Review and Photos by Andrew Hartl

In the world of metal music there are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet. Last week, this phenomenon could not have been more true.

Get a few thousand metal heads together from around the globe, and it makes for quite an intimidating spectacle.  However, in reality you end up with the friendliest motley crew you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.

This the second annual instalment of Motorhead’s Motorboat, a rock cruise held on the beautiful ship, Norwegian Sky.  We set sail from the Port of Miami, with scheduled stops in Nassau, Bahamas, and on a private beach in Great Stirrup Cay.  The location is owned by the cruise lines and the stopover gave way to a helluva party day.

This metal extravaganza featured Motorhead, of course, along with Slayer, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion Of Conformity, Hate Breed, Exodus, Huntress, Motor Sister, Phil Campbells’ All Star Band, Crobot, The Dead Deads, Fireball Ministry, No Words, The Shrine, and more.

Every band played twice at various venues throughout the ship, and each night the pool deck was transformed into an outdoor stage.

As we steamed out of Miami we were serenaded by Exodus at the sail away party on the pool deck.  Later that night, cruisers were treated to performances by C.O.C., Hatebreed, and the almighty Slayer.

I spoke with some of the ship’s crew and asked what they thought of this type metal-themed cruise, as opposed to one with “normal” passengers.  Most responded with wide smiles.  However, the most telling of reaction was a waiter who gave the international metal hand symbol and let out a cry of: “Fucking Slayer! I love this ship”.  His feelings were unanimous.

The second day was our first pit stop. Great Stirrup Cay with its pristine white sand beaches and turquoise water. Pretty cool all on its own, you might say.  But now add a stage with The Dead Deads performing – an amazing 5-girl band that got the beach party started by handing out their signature sunglasses, featuring X’s over the eye lenses, in order for everyone to take a ‘family photo’.

I spoke with the Dead Deads, and asked: “What was it like filming your video “Lemonade” in a haunted house in Nashville?”  

They responded by saying, “It was really dusty. It was the perfect spot for the song – a ready-to-go haunted house.

There was a Beach BBQ and a few bars to fill empty tummies and quench thirsts in the hot Caribbean sun. Dark Before Dawn finished off the day on the beach.

Back on board I had the opportunity to speak to legendary Slayer drummer, Paul Bostaph.  Before the band took to the stage for their performance, I asked: “What was it like working with so many celebrities during the filming of Repentless?”

Bostaph informed me that, “Actually, all the celebrities filmed their scenes the day before, but a lot of them stopped by while we were filming. It was really hot at the prison. There was no shade, and we filmed in the sun about eight hours.”

When asked how the band sees themselves as differing from the year 2000, Bostaph said: “Obviously the biggest difference is that Jeff is no longer with us. We’ve all gotten older , but I still play as aggressively as ever.”

I also asked what the band planned next on their agenda, and learned “We’re playing Japan and Hawaii next. This will be the second time we’ve ever played Hawaii.”

The evening’s performances began with Suicidal Tendencies storming the stage with such ferocious energy that I was actually surprised they didn’t burn holes in their shoes from way they were running and leaping across the stage.  It was a great warm-up to Slayer’s second show on the ship.

Slayer started the set with “Repentless”, with a punishing bass line that makes the listener’s ribcage vibrate from the inside out.  Judging by the amount of head banging that took place during the performance, it wouldn’t have been surprising that several cruisers walked away with whiplash.

I caught Crobot‘s set in a small lounge. The energy that this band exudes is, simply put, mesmerizing.

To finish off the evening Motor Sister took over the pool deck.  Comprised of Scott Ian from Anthrax, vocalist Jim Wilson, backing vocals Pearl Aday, bassist Joey Vera from Armored Saint and Fates Warning, and drummer John Tempesta from The Cult, the band undoubtedly proved their collective years of experienced musicianship.

I had the chance to ask Jim Wilson and Joey Vera a few questions, including “How did Motor Sister begin?  Did you already know each other?”

Wilson and Vera agreed, “We’d known each other for quite a long time before we got together (as a band). We played together once at a party and here we are.”

I also asked about the origin of their band’s name.  Wilson explained, “One of the songs is called “Little Motor Sister”.  It’s about my wife, she’s from Detroit.  We kind of liked that name, and we were called Mother Superior. The M. S. was already there and it (Motor Sister) just sounded right.”

