Q&A: Lemmy Kilmister on Motorhead's Longevity, Famous Friends and Bad Advice

"Everybody in the world gave us six months to live when we started."

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When Rolling Stone dialed up Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister to discuss the band's 20th studio release, Motörizer (out August 26th), the famously moled rocker was happy to share his recipe for the perfect beverage: "One-third Jack, two-thirds Coke, about five ice cubes. Don't bother stirring it, it'll stir you! And then bend over, double and drink it upside down — that'll cure your fucking hiccups!" Kilmister also opened up about stupid record-company advice, the war in Iraq and his new documentary, Lemmy: The Movie.

Motörizer is Motörhead's 20th studio album. Did you ever think the group would last this long?
We never had any plan of any kind, really. A lot of people didn't think we would last this long. You don't think like that when you're starting a band — you're just starting a band to see what happens. It's very gratifying to still be around.

What's the biggest difference between writing and recording albums now than when the group did Overkill or Ace of Spades?
It's like another planet, isn't it? People thought different, people looked different, people did things differently, people philosophized differently about their fate. It was just different. And hasn't changed for the better, y'know? [laughs] Ain't it funny, how things never seem to change for the better? They improve things, and they're always worse!

The lyrics in "The Thousand Names of God" deal with the theme of war. What are your thoughts on the current situation in Iraq?
It's a fucking mess. It's another Vietnam — a war you can't win, because you can't fight an enemy you can't see. Anybody in that country could be the enemy. You can't shoot them all, so therefore, you have to get out. We should have never gone there in the first place. I mean, you can say, "Saddam is an asshole," which is certainly true, but he wasn't a threat to America. George Bush and Colin Powell on TV told me he was my enemy. And I knew that he wasn't. I'll tell you a funny story — to improve the mood a bit — when the British army went into Iraq for Desert Storm, they had no desert uniforms, only the green ones. Do you know why? Because they sold them all to Iraq two years before! Isn't that brilliant? Sums it all up right there.

What can fans expect from Motörhead's set on the tour?
I think we're only going to get one or two in from the new album. We haven't played here in three years, so the set we're playing is still fairly new to America. So maybe we won't change it — except put a new one in from the new album.

How would you compare Motörhead audiences today to 30 years ago?
They're the same. They're kind of younger now, but we get three generations at our shows. It proves that we were doing it right. We get 13 or 14 year olds at the non-liquor gigs, it's great. What can you say about the upcoming Lemmy: The Movie documentary?
It looks good, doesn't it? They're really nice guys, they're from New York — Wes [Orshoski] and Greg [Olliver]. They just showed up and said, "Can we do it?" And we said, "Yeah." They've been on I think three tours now — on the bus and filming us backstage and fucking around. They've interviewed a shitload of people — you wouldn't believe how many people they've interviewed. People I forgot I knew!

How do you feel when you hear Dave Grohl, Alice Cooper and Slash offer praise in the documentary?
It's really nice. It's a pleasure to be vindicated [laughs]. Because everybody in the world gave us six months to live when we started. So, my natural fuck you-ness couldn't allow me to break up the band before they got shut up. I think they've shut up, so now I'm not going to break up the band… just in case [laughs]!

You're one of the few people that can say they hung out with Jimi Hendrix and Sid Vicious.
They were both great gentlemen with me. I've seen Sid fight other people, and it was fucking horrifying. Hendrix was just a sweet guy — to an extent, he was murdered by the people around him, because they didn't take care of him. They just didn't watch his back.

What's your take on the current state of rock & roll?
Rock & roll's fine, because stuff isn't getting played on the radio, again. They will come up with something that the radio hasn't noticed, again, and they will definitely spark a terrible rush by the record companies to sign it all up — anything with a guitar around its neck from that city [laughs]. Like the Merseybeat, and the Nirvana thing — they went up to Seattle and signed everything that even owned a guitar, I think.

What was the most foolish piece of advice you ever received from a record company?
"Everything's wonderful, we're your friends! We're going to make you all millionaires!" When we were parting with Sony, we said to someone in the Sony hierarchy, "Why couldn't you tell us the truth?" And he said, "That isn't the way it works." A really awful statement for someone in the music business to make. The fucking asshole. It's enough to kill your faith. They're all like that though, it's not just Sony. People were signing bands, letting them make half an album, and then fire them off the label — for a tax loss. Just so their books were balanced, they'd destroy five young men's dreams. It's fucking disgraceful — you should be able to persecute them for that.

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