Although MotÃ¶rhead is routinely considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time by artists and publications alike, it seems that several aspects of the band remain criminally unappreciated. Simply put, everyone always says that MotÃ¶rhead rocks, which is true, but they do so much more than that.
Founded by Lemmy Kilmister after he was kicked out of Hawkwind for using too many drugs, MotÃ¶rhead developed a new type of sound that was equally appreciative of the golden age of 50's rock and was also uncompromisingly aggressive in the genius simplicity of a three chord chugging attack. Needless to say, countless punk and metal bands have used MotÃ¶rhead's blueprint as the skeleton for their own music. Yet despite having an incalculably widespread influence, MotÃ¶rhead's lyrical precision seems to be ignored, perhaps, because the music just slams so hard. In MotÃ¶rhead, Kilmister has addressed nuanced topics from the power of religion, to the corruption of politicians, to child sexual abuse, to breaking through the "Friend zone," yet in conversations, the band's sound often seems to take precedence over the band's contemplative musings.
Undeterred as always, the band has recently released a live album titled The World Is Ours and is set to join the Mayhem Tour in June, where they'll tour with Slayer, Anthrax, and High on Fire. In order to get Lemmy's feelings on the band's lyrical content, staff writer John Gentile recently sidled up to the bar next to the legendary rocker to talk about the band's metaphysical philosophy, gender dynamics, and what exactly an "Orgasmatron" is.
The last MotÃ¶rhead studio album was called The World is Yours and the new MotÃ¶rhead live album is called The World is Ours. Are you a believer that a person controls his own destiny?
Yeah, I suppose. As far as you can, within reason that is. You have to try to control your own destiny. Course there are some things that you can't control.
The new MotÃ¶rhead live album has parts recorded in The USA, in Chile, and the UK. That's quite a cultural spread. Why do you think MotÃ¶rhead translates so well to so many different cultures?
Well, it isn't the lyrics. You don't have to understand the words to get the feeling. Little Richard sung nonsense, but it was great. It's the feeling in the music that was great. I suppose that the feeling of the music is what connects to people. We're a rock band. People understand what we are doing by our sound.
It's interesting that you mention Little Richard. You once said that Little Richard was one of your biggest musical influences. You also said that when you went to see him in the 1990's, he was a big disappointment, and was not the Little Richard that you knew. Why do you think MotÃ¶rhead has never let its fans down in that regard?
Yeah, it was the 90's and I went to see Little Richard. He started handing out Bibles and talking about "the children." Jesus this and that. It was a disappointment.
As for us, well, nobody ever offered us any money, so that's one part of it. Ha! But also, well, you know if you sell your soul, youâve given away a certain amount of things. One of them is your integrity. I ain't selling that.
Similarly, MotÃ¶rhead has a very unique, identifiable sound. They've never released, say, a rock opera or techno album. Why?
Well, cause, if you have a good sound, why fuck with it? I always thought that we sounded good. We've done some experimental pieces. 1916 is experimental. We did that track with Ozzy. Mostly rock and roll is what I wanted to do so I did it. It's what I want to do, so I still play. We'll always do what we want to do. I don't give a fuck about what other people think we should do.
Certainly, MotÃ¶rhead rocks. But if you read MotÃ¶rhead lyrics, you approach topics in a very unique and nuanced way. But when people talk about MotÃ¶rhead, they seem to focus on your sound, rather than your message. Is that every frustrating for you?
Well, thank you for that. You know, does anyone appreciate anything? It would be nice to be more appreciated. But, it's nice to be known for anything really. Also, by now I'm used to it.
You're known as a great lover of women, but you're also known as a great lover of women in rock music. You've been very vocal of your support of Joan Jett, Skin of Skunk Anansie, and many others. In punk rock, it seems there is a disconnect between appreciating a woman's talents and appreciating her attractiveness. Can one appreciate a female musician's attractiveness without objectifying her?
Well, why the fuck can't you do it? Is that impossible? There are certainly people who have an axe to grind. Someone might be bitching about it, but I don't care. I never objectified women. I've always been honest. I treat people as I expect to be treated. Women, they're the same as me with tits. If they want to be crazy, well that's all right because I'm a little crazy myself, sometimes. If they want to play rock music, that's great, because I like to play rock music, too. You should treat people the way you like to be treated. If it's good art, then it's good art. Shit, I like women.
You've also been working on a solo album. It has appearances by the Damned, Joan Jett, Skin, and others. How is that release coming?
I've been doing the thing for seven years, when I have time between other projects. But, it'll get released eventually. Probably posthumously. Ha!
You were also a roadie for Jimi Hendrix for a period of time. Do you have any tales from that era?
Not really, cause we were all so wrecked. It was a lot of acid in those days. I was on a lot of acid in 1967 and we had a lot of what there was out there. I remember all kinds of bits and pieces, but nothing for publication. It was great to be there.
Certainly, you're a rock legend by now, but, unlike some other rock legends, you seem to be portrayed as a very human person, unlike say, Kurt Cobain or Janis Joplin. Why do you think people think of you as a person as opposed to an ideal?
People approach me all the time, but I don't always get noticed. It's 'cause when I go out, I don't have two bodyguards with me. I just go out by myself. People that go out with body guards baffle me. No one would notice them without them. It's really an attention thing, isn't it? It's a ploy to get noticed. I've never had a problem with it.
My favorite MotÃ¶rhead song is "Orgasmatron," but for the life of me, I could never figure out why you titled it that. Why is "Orgasmatron" called "Orgasmatron?"
Yeah, the song is about all the things that people like to do instead of orgasms. People get political orgasms and religious orgasms and holy war orgasms. It's all shit.
See, to me, that seems to be a very political song. But, you've previously said that you don't like political messages in music.
Politicians, no, I hate them all. We're not in favor of any of them. As soon as they get in office, they all become assholes. They're all the same from Stalin to Hitler to Obama. Once they get in power, the temptation is too great. They're all corrupt or assholes or both.
So, is there any solution to that?
There is no solution.