Tommy Lee is best known for being the drummer of Motley Crue (or maybe for that sex tape with Pamela Anderson), but these days he’s got a new bag – DJing. The bad-boy rocker has gone electronic, dishing out big beats with his partner, DJ Aero. He’ll be doing a few gigs on Saturday for Ultra, plus, he’s hosting the Beatport Music Awards Sunday night. He talked about his transformation.
When did you start getting into electronic music?I’ve always been into electronic music. Even though my background’s in the rock world, I started using the computer in about ’83. I had like a Mac 2CI, and I started programming and writing electronic stuff with Motley, sequencing guitars and drumbeats and s— like that. I was attracted to the sounds of electronic drums — you can make them sound as crazy as you want. Then around 2000 I did this solo project; I’d had enough of Motley, and it was time for me to take a break. Creatively, I was dying. How did you get into DJing?I started hanging around a bunch of DJs. We started doing these little gigs, and I was playing drums alongside him spinning, and we got an offer to play at Ultra in 2004. So there I was, spinning alongside Aero and jumping on the drums here and there during the set, diving out in the crowd and playing drums with them. There were 38- or 40,000 people there, and I was like, ‘OK, that’s it — I’m sold!’ Did you experience any skepticism from fans?In the beginning, it was a lot of Crue fans coming to see what . . . I was up to, like, ‘What’s he doing now? We know the dude’s a little crazy, but — what?’ And they would come check it out, and they were like, It’s cool — you can raise ripping drums to electronic music. And then I think the people really got a sense that I was really taking this seriously. How would you describe your sound?We make some pretty dirty electro, and I’m really excited for people to get their paws on some of our stuff. We’ve been playing out live a couple of our tracks, and the response is insane when we drop ’em — we’re like, ‘Whoa!’ That’s a good feeling. Motley Crue’s not dead, right?No, not at all. We still tour once a year or every other year. In the summer we have a thing we do called Cruefest, and we’re actually getting ready to go out this summer on just a normal tour that starts in June. Michael Hamersly