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The Old Man And The Sea: All Aboard The Motorhead Motorboat

Motörhead Motörboat: floating den of debauchery, or retirement cruise for the grand old man of metal?

Classic Rock climbs on board and catches up with Lemmy and co.

"The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck... Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”– The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway

It is almost 3pm. The storm that met us in the Cancun Channel has passed and the passengers are disembarking into the island port of Cozumel. A long line of dudes with beards and black T-shirts stretches down the dockside where Mexicans dressed as ancient Mayans, psychedelic mariachi bands and gay pirates prepare to separate them from their money with salty cocktails and fancy shitnaks. 

The old man in the naval captain’s hat in Penthouse 1, a deluxe suite that overlooks the deck of the Carnival Ecstasy, couldn’t care less. He’s not going to Mexico (“I’ve been,” he shrugs). The blinds are drawn, the ship is still for the first time in three days, and the man sips a glass of rosé wine and thinks of an old friend of his who went by the name of Daniels. 

“I can’t drink Jack now,” he says. “I don’t like the taste of it any more. I came out the hospital with a set of different tastes in me. I drink vodka now. Only now and again. More social. I don’t drink at home hardly. Just wine mostly. I don’t smoke at home, but I’ll smoke a few cigarettes out here because you meet people who still smoke and, fuck it, you know? Does smoking affect my singing? My singing depends on it, man.”

You could say there are two captains on the Carnival Ecstasy. There’s the man responsible for navigating the Gulf of Mexico, docking the ship and running the crew – Pierluigi Barrile, Italian born and the youngest captain in the Carnival fleet – and then there’s our guy, the old man in Penthouse 1, who not only has the hat, he’s the reason 1,500 or so people have come from all over the world to fill this boat and wear his uniform: the one with the badge that says ‘Motörhead, England’. Today, this is his fucking boat. 

The old captain, Lemmy (a man who can’t swim and doesn’t even have a driver’s licence), has been keeping the young captain up at night. “I didn’t go into the main lounge where Motörhead were playing,” says Barrile. “It was too noisy.” He adds that he’s “heard of Motörhead but not heard them”. Well, not really: “I could hear them from my cabin,” he says. “I’m at the back of the boat so the speakers are right under – everything vibrates!”

But for now the cabin is still. Almost exactly 10 years ago, in what was my first official assignment as a Classic Rock staffer, I interviewed Lemmy in a hotel room in London. Back then, within minutes he had poured me the first of many half pints of Jack Daniel's with a dash of Coke (“Well, you don’t want it diluted too much, do ya?”) and offered me drugs off the end of a knife. Today, Lemmy sips wine and offers me a beer. 

I ask him the same question I asked Mikkey Dee earlier and will ask Phil Campbell days later: how would he sum up the last year in Motörhead? 

“Pretty good actually,” says Lemmy. “Apart from the illness I had. But that’s not Motörhead, that’s me. Motörhead’s been going from strength to strength.”

“It’s been good,” says Campbell. “We’re just finding our feet again. Lem’s a lot healthier now, the album’s done really good for us and there’s more work on the table than we can handle. If we’re turning down work all the time it can’t be too bad.”

And Mikkey? How would he sum up the past year? Mikkey doesn’t hesitate: “A fucking mess,” he says.

For more information on 2015’s Motörboat Cruise, visit www.motorheadcruise.com

TeamRock+ members can exclusively read the full Lemmy interview here.

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