It’s not every day that you get to speak with a legendary band. At Riot Fest Toronto 2015, AMBY had the opportunity of heading backstage to the trailer of Mikkey Dee from heavy metal group Motörhead. In their forty years as a band, Motörhead have released twenty-two studio records and toured the globe. You can imagine, as a fan, how exciting it was to have ten minutes to discuss all things Motörhead. Enjoy our exclusive interview as we discuss creating a loud and fast record, keeping innovative, downtime fun, theme songs and Triple H, and The Motorboat Tour.
AMBY: Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out and have a chat this afternoon, Mikkey! I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be interviewing Motörhead.
Mikkey Dee: No problem, it’s cool. Shoot away!
AMBY: We’re at Riot Fest today which is one of Toronto’s biggest festivals. When did you roll into town and what have you been up to since arriving?
Mikkey Dee: We rolled in to town from Montreal at around seven this morning and I’ve just been at the hotel sleeping, or trying to sleep [laughs]. We did Riot Fest in Chicago and it seems to be a pretty decent festival. This is our first time on it, or at least I think this is our first time doing it. It’s cool. I hope we have the weather with us – it’s such a difference when it’s raining.
AMBY: Do you prefer playing the festival sites like today’s, or your own shows?
Mikkey Dee: We’ve done festivals all summer, so I actually prefer our own shows. We have a short set today which is barely an hour, but it’s always good. It’s good that we’re doing festivals because we actually do reach a crowd that might not listen to us, so there are going to be a few people out there who see us and think “oh okay, they are pretty cool”.
AMBY and Mikkey Dee: [laughs]
Mikkey Dee: Hopefully. You never know. That’s a good part of the festivals. When we play as normal, we have our fans which is great but this is a little different.
AMBY: Let’s discuss the Motorboat Tour. Great name.
Mikkey Dee: Oh yea, the “Motorboat Tour”. It is so gay, but it works [laughs].
AMBY: You’re on a cruise ship with Slayer and Anthrax.
Mikkey Dee: We’ve actually upgraded the boat and it’s now a much, much bigger boat. It was such a success and people really loved it the first time, so why not continue it?
[Mikkey takes something out of his pocket]
Mikkey Dee: Swedish tobacco.
[He leaves for a brief moment and comes back with it in his mouth]
Mikkey Dee: I ate something horrible before! This is better.
AMBY: [laughs] Is the boat something you enjoy more than being on the road or flying from place to place?
Mikkey Dee: That is very, very different. The first day, I was a little bit worried because people really panic about chasing around every artist who was on the boat. It mellowed out, though, and became really comfortable where you could lie out and walk around without people on you. It warned me on the first day because everyone was like “whaaaa!”
AMBY: They’re on a boat with Motörhead. I’m sure a lot of people were scouting you all out for photos and everything. Can you blame them?
Mikkey Dee: You couldn’t really walk anywhere because they were really on your ass about everything. You’d try to leave and say “yea yea, I’ll be right back” but a couple of hours went by and people realized they aren’t going anywhere. They’re stuck. Then that’s what made it comfortable and made it okay.
AMBY: [laughs] You all can’t go anywhere in the middle of the ocean. So you’re touring in support of your twenty-second record Bad Magic.
Mikkey Dee: Have you heard it?
AMBY: Of course I have.
Mikkey Dee: Did you like it?
AMBY: It’s a great record.
Mikkey Dee: It’s a very hard, but a very fast album. I heard it the other day again where I heard it from top to bottom, and I thought “this album is pretty fast!”
AMBY and Mikkey Dee: [laughs]
Mikkey Dee: It’s a good one.
AMBY: Something I loved seeing was how you covered The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil. Out of all of the rock tracks you could have covered, why did you gravitate towards this one?
Mikkey Dee: It was a total coincidence. We were asked to do a Motörhead version of that song for Triple H, the wrestler. What he was going to use it for? I don’t know. I believe it was for some kind of documentary of his life. So we did it, a Motörhead version and we kind of dug it. We thought “fuck it” and put it on our record [laughs].
AMBY: That’s great.
Mikkey Dee: We didn’t really go and pick the song, but it worked out great.
AMBY: I never came across that story anywhere!
Mikkey Dee: It was a total coincidence. I don’t think we would have picked that song ourselves, so I don’t want to take credit for that smart move.
AMBY: I absolutely love wrestling.
Mikkey Dee: Oh you do?
AMBY: I most definitely do. Is that something you take interest in as well, or are you mostly tied into it due to writing these tracks?
Mikkey Dee: Yea, that’s pretty much it. Triple H is great though.
AMBY: How do you keep things innovative and so different when it comes to making records? It’s crazy to see a band who has put out twenty-two records and they still sound so fresh.
Mikkey Dee: That’s a good question. That’s the hardest thing in the world. At the same time, it seems to be easy for us. The harder you tour and you’re out on the road, the easier it is to go into the studio. We need a break from the tour and everyone is ready to start creating some stuff. It seems to get easier for us every year which means a lot – I don’t know a band who comes out with a new album every other year.
AMBY: For more than two decades? No [laughs].
Mikkey Dee: As you said, it seems like every album… I can’t say we’ve done a shitty album ever. Some are a little cooler and some maybe needed a bit more time, but I can’t say we’ve released shit just to release something. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do that, but it’s the easiest thing since we’ve toured so much.
AMBY: It must feel pretty good to look back on that catalog and be happy with everything. I’d think most bands look back on their records and definitely find some shitty moments or things they wish they could change.
Mikkey Dee: I don’t think we’ve done that and that’s a good thing, of course. A lot of bands release things to release things and we’ve never done that. Sitting here today now, our album is out and I couldn’t even think of being in the studio. Fuck. Because we don’t really like the studio too much. Once another year goes by touring, we’ll want to be back in the studio though.
AMBY and Mikkey Dee: [laughs]
Mikkey Dee: It’s a good, healthy back and forth. But touring, this is what we do. This is the shit.
AMBY: Beyond the music that we all know you for, what else do you take interest in on your downtime?
Mikkey Dee: Oh wow! Me personally? I play a lot of hockey when I’m back in Sweden, go fishing, take care of the family. There are a million things to do. I’m basically doing what every person does with their lives; I go ahead with normal shit. I do the lawn, fix things… The more lame it is, the more brain food I get. It’s great being outdoors and doing things.
AMBY: Normal stuff.
Mikkey Dee: Exactly.
AMBY: Motörhead, as you well know, have been a band since 1975. Is there anything left that you’d like to try and accomplish or achieve in your career?
Mikkey Dee: I’m sure there are a lot of things, but nothing I can think of right now because I’m very happy that we can tour and sound good. When you do a tour, you can do it in different ways and I’ve done a lot of tours in the last thirty-four years I’ve toured internationally. There have been times where I’ve felt like I’ve struggled and played average on my drums. No one can tell; they just come up to me and say “oh yea, that’s killer”. Listening back, yes it did sound great, but I know how much effort it took for me to achieve that. Other tours, I just go on stage and I barely do anything and I don’t have to put in any effort and it sounds great every night. It’s an easy tour. I don’t know what that happens. You can’t prepare yourself in a different way for that. Some tours are different than others, but that’s what I look forward to all of the time. We’re going to Europe as part of our 40th Anniversary Tour and I’m already thinking how I hope that tour is going to be one of those easy ones. Not one where my hands are bleeding every day and I have to really work so hard to sound like a bad copy of myself. That’s what I’m thinking about. Not so much “I’d like to do this” or “I’d like to do that”. The main thing is staying on the road and staying healthy, then I’m happy. That’s it.
Thank you Motörhead, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout