Ace of Spades

A twenty something Mark Gregory got to learn a valuable lesson from his heavy metal hero.

Many moons ago, in my previous incarnation as a rock radio DJ, I was hugely excited to get the opportunity to interview the legendary Motorhead frontman – Lemmy.

I was in such a lather about chatting with this icon, that I spent simply ages researching the new album they were promoting on a ‘radio tour‘. So, I was fully up to date on the LP’s producer, the studio it was recorded at, the sleeve artist, some recent line-up changes in the band and their upcoming tour dates too. Job done.

The day finally came and Motorhead, along with their record company PR guy, actually arrived early. True to form, they all quickly decamped to the pub next door to quaff copious amounts of high-octane Carlsberg Specials. While I waited nervously for the interview studio to become available.

“Yes, I know Lemmy is waiting – But I need to get this mullet trimmed. Now!” 

Half an hour later, I was finally able to usher everyone in and motion Lemmy towards the vacant chair.

As I began my inquisition however, I sensed a change in mood. Gone were the grins and goofing seen in abundance earlier. Instead, a tension was becoming increasingly apparent and with hindsight, this was hardly surprising.

In those dark days before ISDN or broadband, artists literally had to take to the road, rail, or skies to promote their product.  Often travelling to as many as half a dozen radio stations in far flung corners of the UK – all in one day. Today was one such occasion and Radio Tees was their last port of call. Which meant that my celebrated interviewee had already heard dozens of variants of my meticulously researched questions and he was thoroughly fed up.

After fifteen minutes of his monosyllabic replies, I’d had enough too. Announcing; “Well that’s great thanks. It should edit nicely down to a two-minute piece, if we’re lucky”.

“You fucking what??... We came all this way, for that?!” Barked Lemmy.   

The PR chap looked nervous. They’d just flown from Aberdeen to Teesside and he needed to salvage something.  He took me to the back of the studio and whispered some advice. “It’s not your fault, been a long day, he’s just bored now. You could try asking him about the title track though. No-one’s actually brought that up yet”.

Sleeve art for that infamous Motorhead album. 

Once he’d calmed down and was in front of the microphone again, Lemmy lit yet another cigarette, as I proceeded to utter the immortal question…. “So, ‘ORGASMATRON’…... What’s that all about then?”

And with that, he was off. Hardly pausing for breath, I was treated to a full hour of the frankest, and downright strangest interview material I’d ever recorded with a rock musician. A non-stop stream of consciousness commencing with a lengthy pontification on war, before moving on to politics and then religion, even abortion. You name it, he stated his opinion on it and explained how Motorhead’s new “Orgasmatron” album was actually all about what he viewed as the seemingly innate ability of mankind to destroy itself and potentially - the Earth.

It was unexpectedly profound stuff. And to this day, it always reminds me of what can be achieved when, no matter how you arrive at it, you eventually ask - the right question. Or… just a different question.  

Mark Gregory