Interview: Michael Lee, The Cult

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Since splitting from THE LITTLE ANGELS, drummer Michael Lee has come in for an awful lot of flak and has inevitably been the victim of some vicious rumours; for example 'he was sacked from the band.' Somewhat of an exaggeration by all accounts.

Apparently, the story goes that the rest of the guys knew he was going for the audition with THE CULT and actually wished him the best of luck. And add to the fact that he is actually a fully fledged member of the THE CULT and not just there for the tour, I figured why not get the other side.

I spoke to Michael just hours before THE CULT were due to leave London after their last tour, and asked him if there was anything he would like to have put in print about the past situation to maybe balance it out.
"If you want a quote from me," he replied, "I'd like to say I'm really sorry about how THE LITTLE ANGELS have taken my leaving. It's a shame that they've been so unprofessional about it, but I wish them all the best in the future with all their endeavours, because they are nice guys. I spent three years with them; I went right around the world with them a few times. But even though they've got a lot of animosity towards me – and to be honest I can understand that – I just want to say that I wish them all the best of luck and I'm sorry they’ve taken it the way they have."
Now, Michael, at the age of 22 has joined his favourite band and is having a great time. Like I said earlier he's a fully fledged member of THE CULT…
"It's always going to be Billy and Ian," comments Michael when the subject is approached, "but as far as being a member goes – if this means anything to you – I'm doing interview on behalf of THE CULT all around the world, and we're doing photo sessions as a band together. It's as good a deal as anything and I'm perfectly happy. Billy and Ian are such great guys to get on with as well 'cos we're all Northern lads. I have that understanding back again. So that's really important."
Once this tour finishes the band are due to take a two-week holiday before going into pre-production for the next album. They have all been writing during the tour and have amassed quite a bit of material, ready to go.

As to whether Michael was nervous about filling such a prestigious drum stool…
"No, not at all. Matt [Sorum]'s a very good friend of mine. He was one of the first people that I talked to when I found out he was doing the GUNS N' ROSES thing."
And as history shows, the door was left wide open so Michael took his chance. He is very emphatic about the respect that he holds for Matt, both as a person and for what he did in his capacity as THE CULT's drummer.

On to the point of whether Michael would be able to live up to his newfound position, there was a lot of speculation but from what I witnessed, and comments I heard that were being bandied around later, he had no problem. There were moments during the set when a little naivety showed, but when it came to delivery he was right on it.

To this he just laughs and says, "I try," before letting the fact slip that at the Marquee gig he was shitting himself.
"Although I felt pretty confident about the songs, there was so much going against us; first of all we were playing a completely new set, secondly everyone's face was literally inches away from you, then thirdly the whole thing was being recorded for a future live album. And Wembley was as well."
Not a bad position to be in considering he's only been playing the drums for five years, four of which professionally, much to my amazement.”

He started playing when he was seventeen, then became a member of a Thrash band in his home town of Newcastle before moving to LA for a year and a half to attend a music college and play in bands around there and San Francisco before eventually moving home again and joining THE LITTLE ANGELS. Now it looks like he's caught between LA and England again because of THE CULT being based out there. He doesn’t think he'll relocate permanently, more he'll see what the future holds.

Getting back to the off-the-cuff stage presence, there was one thing that I really wanted to know about the live shows. What is the idea behind covering the stage with Persian rugs?
"It's an idea that Billy and Ian had," he replies. "It's to keep a very Seventies band vibe. That's why they don't want any drum risers. It's just everyone's on the floor to keep it really low, like a really mellow vibe. I mean we did two weeks rehearsal in LA before we left for Europe to start the tour. But to be honest, the songs weren't worked out that much really. We just get up and jam it. Alright, you've got your She Sells Sanctuary and stuff which are definite arrangements, but bits like the end of American Horse and the end of Ceremony and parts of White, we just jam it. One night it could be two minutes long. It just depends on the atmosphere and the reaction we get off the crowd and how we feel. It's just Rock n' Roll and it's really loose and you have a chance to shine a bit. It takes a bit more out of you. It's more demanding for me."

Peter Grant
Riff Raff
March 1992
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