Most of music fans recognize Swedish drummer Mikkey Dee as a long term member of Motörhead. Lemmy is unfortunately already for some time at a bar on the other side and his remaining bandmates had to adjust. Guitarist Phil Campbell formed Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and Mikkey was very quickly approached by German rock icons Scorpions. Their last show in Ostrava was a great opportunity to meet respected drummer. In our interview we spoke not only about his drums, but also about his favorite live albums, ice hockey and love for white sneakers.
This interview took place in 2018 and as you can see, sometimes it takes time in Muzikus. Still I appreciate great chat with a legend and getting it on the cover of February 2020 issue of Czech magazine Muzikus.
Front cover picture credit: Robert John Potography
How did you enjoy last night’s show with Scorpions in Ostravar Arena? Next to a great solos, audience also enjoyed some great stage effects.
It was a good show, even though it was the first show after one month. There were some bits and pieces that have to be adjusted, but in overall I think it was a great show with an amazing audience. Previous show had to be postponed, so the audience deserved something special. Therefore I am very tired today.
You are grabbing your neck. Are you doing some practices for the neck, to stay in shape?
I am playing a lot of hockey in Sweden.
Is this happening with a crew of your old friends, you were playing with in the old days?
Yeah, they still play. Especially older players of Swedish national team. I try to stay active and with my two sons I manage to do a lot things. But in general, with Scorpions I need one or two shows to feel the machine is working at its best.
Did you manage to watch the world championship in ice hockey in 2018, when you kicked asses of everybody again?
Absolutely. On the other hand, I was a bit surprised from the cups taking place before a world cup. I though Czech Republic had a really good team and I thought Czechs will be part of the better ones. Same goes for Finland. I thought they were a gold candidates. I wouldn’t say I did expect the same from the Czechs but you have very interesting young generation. And you kicked our ass in some of those cups. But when the real shit happens, you didn’t stand a chance. Sweden was very good and we are having a great phase. We had around twenty players coming from NHL and not even the best ones. They played as a team and I like that. Czech team was very offensive, but we have six incredible defense players.
I am playing a lot of hockey in Sweden especially older players of the national team.
Our Nagano days are gone, but we are having a lot of hopes with a young generation. Especially the guys from Boston. When they arrived for the game with Russia, it looked like a proper hockey. We just have to keep working hard with the young generation. That’s why I like what I am hearing from Scandinavia that local governments support not only young bands but also young sportsman.
Yeah, I wouldn’t say that. It used to be like that. Today is not the same. On the other hand organizations for music and sports are very good in Sweden. But government has not much to do with this. Luckily we have number of good players in hockey or football. For a relatively small country we have great results in many sports. Next to it, we are the third best exporter of music in Europe. Czechs are not so successful in music, but in hockey, I am always scared of you guys. You never know how it will end up.
Regarding drums you are loyal for many years to the brand Sonor. When I was going through a list of your favorite players, you share with many a preference for Paiste cymbals or drumheads from Remo, but there were not many Sonor players. Competition is naturally massive but how did Sonor manage to keep your trust for so long?
My first drum kit was a Sonor, in the days when I was a bambino. It is a Rolls-Royce of drums. The quality is superior, as well its sound which is amazing for me. Every other drum manufacturer is great including DW, Yamaha, Pearl or Tama. They all make great products. But with Sonor I have a great relationship since my King Diamond days. Next to it, they carefully pick, who they sponsor. Everybody was playing for DW, Pearl or Tama, but Sonor was more special in picking their players. And I am very proud to be in their team for so long.
Another crucial part of your gear are drum sticks. You used to be with Vic Firth for ages, but lately you moved to Wincent band, which made you a signature model. What was main motivation? Weight, shape, wood?
I am a part owner of the company and I have been with them ten or twelve years already. They offered me a part of the company and I introduced something what I call “weight control”. When sticks arrived from Vic Firth, there were five hundred pieces, but weight used to differ in each stick. They make fantastic products, but with Wincent I got an option to be part of the Swedish company, where the quality of sticks is impressive. It’s also a new life phase for me.
Sonor is a Rolls-Royce of drums.
White shoes appreciation club
Another important part of you are white sneakers. When I go to a metal festival there is always somebody asking me about my white Adidas Superstar sneakers. Luckily I have a great argument: „Mikkey Dee is wearing them, so I am allowed to do the same!“
I love white shoes. Lemmy used to have white shoes as well. (Laugh)
Do you have a full control in your Adidas Superstar sneakers? Bottom part is quite big and even the front part is stiffened. I even know players as Tomas Haake from Meshuggah, who told me he likes to play shoeless.
