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Tommy Lee & DJ Aero


Tommy Lee & DJ Aero Bio

The air feels different. The room feels different.

An unmistakable aura of anticipation enshrines the crowd as each person in the darkened club stands alert, hushed. Suddenly, a woman’s piercing shriek is followed by a hurried commotion as a tight circle of security guards whisks TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO up into the DJ booth. Soon thereafter, the audience is bathed in sweat as AERO continues dropping annihilating beats and searing riffs for LEE to tweak and warp until every last pair of hands is in-the-air. TOMMY LEE is no stranger to moving an audience to exaltation, but when joined with AERO as electronic dance music DJs, few others are as entertaining.

To party with TOMMY LEE is to have so much $%&*@ fun, it hurts. As DJs and producers, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO’s sound is dirty, filthy, nasty electro-house; and since their musical tastes are not constrained to one genre, the duo often veers into techno, progressive, breakbeat and even hip-hop territory. It is one thing to play the same set list of rock songs to stadiums filled with adoring, expectant fans; it’s entirely another to walk into a swarming nightclub crammed with judgmental trainspotters, read the crowd correctly, and make people dance. Ask any professional DJ and he will tell you that the art of reading a room is anything but easy to master.

Although legions of MÖTLEY CRÜE fans may not realize it, LEE has always been a “closet dance music fan.” He said, “Every drum solo I’ve ever played in an arena, I’ve always incorporated loops, beats, electronic stabs and samples for as long as I can remember.” In fact, TOMMY LEE – the best rock drummer since LED ZEPPELIN’s JOHN BONHAM – has always been open to many forms of music. It was during LEE’s MÖTLEY CRÜE drum solos where he’d play upside-down, suspended precariously from his rig, accompanied by JOSH WINK’s “Higher State Of Consciousness,” with pyrotechnics shooting out of his seat. “It’s the feeling you get from electronic music that’s night and day from rock music,” according to LEE. It’s what he finds so irresistible and the reason he deejays.

DJ AERO (real name: CHESTER DEITZ) rose from the ashes of Los Angeles’ early-‘90’s rave scene as a hip-hop turntablist. Growing up in Victorville (approximately 80 miles north of L.A.), California, the young DEITZ wholeheartedly embraced L.A.’s then-thriving underground rave culture and threw himself into the music of DJs BARRY WEAVER, DOC MARTIN, STEVE LORIA and DJ JAZZY JEFF. DEITZ was a member of the West Coast turntablist crew, THE HEAVYWEIGHTS, a collective featuring DJs for SNOOP DOGG, EVERLAST, KORN and DILATED PEOPLES. DEITZ even dabbled in graffiti, enough to get chased by police on a few occasions. Turntablists who still inspire him today include MIX MASTER MIKE and QBERT, and DEITZ maintains a warm friendship with SIMPLY JEFF.

In 1999, TOMMY LEE formed the rap-rock-metal act known as METHODS OF MAYHEM with an unusual stable of artists: The BEASTIE BOYS’ MIX MASTER MIKE, FRED DURST of LIMP BIZKIT, THE CRYSTAL METHOD’s SCOTT KIRKLAND and KEN JORDAN, SNOOP DOGG, KID ROCK, LI’L KIM, rapper TILO, and legendary jazz musician, GEORGE CLINTON of PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC. Ever the open-minded musician with an insatiable appetite for good music, LEE set out to shatter the public’s preconceived notions of popular music with MOM’s signature sound. In 2000, when MIX MASTER MIKE was unable to join MOM on tour due to a prior commitment, LEE set out to find a temporary replacement DJ. A friend forwarded LEE a QuickTime video of AERO doing a turntablist routine, and his dexterity and enthusiasm grabbed LEE so viscerally that he invited AERO to audition. AERO got the spot on the MOM tour and instantly formed a close bond with LEE. The two have been collaborating together ever since. Said TOMMY LEE, “From the moment Aero and I got together, we just totally fucking clicked on a musical level! When we’re onstage deejaying, we totally know what each other is thinking without having to say a word. It’s insane! It also just happens that he’s a really cool guy and a complete gear freak, too.”

TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO started deejaying together immediately, and by 2004, they were known to show up to clubs after their MOM sets and throw down a few records at their own afterparties. Said LEE, “It got to the point where we were playing all these Methods [Of Mayhem] shows, and then after those, we’d go somewhere and DJ the entire afterparty without stopping! There were some crazy times at those afterparties, and we ended up having so much fun deejaying…that we knew we wanted to take it further, and take the DJ act out on-the-road.” It was at Ultra Music Festival in Miami during WMC (Winter Music Conference) 2004 when TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO took the mainstage that the hyper-critical, insular club crowd began to really take notice. Playing a blistering afternoon set at Bayfront Park under the scorching Miami sun, the pair was determined to win over the skeptics. By the time TOMMY LEE strapped on a giant bass drum and dove into the crowd, inviting fans to join in, their set had proved joyfully chaotic. LEE thought to himself, “I’ve found my people!” Indeed, they had.

