You expect a lot of things when chatting with Tommy Lee, the often-shirtless pagan beat behind the rockin' hedonists in Motley Crue. Debauched tales of the Sunset Strip, creative profanity, an overreliance on the word "dude." What you don't expect is for Pam Anderson's ex to balk at the term "groupies." After all, this is a wild man whose holy mantra is the tender ode Girls, Girls, Girls.
But alas, as Stuck in the '80s metalheads Sean Daly and Steve Spears found out in a curious phone interview, the sex-tape revolutionary, who brings his Crue to the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday, is a mellower guy at age 48. His turbulent 30-year relationship with bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars has obviously dulled his edges. That said, the dude is still crazy enough to strap himself into a "360 drum roller coaster."
How's the band getting along these days? Everything cool with Vince and Nikki?
We hate each other! Nah, I'm just kidding. It's all good. We're having such good fun. It's just ripping. We're having a blast.
How's Mick holding up? We think he's one of rock's great underrated guitarists.
You know Mick. You can't mess with the Mars Man, dude. He's killing s---. What's that silly thing they say about being underrated or overrated — hey, at least he's rated! That's one thing that's never changed depending on all Mick's health issues — his playing has never seemed to change. The guy's on fire.
Tell us about the 360 drum roller coaster you developed for this tour. Sounds insane.
It's one of those things you absolutely have to see. You can watch YouTube videos all day long, but unless you come and see it live. . . . The idea starts with me, and we just kind of take it from there. It was time to take it to the next level. (Laughs) I'm gonna shoot myself out of an elephant's a-- next time. You know me, dude: full-on thrill seeker. Someone's gotta do it!
How debauched is the Crue backstage scene these days? We hear you're the one keeping the wild rep alive.
I'm pretty much that guy, you know? After the show's over, we usually have a big party in my dressing room 'cause I basically have a club sound system, a huge PA system. Everyone parties and dances around and gets crazy. Yeah, it's always nuts back here.
What do your groupies look like? Is it an all-ages affair?
The ages are all over the place. We've been doing it 30 years, so you have people our age. And not to put them in the same sentence as a cheesy word like "groupies," but I see kids 10 years old. (Editor's note: He's not talking about groupies. He's talking about fans in general. Apparently even Tommy Lee has limits.) Some parents are bringing their kids. It's pretty cool to see such a wide variety of people coming to the show: all ages, all colors and sizes. It's dope.
You know your kids will grow up to be rock stars! With a dad like Tommy Lee . . .
I don't know about that. Sometimes when you have children they're the opposites of you. My youngest son, Dylan, is probably on his way to becoming a professional surfer. He's just shredding surfing. My other son, Brandon, is starting to make electronic music on his computer. They already have a rock star parent, so they're probably on to something else, you know?
You've repeatedly said you don't want to make albums anymore. Why is that?
No one really buys records anymore. You can look at sales and do that math real quick. Unfortunately, it's fast food in the music industry. People don't ingest full records anymore. They buy song to song, something that blows their skirt up. For you to sit there and rip your hair out and put six, eight months into making a full record for someone to buy one song from, that is stupid.
That's kind of sad. Look at all the great albums you guys made. Look at Dr. Feelgood.
I don't know, dude. I don't think it's sad. I think it's actually cool. What it will do is force people to make better songs at a time, instead of making an album with nine s----- filler tracks and two good songs. I think it's nice. I think it's going to be wonderful, to tell you the truth.
The entire Tommy Lee interview can be heard at tampabay.com/blogs/80s.