The cruise allows for passengers to have an intimate, one-of-a-kind experience considering that most musicians mingle, as well as act as fans. For example, photographing Motor Sister, I noted Joey Belladonna of Anthrax checking out the show, along with Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley.

The next port of call was Nassau where many of the passengers, including yours truly, took advantage of one of the many excursions offered by the cruise line – this stopover being a side trip to the waterpark at Atlantis.  This enormous water adventure features several thrilling water slides, including one fittingly called ‘The Leap of Faith’, with a 90 degree drop that helps propel sliders down a glass tube through a shark filled aquarium.  There is also a 4.5 kilometre long white water ‘Lazy River’ ride, complete with wave generators that unleash a tidal wave every few seconds.  I have to admit that when our tattooed gang of metal heads strolled through the fancy resort, the collective look of horror on the faces of guests was priceless, and well worth the price of the cruise.

Then finally the night had arrived where the cruise hosts, Motorhead, hit the stage, blasting head first into “Bomber”, so loud that it’s quite possible it could be heard back in Miami. Nevertheless, when front man Lemmy Kilmister asked show goers if they wanted it louder and they responded with abandon, they were indeed rewarded with an even louder performance.  Considering the man is 69 years old, he kicks ass!

I spoke with Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell on the balcony of his publicist’s cabin. What an amazing place to have an interview; on a cruise ship with a rock ‘n roll legend.  I asked about the band’s motivation to put out a cover of “Sympathy For The Devil” on the album Bad Magic.   Campbell explained: “Triple H gave us a list of covers. We just liked how it sounded. It’s a good party song. We did a cover of Bowies’ Heroes, too.  But that’s not on the album.”

I also questioned the mastermind behind Motorhead sex toys, and why?  Campbell laughed and responded, “I have no idea.  It wasn’t me.  But it’s obvious why, to give people pleasure and make some money on the side.”

Saving the best question for last, I asked how the band ended up working with Queen guitarist Brian May, on the new album Bad Magic. Campbell admitted, “I coaxed him for two years. He’s always been a good friend, he’s just one of the busiest men in the industry.  So I said, ‘Brian, if you do this I won’t bother you for at least 2 years’. He said, ‘You’ve got a deal.’ I’m really honoured he took part in it. We jumped for joy when it was all done.”

The on board tattoo parlour, featuring the artistry of Southbay Mike was in overdrive throughout the entire cruise. The constant buzzing of the tattoo gun drawing people to it like The Pied Piper.

The final day was a full day at sea.  Boring you might think, but that would be wrong considering it was a full day of metal, starting with Suicidal Tendencies on the pool deck.  They turned the swimming pool into a circle pit.  There was also a belly flop contest, a drunken spelling bee, and several Meet & Greets with all of the metal gods aboard the cruise.

At one point, I was walking through the ship and saw a huge line of people and thought it was for a show.  It turned out to be fans waiting to get into the merchandise shop to grab T-shirts and swag from all the bands. Raffles were held for a guitar autographed by all the bands, as well as for a free cruise.

But as cruisers were stocking up on souvenirs, I was speaking with Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, and asked if the band ever managed to see the cities they were playing.  He told me, “I do. I love Italy and Spain. We’re going to Japan next week – one of my favourite places.”

Considering it was almost time for the band to perform, I quickly asked what he thought of NASA using the Anthrax song, “Got The Time” as a queue to wake the Mars Rover and be the first band ever played on Mars.

Benante joked, “I just said ‘Oh my God, they’re playing our music in space, and who’s listening to it?’”

Anthrax kicked off their set with “I Am The Law” and “N.F.L.”, with Scott Ian thrashing out familiar riffs, and front man Joey Belladonna stirring the crowd into a metal frenzy.

Motorhead then rocked the stage yet again as a close, and likely shattered a few ear drums in the process.  I overheard one cruiser say, “If your ears don’t bleed, it ain’t loud enough.”  And loud it was, rattling everything in the dining room above.

But I couldn’t help but take that cruiser’s comment just one step further by saying, “And if it ain’t the time of your life, then it’s not Motorhead’s Motorboat”.


Click on photos to enlarge: