Motley Crüe's Tommy Lee says he "just wanted to do something different" for "A Public Disservice Announcement," his first Methods of Mayhem album in 11 years. That turned out to be working with a cast of thousands -- literally -- on the 11-track set, which comes out Tuesday (Sept. 21).
Nearly a year ago, Lee and chief cohort Scott Humphrey began posting the album's songs online and invited fans to contribute parts via ProTools, Logic, Garage Band or Riff Works. They came in droves, leaving Lee and company to sift through about 1,500 submissions per week. "It was great," Lee tells Billboard.com. "If it was any greater I probably wouldn't be talking to you 'cause the record still wouldn't be done. Thank God we only dealt with 13 tracks [including bonuses]. Otherwise it would've been a much longer process."
Lee says he ultimately used about 50 of the public contributions for the album, though he promises that he lent an ear to everything that came in. "It's not one of those processes where you can just go, 'Well, we'll kind of pick and choose what we listen to,' " he explains. "I literally had to listen to every single submission that was sent through, otherwise you might miss something really fuckin' amazing. The process is what it is. You have to open that can of worms you got into."
The most dramatic contribution, Lee says, came from someone in Paris, which resulted in a wholesale makeover for the song "Back to Before."
"It was a straight-up, midtempo kind of rock track," Lee notes, "and this guy sped the song up I think about four or five beats per minute and totally remixed it, and what it did was just inspire me to scrap the song and start over with that concept in mind. So what you're hearing now is a full, 360-degree re-work, which is pretty cool."
"A Public Disservice Announcement" features guest contributions from some more well-known folks as well. Nickelback's Chad Kroeger sings on "Fight Song," while Deftones' Chino Moreno appears on "Only One" and Sum 41's Deryck Whibley is part of the opening track "Drunk Uncle Pete." Lee suspects that some of his famous friends may have also submitted ideas via the public process.
"A lot of people sent in video submissions," he says, "and there was a handful of guys playing guitars and wearing masks. I don't know if there was anybody that I know or if they were friends who wanted to jump on and rock for a second."
The group plans to perform "Time Bomb," the first single from "A Public Disservice Announcement," on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Wednesday (Sept. 22). Lee says the live lineup of Methods of Mayhem is rehearsing for a tour that is currently being booked for fall and winter. Next year, however, will find him back on the road with Motley Crüe, whose Crüefest tour will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the group's first album.
The Crüe, he says, has also "talked about making some new music" for the long-awaited film adaptation of the band's autobiography "The Dirt." "It just keeps moving around," Lee says of the project, "but we did talk about getting some music ready for it so when it does get going we're not playing catch-up."