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Chronological Crue
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Just over a week prior to Pamela Lee filing for divorce from husband Tommy Lee, his sister Athena provided Chronological Crue with an entertaining insight into the couple, along with memories of growing up with Tommy, his previous marriages, paparazzi, and her exciting band KrunK. The conversation begins with Athena on the phone in Los Angeles at 2am Perth time, on the 17th February 1998.

Chronological Crue: Wow. It’s been a long time trying to set this up.

Athena: I know. We’ve been gone a lot and you just caught us too because we’re on the way to Santa Barbara for the day.

CC: Have you got a few moments now?

A: Sure. Now this is for your Mötley Crüe web site?

CC: Yeh, Chronological Crue.

A: I’ve never been there yet. I’ve gotta do that. Before we hang up give me the address so I can check it out.

CC: Actually, I’ll give it to you now if you like.

A: OK. Let me grab a pen. Go.

CC: [spells out]

A: Tilde? That’s called a tilde? Tilde. [~] That’s my new word for the day.

CC: [laughing] Some people say you should learn something every day.

A: Yeh well you see, I’m still pretty new at this stuff. My brother is like Inspector Gadget but I’m still trying to get it together.

CC: [laughing] Inspector Gadget.

A: Oh my God. He can do anything.

CC: Yeh him and Nikki both seem to really plug into the technology side of things. So you’re not quite as advanced on the Internet at this stage?

A: I love doing it but I have three kids. So it’s kind of like, when I get the time to do it. Sometimes that’s in the middle of the night.

CC: Sure. Now Matthew was your most recent addition to the family, wasn’t he?

Athena with husband James, 5 days prior to Matthew's birthA: Yeh. He was nine months old yesterday.

CC: Wow. Time flies doesn’t it.

A: He’s goin’ crazy. He’s trying to walk and everything.

CC: And how old are the other two kids?

A: Seven and five. Toby is seven. She’s the girl and Miles is five. He’s a boy.

CC: Great name Miles.

A: Yeh I love that name. I know. It’s cool.

CC: Let’s just back pedal a bit. Chronological Crue actually traces the whole history of the Crüe, right back to the birth of its members. I believe that Tommy was obviously the first born, but your Mum had a bit of a problem and Tommy was like the sixth attempt. She had a few miscarriages and he’s very lucky to be here.

A: Right. Exactly.

CC: And you were the second along. How old was Tommy when you were born?

A: Two.

CC: So you weren’t living in L.A. when you were born?

A: No, Covina. It’s like 40 miles east of L.A. Not too far.

CC: What’s your first memory of Tommy?

A: First memory?

CC: Yeh, as a kid.

A: Oh my God. Either him lighting my room on fire, or umm…

CC: [laughing] How old would he have been then?

A: No that wasn’t that long ago. [laughing] No, I’m just joking. Let me see. [long pause] God you know what. I don’t know. I’d have to really think about that.

CC: It’s amazing isn’t it. The older you get the more the past fades, doesn’t it?

A: Yeh, that’s right. I remember I was always laughing. Like, he was always just really funny. He got me into trouble a lot. You know, like teaching me to stick bobby pins into light sockets, that kind of thing.

CC: Oh nasty!

A: Yeh! [laughing] So there’s some memories for ya.

CC: Do you remember him taking keyboard lessons when he was young, and having to put up with all that noise in the house?

A: Oh yeh. Piano accordion.

CC: Did he really crank Smoke On The Water?

A: [laughing] Yeh. We both took accordion lessons for like four years.

TommyCC: Tommy then did a fair bit of drumming at High School in the marching band.

A: Yeh my Dad bought him a snare drum for Christmas. Then he started to learn and he took it up at school and just went from there.

CC: And you followed him into drums?

A: Not really. He’s never taught me or anything. He would leave a lot and there’d always be drums there in the studio. My Dad kind of built him a studio in the garage. So when he would leave, I would go in there without permission and start bangin’ on his stuff. So basically, I was sneaky.

CC: Was this like in days before Mötley Crüe?

A: Oh, this was way before. I think he was in a band called US101.

CC: Yep. Yep. And Suite 19 was one of his other old bands.

A: Yeh. That’s right.

CC: Did you used to go and see them play?

A: Yeh, all the time. I used to run the lights when he was in US101. They would play school dances and stuff like that. They did all those gigs, and parties and stuff. You know when people used to have like giant parties in their backyard?

