It wasn’t logical but it made complete sense. Tommy Lee has rocked every continent multiple times, he’s sold millions of records with Mötley Crüe and on his own; he’s done everything a musician dreams of doing. Except this: he’d never made a record with the entire world. “This really was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had making a record, other than the first time I made a record - because there’s nothing quite like popping your cherry!” Tommy says. “This record was the craziest thing ever. Parts were sent in from all over the world by people wanting to participate in the first once-in-a-lifetime global collaboration. It was insane dude!”
The result is the second Methods of Mayhem album, A Public Disservice Announcement, the first truly collaborative effort an artist of Tommy’s magnitude has ever dared to attempt. The concept came easy, the execution did not - it took time, technology, patience and dedication. The first step was to set the parameters. Tommy and his team, including producer Scott Humphrey, singer-guitarist J3 and others, wrote and recorded the songs, which ran the gamut from hard rock anthems to ballads to dance tracks. Then they made the core components of each song available for download on www.thepublicrecord.com to anyone who wished to add their playing or otherwise re-interpret the music however they saw fit. Tommy listened to every single submission that was uploaded, chose the best, and integrated the actual audio tracks into the album’s final cuts.
“Some people were confused because no one has attempted anything like this before,” Tommy says. “I got a lot of emails asking me if they’d get songwriting credit if their part was used. That wasn’t the case, because all of these songs were already written and recorded.” That’s not to say that the many contributors will remain anonymous, however. Every single musician whose part was used is credited and thanked on the album. “Credit doesn’t always happen in the music industry - or any industry - when you’re starting out,” Tommy says. “And it hardly ever happens the first time you do something. I’ve done plenty of things for the credit, not the check, so I made sure that all of the people who sent us things we used were called out for their work. Take it from me - credit lasts forever, money doesn’t!”
The song files were made available on The Public Record on October 5th, 2009. By the end of the submission period in February, 2010, the page was viewed over 1 million times and over 10,000 submissions were uploaded. The music Tommy received was all recorded in ProTools, Logic or Garage Band. And if a would-be collaborator had none of those, they were able to download a program called Riff Works for free from the website. What came back once the public got its hands on the raw ingredients was truly all over the map - just as Tommy had hoped.
There were techno tracks sent in from the foothills of Osaka, Japan, there were hand drum rhythms sent in from India and searing guitar solos sent from as close to home as San Diego. There were also plenty of sounds to confuse and boggle the mind. “Some crazy dude from Prague I think it was, sent in a spoken word track that had nothing at all to do with the song,” Tommy says. “It was this bit about ‘the cow’s moon being in the sky, parting the broken winds of the clouds of the sea.’ I turned to my producer and was like, ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about but I want what he’s got!’”
In his work outside of the Crüe, Tommy always challenges himself musically, so the greatest side effect of this project was his exposure to so many new ideas. “When you hear something totally left field,” he says, “you realize that someone is hearing the same song so differently than you are. It makes you think about how you wrote it - and there are pros and cons to that.” One of the pros, was that the song “Back to Before,” which started out as a rock song, ended up as a dance song. “This guy from France sent in this complete re-edit - he made it into a full-on dance track. Anyone who knows me at all knows I love dance music, so when I heard it, that was it! It threw the song into a full 360°. We pumped the brakes and started over.”
Tommy, along with his producer and band listened to about 1500 submissions a week - over 200 a day. For all of the memorable oddballs, there was an over-abundance of talent. “There is a lot of undiscovered talent out there, from kids just getting started, to shirt-tuckers who have a 9 to 5 that just rock out in a bar band on the weekends. They don’t want to be famous, but those guys are stars.” Tommy’s greatest reward, however, was the appreciation he received for giving those unsung heroes a chance. “I got so many emails thanking me for the opportunity,” he says. “I kept thinking of myself at 15. If Led Zeppelin had put tracks online and I’d ripped a few beats in my parents garage, sent them in and they’d used them? I would have died!”
Though the project is called Methods of Mayhem, it bears little resemblance to its first incarnation - except for the fact that it’s unlike anything else you’ll hear this year. “When I founded Methods in 1999, the whole purpose of the band was to be all over the place,” Tommy says. “And in keeping with that, this Methods isn’t anything like the last one. There’s no hip hop and there’s no roster of guest stars. This time, it’s me, my band, and the world.” When Methods of Mayhem brings A Public Disservice Announcement on tour to the public that helped make it later this year, expect more of the unexpected. “There’s some technology out there right now video- and lighting-wise that is blowing my mind,” Tommy says. “I do a rock band with Mötley. Methods is not going to be that kind of set up. I want something like Daft Punk but unique to this. I want a real robot playing bass. I want the show to start at the mixing board. I want to do everything you’re not supposed to do and hope it works. This is going to be something else, something I’ve never done before - that’s my goal.”
The album’s highlights include the ominous techno of “Party Instructions,” the sexy, mechanical funk of “All I Wanna Do,” the hilarious rave-up “Drunk Uncle Pete” and the propulsive intensity of “Fight Song.” One of the album’s first singles, “Time Bomb,” however, is the jewel in the crown. The introspective rock anthem’s infectious sing-along chorus will confound those who think they know what to expect from Tommy Lee - which is just what the doctor ordered.TOMMY LEE AT THE SEX MUSEUM! TOMMY LEE CAUSES MAYHEM AT RR NYC OFFICES!