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MOTÖRHEAD – Deaf Metal
Garry Sharpe-Young
Metal Forces, Issue 19 (1986)

Motörhead (l-r): Phil Campbell, Lemmy, Pete Gill and Würzel

Motörhead are the first band I ever headbanged to.

Flea and I did the old ‘nodding-dog’ act for the duration and, despite the terminal tinnitus that struck with a vengeance immediately after vacating the venue, it was in the morning when I realised the full extent of the damage.

I awoke from a nightmare as horrible as any Chrome Molly album cover and jumped out of my festering pit with a start to discover my head still on the pillow!

Motörhead are the first band I ever got a headache to.

Don’t worry I’m not about to feed you a concise history of the band coz you know that already, and I won’t even tell you of the thrilling tube trek to the rehearsal studios to waste three or four pages on journalistic wank.

So here I am stumbling up the stairs and the first thing I encounter is Lemmy and a plate of congealing beans. His eyebrows recognise my presence, but his eyeballs stay glued to the plate remorselessly hunting down the last bean to be impaled on the fork (heavy metal breeds cruel people.)

“Hi Lemmy,” I offer. “I’m here to interview you I’m afraid”. “Oh no you’re not!” Lem states firmly. “You’re at five!”

We discover someone has neglected to take in the details of the days schedule and so Lemmy gathers up his brood, positioning them strategically around the room, in readiness (yawn) for an interview.

Motörhead have been lumbering around Europe recently with Manowar and Exciter as excess baggage, so how did it go lads? “It went really well,” says guitarist Phil Campbell convincingly. “We did our first dates in Switzerland and Copenhagen, outselling the other metal bands on the road at that time, so it was great.”

You must have been all over Europe now then? “Just about, yeah,” says Phil. “Yugoslavia, Hungary. We did one and pulled in 27,000 people in an hour! It was incredible!!”

“There were kids hitch-hiking from East Germany and Poland to the gig, all over the place!” adds Lemmy. “They can get the records, but not many bands go over there, unfortunately for them.”

So when do you go back there? Drummer Pete Gill admits that “Würzel’s going back tonight on a Moroccan bus!” Which signals the start of the end of this interview. But, I do manage to get some sense out of them when asking about the upsurgance of interest in metal in the Mediterranean countries. “I’ve noticed that actually,” agrees Pete. “I went to Greece for my holidays and it’s amazing all the names of heavy metal bands sprayed everywhere. It’s like Spain. We toured there a few years back in the bullrings and I’d never of imagined then that it would cotton on like it has now.”

Why do you think American bands don’t do the rounds in those areas and in particular the Eastern bloc? “They’re terrified of Communism aren’t they,” Phil says. “Yeah, he’s right,” chips in Lemmy. “They don’t understand that Europeans have always mixed, even before the wall, so it’s still all Europe to us which the Americans have no concept of at all. You get American bands doing world tours that only take in the States and Canada! They think that’s all there is! We’ll play anywhere. The Orkneys, Isle of Dogs, Canvey Island.”

After all these years have you noticed any change in Motörhead’s audience? “Yeah I have,” grins Lemmy. “When Brian (Robertson) was in the band it got a lot smaller!!” “He’s a silly boy isn’t he?” Würzel tells me. “I am silly, yes,” Lemmy accepts before turning remarkably sensible. “They haven’t changed really, they have the same approach wherever we go. They still wear the same old leathers and denim with the same badges on them, even in countries where they don’t understand a fuckin’ word we’re saying.

“We’ve lost a few fans because they think they’re supposed to grow up and get married and put all this silly heavy metal behind them. I’m sure you know a lot of people like that Garry, and if you don’t you will (I wonder if that’s after the fourth kiddie? – Garry). In America it has actually started to get violent, violence towards each other.

Actually, Grim Reaper told me similar stories when they opened for Slayer, who incidently got booed off after a few numbers. Why do they do it?? “Perhaps they hate each other,” Lemmy conjects. “Practising for the football field, I don’t know. They just kick the shit out of each other slam dancing and whatever.” At this point his attention is drawn to the sight of Phil reaming out his nasal passages with a strange device. “What the fuck are you doing??” he demands of his guitarist. “My nose is bunged,” is all he can muster which in turn is the cue for a quick ridicule from Würzel. “Blowfish! Blowfish!!” he blurts.

Ever seen grown men giggling like schoolgirls with a Y-fronts catalogue? I have. Let’s move on to this new album then. The title track seems to be very different from anything you’ve tried before, and the lyrics don’t tie up with the title do they? “In what way?” inquires the beady eyed bassman.

Well, you’d think with a title like ‘Orgasmatron’ the thing would be sexually motivated, but it’s about the causes of war isn’t it? “Ah! Is it?” states Lemmy sounding uncannily like an old teacher of mine. “It’s about people without the courage to wank or have a woman and get off by going to church instead. Masturbatory hysteria!!

“I would call Hitler an orgasmatron right, as he enabled everyone to experience this mass orgasm. The verses deal with the three things that do that – politicians, religion and war. An army marching off to war love it with the chicks throwing flowers at them, new uniforms, big tough guys. That’s a form of mass orgasm.”

Don’t you agree with religion? “It stinks!” he snarls. “I fuckin’ hate it!!” Are any of you guys religious? “No” laughs Würzel. “But Pete worships hamsters!” “Great big fuckers with tattoos!!” shouts Lemmy. Why did ‘Orgasmatron’ turn out the way it did then? Pete (who did not laugh at the mention of tattooed rodents – a private fetish revealed?) tells me, “We’ve played the song for some time but didn’t know how it would develop. It turned out that way because a lot of ideas came when we were recording it.”

