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A Conversation With Mikkey Dee
by Samuel Barker
April 14, 2002

Mikkey Dee
Mikkey Dee

Samuel Barker: Youíve been in Motorhead for over 10 years now, what has made you stick it out in this band?

Mikkey Dee: Well, I wouldnít stick with any band where I didnít enjoy it. With King Diamond, we had a great time for many years, the reason I left was because we had different opinions and it wasnít much fun anymore. Thatís why I left Dokken as well; it didnít work out too well, a lot of fighting in the band. With Motorhead, it seems weíve found ourselves. We have a really good vibe with the band, we have a lot of fun, itís great.

Samuel: I notice that everything written by Motorhead is credited to the entire band, does it help with everyone having a say in the band to keep it more cohesive?

Mikkey Dee: Absolutely. Musically, me and Phil write most of the music, but Lemmy writes all the lyrics and we piece it together. Weíre all probably equal in deciding stuff, which is good, because otherwise it wouldnít last.

Samuel: Itís good to have a say in your future.

Mikkey Dee: It is, itís like a family.

Samuel: Your new record, Hammered, just came out. Is it more fun to get out on the road at the release of the record or after itís been out a while?

Mikkey Dee: Actually, itís maybe more fun to have the record be out for a while. That way people can recognize the songs when we do them live and can follow along. Right now, itís more like a pure promotion for the new album. Though it doesnít seem to matter too much, we donít sell massive amounts of records, but the places we play always seem to fill up. Whether we have a new album or not, it doesnít seem to matter. We donít really think about it too much, but of course, itís always great to have a good album out.

Samuel: Motorhead has a constant cycle, a new album, tour for a few years, then record a new album and so on. Is there ever pressure to keep the level of songwriting up album after album?

Mikkey Dee: We write for ourselves and itís very spontaneous. We donít sit around and try to have a plan of what direction we want to go or anything, itís very spontaneous writing. That with the fact we write for ourselves makes it Motorhead.

Samuel: With Motorhead songs appearing on video games like Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and on newer comp albums, and looking out the window, there are young kids in line for the show, is it nice to see a new generation of fans coming out to the shows?

Mikkey Dee: I see a definite change; Iíve seen a big change, actually, in the past two years. We seem to pick up a lot of young people now, who are catching on to Motorhead, which is great. Thatís all I can say really. Itís great that they get a chance to hear Motorhead while weíre still around.

Samuel: I know, personally, growing up Motorhead was a band I looked up when starting a band, and various other musicians have found inspiration in your music. Is it interesting coming up as a musician, who was undoubtedly in the same position we were in, looking for inspiration, to be used as a reference point for young musicians looking for new ideas?

Mikkey Dee: I really donít think too much about that, but itís great to have that. Itís all a bonus for us. Itís great to be respected and to have people look up to us that way. Thatís what is going to happen if you stick around long enough and do your own thing. Weíve never sold out. We donít think about it too much, mostly others think about it. Though, it is a good bonus.

Samuel: What are the differences in doing tours in the states as opposed to tours in Europe? How are the audiences there?

Mikkey Dee: We have a lot bigger crowds in Europe, but we used to say, there are only two types of crowds, those who say ďyahoo!Ē or those who say ďboo!Ē If you talk to a lot of the people out here, theyíre as hard of Motorhead fans as the Europeans are, there are just less of them. Of course, when you play a smaller venue like this, it doesnít necessarily have an effect on us, but it does have an effect on the show. We canít have a stage show, though weíve never really had that, but if you have room to be on stage and a decent monitor system and PA, it will sound better, thatís just the way it is. Itís a little easier for us to play in Europe than it is here, but this is fine too. We love this too.

Samuel: Youíve been through a lot of bands in your life; youíve been a musician for a while, what are some of the songs that made you want to be a musician when you were a child?

Mikkey Dee: Well, there are a lot of elements to add to that. Itís hard to say. Itís been generations since Iíve started myself. I think that a lot of the musicians today start for the wrong reasons. They want to get rich, get famous, sell a lot of records right away and get a record deal. Thatís not the case. Youíll have to love you instrument and play it because you want to play it. The idea of having a shot at it doesnít even come to mind until you grow up. It seems so many bands and musicians start into music for the wrong reasons today. I wouldnít mention any songs, just sit there and play your instrument. Like what you like, stick to it and have fun. Youíre going to get better, thatís all your going to get. There is no shortcut to becoming a good musician.

