It’s safe to say that every band out there has borrowed something from another band along the way, either in look or sound. What makes a band stand out is when they take what they borrowed and make it their own. When Motley Crue first hit the scene, nobody knew what to make of them. Throughout their career they re-invented themselves from album to album, never taking themselves too seriously. Now, as they start what might possibly be their last tour, Nikki Sixx checks in with Wisconsin Music on all things past, present and future. Read on in this exclusive interview accompanied by 3 audio clips:
WM: Hey Nikki, how’re you doing?
NS: Doing good, man.
WM: You’re in Florida?
NS: I am in Florida, yes.
WM: How have the first few shows been?
NS: We only did one – well, I guess Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico doesn’t really count…
WM: I won’t put that in the interview… (laughs)
NS: (more laughs) No, I just mean – the people count, but it wasn’t really a show, it was just a musical rehearsal.
WM: So your first show was last night then?
WM: How was it?
NS: Considering how much we have going, production-wise and the whole trip, I’m surprised – totally surprised – that it was so good. We’ve never in twenty-four years run through our show before the show, and we’ve never in that many years played that long, even in rehearsal. We’re notoriously fuckin’ lazy. We’d rather drink and fuck than rehearse.
WM: (laughs) And that’s changed?
NS: (more laughs) And anything’s different? So, with that being said, last night we played … someone said two and a half hours. We didn’t even know, we just wrote down a set list that we liked, and we’re like, “Well, this might be a bit long!” (laughs) Not for us, but even some fans were like, “I love you guys, but I went to see Metallica and they played for like two hours and I was like ‘ok’, and you guys played like a half hour longer than that, so …” But I don’t know, I don’t think we’re going to change anything.
WM: So being it’s your first gig and it’s so long, how’s your stamina?
NS: Oh, fuckin’ killer.
WM: Now, you don’t have an opening band, but you’re playing a mini-movie?
NS: It’s really an intro … we’re in a movie, and it’ll be coming to theaters, so it was fun for us to create something to start our show. And basically, the movie is called Disaster: the Movie, and it’s very tongue-in-cheek. Remember how they used to do Airplane and that kind of stuff, that would be a take-off on all of those airplane movies? Well, this is kind of taking the piss out of movies like Armageddon. And it’s really fun. Any time we can take a piss up anything, we do – including ourselves. So, that’s kind of what it is, it’s a setup for that, and it helps lead us into an intermission, and (laughs) I think the movie is going to be killer. We’re actually playing a concert in the movie – claymation versions of ourselves.
WM: So it’s your voice?
NS: Yeah, we did all of the voiceover stuff. This concert, everything from the claymation stuff to the pyro cues to the aerialists to the midgets to the stilt walkers, the whole thing is just … it’s a lot of fucking detail. So that what I was saying, forget about the fact that we play 25 songs – and most people are like, ‘how do you remember that?’ (laughs) and I guess it just gets entrenched in your brain … but there’s a lot of details, and that’s why I’m surprised – the lighting, the whole thing, kinda all came together last night, and it was cool to see the crew and the band … and Motley Crue as well … all being like, “Wow, it worked!” Cause we didn’t know, when you put a show like that together. Our problem is, that we’re insane.
WM: (laughs) But you admit it, so…
NS: We admit it, it’s the first step. Step one. (laughs)
WM: How’s Mick doing? That’s a long show.
NS: You know what? He’s like, “Ah, play another half hour, I don’t care.”
WM: There were some rumors floating around before the tour even started that there were going to be possible stand-ins, and different things. All rumors?
NS: Yeah, I know, that shit cracks me up. Cracks Mick up so much that he came on last night with a white mask on. And he’s all covered up and he has a white mask and he’s playing. So, I’m like, ok. I look over sometimes at my bandmates and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ I think they’re insane, that’s how insane we are! One insane person thinking the other person is insane. That’s what the loony bin is.
WM: It was how many months ago he had his hip replaced?
NS: Only a couple months. So he comes on the stage in this white mask, and one of our security guys told us, people were pointing at Mick and he could see their mouths move saying ‘That’s not Mick.’ (laughs) Like what, we got Buckethead? (laughs) We have the Phantom on guitar, we’re not going to expose his face.
WM: Are you surprised by the kind of success that Red, White and Crue has had?
NS: Well, you know what, it was a compilation record that was really put together for the new fans. We have a growing new fan base, and we said, ‘We going on the road, let’s do a few songs, we really don’t have time to do a whole album.’ We wanted to get out now, and play now, and the timing was right. There were all these people calling radio stations, ‘bring the Crue, bring the Crue’, demanding us to come play … And we’re like, now’s the time. Tommy’s thing was going to be open, Vince’s thing, and my thing, and Mick had just gotten the surgery and it was the best thing for Mick to get out on the road and not just sit at home. So we cut four songs, and put three of them on this compilation.
