Motörhead singer/bassist Lemmy Kilmister has always described the band’s music simply as “rock & roll” – so his rockabilly side band, the Head Cat, is a logical extension of his interests. The group – which also includes Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom and Rockats guitarist Danny B. Harvey – will be releasing their second album, Walk the Walk…Talk the Talk, on June 21.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Lemmy discussed the Head Cat, why he loves Little Richard, and what to expect from the new album.
What was the impetus for the Head Cat?
We got together doing an Elvis tribute record with Johnny Ramone [2000’s Swing Cats: A Special Tribute to Elvis]. We sat around fuckin’ off and playing around, and we realized that we were playing about 35 songs, and we knew them all exactly. So we thought, “Why don’t we make an album, since we’re in the studio?” It took us like two weeks to do the whole thing.
Why did it take so long between Head Cat albums (2006’s Fool’s Paradise was originally issued in 2000 under a different name)?
The first one sank without a trace. It was on Cleopatra Records, who didn’t advertise it. It was a bit of a drag and I was disappointed with that – I thought it would at least get a few reviews. It didn’t even get reviewed! Interest fell off between the three of us, I suppose. Then we kept getting offered shows here and there. We got back together and did a few shows. We liked it, so we did another album, and there you are. And also, there isn’t much [time off] between Motörhead, because we’re always working. We had to slot things in. But we did play Boise, Idaho, which I’ve never played with anybody else in my life.
How rockin’ was Boise?
It was great, man. It was just a little bar. It’s nice to get back to that, y’know?
What can fans expect from Walk the Walk…Talk the Talk?
It’s old time rock & roll, it’s feel-good music. It’s music that would persuade your girlfriend to fuck you later! [Laughs]
Touring plans for the Head Cat?
Not yet, but there will be. This year, Motörhead is really working all summer with festivals in Europe. So I’d like to try and get a couple of gigs in Europe with Head Cat while we’re there, because we have five days now and again between festivals.
What was the first rock & roll show you ever saw?
Let’s see…Billy Fury. I remember he put one silver lamé leg in the spotlight, and the fuckin’ place came down. Everybody went crazy. I thought, “This is one leg. This guy is going to do pretty good when he gets his dick past the spotlight.” I mean, these chicks were tearing their hair out. So I thought, “This is obviously the job for me.” After that, I saw Gene Vincent, and I saw Nero and the Gladiators, who were very big in Britain then.
Nero and the Gladiators?
They used to wear Roman soldier outfits, and the piano player/singer had an emperor’s purple robe on, and a laurel wreath on his head. Those were the days for that – it was great fun.
In the documentary Lemmy, you discuss Little Richard with Dave Grohl. Is [Little Richard] your favorite rock & roller?
Yes, he is. Because of the voice. His band was so good, too. He was the only one with a regular band that he took all the time with him, the same guys. All the other guys were pick-up bands – they used to get the local guys to play with them. They fucked up like that. I mean, Chuck Berry would say, “When I move my shoulder, you change key.” What the fuck is that?
Head Cat is signed to the label that Ronnie James Dio co-founded before his passing.
Ronnie was great man, Ronnie was funny. Ronnie had a British sense of humor – really dark. Really a good laugh. I spent many an hour in odd dressing rooms, just laughing with him. He was such a lot of fun. People miss that about him – they think he was this serious, Holy Diver geezer, but he wasn’t. He was hilarious. I mean, he bought [Motörhead guitarist] Phil Campbell a fucking dress…and Phil went on stage on a horse!