Samuel: Well, what was the defining moment that made you realize that music was something you wanted to be a part of?

Mikkey Dee: I was seven years old when I went to see Deep Purple and that was it. Thatís when I said ĎOh my God, this is so cool.í My mom took me, or I took her, because I couldnít go by myself. That was it, I just knew how it was and what was out there. You could actually be on stage and be performing, it was just amazing. I wasnít sure if I wanted to do that, drums were a hobby of mine for years. I was totally sure I was going to be an athlete, a hockey player or football player. I did a lot of sports when I was younger. Drums were a hobby, then they started taking over more of my time and it became like a job. I spent more and more time playing. Then, there it was. Before I knew it, it was ĎFucking hell, Iím a drummer now.í

Samuel: Seeing the big Deep Purple show and envisioning music as that, was it difficult to keep focused on your goal coming up on a smaller stage? Like here, if you donít have a certain sound, youíre nowhere. Was it hard to stay on track?

Mikkey Dee: Thatís the US for you. Europe is not as, the rest of the world is not as focused on what is happening now, it seems to be that way here. Itís harder here, because you play what the industry wants you to play or you canít get ahead at all. Which is really shitty, theyíre killing themselves.

Samuel: Well, coming from Europe and a culture, which caters to the arts more, was it helpful in allowing you to focus on what you wanted to play, instead of what people wanted to hear rather than the US idea that everything must somehow generate money?

Mikkey Dee: Thatís the whole point here. Thatís the wrong reasons to do this. To make money off what you do, if you manage to become a good musician and start a good band and tour to make money, thatís great. However, thatís not the reason you should play. I donít know why that is here. It seems fan and bands here seem to like the flavor of the quarter. You canít like more than one band or music. If you go to Europe, you find someone who likes Motorhead and also listens to Mudvayne or listens to some Mariah Carey tracks. They like a lot of music and a lot of bands. Itís not like just because a band isnít happening anymore or isnít big on campus anymore, that you have to stop liking them. These bands today have short life spans, they do one, two, maybe three albums and theyíre done. Thatís the problem here. We try not to think about it. We are not effected by this beyond the fact that weíll never be a campus band and weíll never sell, suddenly one song will 11 million records. Weíre not out to do that either. We could have sold out and wrote some more radio friendly songs here and there and actually sold a lot more album, but forget it, itís not us.

Samuel: So itís more important to write what you want to play rather than what the industry wants to hear?

Mikkey Dee: Yeah, because Iím stuck with myself, Iím the one who is supposed to play this shit for the rest of my life. My career is this. If I wrote stuff I didnít really like and we wrote albums too poppy or anything that wasnít Motorhead, weíre the ones who have to be out here playing this shit. We could have a bigger bank account, but weíd be forced to play the shit. It's all a bonus. Itís great to be able to live off what you do, thereís no doubt about that. It depends on how hard you are willing to go on that. Do you want to become a super millionaire, sit on your ass and do nothing? This is what I like. Even if I had $100 million, I wouldnít stop doing this. Itíd be like if someone told me I couldnít eat pizza anymore or if I had to stop breathing.

Samuel: One thing I like about the band is that after being around for so long, you still answer questions that fans send into your website.

Mikkey Dee: I have to be honest, I suck, Iím the worst one. I give all the credit to Phil and Lemmy on this one. Lemmy is really good at this, and Phil too. I suck, Iím the worst. Iíve got to shape up.

Samuel: Is it nice to be able to have the chance to be the first hand voice of the band, rather than having other people speak for you?

Mikkey Dee: This will never go away with a band like Motorhead. Weíre close, weíve as close as the crowd out here, we go out into the crowd, have beers and hang out. As long as people behave, itís great. When people start to climb all over you, weíve got to get the fuck out of there. Weíre no rock stars, we donít act like that.

Samuel: Yeah, when I walked in, I noticed Lemmy on the Blackjack game inside, while most bands are all secluded in the back.

Mikkey Dee: Weíre not like that, as long as people behave, weíre right out front.

Samuel: Anything youíd like to add?

Mikkey Dee: There will be a video out shortly from the new album, it will be Brave New World. I suppose that will be a single as well. That video was recorded in Germany. We will be touring up until Christmas. Itís great to back in the US touring, even if the tour is still early.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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