segunda-feira, 11 de junho de 2007


June 9, 2007 The oldest rocker in town
In his sixties and still on the road, Lemmy from Motorhead talks libertarian politics, skirt-chasing and the importance of good manners The sun hammers down on the French Riviera like a vengeful Old Testament god. With temperatures topping 90 degrees, the beach at Nice is heaving with bodies desperate to cool down. Motorhead main man Lemmy, meanwhile, is late for his Times interview. Why? He is in the casino. “It was bloody hot last night,” growls the Genghis Khan of British rock when we finally hook up some hours later. “Mikkey thought he was going to die and he’s the youngest in the band.” Jarvis Cocker has chosen Motorhead to open his Meltdown festival at the RFH. It’s an inspired choice, one bloody-minded English rock maverick paying homage to another. But Lemmy appears nonplussed. “Meltdown, what’s that?” he says. “Oh yeah, the Royal Festival Thingy. . . It’s just another gig to me, man. We do our best for all our shows.” In person, with his all-black gunslinger uniform and gravelly northern rasp, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister is half Johnny Cash and half Les Dawson. At 61, he remains one of British rock’s most enduring outlaw icons. For the past 32 years, since their emergence as a kind of hairy British answer to the Ramones, he has kept Motorhead’s primal, bass-driven sound steady and constant. The band may have peaked commercially at the dawn of the 1980s with their Bomberand Ace of Spadesalbums, but Lemmy’s steam-driven punk-blues racket has barely evolved. “We make the same kind of music because we like it,” he barks defensively. “What the f*** other reason is there for doing music? Within that envelope, we do push it. We’ve done tracks where we strayed away from it. But if you have a good idea in the first place, why not enjoy it as that?” Lemmy is also a walking advert for smoking, drinking and rock’n’roll excess. Still remarkably lean and nimble, he sports the same greased-back rocker hair he has worn since 1963. Even treatment for a heart murmur in 2003 has barely modified his legendary hedonism, although he admits he goes to bed earlier these days. Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1946, Lemmy spent most of his formative years in North Wales. His vicar father left soon after he was born, which may account for his enduring cynicism towards both religion and marriage. But he insists he bears no grudges. “It takes two in a couple to know what happened and I’ve only ever heard my mother’s side,” Lemmy shrugs. “They were young when they got married, at the end of the war, the whole wartime romance thing. She was probably struck by his uniform and his holiness, he was probably struck by her legs and her ass. Who knows?” Lemmy recalls his childhood as happy. His mother remarried and they lived in a Welsh mountain farm. As the last bus from town left at 9.30pm, he often had to walk past two cemeteries in pitch dark. After school he aspired to be a horse breaker but found work as a lathe operator. Rock’n’roll saved him from both. “It did one good thing for me, being a lathe operator,” Lemmy nods. “It convinced me I’d rather starve to f***ing death than go back. Some of my mates are still there, because they had nowhere to go.” Already a face on the local band scene, Lemmy was lured to the London rock circuit in 1967. He served his apprenticeship as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, spending eight months out of his mind on “the best acid in the world”, which was still legal. Hendrix remains a role model to this day, especially his refined manners, an unlikely personal watchword for Motorhead’s hacksaw-voiced road warrior. “Jimi was an exceptionally nice geezer,” he nods. “Incredibly old-world manners. If a chick came into the room, he’d jump to his feet, didn’t matter if she was an old biddy or whatever. He’d pull out chairs for chicks, open doors for chicks. I do that and people laugh at me. They don’t cost anything, good manners.” While Lemmy was earning preMotorhead notoriety as bass guitarist with the cosmic hippie rockers Hawkwind in the early 1970s, he and his father were briefly reunited. Their attempted bonding session did not go well. “He offered me a reference to be a travelling salesman, so I stood up and left,” he shrugs. “I’ve never seen him since. He’s dead now.” A collector of Nazi memorabilia since his Hawkwind days, Lemmy is sometimes assumed to harbour unsavoury right-wing views. It’s a lazy caricature which he does not always bother correcting. “I’m not racist at all,” he argues. “I just like the decorative aspect of the Nazis. I like the pageantry, the pomp. I like a parade. The bad guys always have the best uniforms.” In truth, Lemmy fiercely distrusts all political parties. And while some of his views on feminism belong in a 1970s sitcom, his guiding principles are libertarian and humanist. He is antigovernment, antireligion and antiwar, but pro-choice on issues like abortion. “Live and let live is the cornerstone of my life,” he says. “I’m essentially an anarchist – you can’t trust people, you know? If you gave everybody the same amount of money tomorrow, in two weeks somebody, somewhere would have most of it.” Drugs are another of Lemmy’s personal crusades. His band may take their name from the slang term for an amphetamine addict, but he is personally disgusted by heroin, which killed one of his former girlfriends. However, he argued for its legalisa-tion on practical grounds when speaking about the dangers of drugs at the Welsh Assembly in 2005. The Tory member who invited him, William Graham, was not best pleased. “He was very embarrassed,” Lemmy recalls. “He sort of distanced himself immediately. But apparently it’s been raised a few times since, by several MPs on both sides, so maybe I’m not just a voice in the wilderness.” In One Night Stand, a track on Motorhead’s most recent album, Kiss of Death, Lemmy proudly boasts of being a “slut all my life”. His longest ever relationship lasted three years, and even then he was sleeping with other women. He recently discovered the joys of Viagra. “I still use it, now and again,” he nods. “If Percy isn’t pointing at the pulchritude then he needs a bit of a push. What’s wrong with that?” Lemmy claims to have bedded around 1,000 partners, give or take the odd 100. But he admits “the opportunities are dwindling now because I’m so old. But I’m not complaining, I still get enough to stay cheerful.” All the same, his views on love are oddly traditional. While most rock musicians are routinely unfaithful to wives and girlfriends, Motorhead’s unlikely groupie magnet remains single partly because he disapproves of infidelity. “You can’t keep guys faithful,” he shrugs. “If people want to get married and then run around, that’s dishonest. If you’re going to get married, get f***ing married and that’s it. I never saw a chick that could stop me looking at all the others, so I didn’t.” Like most romantic cynics, Motorhead’s leather-lunged lothario is a disappointed idealist at heart. But he accepts he may never meet the perfect Mrs Lemmy. “I’m still looking in a sort of languorous, morbid way,” he says wistfully. “But I probably missed her while I was on the road or something. It hasn’t changed in 61 years, so it’s probably not going to happen now.” Motorhead’s Nice show is a triumph of primal, bludgeoning, proto-punk rock. Conservative but brutally effective. Gnarly and grizzled, Lemmy is more bluesman than showman, more Chuck Berry than Ozzy Osbourne. And after 32 years as an English rock original, he sees no reason not to keep playing into his sixties and beyond. “If you look as good as I do, why not?” he says with a wheeze of self-deprecating irony. “I don’t remember there being an age limit when I started. Thou shalt not go beyond 59? F*** that. The only thing that will stop me is if I become physically unable. But what is there in retirement that could possibly be better than what I’ve got?” Such are the eternal rules of Motorhead. Still playing roulette in the casino of rock. And still betting on black, every time. Motorhead open Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown festival at the RFH on June 16 (0871 663 2500, www.

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