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We ran this story originally in September 2009. RIP Lemmy. – ed

all words: Jeff Jetton , all photos: Jes Griffin, all video: Scott Rattler

“More than any other rock musician, he is the baddest motherfucker in the world”-Dave Grohl on Lemmy

When I was in high school, my little brother and all of his friends were super into Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and Motorhead and all of the old 1st wave British Heavy Metal Bands.  My metal knowledge started and ended with Anthrax and the later albums of Suicidal Tendencies.  I remember they would always scream out the name Lemmy and I really never had any idea who they were talking about. I do now.  Lemmy is a God.  A rock and roll deity.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, ask that guy you work with who is kind of weird and has long hair and works in A/V or Tech Support and something just doesn’t seem right about him.  He’ll tell you.


You know how there is this small set of celebrities out there that have transcended normal naming conventions and shunned their given names for just a single word?  Prince.  Madonna.  Sting.  Seal.  Jesus.  Well, Lemmy’s sort of like those cats except that he could probably line up all of these other ‘celebrities’ and mow them down with a gattling gun and there are a hundred thousand long-haired dudes out there who would think it was epic.  Seal couldn’t get away with that.


BYT put together a crack team for this interview.  Jes Griffin, heavy metal muse, whose boyfriend is Tony of DC-area, death-metal band Three Faces of Eve, came along to shoot photos with her new Leica.  We also brought her along because she looks like Angelina Jolie and it’s always a safe bet to have a pretty girl in the room when interviewing Lemmy.  Also along for the ride was Scott Rattler of DC-area metal band Rattler.  When Scott heard we’d be interviewing Lemmy, he asked if he could come along to get some video footage for the Rattler archives.   It also turned out that Rattler had been practicing the night before at Fort Awesome, the house where the dudes in Three Faces of Eve live, it’s a small world.


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Since Lemmy’s real name is Ian Kilmister, we had planned on having one of the other rockstars named Ian interview Lemmy and we’d call it ‘Ian on Ian’.  We figured since both Ian Svenonius (The Makeup, Weird War, Nations of Ulysses) and Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Evens) live around the corner, that it wouldn’t be hard to arrange something.  Unfortunately, they were both unable to conduct the interview due to prior commitments (although Ian MacKaye did say that he has a lot of respect for Lemmy for, in his words: “playing the loudest show I’ve ever seen”).  Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull was also, sadly, unavailable.


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We got to the 930 club well before the show and were told to wait while they checked on Lemmy’s whereabouts.  It turns out putting together an interview team of metal commandos really comes in handy.  The Motorhead roadies couldn’t get enough of Scott Rattler’s Patrick Swayze Roadhouse tattoo and immediately welcomed us into the Motorhead family.  Strongbows were cracked and stories were told.  Apparently Dan Halen, Motorhead’s tour manager had been robbed at the gas station across from the 930 club earlier in the day.

After a good half hour of shooting the shit with Motorhead roadies, we were ushered up to Lemmy’s dressing room, where we found him quietly reading a book, smoking and drinking Jack Daniels.  And eating 3 Musketeers bars.  Go figure.  Lemmy invited us to have a seat and started out the interview by questioning Scott Rattler on his tattoos.


Lemmy:  That’s a nice tattoo.  Who is it?

Scott Rattler:  Patrick Swayze from Roadhouse.


Lemmy:  You like Dirty Dancing, eh?

Scott Rattler:  And then I have Rambo over here.

Lemmy:  Looks like Gary Rohr, that one.

BYT:  It’s Rambo.  So originally we were going to do this interview with Ian MacKaye of Fugazi but he couldn’t make it, he had other arrangements.  We figured you were both named Ian it would be interesting.

Lemmy:  I don’t care who is named what.

BYT:  So you live in L.A. now, what inspired you to leave Stoke-On-Trent to…

Lemmy:  Oh I didn’t live in Stoke-On-Trent, I was only born there.  I was in London from 1967 til 1990.  I just moved to L.A. because of the hot weather.  And the women wear less clothing because of the hot weather and everything is half priced.   Any questions?


BYT:  There must be some things you miss about England, though.  The Jammy Dodgers and Walkers Crisps?

Lemmy:  Not much, really.  About ten people and the cheese.

BYT:  The cheese?  Haven’t you ever been to Wisconsin?

Lemmy: Yeah, I’ve been to Wisconsin.

BYT: You didn’t like the cheese there?

Lemmy: Cheddar isn’t orange, man.


BYT: So you’re a notorious ladies man.  Did you ever consider giving up the lifestyle for the white picket fence, two kids and a wife?

Lemmy:  Bit late now.

BYT: Too late?

Lemmy: Set in the habit now.

BYT:  But you must have the urge to keep the bloodline running.  Have a couple of kids.

Lemmy: I’ve got two kids.  The youngest one’s forty-one years old.

BYT:  They live in the U.S.?

Lemmy:  The youngest one does.  His name’s Paul.  Named after McCartney.  Because his mother used to fuck John Lennon.  She really liked McCartney.  I think she was trying to get to Paul through John.

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BYT:  You have a new video game coming out, can you tell us a bit about Brutal Legend?

Lemmy: Yeah I had to wear that stupid thing with all the lights.  Jump around, play the bass.  They did it, yeah, should be fun.

BYT:  Have you beaten it?

Lemmy:  Have I seen it?

BYT:  Have you played it?

Lemmy:  Yeah.

BYT:  Did you beat it?