CC: Yeh.

A: They used to play those all the time.

CC: So he moved from there into the Crüe. Do you remember having any thoughts when Tommy formed Mötley Crüe with Nikki. Was it just another band, his next thing, or did he feel it was going to be quite big?

A: No. He knew it was going to be good.

CC: In the early days Vince was living at your place.

A: Yeh and Nikki too. Both of them were at our house.

CC: What kind of memories have you got from those early days. Was that the first you came across those guys?

A: No. I had met them a whole bunch of times before. I always thought they looked weird but they were real nice. As far as memories go, Vince was always just hitting on every one of my girlfriends that came over .

CC: I’d believe that. In Mötley’s Theatre Of Pain album it’s got a credit that says, "Thanks Athena & Perry Bower." Is that you?

A: Ahh. It could’ve been. I mean, yeh. If it says Athena. Yeh. You know, I think I did some singing... some back up singing and stuff on there. You’re talking about Theatre Of Pain?

CC: Yeh, yep.

A: Yeh, I believe I did.

CC: Wow. I just wanted to touch on Tommy’s first marriage. It’s a bit of a subject on the Internet from time to time. Some people say that his first marriage was to a girl called Elaine Bergen?

A: Yeh. She’s a chode!

CC: [laughing] Is that Candice Starrek. Is she one and the same person?

A: Yeh, that’s the same girl.

CC: How come she’s got two names?

A: She’s got like five names.

CC: Wow, really. She’s got heaps on aliases?

A: Yeh, because you know what, it’s because she was a stripper. She would like dance under different names and stuff. I’ve seen her on Hard Copy running her mouth and it’s like total junk. She talks about my brother, like how he was violent towards her and stuff. I’ve personally seen her put a cigarette out on somebody’s face and beat up another girl with a hot curling iron.

CC: Oh, beautiful.

A: And I think even the night my brother met her, she beat somebody up at The Roxy, or something like that. It’s one of those things. Now ten years later [Note: actually fourteen years] it’s like, feel sorry for me.

CC: Yeh, bizarre isn’t it. Seems she’s trying to just get a bit of attention.

A: And cash, I guess. I always wonder how much they’re paying her to be the victim. I guess that’s the cool thing to do right now.

CC: Did you actually go to their wedding back then?

A: No. Nobody did.

CC: Right. So it was just a spare of the moment thing?

A: Yeh. I don’t even know if my parents went or not. I know it was one of those things where it wasn’t really a romantic thing. You know, it wasn’t like, ‘oh we’re getting married and the family’s coming.’ You know what I mean?

CC: Yeh, definitely.

A: It wasn’t like that at all.

CC: The next wedding was more like that, when he married Heather [Locklear]. That was the full on, more traditional type of wedding.

A: Well, he was actually in love with her.

CC: That’s the difference I guess. Were you there that day?

A: Yeh, it was really beautiful.

CC: What do you remember most about it?

A: The whole thing. The whole thing was just really nice from start to finish.

CC: Did you get along well with Heather?

A: Yeh, I always did. I still do. You know, if I see her now and then. I mean we don’t hang out or anything. I see her sister a lot. She’s got a couple of sisters and one of her sisters I see around all the time and we’re completely friendly.

CC: Excellent. And now Tom’s of course with Pam, so you’ve got another famous sister-in-law I guess.

A: Yeh, she’s awesome. She’s a lot different. She’s completely down to earth.

CC: She comes across that way.

A: Yeh, she’s a really cool girl.

CC: So you were at their weddings as well? Not the first one of course, in Cancun.

A: No, the one on Christmas Eve [1996] at their house. The whole family was there.

CC: Who organised Tommy’s horse and armour suit. Did Pam organise that or did Tommy?

A: [laughing] No he did.

CC: So it was all Tommy’s idea?

A: [still laughing] Yeh, it was cool. He had the full suit of armour on and he had this scroll. He was reading her this really romantic piece that he had written.

CC: Was everyone laughing, or did it come across really serious?

A: At first we were laughing because it was so ‘out there.’ But then it was like ‘how cool’ you know what I mean?

CC: Yep.

A: At first it was funny because we were going "what’s he doing?" because you can never really know what to expect. Then it turned into something really, really nice.

CC: What was your first reaction when you heard that he’d got married to Pamela in Mexico?

