Keep Us on the Road

Sadly, you won't find Motörhead lifer Lemmy Kilmister on Twitter anytime soon.

Motörhead's most natural habitat is on the road. The British speed-metal trio has been almost constantly on tour since its inception in 1975. No offense to Bob Dylan, but front man Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister and his henchmen have been putting Dylan's so-called "Never Ending Tour" to shame for two decades now.

The band's 2011 tour was documented for the recent DVD/CD set The Wörld Is Ours - Vol 1 - Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else, which shows off their still-brutalizing live show. Still, Lemmy swears it hasn't affected his hearing at all, even after more than 35 years.

"I can hear you asking me about it, right?" he says while on tour in Canada. "You know people keep going on about how harmful it is, but it's never hurt my ears."

Motörhead has found ways to sound fresh after more than two dozen live and studio releases.
Robert John
Motörhead has found ways to sound fresh after more than two dozen live and studio releases.

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Bayou Music Center

520 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Music Venues

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

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Gigantour

With Motörhead, Megadeth, Lacuna Coil and Volbeat, 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 2, at ­Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas (Bayou Place), 713-230-1600 or www.livenation.com.

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Motörhead has been stable for two decades. Guitarist Phil Campbell came aboard in 1984, when the band was still a quartet featuring the late Michael "Würzel" Burston. Drummer Mikkey Dee hopped on in 1992, and the band has been a trio ever since.

Is this the best Motörhead lineup Lemmy has ever been a part of?

"It's difficult to say that, because there are different styles that have been in the band," he says. "I would say this is the best as far as consistency goes. Keeping up with ourselves, we've never slacked off and done an easy album."

Staying on the road has been vital for the band. Lemmy has said it's the only place he wants to be, both in interviews and in songs like "Keep Us on the Road" and "We Are the Road Crew." Recording an album every two years or so has ensured Motörhead constantly has something new to say to audiences, which now range from very young children with their parental units to hard-bitten punks, metalheads, bikers and curious pop-culture gawkers.

Drummer Dee seems to remember only the beginnings of tours, which really have no ending when it comes to Motörhead.

"When do tours start and when do they end?" Dee says. "I remember this one starting for me in Saratoga, New York, in 1992. And it still hasn't ended."

The band's latest album, 2010's The World Is Yours, proved that just when one would imagine a 35-year-old metal group quieting down, they instead recorded yet another loud, snotty disc that put most of last year's hard-rock releases to shame.

Motörhead is keeping its sets on this tour relatively short, only about a dozen songs a night. It's mostly the classics with one new cut thrown in, but for Kilmister, the old songs mesh with the band's more recent work with ease.

"In terms of the band and my memory, [1984's] 'Killed by Death' is fairly new," Lemmy says.

Dee notes that the band could tour without new material, but that wouldn't be the Motörhead way anyhow.

"A band like us doesn't rise or fall with a new album," he says. "It's preferable to have a new record out and start out fresh, but to tell you the truth, I think we can do a full U.S. tour, take a week off and then go off again."

The band's legacy also dictates the boundaries of new Motörhead recordings.

"Our fans wanna hear the same songs, but new songs," Dee says. "It needs to sound totally like Motörhead, but new. We do have a fairly narrow framework to work in, but I think we should work in that. We can't go in too many extreme directions."

Lemmy has been a touring rock musician since his teens in the early '60s, when he joined Blackpool group The Rockin' Vickers. He also did a short stint as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, before joining influential space-rockers Hawkwind.

He didn't even start out playing bass. Lemmy was a self-described "mediocre" rhythm guitarist who stole the gig from a bassist who left his equipment with Hawkwind before a free gig. Lemmy's lack of bass skill led to his unique playing technique — or lack thereof, as he would say — and would inform that chugging 'Head sound. He strums his bass like a guitar.

Motörhead has also given their name to a line of shiraz, with plans for a rosé and even a brand of vodka, all sold on their official Web site. Lemmy sticks with the rosé himself, though.

Known for his ever-present cigarette and tumbler of Jack Daniel's and Coke, Kilmister says his other favorite whiskey is Evan Williams, though its limited distribution around the world makes it hard to drink on tours.

"It's 90 proof," he reminds us.

Motörhead's music had always had an outlaw spirit and certain cowboy aesthetic, which makes Lemmy a ready-made Texan. He already wears the cowboy hat and boots, belt buckles and pearl-snap shirts. He also sings about perseverance and self-reliance, true Texas traits.

It also doesn't hurt that the Lone Star State has a relaxed view on weapons of almost any kind, which would appeal to a World War II collector like Kilmister. Motörhead has been coming to the Houston area since 1981, so Lemmy could always move here and start a band with Billy Gibbons, right?

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4 comments
Roscothedog
Roscothedog

They cancelled on Friday! Sucks. They were the only reason I paid for this show. The consolation prize was extended sets by Volbeat and Lacuna Coil. I left at the door. Could not stomach longer sets of those sucky bands.

Call me Bwana
Call me Bwana

NOT a speed metal band. A BADASS metal band for sure. They inhabit their own category, no one else comes near.

GlenW
GlenW

They are the main reason I want to go to the show tonight, but the date isn't listed on Motorhead's website. What gives?Gimme Some MOTORHEAD \m/

Xavier Yañez
Xavier Yañez

As much as I'd like to experience a Motorhead show at some point in my life...$55 minimum ouch!

 

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