Mikkey Dee (Motorhead, Scorpions) – When It Is + Isn’t Okay to Use Backing Tracks
The subject of lip syncing and utilizing backing tracks remains one of the hottest, most divisive topics in rock and metal right now and weighing in on both is drummer Mikkey Dee (Scorpions, Motorhead), who explains when it is and isn't okay to adopt the practices.
The subject is one that is monitored closely by the Syncin' Stanley YouTube channel, which frequently seeks opinions from rock and metal artists with a primary aim (as laid out in the channel's "about" section) to mock KISS and, in particular, Paul Stanley. The channel even spoke with KISS manager Doc McGhee and uncovered that the band is indeed using backing tracks, but that Stanley is also singing along to them each night.
Commissioning a response from Dee via Cameo, Syncin' Stanley got the drummer to open up about all of it, revealing that even the late Lemmy Kilmister, a noted no-frills rocker, understood when backing tracks could be a useful element of a live show.
Mikkey Dee on lip syncing and backing tracks
"Lip syncing sucks big time. I hate it. That's not fun at all," Dee says outright (transcription via Blabbermouth), "But when it comes to backing tracks, sometimes it's not too bad, if you use it in a proper way."
Reasoning when it's a fair application, he goes on, "Let's say, you could have a rhythm guitar as a backtrack in certain solos. We never had it with Motorhead, ever. And I know a lot of bands that want to fill up certain parts of a song with some backing tracks — maybe a guitar, a rhythm guitar usually, or maybe some kind of keyboard or something — just to fill up spaces where it's impossible to play. And if you recorded something and you dubbed something on there, some little theme or something, I think that's okay; that's not too bad. I can live with that, as long as the rest of the song is being played properly."
"But lip syncing — absolutely no. And backing tracks, if you use them properly; if you use them, I would say the way they were intended," the 59-year-old drummer reiterates, "But a lot of bands might use backing tracks for the whole musical part of it. And trust me, I hate that — absolutely terrible."
READ MORE: Let's Talk About the Backing Tracks / Laptop Debate - Is It Really That Big of a Deal?
So, what would Lemmy think?
"Lemmy had the same kind of view, I guess, as me, because we never used backing tracks," Dee replies when asked about his longtime bandmate's perspective, "But sometimes it could have been okay to do it, because it maybe got too thin in certain kind of solo or something, because we were only three [members in Motorhead]. So he didn't like it. He would never do it."
Even with Lemmy, it's not a rule of absolutes, however.
Dee explains, "But he could see bands that used it in a proper way, in a good way. Then I think it's acceptable and then it's all right. But I don't think he would like it. He would be mostly against it. I think it's okay here and there, as I said, in the case of… depending on what kind of song they needed to work on, to fill up, as I said, a solo, a B section, maybe a theme in a solo — I mean, in a chorus — also play something like that. But the song needs to be played by the band and the band only live. That's my view on it."
View the full video clip below.
Who else has spoken about this lately?
Earlier this month, guitar virtuoso Marty Friedman offered his thoughts on the matter, also on the Syncin' Stanley channel.
"Who cares? I don't really know anything about that side of it; I don't know if [Paul Stanley] does or if he doesn't. But if you're caring about lip-syncing and things that are going on, you can't go to any gigs anymore because even … indie bands are doing all kinds of stuff with tracks and click tracks and adding vocals," he says, in part.