So for a compilation, even though it is basically 40 songs, to go #6 on the charts out of the box and to have, I think “If I Die Tomorrow” is #2 across the nation at radio … Yeah, I’m fuckin’ blown away!
Cause you know, that isn’t really what it’s about. It’s about what happens on stage, whether we can deliver it in a hungry way that is who we are in our hearts. It doesn’t matter if we’re 20 or 30 or what. Time doesn’t fuckin’ matter, it’s the attitude. And I love that. Johnny Thunders was that way, it doesn’t matter. Some cats, Iggy Pop, they’re going to always have that hunger. So if your album sells, that’s cool, more people find out about you, more people get turned on to what we’re really about… which is a live rock and roll band.
WM: Now you said you recorded four songs originally, and three songs are on the compilation.
NS: Yeah, there’s “If I Die Tomorrow”, there’s a song called “Sick Love Song” that we are playing live, and there’s “Street Fighting Man” by the Stones that we cut a really kind of cool version, and then we did a song called, “I’m a Liar and that’s the Truth” which I thought would have been a great first single because we were telling everybody that we weren’t getting back together (laughs) when we were in the studio actually recording. We were denying it, we would leave the studio separately and shit like that. We wanted to try it on, to see how it would fit. We didn’t want to get everybody’s expectations up, didn’t want to be a cocktease.
WM: Any video plans for “Sick Love Song” or “Street Fighting Man”?
NS: We’re trying to decide. Right now, radio’s really wanting “Sick Love Song”, it’s quite heavy. Heavy, as in “Kickstart My Heart” or “Dr. Feelgood”, you know, with a little taste of old school to it, the darker chord combinations. So, I’m like, if you guys wanna play it! It’s great by me if you want to play it, I don’t hear anything like that on the radio. So if they’re willing to do it, that’s cool, I just don’t want to jump through hoops for people if they’re going to play it and have people go, [snotty voice] “It’s too hard, I don’t like that lyric.” There’s a great lyric that says, “She can’t understand normal thinkin’ and she drives a sober man to drinkin’.” And somebody goes, “What’s that mean” and I go, “What’s the first letters of ‘can’t understand normal thinking’ and they’re like, “Oh, cunt …” (laughs) I’m always trying to slip one in.
But it was funny, when “Same Old Situation” was a big hit, and I told the record company, who didn’t even know, that it was about lesbians, they were like, [snotty voice] “Oh my God, if we knew that we never would have released it.” And now, [official voice] “Oh, that’s legendary, I was involved in the marketing of that.” (laughs) Fuck.
WM: Have you heard the song by Bowling for Soup?
NS: Yeah, of course!
WM: Did you see the video?
NS: Uh-huh, classic! Loved it!
WM: In that video for “1985” the bass player wore a great replica of your spandex.
NS: You know, if I would have known those guys before then, I would have gone and got my outfit for them. How fuckin’ cool would that have been? “Hey man, let me show you how it goes down here, I’m a little manly for it now, but you can do it.” (laughs) Actually had to go get a costume made, that’s so funny.
But you know what was really classic about that was they said, “Since when is Motley Crue classic rock.” They’re saying what people are thinking. You sound like one of the unique few in the press, most are looking for an angle… ‘What’s the best angle to cut someone’s throat?’ Well, usually from behind. That’s usually how it works. Obviously, you’re not one of those kind of cats. So when they said that, it was like, this is what people really think. Stop saying what’s not true.
WM: I think the difference is that the people in media now are the kids that grew up listening to “Shout at the Devil.”
NS: You know what, you’re so right, and so are the cops!
WM: Thank God, right?
NS: In my case, yes!
WM: You’re not going to get arrested this tour?
NS: I got pulled over. Every single night, for seven days in a row, coming home from rehearsals, in excess of 100 mph. And every time, they were like, “Dude, I can’t wait for the LA Forum!” I was like ‘Whew!’ I called my wife, told her I was pulled over again. She said, “You know what, it is so not cool that you get away with that.” I said, “I know, but it’s like 3 in the morning, there’s no one on the road!” And then I get in trouble by the wife. I don’t get in trouble by the cops, I get in trouble by the wife! That’s how life’s changed!
WM: They’re just going to hand the badge over to her. Maybe the handcuffs too!
NS: Yeah right. (laughs)
WM: Now, it’s pretty well documented that there’s always turmoil between Tommy and Vince, and you’re always the peacekeeper more often than not. Do you see anything different on this tour?
