Tommy Lee has provided the backbone for the underrated, glam-rock-inspired rhythm section of Mötley Crüe since the band formed in Los Angeles in 1981. At 48, the tattooed drummer is no longer making accidental sex tapes, snorting suitcases full of cocaine or otherwise living the cartoonish over-the-top rock-star life his band -- singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx -- personified in the '80s.
Nowadays, he gets his rush by soloing upside-down on his 360-degree "drum roller coaster," far above the stage, and pounding out standards such as "Girls, Girls, Girls." We caught up with Lee at a tour stop in Biloxi, Miss., a tour that brings the guys to the Nassau Coliseum Wednesday night.
How often have you dropped a stick in the 360 Drum Roller Coaster?
I haven't yet. I'm gonna knock on wood real quick here. Maybe it's because I'm so ---- terrified that I've got a death grip on the sticks. Or just extremely lucky.
Is it still scary in there, or are you used to it?
I guess "scary" might be the wrong word. It's just everything is so wrong. . . . The second the drums start tilting sidewise and, worse, upside-down, everything physically and dynamically changes. It's really insane. Your feet want to fly off the pedals, your neck wants to snap sideways. The gravity's pulling you to the earth, but your arms and legs want you to go towards the sky -- "We're playing drums here, buddy!"
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Any update on the film version of the band's autobiography "The Dirt"?
You know what, I have no info for you, bud. I wish I did.
How do you hope it comes out?
I hope it's just absolutely out of control, very much like it was in that time period -- where it was just, like, a free-for-all. . . . It was just a wild time. I hope the movie has that sense of that . . . from the clubs to the big arena world tours, where anything and everything goes. I'd really like to see the story being told in that way, no hype, no nothing, just raw, like how it was. It'd be so sick.
If Mötley Crüe during the period you just described was 100 on the out-of-control scale from zero to 100, where is the band today?
I'm gonna say probably about 75-80. [It's] still ---- up out here, dude.
WHO Mötley Crüe with Poison and the New York Dolls
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nassau Coliseum
INFO $36-$91.50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com