A: I didn’t really have one. I remember just kind of going, I hope she’s cool because it was so fast. I hope they both know what they’re getting into. [laughing] But she’s like perfect for him. It’s weird. It’s hard to explain. He likes to have a good time and so does she. She doesn't look or act like she’s going to break in half if the wind blows too hard. You know what I’m trying to say? You know those girls that are, kind of like, scared of everything?

CC: Yeh.

A: No, she’s not like that. Maybe because she has a brother. I don’t know.

KrunK backstage with Tommy Lee in San DiegoCC: Well you actually played with Gerry [Anderson, Pam’s brother] in support of Mötley Crüe as part of last year’s Mötley Crüe Vs The Earth Tour. Was that the first time you’d ever supported Mötley Crüe in a band?

A: Yep. It was really weird. I remember like when I was little, I’d go ‘some day, I’m gonna be on the same stage with you. You watch.’ And he [Tommy] was always laughing at me. He’d be like ‘yeh, right.' That kind of thing.

CC: And it happened.

A: Yeh, it was really cool.

CC: Awesome. There was also talk at one time, about a year ago now, that Tommy might be producing the debut album from your band KrunK.

A: Yeh, but you know what happened? Your see our singer for KrunK is also the drummer for The Scorpions.

CC: That’s right. Who is also your husband [James Kottak].

KrunK promo photoA: Right. Right. What happened is The Scorpions left to go on tour while Tom was home and then when they came back and we were ready to do KrunK, Tom left on tour. So it was a timing thing that it didn’t work out at all. Now we’ve got the guy that’s producing the next KrunK CD is a guy called Geza X.

CC: The old punk guy?

A: [amazed and ecstatic] Yeh! You know him? He’s awesome. You know Meredith Brooks... [sings] I’m a bitch I’m a lover? He’s doing her next one. We’re going in with him in like two or three weeks I think.

CC: God. I used to listen to him years ago when I had a big white Mohawk. [laughing]

A: Yeh? I met him in Covina over ten years ago when I lived out there. We hung out just a little bit. I had no idea, like twelve years later he be producing my CD, you know what I mean?

CC: That’s bizarre!

A: Pretty awesome huh?

CC: Excellent. So when’s that due for release at this stage?

A: I don’t know. We’re still selling the Greatist Hits CD though.

CC: [laughing] Excellent.

KrunKA: Isn’t that funny? The first record is called Greatist Hits.

CC: That’s classic!

A: I love it. Our little boy drew the cover so it’s really cool.

CC: Yeh, I’ve seen it on the T-Shirts as well.

A: Yeh, he drew that. Everybody has three eyes!

CC: I had a video on the other night and I was watching your husband when he was in Kingdom Come. I think it was the clip for Get It On.

A: Wow, really? That’s old.

CC: Yeh. We were having a good laugh and enjoying it. His hair is a lot whiter and shorter these days. Is your hair short?

A: Well, I’m completely bald right now.

CC: No.

A: Yeh. Well I have cancer, so I’m doing chemo and it fell out.

CC: [laughing, thinking she’s joking] Serious?

A: No, totally serious. I’m totally serious. It’s like, I’ll be done in April and then I’ll get some hair back.

CC: Wow. I’m sorry!

A: It looks weird because it’s not completely smooth. It’s like fuzzy or something. It’s funny. We were at my brother’s house yesterday and he was like rubbing my head all day.

CC: Where abouts is your cancer?

A: Breast cancer.

CC: That’s really sad.

A: Yeh but... blah blah blah. Now it’s like one out of every nine people, you know what I mean?

CC: Wow, that’s a lot isn’t it?

A: And in two or three years it’ll be one out of every three. So you just gotta deal with it.

CC: Gee, that’s frightening. You got married at Tommy and Pam’s house. That must have been quite an event?

A: We just wanted it real small. Kind of a family thing. What we saw happening was that there’s certain people that you want to invite, and then it just turns into like a ridiculous amount. It’s like, all of a sudden, 50 turns into 100.

CC: Yeh, it can get too crazy.

A: Yeh. So we decided just two or three friends and just our family. It was perfect. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

CC: Excellent. Did you go on afterwards as well to the Viper Room?

A: That was the night before. I wasn’t there. I think I was asleep while all that was going on. [Henry Trappler v Tommy Lee 29/9/96]

CC: Yeh, well that’s all just come to head now, with Tommy getting his sentence as such, and having to attend anger management classes.

