By Josh Moscov Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s April 2002 Issue
Tommy Lee, it can be argued, helped to define the hard rock drumming style of the ’80s with his former mates in Mötley Crüe. Believe it or not, when he resigned, Lee was quite pleased since he was bored with the gig. So when the drummer had the opportunity to release a solo album, he went a bit ballistic. The result, Methods of Mayhem, was unique from a drumming perspective, due to the collision of hip-hop, rock and other popular music styles. Now Tommy Lee is getting ready to release his sophomore effort, Never A Dull Moment, which like Methods, is pumping with interesting drum ideas, but is more focused in terms of having an overall rock feel. Lee’s boredom of the drums seems to have waned, at least for now.
DRUM!: First of all, what made you get bored with the drums?
Lee: Well, near the end of my time with Mötley Crüe, I simply wasn’t being inspired by the music. I wasn’t really doing anything new in terms of my playing that allowed me to improve as a drummer, which is critical. I needed to be playing different kinds of music in order to grow.
DRUM!: So, is that why Methods is so stylistically diverse?
Lee: Absolutely, I had been listening to all these different musical styles and got very into hip-hop, the industrial sound, etc., and wanted to give them all a try. And as a result, Methods was very diverse to the point where the average listener may not have been able to grasp what my goal was. I’m very proud of the release even though it didn’t do as well commercially as the label had hoped. I’m very proud of what I accomplished, and needed to make a record like that to stimulate my career.
DRUM!: How do you compare the record you’re currently working on with Mayhem?
Lee: Overall, Never A Dull Moment is a much more focused record. Yes, there are things that I’m doing that are similar to Mayhem, like using samples, but the overall sound of the album is rock, no doubt. I think that since I’ve now made a record like Mayhem, it is easier for me to sit down and write songs that are more consistent across the rock genre.
DRUM!: Could you describe your writing style?
Lee: It changes on any given tune. Sometimes, I’ll go in with a specific guitar part in mind and build the song around it. And this time around, some of the drum parts are added last, which is something I really enjoy doing. I’ll just throw on the headphones with all of the other parts done, and create a drum part that is best suited to everything else going on in the song. This has also helped me simplify the drum parts too, something that I didn’t care about as much while making Mayhem.
DRUM!: Are any of the songs written from a drum idea?
Lee: Yes, there’s an untitled song, which will not be on the record, that will showcase a six-drummer jam session, like a percussive stomp. I will play the song live to break up the shows.
DRUM!: Have you selected the drummers for that piece yet? Lee: Not yet, but I have some drummers in mind, and also intend to check out some local shows to see if there are any guys out there that I’m unaware of, who might be the right fit for what I’m doing. Also, I intend to have two drummers play live for the shows this time around instead of one. I would like to have an electronic and acoustic drummer playing at the same time live.
DRUM!: Why is that?
Lee: I think that having two drummers will be more effective at getting the music across. I also have yet to determine who those two drummers will be, but know what I’m seeking in terms of style from the drummers. I also think that the material on the new record requires the drumming input of different players to make it sound the best.
DRUM!: Do you intend to play any drums live?
Lee: Yes, on the last tour, I tended to play three songs a night. On this tour, I may not play as many since I want to focus on creating the most dynamic, high-energy live show possible. That can be difficult if I’m constantly changing instruments.
DRUM!: If you could get any drummers for the tour, who would they be?
Lee: One of the drummers would be Terry Bozzio, who has such a powerful groove, and I would love to get Stephen Perkins, since he did such a great job on the last tour, but he’s busy working on the new Jane’s Addiction record. However, the drummers don’t have to have incredible credentials to work with me; they just have to be able to play the music the right way on a consistent level.