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Speaking With ... Tommy Lee

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It could very well be the loudest, most hardcore rockin’ tour on the circuit this summer. That’s what happens when Motley Crue and Poison join forces for what they’re calling the “first and last time together” tour.

For Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee, it’s all in the name of making music the way he has for nearly 30 years — alongside his iconic bandmates Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx. The veteran drummer talked to the Sun-Times about the tour and the one thing he simply must have on the road with him (and it’s probably not what you’re thinking).

Question: So what’s it like to be on the road with Poison?

Tommy Lee: The tour’s pretty new. On any big tour like this you rarely see each other. You show up, play your stuff and then everybody jumps on their tour busses and goes. I think I finally talked to (Poison drummer) Rikki Rockett for the first time in two weeks and even then it was just like, “Hey man.”

Q. So there’s no hangin’ out together after the show partying?

TL: Not at all. It’s not like we’re all on the same bus sleeping together in our jammies. After the gigs, I pretty much go to dance clubs and s--t [laughing] and those guys ain’t gonna go there. Ya know? My dressing room is the party room, so if they’d be anywhere after a show it’s there. And they’re not there.

Q. Do you ever just have some down time when it’s quiet and your head isn’t spinning?

TL: Right after the show I do kinda just sit there and trip out for a good 15 minutes. I don’t know if I necessarily come down. My ears are pretty much [whistling] so I do like some time to decompress when I can. But with guests coming back stage I just don’t have the time. Then I’m trying to DJ in some local club whenever I can. I’m usually back in my bus by 3 or 4 a.m. And that’s when it’s really quiet for me. That’s when my phone stops ringing. [Laughs] And all the kids are in bed by that time.

Q. So what’s it like to play the drums upside down on your 360-degree rollercoaster setup?

TL: There’s so many great things about it and so many wrong things about it. I’ve loved rollercoasters since I was a kid. So I was thinking one day if I could just get my drums on one of those f-----g things. So we did it. Of course drums weren’t meant to be played other than sitting on the ground. When you’re upside-down your feet don’t want to sit on the pedals. You’re hitting upward instead of downward. It’s a hell of a lot more difficult. My body will tell you that.

Q. Any motion sickness?

TL: I had a few rehearsal days with it. It’s really disorienting when you’re up there. I just have a spot I focus on up in the lights and it’s fine now.

Q. What’s the one thing you absolutely have to have on the bus when you’re touring?

TL: I have to have my studio because if I don’t have a place to make music I’ll lose my mind. And I have to admit the panini machine is also a must. I love to cook. I throw just about anything on there in a sandwich. Everything just tastes better when it’s grilled.

Motley Crue; Poison; with New York Dolls, 7 p.m. July 1, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park. Tickets, $17.50-$117.80; livenation.com



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