A: Oh, is that what ended up happening? I didn’t hear it. God, I’m so sick of those people. If you look back and you really look at tape, and you look at stuff like that, it looks like they’re asking to get their ass kicked. Almost like, they know if they get them to hit them, they’ll get some money out of it. Just look next time. Look really close. It’s like somebody's purposely trying to piss you off so you’ll flip out, then they can sue you.

CC: Yeh. That’s ridiculous.

A: It’s like a really easy way to get a whole bunch of cash I guess.

CC: It’d be such a horrible position to be in, in the public eye so much.

A: Well, especially after being out all night and you’re being nice and having pictures taken for the guy. There comes a time, when you’re there to actually hang out and have a good time, and you say thanks but can we be alone now.

CC: Definitely.

A: Well you think he’d say, "Yeh, thanks for the pictures" but instead some of those guys, they don’t give up. So that just makes you think they do it on purpose.

CC: Looking back over all the Mötley Crüe music over the years, do you personally have a favourite Crüe era, as such? What do you consider to be the best Mötley Crüe record?

A: A lot of the people I know like the very first stuff. I like the slightly older stuff, as it got a little bit dirtier. That’s the kind of stuff I like. I was never real big when it was just the heavy stuff. I like the music when you could tell they started growing up a little bit.

CC: So, you’re talking like Girls, Girls, Girls sort of time?

A: Yeh, exactly. I like that the most. It’s all good, but personally I prefer that.

CC: When Dr. Feelgood was making great waves around the world, you were in a band called Hardly Dangerous. I’ve got a demo tape of two songs Bed of Roses and Take Me To The Mountain.

A: [laughing] You do?

CC: Yep. I do indeed.

A: Wow! I was in the band for like four years and they went through about five different drummers.

CC: What bands have you been in since then? Fill us in on the Hardly Dangerous to KrunK gap.

A: Hardly Dangerous just fell apart. I’ll never again play with all girls. It’s a disaster.

CC: Is it egos?

A: I don’t know. I really don’t know what it is. I think it’s just the person really. Either they’re just psycho or they’re not! There was some drug problems that constantly interfered and just made me sick after a while. We had lost three record deals because of just, stupidness. After a while you go, "For how many years am I going to let you destroy my life?" so you just leave.

CC: Yeh, sure.

A: I mean, really stupid stuff. Like just being hung over and not showing up to something that’s important, for some reason. It was like, the day before something important, somebody would go out and get destroyed and wreck it. Instead of three days before it’s be the day before. You know, that kind of thing. That went on constantly. Then I played with this guy Tom Bones. Actually Butt Trumpet. It’s a punk thing but that was just too much for me. At the time, James was on tour and he wanted me there like seven days a week. It was just turning into a ridiculous amount of money for me. I was not being paid for it. I was paying to do it.

CC: So is KrunK a full time thing now, along with motherhood, as such?

A: Yeh but see, it works out because the singer knows exactly what goes on. [laughing] But see, KrunK doesn’t practice. It’s like a whole different thing. The players are like, incredible. What can be done in two hours gets done in two hours, instead of all day.

CC: Cool. I think that’s pretty much all I wanted to cover, except for Tommy’s birthday circus Tommyland, where Pam organised the big circus.

A: [laughing] Yeh, you know what, I was out of town.

CC: Oh damn!

A: Yeh and you know, I watched a video of it and I was like, "Oh my God. I wish I was there." There was like midgets and the Circus guys, all that stuff. Awesome. Me and James were going, "Wow! We wish we were there." Everybody was dressed up.

CC: Yeh well, maybe next time.

A: Hey, you can chat with James if you want to. He and Tom hang out and they talk about guy things. [laughing]

CC: OK, we’ll have a quick chat then.

A: OK. Bye Paul. Here’s James.

James Kottak: Hey man!

CC: Hi James. How ya doing?

JK: Great. And you?

CC: Not bad. It’s after 2:30am here in Perth, Western Australia.

JK: Wow. Australia is like the one continent I’ve never been to.

CC: You didn’t come here with The Cult?

JK: When I did The Cult, I worked in the studio with them and pre-production and everything for Ceremony. I did a whole bunch of stuff on Ceremony that I didn’t get credit for. They’re a weird bunch of guys. They toured but I didn’t have anything to do with that. They were kind of on their way down then.

CC: Yeh, sure. Sonic Temple and Electric were their best. I was just saying to Athena earlier we were watching you in a Kingdom Come video.

