On a recent afternoon, DJ Aero is sitting at home in L.A. cheerfully describing the set of 14 propulsive, four-to-the-floor tracks he recently helped create.
Then his partner chimes in about one that's still in the works. "We were in Costa Rica, and we recorded these girls chanting this thing you do before you take a shot. We're turning it into something really cool, kind of anthemic and nasty," says Tommy Lee.
Yes, his partner is that Tommy Lee. If you've been living under a nightlife-less rock, the former drummer of Mötley Crüe became a dance music acolyte around the turn of the millennium. He was saved, as it were, when he heard a DJ drop Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness" at London superclub Ministry of Sound. And with longtime buddy DJ Aero (erstwhile DJ for Lee's band Methods of Mayhem), he's been making serious, filthy electro-house. And like true, um, dance stars, they've been touring the states nonstop and leaving behind plenty of empty Jäger bottles and, probably, dropped panties.
And the mayhem has just doubled in size. They recently added pals Steve Duda and Canadian It-boy producer of the moment Deadmau5, to form a new project, called, perhaps appropriately, WTF?
Lee admired Deadmau5's productions for a long time, contacted him online, and eventually coaxed him to attend a Toronto gig in 2006. "He finally came down and drank all my booze and smoked all my cigarettes," Lee recalls. Planning to lay down some tracks, they then invited aboard Duda, a former Methods of Mayhem collaborator and mutual friend of all three.
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Despite hectic schedules, all four magically had a five-day span of free time a few months ago. Converging on Lee's house, they emerged with a staggering 14 tracks. Chalk it up to an almost telekinetic connection between the partners and an ability to keep all of those musician egos in check.
"When I'm making music with other people, I just throw out ideas. If they work, they work," Aero recalls. "Everyone had something to say; it wasn't like one guy stayed up late and made it a track." Good thing, for the results are steamy, gritty magic. While Lee and Aero's live sets have often tended toward the upbeat, vocal, and melodic, WTF?'s are a little dubbier, darker, more menacing, and brattier. "Things are just getting filthier and filthier," Lee says. "It's the way forward."
It's the stuff of serious, driving dance-floor action, sure to win over the dwindling number of skeptics who doubt a rock star can really surrender to the supremacy of the beat. "My favorite word on the planet is challenge," Lee says. "People are slow, okay? It bothers me, but at the same time, it also inspires me. We've had a bit of an uphill run. But we're finally at the top of the hill, and we've got some new shit coming out. We're out there proving ourselves, and this is the time to let it shine."
(P.S. Editor's note, confidential from Tommy Lee to Deadmau5: Hey, Joel, YOU SUCK!)