By Shane Igoe
Special to Page 3
While the concerns of most male 18- to 22-year-old students include packing up their cars, buying books and finding a place to hang that Pamela Anderson poster, one 42-year-old frosh had a bit of a different perspective as he made his way to school driving a flashy red convertible, toting his own book (an autobiography and new album titled "Tommyland"), all while boasting the fact that he actually hung out with Pamela Anderson, his former missus.
Such is the life of Tommy Lee in his new reality TV show, "Tommy Lee Goes to College." Yes, that's right. The former Motley Crue drummer is at the University of Nebraska, where he has quickly drummed up a Big Red support crew, including Natalie Reidman, a red-hot, blond bombshell tutor, and Mr. Gay, a no-nonsense academic advisor. Lee's most pressing concerns include picking up the quad toms (the marching band drums), picking out a roommate and controlling his impulse to pick up his tutor.
Whether Lee will make the grade in the classroom or make the cut with Nebraska's famed marching band remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain, that the rock and roller has definitely turned some heads on the Lincoln campus. Whether talking about Nebraska football, the marching band, college babes, or about being the big man on campus, Tommy Lee shares his enthusiasm for his recent college experience with Page 3.
1. What was it like trying out for the Nebraska band? Describe what it was like to play in front of the Nebraska faithful on a home football Saturday?
Tommy Lee: Well, I did the marching band all throughout junior high and high school. Music was one of my favorite things in school. But doing it at the college level, in the Cornhusker stadium full of 87,000 people, that's a whole new ball game! So that was really fun, a new level, I had never experienced anything like that.
2. Talk about some of the challenges you faced.
The quad toms are a completely different animal than the standard drum set/trap kit. Playing wise and stylistically, they are two different beasts. Also just reading sheet music -- I wasn't prepared for that when they dropped that bomb on me. I hadn't read sheet music since high school, so it took me a couple days to refresh my memory with the note values and time signatures. Of course in the show they draw it out a bit for dramatic purposes than it really took me to get readjusted, but it certainly was difficult.
3. Due to the time you spent on campus, do you now consider yourself a big Cornhuskers sports fan? Do you plan to follow Big Red on football Saturdays during the upcoming football season?
You know what? I am definitely going to check them out because that was fun, man!
That town is football crazy. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that. The whole town turns red come football Saturday. Everybody is in red clothes, people's cars are red, people paint their damn houses red! I'm surprised they don't paint their children red! It's red everywhere, man. I mean, I remember this one thing that really blew my mind. So, we were having a little tailgate and doing a little pregame this one time and I look over and see a bag of Doritos. The Doritos company must make them especially for Cornhuskers, because it was a red bag with this big Nebraska "N" on it. I was like, "Wait a minute now, I've seen it all! This is just crazy."
4. Were you able to convert your Motley Crue bandmates into Nebraska fans?
Well you know, let's just say they aren't really big sports fans.
5. Looking back, other than music, what would you have majored in had you gone the college route?
Definitely something involving computers, whether it be with software or computer engineering. I am such a gearhead. In my recording studio, I personally engineer and edit everything on computers. I am a hands-on type of guy and I love gadgets, so it would definitely be something high tech.
6. Do you keep in touch with any of the people you came across on campus?
Constantly. I speak to Natalie, my tutor; Matt, my roommate; and also Ben, my drumline buddy. I probably speak with them once a week whether on the phone or on e-mail. I stay in touch with them, as I really made some new friends there.
7. Did you have a favorite teacher?
Well Professor Gay, my Physics teacher, was a very interesting cat, to say the least. All of his analogies in his class and every time he needed to explain anything related with science, he related it to football -- and this is why Nebraska has football completely embedded in their brains. The chancellor was also really cool. He also made me feel very welcome. As a matter of fact, he sent me a Christmas card of him and his family with me pictured on his card, so that was pretty damn cool.
8. What was the most surreal moment for you on the show?
One of my favorite points in the show that happened -- that was totally not scripted -- was that my autobiography, "Tommyland," made the New York Times best-seller list right at the time I was in my American Literature class. So my professor dissected a little bit of my book, which I just thought was cool. I thought, "Wow, this is wild. Here I am sitting in English Lit and my book is on the New York Times best-seller list and here I am in the classroom in an open discussion of the book."
That was cool. As it turns out, my professor thought it was really cleverly done actually -- funny and well-written -- so that was nice.
9. Why do the show? Here you are an established rock star. What was your motivation?
At 17, I signed a recording contract right out of high school, so I started touring and traveling the world. I sort of missed out on the college experience. When this opportunity came along, it sounded like a really cool thing to do.
Anything I do, I give 110 percent. So I guess I am driven by, I don't know, maybe the fear of sucking -- that is my motivation. I just want to kick ass at whatever I do, whether it is music, going to college for a semester, being the best dad on the planet or being the best human being I can be every day. It is a driving force I have. Anything I do, I give 110 percent.
10. How do you think the show will be received? Do you think this show will change the way people perceive Tommy Lee?
Well you know, I have seen all the episodes and I have to admit I didn't know how it was going to turn out. But I have to admit after watching the final episode it made me feel really good. I just thought, "I feel good about this."
I feel like people are really going to get to know me. Maybe the show will also dispel some of those nonsense, preconceived judgments and notions about me. Those things tend to fly around especially when all people get are blips and blurbs in magazines or those silly tabloid shows. So I am hoping people get to meet and know the real Tommy instead of the one that has been sprinkled out there throughout the press. After I watched the show, I thought maybe people will really get to know me. I don't know, maybe [they'll] see my perseverance, my charm and my humor. And yeah, that I'm a cool guy.
Shane Igoe is a New York City writer who can be reached through his own sports and entertainment blog : The Wade Blogs (http://thewade.blogs.com). He has two sports themed books coming out in 2006 and 2007 titled "20 Shining Moments" and "Taking the Hill: Presidential First Pitches."