“I touched turntables and that was my turning point! Mix Master Mike and Aero inspired and taught me a lot about deejaying. I started deejaying and realized you could do all these things, musically,” said TOMMY LEE.

From 2007 through 2009, a relentless schedule of DJ dates saw TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO spinning at world-class clubs and festivals around the globe under their Electro Mayhem banner. They have deejayed at: Pacha (New York), Guvernment (Toronto), Stereo (Montreal), Mansion and Cameo (Miami), Bliss (New Jersey), Rich’s (Houston), Vinyl (Denver), Nasa (Reykjavik), and Utopia (San Jose). Original ‘superstar DJ’ PAUL OAKENFOLD invited TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO to spin at OAKENFOLD’s award-winning “Perfecto @ Rain” party at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO proved they could hold down the decks as well as any big-name European DJ. When TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO played an A-list party at the Mirage Hotel & Casino’s Foundation Room in Vegas, the Jagermeister and Crystal flowed…and SUGE KNIGHT, JA RULE and ICE T ended up onstage, along with half the nightclub. TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO have deejayed at Shamrockfest in Washington D.C., as well as Climate Fest throughout Australia in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO have deejayed in Zurich, San Juan and Dubai. Said AERO, “Having deejayed this many dates with Tommy, we’ve been through a lot of different situations and been challenged in varying club environments. That’s made us better DJs, and it’s made us stay on our toes and keep each night’s show fresh.”

In the DJ booth, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO’s gear and software setup consists of: a Numark NuVJ controller running NuVJ software, a Pioneer DJM-800 mixer, two Pioneer CDJ-2000 CD turntables, a Pioneer EFX-500 effects unit, Traktor X1 Kontroller. They use two Apple Mac Book Pro laptops running Ableton Live 8.0 Studio, Native Instruments’ Traktor Scratch Pro with a S4 Traktor controller, NI Komplete 7, and NI Kore 2.

In the press, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO have been featured as DJs in numerous print publications, including: DJ Times, Big Shot, Remix, Club World, Skinnie, Billboard, Music & Sound Retailer, Live Design, Shock, Musico Pro, The Miami Herald, The Miami New Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Windsor Star, The Las Vegas Weekly, The Newark Star Ledger, TimeOut Chicago, Vue Weekly, and on countless online outlets. TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO have had their live DJ sets broadcast on Sirius XM Radio’s dance music channel, Area, and on PETE TONG’s BBC-Radio 1 show, as well as having had their interviews broadcast on KTCL Radio in Denver and WKSE Radio in Buffalo. TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO have appeared live on national TV in Canada on Chum TV’s “A Morning News,” and on bpm:tv’s “Spotlight” and “bpm:tv Presents…” programs. In 2008 and 2009, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO were nominated by DJ Times as “America’s Best DJs,” and their popularity as DJs continues to soar.

Today, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO are essentially remixing music live, on-the-fly, when performing as DJs. They’re also creating, manipulating and incorporating visuals into their live DJ sets. This is deejaying as a multi-media show bordering on performance art. It’s what TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO are about. Fellow DJs/producers, ERICK MORILLO, SHARAM (DEEP DISH) and ADAM FREELAND are frequent collaborators and visitors to TOMMY LEE’s home, where his full commercial-quality studio is almost always in use. AERO said, “When deejaying, I’m using Traktor Scratch Pro to control the music. Basically, I select the next track, send the signal to Tommy, and he does whatever the hell he wants with it and sends that effected signal back to me. I use the mixer to control what the room hears. When we’re onstage, we’re mixing and creating audio and video content. We’re really busy up there! We’re not having cocktails and blowing air-kisses to the girls.”

As a joint effort with DEADMAU5 and NINE INCH NAILS producer, STEVE DUDA, TOMMY LEE & DJ AERO produce electronic music under the pseudonym, WTF? Original productions released as WTF? include the tracks, “Chicken,” “Ceaba55555,” “Redic,” and “You Can’t Afford This,” all flag-bearers of the crunchy, big-room, epic, electro-house sound.

Deejaying is no passing fad for TOMMY LEE. As he told The Miami New Times, “This DJ project will never be over. This isn’t like a quick little, ‘I’m gonna play techno music with my buddy Aero for a minute.’ It’s tattooed in. It’s not going away.”