Okay, what about ‘Mean Machine’? Is that one deep and meaningful? “Yeah, it’s about Motörhead powering down the highway,” says Lemmy, still recovering from the hamster session. “Most of my songs are simple because I’m a simple chap.”

‘Deaf Forever’ seems pretty much on the same lines as ‘Orgasmatron’? “Sort of,” Lemmy explains. “It’s about all the war heroics for fuck all. No dead are remembered past the given period of mourning.”

What is your ‘Claw’ Lemmy and what do you use it for? “Ha! It’s about snatching peoples’ girlfriends!” he reveals. “It’s very ambiguous too. Seems like the claw is a big four fingered dick. Be handy though wouldn’t it? You could get four at the same time. Stand close together girls and Uuunnnngh!! (this is bloody disgusting!)”

‘Doctor Rock’? “You’ve heard of tree surgeons? Here’s Würzel’s sexy black socks!!” says Lemmy bending down to sniff the offensive articles and emitting a monstrous fart in the process (which he virtually ordered me to include in the interview). The beans have had their revenge!

What about ‘Built For Speed’ Phil? “I don’t know what any of these songs are about!” admits the only person in the room unaffected by Lemmy’s flatulent outburst. Praise be for congested nostrils. Lem answers “It’s just another one of my songs about fucking!!”

‘Ridin’ With The Driver’ must have a story to tell? “Choo! Choo!!” shouts Würzel. “That’s mine. We’d just been to Europe and were coming back on the train to London. I went up the front and the driver let me drive the train back. I was ecstatic. because ever since I was small I’d wanted to be an engine driver.”

At the mention of trains, Phil is dispatched to fetch a print of the album cover for my critical perusal. I suggest a cow guard would look nifty between the bass drums. “Who have you been talking to??” demands Pete. So we could see a big chuffa train onstage then? “No,” discounts Lemmy. “We’re having all the audience dressed as passengers!” “And all the roadcrew will be dressed in British Rail porters uniforms!” jokes Pete. “We may even be half an hour late onstage!” Würzel points out.

Trains and GWR kinda go together too, so I question them on their new record company. How did it start? Is it any good? “It’s very good,” praises Lemmy. “It’s only upstairs, so we don’t have to go very far to complain! No, they’ve got us, Girlschool and… er, Thor (much tittering). It was formed by our management and has nothing to do with Bronze.”

Talking of the bad old days, what really happened with the Ultimate Rock Magazine’s (Kerrang!) gig at Great Yarmouth? “Fuckin’ terrible that was!” moans Pete. “The organisation was fuckin’ useless! We flew back from the States especially as well. Small hall for a start, which turned out to be a good thing coz no fucker turned up!! The generators for our equipment broke down halfway through our set, so we had a nice 15 minute break.” “He got on his drumstool, dropped his shorts and did a dance with his arsehole to fill the gap!” Phil accuses Pete. “Yeah, and I was singing ‘Ten Green Bottles’!!” remembers Lemmy. Pete provides additional information. “Only 600 odd turned up, which was crazy for some of the good bands on – Waysted and Grand Slam.” Lemmy has obviously learnt his lesson. “You don’t hold a rock festival in a deserted holiday camp in Norfolk on a wet weekend. That is the lesson we learned. It was fuckin’ hopeless!” “Hard graft as well – £30 for three days,” mutters Phil.

Do you find it difficult explaining why it isn’t financially feasible to play everywhere to fans? Scotland? Wales? “We play Scotland everytime!” Pete retorts.

Lemmy is eager to clarify the situation to the UK fans: “You can’t just visit every fuckin’ village, so we do the largest cities serving that area. The people in Scotland always bitch that we do Edinburgh, Glasgow and maybe Aberdeen but not Oban!! What the fuck can you do??!”

“We once toured with Saxon and did 54 fuckin’ dates! And then we jumped off a diving board into a wet sponge! But there’s nothing in the north of Wales. I know coz that’s where I come from. Just naked erotic dancing clubs, with that rhythmic jungle beat that incites our children to fuck like rabbits!!”

“Half of America though is in the Middle Ages with these cunts putting stickers on records about the Devil and shit like that!” Is Orgasmatron going to get one? “I sure hope so!” wishes Lemmy.

I noticed Judas Priest went out of their way to avoid the dreaded stickers. Would you ever be influenced as to your writing style? “I don’t write consciously to upset anyone,” he pleads before making clear that “I wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it either.”

How do you come up with your warped ideas? “I just write,” Lem beams truthfully. “I don’t write about the Devil though. I don’t give a fuck about him.” “Yeah,” butts in Pete. “What he has done for us, ay?” Würzel’s face crinkles up into thoughtfulness. “He came to one of our gigs though but the bastard didn’t pay!”

“You’re very quiet aren’t you?” says Lem turning the tables on me. Well, yeah. It’s so I can let you lot rabbit on and hopefully get you to say lots of things you’ll regret when this goes to print. “Oh no!” gasps Lem feigning horror. “We’ve fallen into a trap!!” “Blowfish! Blowfish!!” Würzel rounds off.

“Hey,” asks the mainman. “Do you want to hear a bit?”. Er, I’ve got a tape of the album actually. “No, no, no. This is the real thing!!” My mouth has a habit of saying “Yes” when my brain is screaming “No!!”, and it’s just happened. Goodbye cruel world – it’s ‘Orgasmatron’ live in an enclosed space.

You could spend a lifetime in a biological laboratory trying to mutate a human being into a jellyfish with no hint of success. Motörhead can do it in just under three minutes. (Wobble, wobble) “Blowfish!!”

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 19 (1986)

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