Last summer, the CBS reality show Rock Star resurrected the career of INXS. This season just might do the same for some of hard rock’s biggest names. In a head-banger’s dream come true, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and erstwhile Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke have teamed up to form a supergroup – Supernova. As their search for a lead singer continues, PEOPLE caught up with Lee and Newsted, both 43, about jamming together and why they’re not selling out.
What do you look for in a singer?
Lee: Someone that moves you, like a David Bowie or a Prince or a Marilyn Manson. Bigger than life or very elusive. Those things always strike me as strong characteristics about singers.
Newsted: I have to look for people with their feet on the ground. Just ’cause they’re talented and they can emulate Pink Floyd or cover Bob Seger, that’s all good and everything, but that doesn’t mean they can hang with me if it takes 10- or 20-hour days in the studio in a row going, “No! Come on!”
Did you watch the first season of Rock Star?
Lee: I did see it a few times. I was like, “Finally, somebody got it right.” This is like a cool version of American Idol.
Newsted: My girlfriend said, “You gotta watch this INXS thing,” and I started getting into it. You kind of get hooked on it. This thing is real people in a real band. It’s not just Wife Swap or some silliness.
How did you guys get involved with the show?
Lee: (Creator) Mark Burnett contacted me. He said, “I got this idea. I want to create this amazing supergroup.” This year, (they) are not only searching the United States, they’re searching the entire world, so we’re going to find this f–ing amazing singer – I just know it. If we don’t, the world is in a bad, bad spot.
Newsted: They gave (Tommy) a list of bass players. He scratched everybody’s name off and said, “That’s the only guy I want to play with.” Even though we’ve been in giant bands with platinum albums and stuff, we’ve not ever had an opportunity to be exposed in that way. This is like an opportunity of a lifetime!
How do you think your hardcore fans will react to the show?
Newsted: There’s always going to be mixed reactions. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But now that the bands – Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue and Metallica – have lasted so long, we have created generations of listeners that are going to be able to come and accept this.
Did having your own reality show, Tommy Lee Goes to College, prepare you for this?
Lee: I don’t see this as a reality show. This is a music-driven television show where we’re three guys from three very big bands looking for the ultimate singer. I don’t see it as the big prize money or people eating bugs.