"You know, the negative stuff we're not really talking about," says an MCA Records PR flack prior to connecting me with Tommy Lee. "We are primarily focusing on Methods of Mayhem; the shows, the new record, Tommy and what he's worked for this record and what he's been through as far as recording it goes. I am going to be listening in on it [the interview]. And I'm sorry, so I hope you have enough questions as far as like the new music stuff."
"You've pretty much eliminated anything anybody cares about," I told her.
"Really?" she asked. She's simulating sincerity now, yet sounding drained from having to advocate this Methods of Mayhem nonsense.
"Yeah," I replied. I was ready to tell her to forget it. No PR flack should ever be allowed to sit in on interviews.
"Oh, okay. So you don't have any questions as far as, you know, Methods of Mayhem?"
If Tommy Lee is supposedly down with the ghetto street massive, a convicted wife-beater and Mötley Crüe dropout, doesn't that brand him a genuine tough guy? Is Lee really such a delicate doily he needs a chick PR flack to ride phone shotgun while he's interviewed by a skinny white boy who lives in a trailer park in Arizona?
She said if she couldn't listen in, there would be no interview.
"If you start talking about the record, you are gonna get a lot out of him. You start talking about Pamela, you know, it's not why we are here. It's not why he is doing interviews. If you want to do the interview, that's great. We want to do it. You know, we can take it from there. But I do have to listen in. Okay?"
Lee's vernacular alternates between sounding like playground talk of blowjobs, boobs and anal probes to an unfortunate subject of a Cops bloopers tape.
And in light of Lee's unit size -- as seen in the Tommy/Pamela sex tape -- his new "wiggers" (white guys with rap and ghetto envy) persona is a masterstroke of irony.
And the Crüe story is told to blue-faced death.
I figured, as I am sure the PR flack knew, Tommy was gonna hang himself with his own words. He did.
Bill Blake: "Are you pleased with how everything is going?"
Tommy Lee: "Yeah, I am actually fucking ecstatic, dude, I can't believe ..."
BB: "I knew you were going to say that, but are you really?"
TL: "I really didn't know what to expect. You know, it's a brand-new project and a brand-new band, so I prepared to completely start over. You know, which is reality, it's like, 'Dude, you're starting over, bro.'"
BB: "That's really impressive. Particularly considering what Fitzgerald said, that there are no second acts in life."
TL: "You know what? I consider myself really fucking, like, lucky. And I'm grateful. It's like, you know, very few artists ever really get a second opportunity to fuckin' do it again. And I'm like, man, I can't even fuckin' believe this is happening right now."
BB: "Most people that I know in their late 30s are bald, fat, they have a bad house in the suburbs, a speedboat maybe. They are divorced with kids and whatnot. You've seemed to have managed to sidestep all that."
TL: (Giggles) "I don't know how, bro. You know what, Danny from Nine Inch Nails, a friend of mine, guitar player, right? He always, fuckin' always, every time I talk to him, he's like, 'Man, muthafucka, you got a horseshoe up your ass. You are like a cat; you just keep landin' on your feet. How the fuck are you doin' that? Can I borrow the horseshoe, please?'"
BB: "Explain that."
TL: "You know what? I don't know. I really believe it's beyond.... Somebody out there is looking out after me; some power bigger than all of us is guiding me through this journey called life. And I'm just fuckin' hanging on, bro. I mean, a lot of times I really don't know. But when I go to bed at night, I fuckin', ah, I say 'thank you' many, many times."
BB: "Explain the song 'Proposition Fuck You' on your new record."
TL: "Ah, 'Proposition Fuck You.' That was actually inspired by a coupla my buddies called the Filthy Immigrants. These guys are like, man, 'You gotta have a song like this.' They're like, 'Dude, it is so perfect, ya know, coming from you.' You know, they believe, ah, you know, fuckin', I mean I am not sayin' 'fuck you' to, ah, it's not like a global thing. There's people, there were cops in my life who have treated me like a fuckin' piece of shit. And I didn't deserve to be treated that way. So I am not saying 'fuck you' to everybody. They know who they are. I hope that people don't take it the wrong way."
BB: "Do you feel any responsibility to the kids buying your new record?"
TL: "I don't want that responsibility. You can't be responsible for everybody all the time. I am only responsible for myself. I make music that makes me feel good. And you know what? There's nuttin' wrong with yelling 'fuck you' in the air. So many people like to do that. If anything, it's anger management techniques. It's healthy in a twisted way, you know?