NS: Those two guys don’t seem to need any outside input on anything. As a matter of fact, we did something this year that was not based on animosity. A lot of people have heard about it, and said it is. We each have our own tour bus. We’ve never done that before. I’ve got five kids and I’m married, Tommy’s got two kids and he’s been married, Vince just got married again, Mick’s out of a relationship, Tommy’s single as well. We’ve done a lot in our life, we’ve covered a lot of miles, done a lot of everything. To have that little bit of space — now, me and Tommy have recording studios built into our bus – but just to have that little bit of space, to actually have a bedroom instead of a bunk, it’s really cool. So we said, let’s have one big room, that we call the hospitality room, like always, and then let’s have four separate dressing rooms, and JVC came in and made us these flat screen tv rolling cases with DVD players and stuff, so it’s like each guy has his own space. We all end up in one of the other guy’s rooms all the time. It’s just weird, we always end up together, and as far as people getting along, every time you turn around they’re hanging out. We think it’s funny. Him and Vince are just kicking it and all mellow, and I’m the crazy one now. We’ve switched personalities!
WM: Now it’ll be you and Mick…
NS: Me and Mick fighting! (laughs)
WM: You’ve been called a menace to society for so long, and now you’re embraced. Do you savor that, or do you reject everyone that once basically called you a loser that’s never going to make it?
NS: I think I’m over that. I harbored a lot of resentment as a teenager, and as a young adult. I still have a problem with authority, I’m trying to … listen man, I’ve got to have a couple of vices! (laughs) Don’t completely clip my wings! But you know, to me, it’s a more intellectual anarchy.
I’ll give you an example. I forgive my mom for being a psycho and my dad for being a loser. You know, I’m not talking out of court, they know I think that, I forgive them. I had to carry a lot of fucking resentment, that wrote a lot of great music, so I thank them for that. Now, done with that chapter. Who’s next? Line fucking up.
As far as I’m concerned, the music industry is ripping off artists by going and looking at formats that are controlled and saying, ‘This is the format, and if you’ll fit into this format, you can be on radio, and if radio will play you, MTV will expose you, and MTV will expose you, we’ll sell records. So this is what I want you to do, you’re going to look like this, you’re going to sound like this, this is what it’s about, and you’re going to be a big star’. They’re a menace to artists, because artists are very young, and say, ‘Um, ok’
Motley Crue, collectively and individually, have done things on our own terms. Including doing what we’re doing right now. So, we go to do the Billboard Music Awards, right, just to be a presenter, and we walk on stage, and we get a standing ovation from the industry. Tommy looks at me and we’re like, “What the hell?”
WM: Was that where Tara Reid introduced you?
WM: It looked like you guys had some kind of inside joke because you guys were just giggling…
NS: Oh, we always do, Tommy always goes, it’s so funny, we’ll be doing an interview, like if you were on the phone with me and Tommy right now, we would probably forget you were there, we’d just be like cracking jokes. It’s like Beavis and Butthead, and the next thing you know, it’s like ‘oh yeah, the interview.’ I don’t know where that came from, but there’s so much history amongst ourselves, that something reminds us of something, and we start cracking up.
But it was weird, because we got a standing ovation, and to get back to my point about what I feel very strongly about, is Ashley Simpson. She probably a very nice person, and probably doesn’t deserve a lot of the shit she’s getting, including me saying things about her in the press. I was speaking to Rolling Stone and they asked me, what music would be on repeat if I was in hell, and I said ‘Ashley Simpson’. Then I turned on the tv and she was wearing a Motley Crue t-shirt. And I was like ‘God! Poor girl’s just getting hammered! And she’s going to be getting fucking hammered, she’s going to be in the Betty Ford clinic soon! So, she comes on stage, artist of the year, and got booed off the stage by the very industry that built her. They turned their back. They (originally) said, ‘This is what you have to be, this is what you have to sound like, these are your songwriters, this is your format’. Then she got caught with her pants down on Saturday Night Live, and the industry goes ‘Booo!’ and turns their back on her. Fuck you for doing that, that’s fucked.
WM: Do you think Motley could have made it in today’s musical climate?
NS: Uh-huh. Absolutely. Maybe even bigger. Causes it’s so fuckin’ safe. But I will tell you this: there is a fuckin’ boatload of bands coming. And if you want real, real is coming. Cause the rebellion that I was talking about, it’s on the street. And it’s coming, and it’s going to be in people’s faces. You know what, format’s are going to change. Because this is what the people want. It’s not what the labels want, it’s what the people want. Radio’s going to get hard. It’s not going to be cookie monster hard, it’s going to be hard, great-written songs, rock stars, young bands. Who’s the new Ramones, who’s the new Guns ‘N Roses, who’s the new Motley Crue, who’s the new Black Sabbath? They’re coming, they’re on the street, they’re sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old. The next few years are going to be very exciting.
