haven't heard his stuff. Is it good?

Moo: He has been around a long time, like Randy Newman, and he pisses people off `cause people don't have a sense of humor about death and war and splintered babies on bayonets, y'know? That's where their sense of humor falls to the ground.

Phil: Like "War for War" (Sacrifice)?

Lemmy: Yeah, that's almost a recruiting song. (laughing) It's like I've written all these anti-war songs and I keep getting accused of being pro-war, right? So I thought I'd write a pro-war one and see if people come out saying it's an anti-war one. Of wars, WWII is the most interesting one because of the Nazi thing. I just got a new book by this guy who found some archives. It turns out that the head of the Gestapo was supposedly killed in Berlin in 1945. Well, they dug up his grave a few years ago, and there were three people in it. None of them were him. He has apparently been working for the CIA since 1948.

Mikkey Dee

Moo: Tell us about your drummer, Mikkey Dee.

Lemmy: Mikkey Dee, in a way, saved us, because he is the best drummer that we've ever had. He's excellent.

Moo: What about when "Philthy" (Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor) came back?

Lemmy: Philthy was never as good when he came back. He was great before he left.

Phil: He just didn't have it for some reason.

Lemmy: He had to come back because his band that was going to be so much better than Motorhead failed miserably. So I gave him his gig back and I don't think he ever forgave me for giving it to him. (laughing) He's a strange bird.

Phil: It was getting bad. He couldn't play four bars without fucking up. For three years when he rejoined, we gave it our best shot, but...

Lemmy: He got worse, not better. When he first got back, he wasn't that bad; then he went... well, by the end, it was like "What the fuck was that?"

Phil: But he couldn't see anything wrong with his drumming, which was even worse.

Lemmy: His excuse was, "Oh, I was improvising."

Phil: If he would say, "I know where I fucked up," that's one thing; but what he didn't realize was that he was a major fuckup. We'd be in the studio practicing and he'd be out washing his car.

Lemmy: And he couldn't remember any of the new songs.

Phil: In L.A., two days before we do the recording for the new album, he breaks his Walkman. We'd go into rehearsals, and they were crap, and I'd say, "Philthy, you don't know any of the fucking songs, man." And he'd say, "Well, the thing is, my Walkman's broke." So we got him in the studio and he's got the arrangements written down on about 15 sheets of paper.

Lemmy: (laughing) And every time someone would open the door, they would blow all over the place.

Moo: Did you start out on guitar? I notice you play a lot of chords.

Lemmy: No, I play a lot of notes, but I also play a lot of chords. And I play a lot of open strings. I just don't play like a bass player. There are complaints about me from time to time. It's not like having a bass player; it's like having a deep guitarist.

Phil: I don't hear complaints.

Lemmy: Well, they used to.

Moo: Do you play through guitar amps?

Lemmy: No, they're old Marshalls, and Super Bass 2 JMPs, `cause I don't like those JCM 800s. They're worth fuckall. Jim Marshall sent me two free stacks. I put `em back in the boxes and sent `em back to him. Fuckin' crap they are. Still, he's doin' good; he made a lot of money sellin' `em. Everyone has a JCM 800, but they're garbage. He used `em for ages (pointing to Phil) then he stopped putting up with them and threw `em out. We're gonna try and get him an old stack.

Phil: I don't care if it's a Matchbox on top of a cigarette packet with a transistor in it. If it sounds good, I'll use it. I'll try anything. I've got 20-30 guitars.

Lemmy pries open my leather coat to see the KNAC T-shirt I'm wearing.

Lemmy: They sold out to a Mexican station.

Phil: Now it's KUNT.

Moo: Did this tour make it to any other countries?

Lemmy: We went to Canada, Argentina, Chile and all over Europe — including Estonia for the first time. And Poland. Never been to Poland before. I don't know if we'll be going again. (laughs) It's miserable there; not much fun.

Moo: The economy?

Lemmy: No, the economy is going up in leaps and bounds because they overcharge all the tourists. It's a funny country. I got strange vibes over there. Didn't you, Phil?

Phil: Can't remember it.

Lemmy: No? It was weird. It was like some of them were really friendly. They were really good people there.

Phil: The chicks in Estonia, though...

Lemmy: Oh, shit yeah, oh...

Phil: Fuckin' hell, you'd never believe it. They look like Paris catwalk models.

Lemmy: They look like fashion models! All of `em! Mikkey and I went out the first night, and the club was just jammed with the best lookin' women you'd ever seen: blond hair, Finnish or Norwegian, little short skirts — wonderful! That's why I got into rock'n'roll. It has worked for me and I never looked back after that first week after the exams at school. My mother had a guitar laying around the house, and I noticed this guy with a guitar, and he was immediately surrounded by women and I said, "That looks like a good gig." So I took my lumps `cause I couldn't play, but I was immediately surrounded by chicks.

Moo: So what made you switch to bass?

Lemmy: Because I'm such a mediocre guitarist. I'm good at rhythm, but I was never any good at lead. I do the odd guitar thing here and there, but I forgot most of the notes or what little I really did know.

Phil: Tell MOO about your stretch with Hawkwind.

Lemmy: I learned to play bass onstage with Hawkwind `cause I never played bass in my life. I knew the guitarist because he took eight tabs of acid and then we never saw him for five years. He vanished, then returned in Widowmaker So anyway, they lost a guitar player, and I showed up looking for a job — and they wanted a speed freak in the band. He wanted me to join, so he took me with him to this festival. It turns out they didn't need another guitarist, `cause Dave Brock decided to play lead, so I was fucked, but the bass player never showed up, so he told me to play bass. I go out onstage with this bass around my neck, and it was a Rickenbacker, too. The bass player, like an idiot, left his bass in the truck. So I'm learning. Nik Turner says to make some noises in E. "This one's called `you shouldn't do that.'" Then he walks away.

Phil: I saw Hawkwind for the first time when I was 12 years old. It was right after Space Ritual Live and it changed my life. I have seen them four times all together. I still have Lemmy's autograph. He's the only one that came out. He was probably looking for chicks.

Lemmy: I was.

Phil: It goes to show that it should inspire some kids. If someone had told me I'd be in some big band with this guy travelin' around the world for 12-15 years, I would have said "piss off." Anything can happen. You could be the Queen of England next week!

Lemmy: No, I don't know about that. It's hereditary.

Phil: Not necessarily.

At this point, I was taught my English History by a man who has probably read more books on the matter than you've seen. When History class was over, it was time for recess. I asked Lemmy if he had ever heard the Lever Mountain Boys' version of "Ace of Spades." He looked puzzled and I told him it was a country version of the song with fiddles and banjos. He had not, so in went the tape which I had cleverly brought. This was THE moment for any Motorhead fan. Lemmy and Phil were both smiling and laughing and even playing invisible fiddles while dancing in a country western fashion. What I wouldn't have paid to have that on video. After the song was finished, I was given a sincere thanks and a handshake by the gents who insisted I bring them both a copy of the song to the show that night.