Kid Rock says he's tired of talking about it.
It's been a month since the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards invaded the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, and yet he's still fielding questions about his now-infamous skirmish with ex-Mötley Crüe kitman Tommy Lee (see "Kid Rock, Tommy Lee Battle At VMAs — Watch The Video"), in which he came to blows during the awards, and Las Vegas police subsequently charged Rock with misdemeanor battery.
"What it boils down to is a level of disrespect for a lot of years between me and him — him towards me — and it had nothing to do with [Lee and Rock's ex-wife] Pamela [Anderson]," he said (see "Pamela Anderson On Tommy Lee/ Kid Rock VMA Scuffle: 'As Soon As I Left, Meow!' ").
"He knows [that the fight was about] some pretty bad things he'd done and said to me over the years, and I always tried to take the higher ground. I was wondering why he was even there. Was it coincidence?"
In fact, Rock said he suspects the clash could have been avoided, but wasn't. "Didn't MTV know all three of us [would be] in [the same] room? Obviously, they were looking for something," he surmised. "I don't know if MTV planned it, but somebody knew what they were doing."
Rock claims that when he arrived for the VMAs, he made a beeline for the press area and began chatting with rapper Ludacris at the back of the line. "Some guy comes over and tells me, 'Come with me,' " Rock recalled. "And he puts me at front of the line, right behind Pam (see "Kid Rock And Pamela Anderson Run Into Each Other On VMA Red Carpet — Awwwk-Ward!").
"That's just stupid," Kid continued. "In this day and age, there are so many talented people who can play and write great songs — why are they trying to make this whole thing about this media gossip garbage?"
According to Rock, the VMAs were simply the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back. "The last contact [I had with Lee] was, 'I will see you again,' after he was very disrespectful to me," Rock said. "I knew I would run into this cat again one day, and you have to do what any man would do."
Rock, 36, said he wasn't even sure what Lee, now 45, was doing at the awards: "I'm saying, 'Why is this guy here?' He's 40-what-years old?. It's like being in college and hanging out at the high school party." Rock said he was there to promote his first new album in four years, Rock N Roll Jesus, which dropped Tuesday, and would rather have not attended the event at all (see "Jennifer Lopez Tries To Brave Kid Rock's Storm, In New Releases"). Still, he said he tried to ignore Lee and keep the peace — that is, until he came back from the bathroom.
"When I came back from the bathroom, he's sitting at my table, and I just reacted," Rock explained. "I didn't say anything. I don't like talking about these things because they always lead to lawsuits. All I know is I'm not a sucker, and I wasn't raised to be disrespectful. I was raised [to believe] 'You give respect and you demand respect.' That was just coming from my heart. I just reacted."
As for boxing promoter Bob Arum's pitch to have the rocker step into the ring with Lee to raise money for charity, Rock said he'd be down — at least to mull the offer over. "You send me $250,000, and I will sit in a room and talk about it," he said, adding that the ball is now in Lee's court: "Go for it, tough guy."
Ultimately, Rock said it wasn't hard to find a silver lining to the VMA tussle — it gave him loads of publicity and helped him promote the new album, which he called his "best effort to date." He worked on the album with a number of producers, but mostly employed the talents of Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance) to get the LP done.
"I hope it fills a void that seems to be missing from music — and that's the great classic American rock record," Rock said. "As a songwriter and a performer, I feel more confident in my own skin than I've ever felt before. It feels like all the stars have aligned, and everything couldn't be better. I think it pretty much covers every human emotion possible, and it does a lot of genre-hopping, which I've always enjoyed and been fortunate to have successes in. It reminds me of a playlist on an iPod, so I really wanted to make a record representative of that, with all the styles that I've always enjoyed playing — I feel like I've made a complete album."
The disc contains elements of rock, hip-hop, soul, country and honky-tonk, Rock said, and is the most mature and personal record he's released.
"One of the compliments I have always taken to heart is that I've said things in a lighter manner, things that a lot of people are thinking, that others haven't touched on or said publicly," he said. "I'm glad I was able to put together an album that represents all of the work I've done up to this point. And I think I represent the majority of people and how they feel about what's going on in the world at the moment. It's my best record, and I think it comes at a time when people are looking for something that I've packaged and presented, which is basically my heart, to music. It will move mountains."
Rock said one of his chief inspirations on this record was producer and pal Rick Rubin. "We did a lot of philosophizing about where I was musically and where I could go musically," he explained. "He just really encouraged me to write more relevant things — things I have seen go on around me, and things other people are thinking but might be a little too shy or scared to say. Rick's got great ears, and he's good at looking into artists and finding what they're great at and pulling it out of them and inspiring them to go down that route."
Rock is currently in the midst of a U.S. club run, which stops next in Phoenix on October 23 and continues through November 8 in Minneapolis. He said he'll probably head out on an arena trek early next year, but that the tour is still in the planning stages. As far as what Rock's future holds, he said he's excited about his next project — a collaboration with Run-DMC's Reverend Run.
"We're doing a record together," Rock said. "He's such an inspiration, and a great friend. So we'll be doing a whole album, kind of reminiscent of when Eric Clapton worked with B.B. King [on 2000's Riding With the King]. With hip-hop being the blues of this day and age, he's one of the godfathers of it. We'll have some fun with it — take it back, make some socially relevant songs, but also have some fun with turntables, beats, rhymes. I think we're calling it Running With the Kid, and I think it will be great. We're doing it for the pure love of music."