The music world mourned the loss of iconic Motörhead frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister when he died on Dec. 28, 2015, four days after his 70th birthday, due to prostate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure. On Sept. 1, Motörhead Music will release Under Cöver, a collection of some of the band’s best cover songs, which will include a previously unreleased version of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” It is perhaps an eerily fitting tribute, as Bowie himself died on Jan. 10, 2016, two days after his 69th birthday, 13 days after Lemmy died.
The album’s material stretches from 1992’s March ör Die through to the Bad Magic sessions in 2015. Produced by Cameron Webb, “Heroes” was one of the last songs the band recorded together. Also featured on the album are such gems as Motörhead’s cover of Metallica‘s “Whiplash,” which won it the 2005 Grammy Award for best metal performance; its ripping version of Twisted Sister’s “Shoot ’Em Down” from the out-of-print 2001 tribute Twisted Forever; a duet with Biff Byford of Saxon on Rainbow song “Starstruck” from the 2014 Ronnie James Dio tribute album This Is Your Life; and its version of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” from 2000’s We Are Motörhead.
Drummer Mikkey Dee is very proud of Under Cöver and thinks fans will enjoy it, especially because the album was meant to be. Speaking from his home in Sweden, he says, “We usually released an album pretty much every other year. Many, many moons ago, we were sitting around a table and talking about how it would be fun to make a covers record. Lemmy would choose four songs, [guitarist] Phil [Campbell] would choose four songs and I would choose four songs. Just songs that everybody liked over the years, but we never went into the studio to make a complete covers album.”
Dee adds, “We have done some great cover songs over all the years. We gathered all the stuff we’d done and said, ‘Let’s just put ’em all on one record and give the fans a cool booklet with some history.’ We’d done a few more things, but this collection was perfect, I thought.”
Asked if Motörhead has more unreleased material that might see the light of day, Dee is confident that it will. “There is some stuff around, but I don’t know exactly what. I know we have a lot of live [material], but there’s nothing in the plans as of now and we haven’t talked about it, but I’m sure there is plenty, both video and audio.”
Under Cöver is a fitting tribute to one of the most iconic frontmen that ever played rock ‘n’ roll. Known as much for his consumption of illicit substances as he was for his upward-tilted microphone and gravelly singing voice, the bassist was the subject of the critically acclaimed 2010 documentary Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker. 51% Son of a Bitch, where multiple hard-rock luminaries — including members of several bands Motörhead covers on its new album — provided commentary about rock’s Man in Black. Lemmy was also an avid collector of war memorabilia and his sartorial style occasionally stirred controversy, for he sometimes wore hats that were fashioned after Nazi uniforms. (He publicly condemned racism, claiming he appreciated such clothing only for its aesthetics.)
Dee offered his opinion as to what Lemmy might have said about the recent events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, where an Aug. 12 white supremacist protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee descended into violence that culminated in the death of activist Heather Heyer and injuries to almost two dozen others after a car rammed into a group of counter-protestors.
“Oh, he would have fucking hated it. I can totally speak for him there: He hated that shit,” says Dee. “A lot of people judged him on the fact that he collected war stuff. A lot of people did not look behind the curtain. He hated fucking Nazis. He hated stupidity and he was fascinated by the stupidity of the human race. He would probably write some incredible lyrics about it — he thought it was so ridiculous.”
Though Lemmy is gone, the other members of Motörhead haven’t stopped working. Campbell has been rocking with his band Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons, which features three of his sons. The family act has live European dates on deck in the fall. Meanwhile, Dee now permanently fills the drummer’s seat for German legends Scorpions, who are due to hit U.S. shores on Sept. 14 and tour into October. Though fans will never get to experience the excitement of seeing Motörhead again, Dee has stated that he is open to a tribute show.
“What I have said since Lemmy’s passing is, ‘Of course.’ There is a possibility of doing that when the time is right to do it. If you love New York pizza and you haven’t had any New York pizza in several years, you’re going to crave that. One day there is maybe going to be a craving for something like this and when there is a craving for it, we have to do it in a proper way,” he says.
For Dee, doing it properly means putting “some really right people together and do some exclusive shows and honor Lem and honor Motörhead and play two-and-a-half hours of fucking classic Motörhead tracks, shit that we’ve never even played when we were around. But only with the right formation and right timing. To do it too soon, then it would be a disaster. But I am totally open to doing something and when there is the right opportunity to do this, I am all for it and I am going to do my damnedest to put something really, really great together.”
In the meantime, Dee loves kicking it with the Scorps. “It’s great! I fuckin’ love it,” he exclaims. “It’s great to be part of such a classic band. Lemmy had a lot of respect for them, especially because they’ve been around so long and done so much. The fans have really accepted me and I know that every time I hit, I feel like it’s a tribute to Lemmy.”
Under Cöver will be available in multiple formats, including CD digipack, 180-gram black vinyl, super-deluxe box set and digital audio download.
Motörhead Under Cöver track list:
1. “Breaking the Law” (Judas Priest) 2008
2. “God Save the Queen” (Sex Pistols) 2000
3. “Heroes” (David Bowie) 2015
4. “Starstruck” (Rainbow) 2014
5. “Cat Scratch Fever” (Ted Nugent) 1992
6. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (The Rolling Stones) 2001
7. “Sympathy for the Devil” (The Rolling Stones) 2015
8. “Hellraiser” (Ozzy Osbourne) 1992
9. “Rockaway Beach” (Ramones) 2002
10. “Shoot ’Em Down” (Twisted Sister) 2001
11. “Whiplash” (Metallica) 2005