No, I couldn’t do that. Last night I played in these. Simply normal shoes. I don’t like to play barefoot and I hate to feel too much. I don’t know why, it is just a matter of a long term habit.
The begging pumpkins
One of the albums that you signed few minutes ago for a fan was Rabbit Don’t Come Easy from Helloween. Personally, the only album that I truly like from this band is The Dark Ride and it’s a masterpiece. It was a quite an experimental and a dark album. With the next album, I believe they wanted to go back to their power metal sound full on. How did you feel about The Dark Ride, when you listened to it before you arrived to a studio?
You know, I was actually starting a tour with Motörhead in England. Singer Andi called me and asked me if I could come to Tenerife and help them. I said: „I would love to do the album, but I simply don’t have time.“ He kept asking, so I said: „I have four days. After that I have to be in Manchester.“ I flew to Tenerife and it was no vacation. I was playing fifteen to eighteen hour sessions to finish the album. I did not hear the record before, I didn’t know the songs. Luckily a producer Charlie Bauerfeind and Andi were great to me and we managed. In general I really like the album and there are many good songs. Therefore, I wish I had couple of weeks to learn the songs. I might have done something differently.
That’s the same thing I say when somebody asks me about Conspiracy album from King Diamond. I was going into that studio without knowing the songs. Next to it, we were fighting but they needed that step to move with their plans without me. I just played what I felt in that moment and left. There are great songs and I consider Conspiracy a great album, but I could have done a better performance. But I feel I did a good job on Rabbit Don’t Come Easy. Whole team was very supportive and I think it all turned out ok.
I was playing fifteen to eighteen hour sessions to help Helloween finish Rabbit Don’t Come Easy album.
Current cooperation with Scorpions was probably an offer which you couldn’t refuse. But what era from their career do you prefer as a fan?
I started listening to them in the mid-seventies. I was absolutely crazy about them when the Tokyo Tapes came out in 1978. At that period I was really into live albums. That’s almost all I listened to and Tokyo Tapes belongs to those records that go through history. Take Made in Japan from Deep Purple, Live and Dangerous from Thin Lizzy, Strangers in the Night from UFO, On Stage from Rainbow, Gonzo! from Ted Nugent, On Your Feet Or on Your Knees from Blue Öyster Cult, Captured from Journey or Exit… Stage Left from Rush. Just to name a few. (Laugh) Tokyo Tapes is in that division.
To fully respect your busy time schedule, I would just like to ask the last question about your charity activities. In 2004 you joined number of musicians from Scandinavia, including Yngwie Malmsteen and wrote a track Where is the Fire and raised some money for victims of tsunami disaster in 2014. Are then any other activities that you are currently involved in or planned to be?
I am involved in charity all the time. Let say, I run the Gothenburg marathon to raise funds for homeless people. I play ice hockey, football and other sports for charities ranging from sick kids to old people. Whenever I can help, have time and my body works fine, I am ready to give it a try. (Laugh) I think it is great fun and a beautiful thing. It was a great song, but lately I haven’t received a similar offer. But to be honest, I am glad, as it would mean some shit happened. Tsunami was really a bad incident. But in general, I could do a charity every day.
I could do a charity every day.
We are Motörgang and we play Motörhead!
After the interview in the lobby of Park Inn Hotel (Name changed in the meantime into Quality Hotel) in Ostrava by a drummer of Czech formation Motörgang (Josef Cigánek) who gave me a t-shirt with a logo of Motörhead tribute band. Later on I did an email interview with band’s bass player and a singer Pavel Dvořák.
We played Ace of Spades live with David Ellefson from Megadeth
What was a motivation to form Motörgang?
When Lemmy left us forever and Motörhead were gone, we were left with a ticket for a show, which didn’t take place. Next to it we all knew, we will be missing something unique. In the band, we all have classical music education. In this field, whether you are philharmonic or a solo artist you grab works of classical artists as Mozart, Bach or Dvořák. We did something similar, but we moved to our number of choice: Motörhead.
Give us an idea please about your competition within revivals, possibly also playing Motörhead tracks.
There are couple of other bands trying to do the same. Somebody better and some worse. You know, Mozart is also getting covered by school kids as well as philharmonics from Vienna.
What were some of your biggest shows so far? Tell us please also about your show with Megadeth bass player David Ellefson.
We ended up in the list of bands which could support David’s show in Zlín. Luckily he picked us. On the other hand, it was quite hard to learn number of Megadeth tracks, but it all ended up well. David was very positive during the whole evening and he also played Ace of Spades with us. Next to it we are also very grateful for playing at Masters of Rock festival or motorbike events as Euro bike fest. Recently we also played at Radegast den, where we shared the stage with names as Traktor, Katapult, David Koller and many more.