By Keith Carman
Motörhead bassist/vocalist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister is god, at least in the world of rock’n’roll. And these days he’s pretty much single-handedly maintaining the Holy Trinity of rock — sex, drugs and rock’n’roll — with a touch of class. He’s the kind of guy that even rock stars are nervous to meet. He’s seen the Beatles’ first television performance, was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and his tour stories are the stuff of legend. More importantly, were it not for his gravelly throat, iconic handlebar moustache and grinding Rickenbacker bass delivering uncompromised, no-holds-barred rock’n’roll since 1975, virtually any band utilizing distortion and power chords today simply wouldn’t exist.
Even at 62, Kilmister refuses to slow down, touring in support of latest album Motorizer (SPV/Steamhammer) with long-time cohorts Phillip Campbell (guitar) and Mikkey Dee (drums). While Motorizer is Motorhead’s most accomplished and diverse effort in almost a decade, Lemmy understandably feels it’s no different than their previous 23 studio efforts. “Motorizer is a good album but then again, they’ve all been good albums,” he declares in his trademark to-the-point manner, replete with enigmatically dry British humour. “I hope people latch onto it. I advise everyone to buy two copies. You won’t be disappointed. Why not three? They make great coasters if you don’t like it.”
What are you up to?
We’re on tour with Judas Priest and Heaven and Hell. We’re in Oklahoma City.
What are your current fixations?
Women with three tits. You don’t get a lot of ‘em, y’know. You gotta look carefully.
Why do you live where you do?
‘Cause it’s home.
What’s something you consider a mind-altering work of art?
“The Scream” by Edvard Munch.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
One I remember the best was the first time I saw Hendrix, which was pretty inspirational ‘cause the guy was magic. But I’ve also seen the Beatles. I’ve seen a lot of people. It’s difficult to pick one out. I’m pretty difficult to please… I’m spoiled now. [UK instrumental UK band] The Sounds Incorporated were great. They’re long gone but it was one of the best gigs I ever saw.
What have been your career highs and lows?
The high was probably going straight in at number one [for their 1981 live album No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith]. The low was probably just after it. You couldn’t do another live album to go straight in at number one, could you?
What’s the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
I dunno… people usually don’t say very mean stuff to me.
What should everyone shut up about?
Everything. Most people don’t have the fucking knowledge to back up an opinion. They just have it. I think everyone should shut up and start finding out. Go back to school. Learn some history.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like the persistence and refusal to admit defeat. I dislike that I’m lazy sometimes, but then again, I’m 62, so what the fuck do you want?
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Perfect Sunday? By 11:30 it should be Monday. Sundays aren’t much fun, especially in a religious country. Fuck that… everyone singin’ and ringing bells and shit. It’s fuckin’ terrible.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Don’t touch that red button. Or don’t sit them two wives together. Pick one.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
That large country just above the States and to one side of Russia. Canada’s always a great place for us. We’ve always had a good time up there and people are great.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
The Buddy Holly Story on vinyl.
What was your most memorable day job?
When I was a housepainter for this gay guy. Me and my mate were doing this house up for an old-ish gay guy. You can’t believe what his name was: Mr. Brownsword. Can you fuckin’ believe that? That was incredible. Talk about life is art.
How do you spoil yourself?
I have strawberries and sugar to dip them in backstage. It’s pretty good.
If I wasn’t playing music I would be…
In jail, probably.
What do you fear most?
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Girls. Not boys.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
[Eagles guitarist] Joe Walsh once tapped me on the shoulder in a bar at the CMJ Convention. He said, “I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time,” then turned around and walked away from me. Very strange. I never saw him again. But what an incredible introduction, huh?
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Napoleon. Probably… worms.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
The theme from Laurel And Hardy. I’d have three six-foot guys and three midgets to carry the coffin.