The Coast News Group
Scene and Heard

Hanging backstage with Lemmy at The Belly Up

Back in 2000, Motorhead frontman and cult icon Lemmy Kilmister, along with rockabilly guitarist Danny B Harvey (Lonesome Spurs), and former Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom, met by pure chance while recording parts for an Elvis tribute album.
Afterward, the guys were all hanging out at the studio when they struck up a kinship for their love of playing oldies like Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash. They decided it’d be fun to start a band where they could cover some of their favorite 50s songs and add a bit of their own rock ‘n’ roll twist at the same time. The result of this became known as The Head Cat, a band little-known outside their loyal circle of fans, which tours sporadically around the U.S. playing smaller venues, giving their fans a great opportunity to see them play in such an intimate setting.
I’ve now been to two Head Cat shows and each time they get better and better. It’s something that both fans of Motorhead can appreciate as well as their parents. Anyway, I was really excited to see that they were coming to The Belly Up because its one of my favorite places in North County to see bands. A friend and I actually headed over to the venue a few hours before the show to do a little Q&A with Lemmy and it was by far one of the coolest experiences in my life so far. When we arrived, much to my surprise, it was actually Lemmy (and not a tour manager or PR rep) that greeted us and led us backstage into the greenroom where we could sit and talk. All three of us sat at a small wood table atop of which sat nothing more than a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pack of Marlboro reds, and a half-empty shot glass of whiskey and cigarette butts. I can’t tell you how cool this was.
Lemmy is a fascinating character. We spoke for about an hour, talking about everything from life, philosophy, Elvis, capitalism, corporate greed, pretty much anything you can imagine, even long after the interview was over. At one point he even started very sincerely asking me about my own life and what I did for work (aside from writing), and not only did he listen to me wholeheartedly, he actually offered his advice. That led him to talk about how he feels corporations are using the “bad economy” as a scare tactic to force less wages on its employees just to increase their bottom line. In that thick, heavy English accent and gruff, gravely voice he said, “It’s bulls—-. The economy isn’t as bad as they say but corporations will tell you that so they can cut your pay and tell you you’re lucky to be working while they line their pockets with more money. Do you think any of the CEO’s are hurting like you are? No they’re not. Its complete rubbish.”
It was so surreal. Here’s a guy who’s going down in history as one of the greats — a legend, cult icon, someone I grew up listening and partying to, someone I totally idolize and adore, and here he was actually sympathizing with me. When we first arrived I was on the verge of throwing myself down at his feet bowing while crying, “We’re not worthy!” and now, here’s he is offering me smokes and intelligent, thoughtful conversation over whiskey. Truly unbelievable.
Since it’s been so long since The Head Cat released their one full-length album, “Fools Paradise” (2006), I had to ask about new material. He told me they just recorded their entire second release in less than four hours and plan on releasing it sometime later this year. Once we finally wrapped up, we went home grabbed our friends, and mobbed back down there and had one of the best nights I can remember. The show was great, the band was amazing, and I got to watch one of my idols prove he’s the real deal when it comes to rock n roll. Be sure next time you see The Head Cat coming through that you check them out; it’ll go down in history as one of the best times ever, even if you don’t get to hang out with Lemmy.