JK: Oh yeh. Which one?

CC: Get It On.

JK: Yeh, that was the first one. Many more to follow, but then it was like Kingdom Come Kingdom Gone.

CC: [laughing]

JK: [Athena talks to him] Oh, you know Geza?

CC: I don’t know him. I know of him. I’m an old punk from way back.

JK: Yeh, he’s a really good guy.

CC: Didn’t he have an old song called Isotope Soap?

JK: Who knows?

CC: KrunK is going well?

JK: Yeh. We have our Greatist Hits CD that we recorded last year. We haven’t really found any labels that were like really, really excited about it.

CC: What about the Mötley Records label?

JK: I don’t know what’s up with that. It’s kind of like, I don’t like to mix business with family much. I like the way things are right now.

CC: Sure.

James with brother-in-law Tommy LeeJK: But me and Tommy get together and screw around a little bit every now and then.

CC: Being brothers-in-law, I guess you would. So, what, do you jam a bit together?

JK: Yeh, we went over there just a couple of days ago and watched movies all day together and hung out with the kids.

CC: Do your kids get on well with Tommy’s?

JK: Oh yeh. They have a blast and goof off and stuff.

CC: How long has KrunK been going now?

JK: We started about two years ago, just playing around, doing this and that. Then last year things just got better, then this happened and that happened. Most bands get too in a rush. They get like, "Oh my God! We’ve been together a year and a half and nothing’s happening." It takes years. If it’s three years before we’re actually like, cruising, so what?

CC: Sure.

JK: We’re having fun with it. We’re confident. Every month something new happens. In May, we’re going to put a record out nationwide and maybe in Japan which is looking pretty good right now.

CC: Awesome. And possibly tour behind it?

JK: Yeh, hopefully we’ll be going out in May / June in the US. That’s looking pretty good. It takes a lot of organisation and obviously money is a factor. It’s like, if you’re gonna go out, you don’t want to go out and make it really that bad.

CC: You don’t want to have to resort to staying in all the backpackers, that’s for sure.

Athena hitting the skinsJK: Yeh. I mean, things are going pretty cool. Athena’s an awesome drummer too. I don’t know how much you know about drumming, but she actually hits harder than most guys I know. Her and Tommy play a lot a like.

CC: Yeh, Tommy’s always been known as a hard hitter. What’s your favourite Crüe era or album?

JK: Um. I think I like all that Girls, Girls, Girls stuff. I like the Shout At The Devil album too.

CC: Did you see them live back in those days?

JK: Oh yeh. I saw them on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour actually, and Dr. Feelgood. It was pretty cool.

CC: You never played with them?

JK: You mean like open up for them, or be on the same bill as them?

CC: Yeh.

JK: No, it never happened.

CC: Not until last year.

JK: Yeh, that was great.

CC: Well they’re doing some more shows in the middle of the year I believe.

JK: Yeh, that’s what we hear. Maybe we can talk them into letting us do something with them.

CC: Have you heard any of the newer tunes they’re working on at the moment?

JK: I’ve heard a little bit of Tommy’s stuff that he’s working on and it sounds cool. He’s really got the groove thing going right now.

CC: Excellent. Is it going back to more of their rock roots, or..?

JK: Yeh, well, I don’t know [not wanting to spill any beans].

CC: Sure. That’s OK.

JK: Well, hey man. Good talking to you finally. Stay in touch and we’ll stay in touch.

CC: Sounds great. Thanks very much. We’ll catch up soon.

JK: Bye Paul.

CC: Thanks. Cheers.

JK: Thanks a lot man.

In early November 1997, KrunK walked away with two awards in the 2nd Annual Rock City News Awards for bands in Los Angeles. The band was named BEST PUNK BAND, and Athena won BEST FEMALE DRUMMER. In the 7th Annual L.A. Music Awards, Athena was nominated for BEST DRUMMER (Males & Females). She was the first female ever nominated in the history of the L.A. Music Awards.

Get your hands on some cool KrunK gear!!!

KrunK - Greatist Hits CD coverKrunK CD . . . Greatist Hits . . . $12
(a special autographed CD featuring a dozen KrunK songs)
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KrunK T-shirt - Stick People . . . $15
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"KrunK SuckS" sticker . . . $5
KrunK Mega-Deal . . . Everything for only $49.95

Make Checks or Money Orders payable to "KrunK" and forward to:

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