In the stratosphere of music, there is only one Tommy Lee. The Motley Crue drum impresario turned solo music innovator is dropping his brand new album Andro on October 16th, & he has already released several singles of the package, including “Knock Me Down” featuring Killvein. With collaborations with everyone from Post Malone to Brooke Candy, Lee has managed to reinvent himself as one of the go-to collaborators for up and coming artists. I sat down to talk with Lee about his brand new music, the process of choosing collaborators, and how he has been finding inspiration during this truly revolutionary time in our country.
Michael Cook: Your new music has a very distinct sound for Tommy Lee; tell me where that comes from.
Tommy Lee: Now that’s a loaded question (laughs)! In 2016, I was done with Motley Crue, the tour was over and I was going to take a full year off, no music no nothing. I just wanted to air out the musical portion of my head. I lasted about a year and started having ideas and putting them together. I have a large collaboration list of people that I would love to work with that I have accumulated over the years. As the tracks were getting written, I would think “oh this would be perfect for so and so” or “Killvein would just kill this track!” Then I just started getting people over the finish the tracks, and boom-done!
MC: The group of collaborators is extremely eclectic and all melds together beautifully. “Ain’t Telling Me Nothing” featuring PA4N for example, has a unique and revolutionary sound. Did you have an ongoing arc that you wanted the music to follow or did you take each song and then they all just seemed to fall into place?
TL: You know, it was definitely more like the latter. I don’t know, I would just get inspired. I would be down here fucking around playing the drums and would say “oh that’s a killer beat” and that would lead to grabbing a keyboard or programming some crazy loops. It’s always kind of different. Sometimes I’ll sit down at the piano, but the process is never the same. I just get inspired and it just goes like that; there is no method to the madness.
MC: Where do you think that you draw the most inspiration from?
TL: You know what, I am such an energy guy; I feed off of that. If something moves me, whether it’s a beat or a sound might inspire me, or something that somebody said or is doing, I am just conscious. I feel like a magnet sometimes, I pull from energy basically. It’s hard to explain inspiration isn’t it?
MC: Motley Crue was where so many people gained exposure to you and you in turn, gained exposure to so much as well. As you work on what many are considering a revolutionary new kind of sound, is there ever a time you hear or work on something and it harkens back to those days and you can hear the influence of a time gone by?
TL: Sometimes. Not really that far back, though. You are only as good as your last effort. I don’t go back that far. I’ll think back on something and go “oh that was really cool, that we did”. Not a lot though. I am always moving in the forward direction.
MC: You have always been the kind artist who is on the cutting edge and has worked with some truly revolutionary people. For example, you worked with RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 winner and burlesque performer Violet Chachki on “Bettie”. The LGBT community has been a fan of yours for quite some time, but that project truly brought you to our attention all over again. How did that collaboration come to pass?
TL: That is so crazy, so random! I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race here and there and I saw when Violet won and I said “wow that’s fucking cool”! There was no connection at all still, and all of a sudden I get a call from this guy Thomas and he was looking for songs for Violet. He asked if I had anything “racy and bad ass” that Violet might be interested in. I sent in a couple things and “Bettie” made it through. Everyone freaked out and we got it goin’! That was so fun!
MC: The LGBT community has a special affinity for you, and without getting into detail, the boys have always been massive fans of you for some reason.
TL: Oh I know, trust me (Laughs)! I love em all, its’ really cool.
MC: What do you think it is that makes the community gravitate to you so much?
TL: You know, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I’m open, I am just a fucking anything goes til the wheels fall off kind of dude. Maybe that’s it, my free spirit.
MC: What do you think of with the state of music now? Touring has definitely changed with our current climate, but it has caused people to really turn to some inventive and creative ways to make music and express their art. What do you think?
TL: It’s cool. I love that things are progressing all the time. Sonically things are sounding better and the quality is better. I am still waiting for something….you know how every ten years something comes through, maybe it’s a different genre or a whole different style and you are like “Whoa, where has this been”? I haven’t felt that in a while and I don’t know, maybe it’s just time. I certainly like the way things are moving forward though. Cool sounding, good vibes, all that.
MC: Right now it has been very hard for creative people to stay creatively fueled while we have been quarantined. How have you managed to make it through and stay inspired?
TL: You know what’s weird, I tell other people this too, I don’t get out much anyway. This is my creative spot, I love staying home and I honestly don’t get out that much. My life honestly in many ways, hasn’t changed strangely, except the part where you are social in the evening. For the most part on the day to day stuff, it has been pretty much the same.
MC: What is the one quote that you live your life by that has stayed with you?
TL: Oh there are so many and now we see them all over the place on line you know? I don’t have a go-to really, but I will tell you this; I start every single day with some mediation. That really sets the tone and the pace for the day. I follow that up every single day, I say three things that I am grateful for, Gratitude is a big one and people forget that. When things are lovely or they’re shitty….how wonderful everything really is. Gratitude is a big one for me; then I am off and running and I go fucking bananas the rest of the day (laughs)!
Follow Tommy Lee & grab his new album Andro here