While sitting in a Los Angeles County Jail cell earlier this year,
former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee said he realized his days with the glam heavy-metal
act were over.
"This whole motivation for starting another project came to me when I sat in jail for four months," Lee said.
The revelation comes in the wake of news that the excitable, trouble-prone
Lee plans to leave Mötley Crüe after an 18-year career with
the band. The drummer said he intends to focus on his family and his new project, the Methods of Mayhem.
"I had so much time [in jail] to think about what I wanted to do with my
life musically and creatively," Lee, 36, said Friday (April 30) while
cruising the streets of L.A. in his black Chevy Suburban painted with
purple flames. "I got really frustrated in jail and I was like, 'Man, I
love what I've done and I love the mark I've made on rock 'n' roll history'
... and I sat there and I got really depressed, thinking, 'I gotta make
a move ... do something fresh and new.' " (RealAudio excerpt of interview)
The past year has been an especially star-crossed one for Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass). Already notorious for the debauched rock 'n' roll lifestyle espoused by such Crüe songs as "Girls, Girls, Girls" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Dr. Feelgood," Lee has run afoul of the law often in the past 12 months.
He served four months of a six-month sentence in L.A. County Jail after his conviction on a felony spousal-abuse charge, which followed an assault on his ex-wife, former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson. (The couple have now reconciled.) Then Thursday, Anderson announced the lanky, tattooed drummer would be leaving Mötley Crüe; the announcement was confirmed in a statement released by the band.
Lee said he had agreed to do several legs of a greatest-hits tour in late '98 and then to leave the group, which received the news amicably.
Lee's career move comes just as the drummer said he has ramped-up work on his solo debut, which will be credited to his new group, Methods of Mayhem.
"I've been writing music for the past year or so, and it sounds nothing like what Mötley Crüe would do and knowing that really frustrated me," Lee said.
Judging from the roster of artists Lee said he has already lined up and plans to work with in the near future, the drummer does seem to be moving away from the Crüe's trademark glam-metal sound.
Already recorded is a song entitled "Ill Behavior" that Lee said was "totally inspired by my life." The song features Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike (born Mike Schwartz) on the turntables, as well as ex-Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna, NIN members Charlie Clouser and Danny Lohner and No Limit rapper Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Broadus).
Lee said that he and Snoop Dogg, in addition to sharing business managers, share a common sensibility that might surprise fans. "What's bizarre is that most rap artists, all those motherf---ers want to be rock stars," Lee said. "Those guys love f---ing heavy guitars, they love f---ing big beats, there's so many things about metal that they love."
Lee said he also recorded a song for Snoop Dogg's side project, the Outsiderz; it is expected to be on that group's mid-1999 release (RealAudio excerpt of interview).
Also involved in the Methods of Mayhem album are electronica duo Crystal Method; hyperkinetic rapper Busta Rhymes (born Trevor Smith), who's slotted for upcoming sessions for a song titled "Electra"; and former Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton, who is expected to play on a song called "Hypocritical."
Lee said he also hopes to record tracks with Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst and that he has been in talks with representatives of big-beat electronica star Fatboy Slim (born Norman Cook) about doing a track together.
Lee will show off his heretofore unheard rapping skills on "Get Naked," a song that he said was self-explanatory.
"It's a trip, because it sounds like a lot of hip-hop artists," Lee said, "but I write with a hip-hop, jungle, electronic, metal flavor. I take the best of all the styles I like and put them together in one package."
Lee said another part of his motivation for leaving Mötley Crüe was his belief that music is headed more in this kind of hybrid direction and that it became difficult to play the same songs over and over for nearly 20 years.
Mötley Crüe were formed in L.A. in 1981, with the lineup of singer/guitarist Vince Neil (born Vince Neil Wharton), Lee, Sixx (born Frank Carlton Serafino Ferranno) and guitarist Mick Mars (born Bob Deal). The group helped define the '80s metal scene with such fist-pumping, lighter-flicking hits as "Kickstart My Heart" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Shout at the Devil."
Those songs helped propel albums including 1983's Shout at the Devil
and 1989's Dr. Feelgood to multiplatinum sales. The band opened
a souvenir and clothing store, S'Crüe, on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue in
November, but it closed a short time later.
Lee's new band features him on guitar, Mix Master Mike on turntables and three other musicians: a rapper, a bassist and a guitarist. The drummer said he plans to take that crew on the road with him this summer, a tour he said might include dates on the Limp Bizkit-headlined Family Values hard-rock tour.
"I'm going to meet with Freddy [Durst] right now and his manager who's putting together the tour," Lee said. "I think he's really into my project and wants me to do it."
Speaking of his horrible year, Lee blamed much of it on his alcohol and drug use.
The drummer said he is sober now and glad to have recently reconciled with Anderson and moved back in with her and their two sons. "Both of us love each other very much," Lee said, "but you know what we always say at 'Camp Lee': 'Never a dull moment.' "