The hard-livin' Englishman everyone calls Lemmy, whose real name is Ian Kilmister, sits at the edge of the bed in his Las Vegas hotel room pouring a bit of Coke into a tall glass of Jack Daniels. After last night's concert, Motörhead's frontman, who's almost as legendary for his after-hour escapades as for his on stage activities, stayed out until after dawn. Today there was no show, so he was able to crash until 6 p.m. Now it's almost time to go out again. But first, he's got an interview -- just one of two he'll allow per day when he has a new album coming out. In this case, Kilmister is plugging the band's 20th record Motörizer -- kind of.
While most artists talk at length about how their new record differs from their past offerings, what was going on in their lives when it was created, and what the songs are about, Kilmister finds such subjects boring. "We did Motörizer the same way we always do albums," he says in a Liverpool accent as heavy as shepherd's pie. "We just write the songs and when we like 'em we recorded 'em. Then we do some more."
Kilmister doesn't really care for promotion. He'd much rather talk about drugs, strip clubs, and politics. He knows his albums are consistently good, and that enough of his fans will continue to buy them (even in an era of illegal downloading) to sustain his livelihood. And he's aware that even if record sales wane, Motörhead's shows will continue to draw large enough audiences to keep him on the road – and that's all the incentive he needs to keep at it for another 20 records.
"People ask me if I've ever been tempted to settle down, but I'm just a road rat," Kilmister says, then clears his throat. "I like being on the move, and no relationship survives that. But I've had a great time out of rock n' roll, so I've got no regrets."
The metal icon with the handlebar moustache and sizeable growths on his left cheek clears his throat again, which does nothing to ease his raspy voice, and downs half of his drink with one gulp. Then he adjusts his black cowboy hat and awaits the next question. As long as he's got a drink in hand and at least hope of getting laid later, Kilmister can put up with about 30 minutes of interrogation, and he responds to each query with a twist of wit and a steely stare.
Since he began playing music with the Rocking Vicars in the late '60s, Kilmister has been the very definition of excess and indulgence, enjoying the type of live-fast-die-hard existence few have survived. Lemmy's musical history is almost as colorful as his extracurricular exploits. Since the late '60s, he has played in the British rock band the Rocking Vicars, worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and been a member of galactic rockers Hawkwind. But his greatest achievements, by far, came with Motörhead, who debuted in 1977 with their self-titled disc, which combined the bluesy swing of '60s garage rock with the speed and rumble of early punk. Motörhead drafted their blueprint over their next three classic albums -- Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979) and especially Ace of Spades (1980) – and while the band's lineup has shifted several times over the years, the core sound has remained constant and its influence has been inestimable. When you hear Kilmister's rumbling double-time bass, Mikkey Dee's galloping double-bass beats, and Phil Campbell's bluesy bends and swift, swaggering riffs, there's no question who's blaring in your ears – especially when Lemmy starts to growl.
A couple weeks before Kilmister rolls onto the set of L.A. Ink to have three old tattoos -- the ace of spades (left forearm), a Capricorn sign (left shoulder) and an Indian shield (right forearm) -- touched up by ink vixen Kat Von D, the only remaining original member of Motörhead talked about his tattoos, Motörizer, politics, strippers, porn stars, ghosts, UFOs, Nazi war memorabilia, speed, acid, and other things that keep his world rocking.