Lemmy:  Oh, no I haven’t played it, I played the part, you know, did the voiceover.

BYT:  When’s that coming out?

Lemmy:  Dunno.  When they get it ready, I guess.

BYT:  And your new movie, just entitled Lemmy: The Movie.  I saw online that you’re a bit annoyed with the production process.  Is this true?

Lemmy:  No, not at all.  When they follow you around with the cameras for a whole tour you can get kind of pissed off, but they’re good guys, you know?

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BYT:  Next question, whose skull would your rather crush with your bass guitar and use as an ashtray: Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) or Hugh Grant?

Lemmy:  Who’s the naked chef?

BYT:  He’s that guy with the chef show on TV, it’s really annoying.

Lemmy:  Yeah, probably him.  Who’s Jamie Oliver?

BYT:  That’s the Naked Chef.  And you know Hugh Grant.

Lemmy:  I quite like Hugh Grant.  He got caught with a whore in L.A. He’s alright in my book.  Fun loving criminal, really.


BYT:  We asked Dave Lombardo of Slayer this question and got a pretty thorough answer:  Which bands are the biggest pussies?

Lemmy:  Dunno, I haven’t met them all.  I’m sure it’ll get straightened out in due time.


BYT:  We asked our friend Miho Hatori (of Cibo Matto and the Gorillaz) what she thought we should ask you and she wanted to know what you thought of the ecological energy movement and whether you consider yourself an environmentalist?

Lemmy:  I wouldn’t say that I’m an environmentalist, I like bright lights too much.  It’s funny that America says it’s going green and then look at Vegas.  Yeah.  Personally I think it’s too late.  I think we’ve fucked up and we can’t get out of it.  I think it’s too bad.   All this shit now is just, like, pushing it past the graveyard.

BYT:  So smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, huh?

Lemmy:  Yeah, absolutely.


BYT:  The ‘squash my frog’ joke you told on Lemmy: The Movie, we thought that was hilarious.  Have you got any other jokes?

Lemmy:  Yeah, that’s a good one.  Not any other long ones, really.  (Pauses)  How do you know the CIA weren’t involved in Kennedy’s assassination?

BYT:  How?

Lemmy:  Well he’s dead, isn’t he?

BYT:  We have one, too.  What does a gay horse eat?

Lemmy:  What?

BYT:  Haaaaaaaaay!

Lemmy:  (Laughs)  Oh jesus, that’s terrible.  What did the Irish Kamikaze, wait no, what did the Jewish Kamikaze bomb?  Crashed into his brother’s scrapyard.

BYT:  (laughs politely although I still have no idea what that joke meant)  So I’m fairly certain you used a stunt guy to crash through the wall on the Killed By Death video.

Lemmy:  Yeah, that wasn’t me.  I rode the bike on the trailer and they pulled me (for certain scenes).  It was really amazing when he come out the grave because there was like an inch clearance.  And he came down through the dark and came up from the grave.

BYT:  When’s the new album coming out?

Lemmy:  I don’t know, we go into the studio in January.


BYT:  Tell us a bit about White Line Fever, your book?

Lemmy:  Have you read it?

BYT:  I have not read it yet.

Lemmy:  I don’t have to tell you about it, you have to read it.

BYT:  Some of our readers may be unfamiliar with Motorhead, they are some weasley little hipsters who like MGMT and Deathcab for Cutie.

Lemmy:  Oh I can’t help them, they’re obviously too far gone.

BYT:  So how would you describe Motorhead in ten words or less?

Lemmy:  Brutal, tuneful and good for the soul.


BYT:  Are you listening to anything current?  Any new bands?

Lemmy:  Couple of ‘em.  You know we get a lot of CD’s sent to us.  I listen to a few of them, I don’t know who particularly.  The best record to come out in the last ten years, I think, is Evanescence.

BYT:  Evanescence.  So that’s the kind of stuff that’s in your iPod?  You have an iPod?

Lemmy:  Yeah, but I left it at home like the asshole that I am.

BYT:  Call up Steve Jobs, have him send you another one.


Lemmy:  The computer guy?  What about him?

BYT:  Call him up, have him send you another one.

Lemmy:  Fuck him.  I’ll buy one if I need one.

BYT:  What type of stuff is on your iPod, is it all hip hop and…

Lemmy:  Oh no, I don’t like hip hop.  I despise hip hop.  It’s an insult to the black race.  I was brought up on black music, I love black music.  Hip hop is not a worthy successor to Motown and the blues.


BYT:  So you’re a big fan of war stuff, memorabilia and things like that.  Have you ever visited any of the historic civil war battlefields in the Maryland/Virginia area or anywhere around here?

Lemmy: It’s a field, you know?  A field with a wall on one side.  Who cares?  It’d be interesting if they knocked all the bodies and left them there.  But a field?  I can go see a field a lot closer to home.

BYT:  Next time you’re in town we should plan ahead and take you to one of those Civil War reenactments, we could dress up like soldiers and play battle.

Lemmy:  Yeah, that might be fun, yeah.


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BYT:  Well those were all the questions we had, I was wondering if we could get a few shots taking a shot with you.

Lemmy:  Of course.


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Lemmy Interview from rory sheridan on Vimeo.

And that was that.  We walked out of Lemmy’s dressing room half-drunk and quite satisfied.  Like so many 22-year old Motorhead groupies.  Rather than photographing the show, we thought a video might be a better indication of what it’s like to be there.  Sorry, we got really drunk and missed the first three songs (which we were allowed to photograph).   Enjoy the video.