You turn 65 years old on Christmas Eve . Are you ever going to grow up? No. I don’t see the point in it. Respectability is overrated.
Rock’s longest-lasting wild man is getting tired of being the poster boy for excess.
Beginning in Aberdeen on November 8, Motörhead’s autumn 2010 UK tour includes 15 gigs in 21 days. Living the lifestyle you do, does each trek become more difficult than the last?
Not at all. They’re all remarkably alike, really. As long as they’re all manic I can get through them, you know.
The band’s former guitarist, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, once complained that you had been “up for three days, drinking vodka and fucking chicks” before a crucial gig at Stafford Bingley Hall in 1980.
I remember that, yeah. It did affect my performance that particular night, but it doesn’t usually.
Is that something you could still do?
Not really anymore, no. But I try to do a variation on it.
A lot of bands these days won’t go on stage inebriated, preferring to leave that stuff until afterwards.
[With an air of sarcasm] That’s jolly sensible of them, isn’t it? I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve. I just don’t get it. You don’t have to be completely straight-edge or completely drunk to have a good time. That’s not true. I believe in moderation in all things.
That’s a phrase we thought we’d never hear from Lemmy Kilmister.
I’ve always thought that way. It’s why I’m still here.
What was your most rock’n’roll moment?
There have been so many, you know? My life has been one long, drawn-out rock’n’roll moment. One of the most hilarious ones was playing a gig [with Hawkwind] in Harlow New Town, and [Hawkwind’s] Nik Turner came out dressed as a frog – green leotard, green tights and a mask, saxophone round his neck. There was a moat in front of the stage, and everywhere was wet because it had been raining. I said to Dave [Brock]: "Isn’t it about time someone pushed that fucking frog into the water?" As I did so he went skating in. I was on my knees with laughter, man. Stacia [Hawkwind’s dancer] tried to help him out and got pulled in with him. That was the end of the gig for me. I couldn’t stand up.
Have you ever awoken and thought: ‘I went too far last night’?
Every night of my 14th and 15th years. I’m not too keen on these questions.
Well, we wanted to examine your role as one of rock’s longest-lasting wild men.
[Witheringly] Oh, fucking hell, aren’t they tired of that yet? Isn’t there someone new that you could do instead of me?
Okay, let’s talk about the competition.
What competition? There isn’t any [chuckles]. We’re the last of our breed and we’ve still got an edge. When Motörhead have gone, there will be a hole you can’t fill.
You once said: “Most of today’s bands would’ve had rocks thrown at them, or been booed off, in the 1970s.”
Come on, we both know that’s fucking true. Most of them are just posers. They use backing tapes, pre-recorded vocals and instruments. There are not many three-piece bands that deliver what we do.
So what’s the solution?
Bands should drink more.
Seriously, should we be banning reality TV shows? Culling tribute bands?
There’s always a way back, isn’t there? For a start, bands should be made to serve out two or three years on the road before they get to make a record. That’d knock the buggers into shape.
It’s unenforceable, but a great idea.
The trouble is that bands get offered a record deal and think that’s all it takes, that everything’s going to be rosy. In fact that’s usually when the fucking trouble begins.
Talking of which, how close are you to releasing Motörhead’s 20th studio album and what can you tell us about it?
It’s been finished for a while now. It’s just a matter of sorting out which label we’re going to be on now... It’s a fairly typical Motörhead album, you know? A couple of buzzers, a couple of slow ones. It’s alright, it’s good gear.
What would Lemmy aged 30 have made of Lemmy aged 65?
He’d have said: "Poor old cunt" and forgotten about him immediately.
Journalists know to come to you for good quote. Have you become more crotchety as the years have gone by?
Oh, without a doubt. I can’t help myself. Older people don’t tend to talk much because they’re so tired of the younger ones going on and on. Young people suffer from a sickness that I was afflicted by at their age: they think they’re the first ones to think of anything.
What goals do you still have left that you’d like to achieve?
I’d like to play in China. I’d like to play in India or Africa, you know? There are still lots of places left. The last album [Motörizer] got us into the American Top 100 for the first time ever, so I’d like the new one [The World Is Yours] to get higher than Number 89.
You’ve been quoted as saying that most Americans tend to think that Motörhead ended in 1980, so that’s progress.
A lot of people still think that we stopped after Ace Of Spaces. Which is fucking stupid. If I wasn’t a rock star, why would I still be dressing the way I do? [laughs].
If the Queen offered you an OBE, would you accept it?
No. But maybe I’d take a Victoria Cross.
THIS FEATURE FIRST APPEARED IN CLASSIC ROCK ISSUE 151.