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 gig - DJing. Yes, the bad-boy rocker has gone electronic, dishing out big beats with his partner, DJ Aero. Check him out at the Beatport Beach party at the Gansevoort, at Nikki Beach on Thursday, and three different gigs on Saturday. Plus, he's hosting the Beatport Music Awards Sunday night. He talked to Miami.com about his transformation.
Are you excited to come down to Miami?
Oh my God, dude - I'm looking so forward to that.
You're hosting the Beatport Music Awards show. What can we expect from that?
You know, I've never been to one. I've been to their beach party that they throw, which we're also DJing at, but I've never been to their awards. I know it will be fun - I know and like all the guys over at Beatport.
What else do you have going on that week?
I think we get there on the 23rd, and there's Juicy Beach with Robbie Rivera on the 24th, and then we're bouncing out of there for a minute for this gig in Fort Lauderdale. Then on Saturday, we're doing the Mou5trap party with Deadmau5, and I'm playing drums at Ultra with Deadmau5. And also a gig at Mynt, so Saturday is a crazy day - three gigs in one day.
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 from that and do something. Creatively, I was dying, so I needed to get in the studio and make some crazy new s----. So I made this Methods of Mayhem project, and that's when I just started to flip out on anything electronic. For me, it was like a full 360 from what I'd been doing for so many years. And I started hanging around a bunch of DJs with Mixmaster Mike, and I met DJ Aero, who's my partner now. We started d---ing around 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!" That was all it took. This is unbelievable, this kind of music that makes me crazy. The girls and the guys dance to it, and people don't criticize it so much - they're just there to enjoy themselves and have fun. It's a different animal from rock 'n' roll completely. And love this. I f---ing live for this.
Did you experience any skepticism at first from your fans?
In the beginning stages, it was a lot of Motley Crue fans coming to see what the f--- 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, not just a "Yeah, let's go f--- around on the weekend" thing.
How would you describe your sound?
We make some pretty f---ing bad-ass 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, f---!" 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.
You're an L.A. guy. What do you think of Miami?
It reminds me a lot of L.A. - they seem like brother and sister. The climate is super-similar, I guess, other than the humidity. The lifestyle and the people are alike. I would say that Miami's definitely got some better clubs than Los Angeles. But L.A. seems like it's coming up - there are some clubs here that are starting to be really, really popular. But I really do love 'em both. If I didn't live in L.A., I'd probably live in Florida somewhere - it's really beautiful.