Lyndsey Parker Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
Although Motley Crüe’s big reunion tour was postponed this year due to coronavirus concerns, drummer Tommy Lee has been keeping busy during lockdown, working on his third solo album (and first since 2005), Andro — a self-described “pretty wild record” with a slew of guest stars, ranging from rising rappers Killvein, Push Push, and Grimes collaborator Brooke Candy, to old-school rockers like his former Rock Star: Supernova bandmate/castmate Lukas Rossi and Buckcherry’s Josh Todd, to even Post Malone.
Lee has realized that he’s “one of those guys that has to keep myself busy,” which is why he has thrown himself so passionately into the making of Andro, which comes out Oct. 16. The record explores the industrial, rap-metal, and glam-pop sounds of his previous two solo albums and his work with side band Methods of Mayhem, but contains plenty of “gnarly” rock ‘n’ roll to appease Crüeheads until Motley can get back on the road in 2021.
However, speaking with Yahoo Entertainment from the very basement studio where all the Andro magic happened, Lee confesses that there was an idle period after the last Crüe tour — when he was “just burnt on everything” and “just floated in my pool and did absolutely nothing for a year” — when he got so heavily back into drinking that his new bride, social media star Brittany Furlan, feared for his health and safety.
“It was crazy. I mean, I’ve been sober for four years, and I’ve been sort of on and off for a long time,” Lee explains. “I go through these phases where I just want to live a different life and f*** all the dumb s***. And then I decide, ‘You know what? I don’t want to live like that anymore. I want to have a lot of play and be f***ed up and stupid and all that s***. So, in this particular instance, I had been home… I had all this time at home, not touring, just being at home. I did what I told you. I just enjoyed being home. I literally did nothing. I would just float around drink and just f***ing drink.”
Things eventually got out of hand. “I didn’t notice it until towards the end of it, when I was like, ‘Oh dude, I’ve got to stop. This is f***ing insane.’ Like, I was drinking just out of boredom. I would just wake up and be just building [a glass with] just all vodka and just a little eyedropper of cranberry or lemonade. I was drinking two gallons — not pints, not quarts, but gallons, the big-handles — a day. That’s f***ing crazy. … I just realized, ‘Whoa dude, you’re drinking enough to like, you could probably die.’ And it wasn’t even fazing me. … I just became sort of immune to it,” says Lee.
Furlan, whom Lee married on Valentine’s Day last year, understandably grew worried, which inspired Lee to seek professional help. “She was like, ‘Baby, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen anybody drink that much. Like, you’re kind of scaring me. … Like, are you going to wake up? Am I going to wake up to, like, you not breathing?’” Lee recalls. “And I was like, ‘That sucks. That’s not cool to have you have you worry like that. And it’s worrying me.’ But yeah, she was definitely concerned, and her concern obviously helped in my decision to just go get outta here: I bailed for over a month and just was like, ‘That’s it, I’m done for a while.’”
Lee decided to “pump the brakes” and “bailed” to a rehab facility, and in two weeks, he will celebrate his one-year anniversary of sobriety. “I don’t know if it’s a forever thing,” he says of his one-day-at-a-time attitude. “But for now, I’m not drinking vodka today.”
Lee, like his hard-partying bandmates and many of his ‘80s metal peers, has a history of substance abuse and reckless behavior. But as he turns 58 this Saturday, he’s in remarkably good shape, considering everything he has put his body through since forming Motley Crüe almost 40 years ago. Lee is as amazed by his clean bill of health as his doctor was after a recent medical check-up. “[The physician] was like, ‘Dude, I don’t know what the deal is with you, but your liver is fine. You’re super-healthy. Like, f***, what are you made of?’” Lee chuckles. “I was like, ‘Did you get my papers mixed up with another guy with the last name Lee?’”
As for how Lee has managed to survive all these years, he says, “I must have a horseshoe stuck in my butt. I’m really lucky. I’m grateful. I don’t know, man, it’s pretty crazy. Somebody is obviously looking out for me, because that shouldn’t be the case. I was doing some pretty serious damage that would probably hurt anybody else badly.”
Looking back on his crazy Crüe years — as chronicled in the hit Netflix biopic The Dirt, which sparked the band’s decision to reunite — Lee says, “I don’t really regret anything. That’s life, man. You do stuff and you do stupid s*** and you go, ‘OK, well, that hurt. I’m not gonna do that again.’ I think all those things are put in front of me for a reason, to make me a better person. So, no regrets here.”
Watch Yahoo Entertainment’s full YouTube conversation with Tommy Lee above, in which he discusses the making of Andro, his opinion of Machine Gun Kelly’s impression of him in The Dirt, dealing with haters and backlash for his political views on social media, how Rock Star: Supernova changed reality television, writing a song for RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki… and, speaking of reality TV, whether or not he’s the Giraffe on The Masked Singer.