By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Lee: Absolutely, man. Absolutely. People trip when something horrible happens to them, but it is happening, I believe, for a reason, and at every crisis, there's something positive to be learned from that. There's no better teacher than experience. You can read whatever you want, you can talk to whoever you want, but unless you go through it and deal with it, you don't really know what it's about.
WW: When you walked out of jail, did you feel that you were a better person than you were when you walked in?
Lee: I can't say that I felt like a better person, but I know that I learned more about myself. And I had a really difficult time when I got out, because decompressing for me was really fucking weird. You go from living life outside and free and doing whatever you want and coming and going as you please to nothing. And when you come out of four months of nothing...well, I'll tell you what--the world gave me a fucking anxiety attack. I jumped into my friend's car, and the traffic lights and the cars going by on the freeway and everybody fucking hauling ass...They were going way too fast for me. I wanted to go back.
WW: How long did it take you to reacclimate to everything?
Lee: I spent a week at home and I sort of just hid. I didn't really get together with a bunch of friends, because I didn't know how to react. And then I went to Hawaii for a week and really decompressed and took in sunsets and walked and worked out and sort of slowly came back. And then I went back home and started visiting with friends and family and all that.
WW: Are you going to change your approach to the rock-and-roll lifestyle because of what happened? Because that's about as fast as it gets.
Lee: I know--but I still have a good time. That's just the way I am. I have fun at everything that I do. That's the way it is out here. We have a good time and we play, and we travel from city to city doing what we do.
WW: And you don't think that's going to lead to trouble?
Lee: If I even sense that there's going to be trouble, I fucking run. I'm on probation, so I can't get into any trouble. My fun is regulated and monitored by me--know what I mean? So I'm in control now.
WW: Tell me about the label, Mstley Records. It's been around for a while, but why did you decide to run it yourselves instead of hooking up with another major?
Lee: One day Nikki and I were sitting on the bus, and we were really disappointed with Elektra, our record company. We'd made probably one of the best albums of our career, which was the record before this greatest-hits record, Generation Swine. We put a year and every bit of love we had into that record, and we made every single song melodic and a hit. No album filler, no crap. That record is unreal from top to bottom, but it didn't sell. So we were sitting there scratching our heads and going, "We don't get it. What the fuck is going on?" And it was even more frustrating because our record company was not supportive of us. I'm not racial whatsoever, but there was a black lady, Sylvia Rhone, in charge of Elektra then, and she didn't get us at all. She's a really big R&B lady, and I love that stuff, too, but--well, I just don't think she cared for us too much, let's put it that way. So Nikki and I told our manager, "Man, you've got to get us out of there. Get us the fuck away from that company."
WW: You still owed them albums?
Lee: We owed them two records, and they owed us a lot of money for those two records. So we said, "Give us this amount of money and all of our masters and we'll walk." And we did. We got all of our masters and everything we'd ever filmed, from the beginning. You name it. And we were fucking jumping up and down. I mean, there's only a small handful of bands that have even come close to walking away with all that.
WW: Why is your first CD a greatest-hits album? Were you trying to remind people of what you'd done musically rather than allowing them to concentrate on all the other personal matters that have been getting so much attention?
Lee: No, we just felt like it was time. We went around and did a bunch of gigs and asked all the fans what they wanted from us next, and all of them said either a live album or a greatest-hits record. So we decided to give our fans what they want instead of being stupid. Really, you've got to give them what they want.
WW: That doesn't mean that you don't want to continue to make new music, does it?