Mikkey Dee of Motörhead and Scorpions Interview22nd October 2020 0 By Queen Nikki
Motörhead, Scorpions, Helloween, King Diamond and Don Dokken are all some mammoth names to throw out there and they all have one main thing in common, drumming icon Mikkey Dee. Sitting at home on a quiet Wednesday night during round two of the UK’s lock-down/not a lock-down, things were about to get a hell of a lot louder! Lets just say I jumped right out of my er… slippers as my phone rang, with the caller ID, “Mikkey Dee- Motörhead” blinking. I answered the video call and like a shiny silver fox, there he was, gleaming right back at me from his home in Sweden. Mikkey had taken some time out of his busy schedule to chat with me for All about the Rock. He gives us some insight into his career, The Scorpions on their new record, his recovery from Covid19 and of course into the world of Motörhead with Phil ‘Wizzo’ Campbell and the infamous Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister.
Mikkey Dee! It’s so nice to see your face, especially given these weird times we’re in right now and it’s great that we can still have this interview. I’ve been following your Instagram and I see you’ve been keeping yourself very busy. You joined the Scorpions permanently in 2016 and it’s been really enjoyable watching your studio time with them as the band records the new album. How has it been for you travelling between your home in Gothenburg, to Germany for recording?
“Well I leave on Sunday to go back down there again and I’ve been basically travelling there in small bursts, so I’m down there for a week, then back home, then I’ll travel down there a couple of weeks later for ten days.”
Now one of your videos you’ve referred to the studio as ‘Klaus’ house’, is the studio actually in, Scorpions vocalist, Klaus Meine‘s house? Also what can you tell us about the recording process so far?
Mickey laughs, “Actually no it’s not, actually, it’s in a house, but its quite far away from his house actually.
As for recording, we are recording a new album and we have about 25 songs, probably a few more and that’s going to be narrowed down to about 12.Right now we’re recording demos and starting to record the actual record but in small steps. We record every song live, so there is really not alot of overdubs on this record, this will be the way you used to track in the seventies you know? Which takes alot longer time but the vibe is tremendous.
That’s even how we recorded the last Motörhead record, Bad Magic. If you can manage and have the time to record like that, then that is the ultimate way, obviously, but it is very time consuming.”
Mikkey says he hopes to see me at a Scorpions show, enticing me by declaring he has put a bit of Motörhead into the Scorpions, “I Motör-ised them a little bit!” He pauses, “I’m going to take my tobacco.”
He takes a big chunk of loose Swedish snus tobacco and pushes it under his top lip, I join him in this ritual, after my years of living in Norway I too am addicted to this stuff. We compare snus tins, flavours and talk about my jealousy of the snus cafe’s in Sweden.
So where did you spend most of the lock-down? I read that you and your wife actually contracted Corona Virus, when this happened, were you in Sweden?
‘Yes, I was here in Gothenburg the whole time actually and yes we did get really sick here in March, myself and my wife. We locked ourselves inside but you know Sweden didn’t really lock down, there has been a few restrictions, but not at all like the rest of Europe. Which I think has been the right way actually, because alot of people are immune now and we’re trying to open up our society. Personally I think we should put an iron ring around the elderly and then open up our society.
A big percentage of people don’t even feel anything when they get the fucking virus you know? I mean we were pretty sick, not hospitalized or anything, but for us it was like a really, really bad flu. No breathing problems, but we had crazy fever for 16 days, we were knocked out! But if you don’t have any underlying diseases, you will get through it. We fully recovered, I’m back on the ice playing hockey as normal.”
Wow, Mikkey! I’m glad that you guys recovered well and you are able to be back playing hockey, as you are quite the hockey player aren’t you? So which one came first for you when you were growing up? Hockey or Playing drums?
“About the same I’d say, I was playing alot of sports as a youngster, I mean I still do, but actually, my goal was always to be an athlete, not a drummer. Drumming was more of a hobby for me, then when I became a teenager it just swapped automatically. I was practising different sports six days a week, until music just took over and lead me on a different path.”
Was it school that got you picking up the drumsticks?
Mikkey continues, “No, I’m from a drumming family, my uncle started a band here, in Sweden, in the fifties, called The Drifters, they were pretty big. Then my cousin, who is six years older than me, he played in a band, he allowed me to come and check them out at rehearsal. A family of drummers. I started very early, banging on pillows, cookie jars, pots and pans.”
Then of course, a few years later, you’re in King Diamond in Denmark, you were quite young when you joined that band, how was it for you being thrown into that scene at such a young age?
“I was young, I was 21 and for me it was just the right time. Before that I had already been playing in a very active Swedish band, we played two or three shows per week. We had our own remodelled tour bus, our own PA and lights. We formed the band Geisha and that’s why we moved to Copenhagen and from there it went onto King Diamond. I would say I was ready for King’s band then, it just came at the right time for me.
Motörhead asked me to join them already back in 1986 and I was only 23 then and THAT, I was not ready for and I felt it. So I had to turn them down three or four times before I actually joined the band and I’m glad I did, because I would have been eaten alive!! King Diamond however, was great, it was perfect because when you’re young and hot you want to be the best.
That music was also the type of music you could play more technical and show off. It was the right journey for me at the time, we had so much fun, it was great and I’m very proud of the four records that I played on. They were the biggest days for King Diamond, Fatal Portrait, Abigail, Them and Conspiracy, I mean they are cult records today.”
Then as time went on, you eventually gave in and joined Motörhead, I cant even imagine what it would’ve been like on the road with them for 25 years, what was it like for you?
“Absolutely amazing! We were Spinal Tap with no script! We were a family. This extends all the way from the crew, to the band, everyone, we were a very tight family. At an early age with the band, I asked Lemmy, ‘Where do you find all these fucking weirdos? These crew guys, I mean they are all characters!’ Lemmy said, ‘Mikkey, I don’t find ’em, they find us!’ Well that kind of sums it up and it says alot. People stood in line to go on tour with us, even bands wanted to have us on the road. It was an amazing run. I actually knew Lemmy for 34 years, from a long time before I joined the band. It was a shock in the beginning, how Motörhead were operating, coming from King Diamond, where everything was so perfect musically and so spot on.
Then I joined Motörhead and they go 1,2,3,4 and then they are at the fucking strip club and I’m sitting on my own drumming away, like where did they go?” Mikkey laughs, pretending to drum, while looking over his shoulders. “They didn’t need to rehearse and I was amazed by how good they were without being so bloody serious about everything.
So I learned alot about the easy way and I don’t there is alot of bands that can manage that. I got spoiled if you will. We rehearsed alot, later on in the band, but in the beginning I was like what the Hell is this? They’re not showing up, they’re not gonna fucking play and I had no idea what they were on about. Actually I didn’t think they would last the first US tour we did.
I thought to myself, Lemmy and Phil are going to be dead before we finish this tour. I was 100% convinced. I had never seen anything like this in my entire life and I’m a big party dude, still to this day. Like Holey Moley! I called home and I said, ‘Well, this is great, but this tour could finish at any time, because they are gonna fucking drop dead!’
But I was so wrong, so very wrong.”
I agree, yes, you were wrong, long live Motörhead! Now that brings me to the upcoming release of the Ace of Spades, deluxe box sets, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this record. There is even a mini-series for the podcast ‘Motörcast’, which has interviews with anyone who was around during that tour sharing juicy gossip and stories. This sounds awesome! Lets talk about this box set? How was it decided what would go into these box sets, how much input did you have?
“Well, you know Lemmy loved gambling, the whole world knows that, so the poker mat and Motörhead cards were nice little extras we could put in the super deluxe box set. There were suggestions of different things, but in the end, what ever we approved, we let people put it together. It’s still a very strong family, even if as a band, we haven’t existed for five years.
It’s unbelievable, I think Motörhead will continue for another fifty years. Every Motörhead member, crew member and people working around us are still working very hard on the Motörhead legacy if you will. From trademarking, the branding, our drinks to our merch, we’re even still signing new deals. We’re not even an existing band and people still want a part of it, which is great and its just me and Phil left. It’s very sad sometimes you know.”
I can imagine, I was in the crowd at the Lemmy farew
ell show at Wacken Open Air in 2016, which was incredibly emotional. There was an amazing compilation of Motörhead live performances, clips of Lemmy on the screens and we saw the Bomber plane fly on the big stage for the final time. I was surrounded by big strong metal heads and everyone was in tears, we were broken. Yourself and Phil took to the stage to farewell us from the band. I can say from someone down below in the crowd, it was something special to be apart of, how was it for you guys up there?
“I was drunk! (laughing) Well, not too drunk, but we had everybody there, our manager, our press manager, our promoter, the crew, the entire Motörhead family was there. I don’t quite know what to say about that, but it was emotional. At the same time, I have to say, when Lemmy actually passed, people came up saying ‘Oh what a disaster!’ I said no it wasn’t a disaster, yes it’s very sad and I was already missing him, but for us, there were also those tough years from 2012 when he started getting sick. He told me when he turned 50, “If I die tomorrow, I’ve had a perfect life”, and he got 20 more of his absolute best years after that. Who can live 70 years, living- Your way or the Highway? No one can live like that, Lemmy did that!
He had great life and to see him live maybe five, ten, maybe fifteen more years, without being on stage? That’s like cutting the wings off a falcon and putting it in a cage you know? So when he actually passed away, yes of course, you don’t want anyone dead! But certain people, like Lemmy, to have to live life, but not be able to tour? That would’ve been the worst.
We saw how he suffered when he couldn’t play just one show. If we cancelled one show, he was just devastated and we even had to walk off a couple of shows too, over those years. Lemmy was devastated, he was just so disappointed and he hated life. So when he actually passed, that was his time to go and as he said on his death bed, “Fuck this shit!, I had a good fucking run.” Then he went to sleep and died…with his boots on! It was almost like it was taken out of a movie.
So with that said, that’s what I mean, a disaster is when a family dies in a horrific accident, but when Lemmy passed away in the way that he did at seventy? No it wasn’t a disaster, he lived a fantastic life. It was just that people didn’t want to end Motörhead and they wanted Lemmy around. I didn’t want him around, sitting in Los Angeles, locked in a fucking cuckoo house or locked in his apartment. Forget it! That was not him and I think it was probably for his best.”
Mikkey isn’t sighing, at this point he is smiling
Mikkey, thanks so much for your time and for that snippet into such a wonderful and chaotic world.
I would love to finish off with three random questions to answer as quick as you can?
Favourite flavour of crisps, Mikkey replies with “mmm onion!”
If you were a prehistoric creature, what would you be?,”A Sea creature!”
Last but not least, your favourite Lemmy quote, Mikkey has a long pause, takes a deep breath and hits me with,
“If you think you’re too old for Rock and Roll…then you are!”
To Purchase the Motorhead Ace of Spades Box set click Here
To listen to the Motorcast podcast click Here
For all things Scorpions click Here
To Follow Mikkey Dee on Instagram click Here
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"It does not require a majority, but an irate, tireless minority, keen to set bushfires in people's minds." Hail Satan!