"Right now, it's the first time in my life that I have had a voice. I can talk now. I sing. You know what my album is full of? My album is full of the truth. That's what that album's about."
BB: "Do you think that there are people that really care?"
TL: "I know me. If I hear a song that is really amazing, man, that shit just hits home hard. You know what I'm saying? I think that no matter if you are younger or older and you still like music, it still touches you, man. So, I don't know, you kinda hafta.... Music is my favorite thing in my life."
BB: "What is the song 'Hypocritical' about?"
TL: "I started writing that, and it's like, you know, this is important, this is really important. Who sets the standards, who sets the lines. Who, you? Meaning yourself. Or did they rule your mind, the fucking media. I have noticed the most unbelievable things this last year that I just had to share. I would watch shit on TV about my life. I'd be flipping through the channels and be going, 'That's fucking bullshit. That's not fucking true.' So I am sitting there going, 'I gotta write about this.'
"[It's] my own life on TV, and they are fucking up all the details. Where are they getting this in-fucking-formation from? So I am sitting there and my mind starts to go, 'Man, if they can't get my puny-ass fucking little life, if they can't get those little details right, what am I watching when I watch the fucking president or when I watch some war shit happening overseas? Or when I watch hunger in another country? Am I getting some watered-down, jacked-up version of what's really happening? Yeah, probably. That's my message to everybody. Being the age that I am, I have seen this movie. I have seen it change over time, dude, and I just, I want the fucking young kids of the world to fucking pay attention at what's up."
BB: "I know I am not supposed to ask any Crüe questions. But one is okay, isn't it? On VH1's Behind the Music special featuring Mötley Crüe, Vince Neil was talking about Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle who was killed in a drunk-driving tragedy. Razzle was a passenger in the car driven by Neil. Neil literally called himself the O.J. of the '80s. What did it feel like to be in a band with a singer who said that he got away with murder? What were you thinking when he said that?"
TL: "I have no idea, you know? I just couldn't believe he said that. Vince was probably really hung over or still drunk that day. Because that's just how he operates, ya know? I really feel sorry for him. I wish that one day he would fuckin ..."
BB: "Is he really that bad of a drunk, that he's always drunk?"
TL: "... Well ..."
(The PR flack chimes in with a warning here: "You guys, it's all good now.")
BB: "What do you say when people accuse you of wanting to be black?"
TL: "Oh, my God, that is so funny, man. I actually laugh at that. To me that's just the biggest sign of ignorance. Like, it's like, they're just flying the huge ignorance flag. Because, you know, when people say that, like, I just start laughing, 'cause I am like, 'You guys have got to be fucking kidding me, right?'
"I am fucking, a fuckin' white boy who doesn't think he's black, ain't tryin' to be black. I am a fucking drummer, okay? I am a drummer who has mad fucking rhythms goin' at all times. And to me, I just see it as a natural progression for me to fucking be singing, but be singing in rhythmic fashion. I'm a drummer. You know what, bro? You can fucking call it whatever you want, but that's what rap music is. It's a vocal being delivered rhythmically. And I'm a drummer, so here you go.... That's when I laugh. I go, yeah, I'm trying to be black, fuckin' dildos. You know? I'm a drummer."
BB: "What are you trying to do?"
TL: "Here's what I would love to see, okay? I look out from the stage and see the little fuckin' hip-hoppers over here, fuckin' boppin' and fuckin' dancin'. You see the little fuckin' raver kids with their glow sticks fuckin' doin' their trip here. You see the fuckin' metal heads down in the front with their fuckin' leather jackets on. You see the fuckin', you know what I mean? I want to bring a bunch of people together who may not have all got together. You know what I mean? It would be so cool, man, ya know?"
Get Some Go Ahead
Henry Rollins has said the only way he could survive the chemically dependent residue of his unhappy childhood was to foster a "Nietzschean" mode of self-discipline and self-reliance. In adherence to these principles, Rollins eschewed booze and dope and became a gym junkie -- that explains his no-neck-herculean-and-distended-beer-can-shaped-head look. Judging from the CD's booklet photo, you'd think he was one of those steroido, punk-loathing cops who patrol devout religious communities and on weekends enjoy beers and softball with Klansman pals.
