Inside Talk: Tommy Lee | Method to His Madness


Tommy Lee''s new Methods of Mayhem album includes material submitted by the public in an online collaboration.

Photo: Myriam Santos

A Public Disservice Announcement is Tommy Lee''s first Methods of Mayhem album since 1999, and it will be released Sept. 21 on the Loud & Proud/Roadrunner imprint. For this incarnation, Lee decided to post selected individual tracks from the songs on site, and invite users to download them and record their own additions and variations. One million page views and 10,000 submissions later, Lee and crew chose the best of the submissions and incorporated them into the final mixes. I spoke with Lee about the how and why of this collaborative album.

How did you decide on this public collaboration idea?
Well, my buddy [producer] Scott Humphrey came up with this idea one day, and we''re sitting there kind of just jokingly, going like, “You know what''d be really cool? Obviously, [to] do another Methods of Mayhem record, but just do it in a different way. Rather than have all the big guest stars all over it, let''s go crazy and collaborate with the world and just let everybody have a rip at it.” And I''m sitting here, thinking, “Okay, well that could be cool. It''s kind of like, you know, guys do remixes. They send out the parts and guys get on it and tweak it out, and they send it back to the artist, right?” Then we started talking more and more about it, and we thought, “Whoa, why don''t we do an entire record like this?” It''s never been done, and I kind of like that a lot. So we set out to do this, to kind of be the first at making an entire record through This is where we would, once a week, put up the raw tracks.

Overall, what was the quality of the material submitted like?
We had the craziest submissions; you would not believe, dude. If you can just imagine some really amazing stuff and some really crazy-sounding s**t that''s terrible [laughs]. Just imagine that entire spectrum from spoken-word parts from some dude in Prague, and bagpipes from Scotland, and hand drums from the Middle East. It was a lot of fun. We would sit there every day—we''d wake up around 8 or 9 in the morning—and go through hundreds or thousands of submissions from all over the world.

How many of the tracks that you got back ended up on the final? Does every song have something in it that was submitted?
Yes. You know, it varies. One could be a break feed that plays maybe for three seconds, to maybe a cool vocal part or a piano part. So it''s kind of all over the place. Typically, I guess, per track, some tracks probably have maybe 15 snippets of people''s submissions. Others maybe have 25 in one, and some have like six.

Yeah, I noticed there''s a lot of variety musically on the album, stylistically. Some heavy stuff, some sort of power-pop stuff, and a lot of dancey stuff. Was that because you had all these people submitting and it changed the feel of some of the songs?
Pretty much most of the stuff was the way you''ve heard it, except for “Back to Before,” which really just took a full 180. It''s one of those things. Stylistically, I''m just all over the place, and I love records that don''t sound the same from track 1 to track 11 [laughs]. And with the first Methods of Mayhem record, that was kind of a hybrid—I don''t know. There was everything from hip-hop to electro to industrial to rock to—I mean, it was all over the place. I''m just a huge fan of a lot of different styles of music, so this would be typically just going down that same kind of crazy, all-over-the-place kind of a record.