On Get Some Go Ahead, Rollins maintains his badass poet of the pissed-off losers posture, which, presumably, in all of its adulteration, nobody cares to challenge. Maybe they think he'll beat them up? The record also introduces an all-new backing ''band," L.A.'s Mother Superior.
Rollins possesses a confidence (and brute physical strength) to believe in and successfully promote his own mythology while claiming to champion punk-rock ethos. But the hypocrisies are of colossal proportion.
He takes the piss out of women who unnaturally doctor their bodies, yet a casual glance at Rollins himself reveals a Mr. Vainglory. Don't miss his butt-revealing role in the Billy Zane and Kelly McGillis flick Morgan's Ferry.
On "LA Money Train," Rollins' anger sleeves are rolled up over Popeye forearms as he delivers with wish-poet fists: "You lose your job/You get your ass kicked/Your woman leaves you/You spend the night in county jail/Reality gets all up in your face and says, 'Hey, man, the rich do'/And all of a sudden that Offspring record just doesn't do it for you anymore."
The blow to the Offspring is deserved, sure, but coming from Rollins?
This from a man who hawks Macs while balking at commerciality. So what's he pissed off about? A bunch of un-fly white guys who made it big on pop shtick? Rollins sounds like a fourth grader shouting insults to neighborhood kids from the window of his upstairs bedroom where he knows he can't be touched.
Get Some Go Ahead sees the Rollins Band's jazzy blunders of old replaced with punky/bluesy saddle sores, topped with Rollins' prototypical pocketbook Marxist spouting. The subtext of which conjures a Just Say No, SS-affecting jock-O whose rigid routine revolves around pumping iron, work and sleep. Ultimately what Rollins does do is uphold the strength-through-brawn honor of testis-proud American dudes; someone who prides himself an alpha male, but demands the responsibilities of an adolescent boy. When considering Rollins' constant self-investigations and diary-like self-appraisal, you understand that the man has succeeded in becoming nothing short of a world-class irritant. He's always coming up short. Just how we imagine his penis.
The Best of the Best 1984-2000
One day I was at a diner in Texas. I sat down and ordered coffee. A few tables over, a disgusting fat guy had just received his order. He pigged on a cheeseburger and fries so greasy they dripped. When he bit down on his burger, the side facing me spit juice. The man wiped the grease off his mouth with a napkin and looked up at me. In a curiously high voice, he said, "It's a bitch when you go to the bathroom and your dick smells like bad pussy." I swear to God that is what he said. I just looked at him with a bored expression.
Years later, I realized that the slob in that Texas diner was quoting Blackie Lawless, metal's own Mary Tyler Moore in an Elvira wig. Then I thought how tragic it is that I can lay claim to recognizing W.A.S.P. lyrics. For the life of me, I couldn't recite the first line of any Shakespeare sonnet or rattle forth dialogue from Midnight Cowboy, a movie I've seen maybe 30 times.
Listening to this best-of W.A.S.P. collection, you get the sense that Blackie Lawless sat around for years sticking pins in dolls named Nikki Sixx while investing heavily in David Lee Roth hair tonics. In Lawless' pack of bestial, rutting predators, you can picture under their leather exteriors flabby middle-age-man tits bouncing along as they rawk out on songs like "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)" and "Dirty Balls."
W.A.S.P. at best knew a good Queen and Motörhead riff when it heard one, but thought it wise to mix it with greasy woman-hateful imagery and the ever-treacherous rockface of metal music.
When considering Ronnie James Dio's latest music for purchase, it's undeniable that helpful elves and toad princes probably have more street cred. A few points to chew on:
1. He's a Lilliputian sort.
2. He must be at least 100 years old.
3. His first group was called Elf, whose albums are just plain bad/funny, and the title is funny when you consider number 1, above.
4. You want funny? Look at the picture on this site: http://www.ronniejamesdio.com/
5. He got booted from Black Sabbath on more than one occasion (1982 and 1992).
7. Rainbow, anyone? How about "Puff the Magic Dragon"?
8. Common wisdom says Dio is the one who brought the La Mano Cornuda hand sign (devil sign: index finger and pinky finger outstretched, fist clenched; best issued while drunk on Natural Light Ice) to the world of metal.
9. Like Ozzy, his wife doubles as his manager.
10. Holy Diver -- He's a survivor!
Contact Bill Blake at his online address: Trashman@rock.com
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.