WM: This is a question that’s out of the blue, but it’s something I’ve always wondered. Have you ever heard from Lowenbrau about using the dots on the Motley Crue logo?
NS: (laughs) No!
WM: Either positive or negative? Nothing?
NS: No, I’ve never thought about that myself.
WM: You’ve never hid the fact of where you got it from…
NS: I guess you can’t trademark an umlaut.
WM: I always thought they’d try and get press out of it or say something negative, but I’ve never heard a thing about it.
NS: Or at least somebody come up and say, “I work for Lowenbrau.” And we’d be like, ‘No way!’ Thats a good one!
WM: After your Motley tour, do you plan on going back to the Brides?
WM: That’s over and done?
WM: Tracy’s (Guns) been pretty vocal in the last couple of months…
NS: Why do you think I’m not going back to the Brides?
WM: Let’s reverse this a little bit. If Tracy never would have opened his flap, there might have been a chance of another Brides album with Nikki?
NS: Uh-huh, there was. There always was a plan.
WM: Have you talked to him lately?
NS: Um, no. He talked out of court, and he said very derogative things, and it’s not ok. Friends don’t do that to each other.
WM: Speaking of ‘out of court’, you’ve recently won a lawsuit against Van’s shoes.
NS: That was fun.
WM: Were you intimidated by going head-to-head with a big company?
NS: No way! I was going to win. (laughs) I’m insane. It was so great, cause the Van’s attorney is talking, talking, talking – he’s just trying to make me look so bad. And finally I just lean into the microphone, and I go, “Excuse me, sir” – and the jury’s there, and I go, “I am not a shoe salesman, I am a rock star.” And it was like silence. It was ice cold. And he just looked at me, and I stared at him, and he looked down. Dude, he caved. It was awesome. (laughs) If I’m going to sell shoes, I want to fuckin’ be paid for it. Because I’m not a shoe salesman.
You know what, I could roll over and walk away from this thing. I’m real busy, no time to be chasing around this company. But if people don’t stand up and do this, it’s going to happen to other people. For me it was about fighting the system again. It was saying, ‘You know what, you don’t do this, it’s not ok.’ You can’t do this, you can’t take a picture of someone who has built their image up, I don’t care who it is – who’s next, Ozzy, or any other pop culture icon? You can’t do that. You can’t use that for your business, it’s not ok.
WM: The Dirt was very successful, and Tommy’s book went #1. When can we expect your book The Heroin Diaries?
NS: Well, I think this summer, probably, but I don’t know yet. It’s about setting the book up. The book is really, really dark, to the point where some people that I’ve talked to have said that it could be a series. And I’m like, where? VH1? It’s a little hard for VH1.
WM: It’s not going to be on the Lifetime channel…
NS: Or the History channel! I mean, come on, where? This is some dark shit. And then conversations have happened since, that this could be an HBO thing, and like real-life. So I’m like, let me finish the book, let’s talk about that kind of stuff after people have read the book, because that’s what happened. Immediately, people were like, The Dirt could be a movie. And I’m like, look, let the people vote. And then it did turn into a movie. I have a lot of ideas for the Heroin Diaries, for after the book, but right now I’m just really focusing on the book.
And what happened that was very exciting for me, is I have those journals, from that time, but I also have the other guy’s diaries, and I started reading them too. I realized, there’s a pattern when tours start, there’s a pattern of infighting, there’s a pattern of making up, there’s a pattern of breaking up, there’s a pattern of addiction. There’s a pattern of going to jail. There’s a pattern of passion for music. And I was like, wow! January of ’81, the same thing happened in May of ’83. And I started staggering things, there would be the actual diaries with little sidenotes. I was talking with Slash, and he said, “You should have the writer talk to you and get some input”, so now we ended up having all of the band members, all of the crew guys, Slash, old managers, agents, people that were around when I was going through certain things, having sidenotes and notes about what I was going through or writing. So it’s like the publisher said, ‘This is not just diaries that you’re putting out, it’s a very interesting dark journey.’
And then there’s poem that I wrote the day Curt Kobain died, right after it. And it shows the different dates, and how I would talk shit about someone who would kill themselves, and leave their kids. So what I’m willing to do is say, ‘Look what a fuckup I was.’ And I think it’s important to do that kind of stuff.
WM: I can’t wait to read it.
NS: I’m excited too! But it is dark.
WM: I’m sure you know who Andy McCoy (Hanoi Rocks guitarist) is.
NS: Yeah, sure.
WM: He has recently gone on the record claiming that certain things that happened in The Dirt are “pure lies.”
NS: (laughs) You know what I love about that? You’ve got a has-been that never was, just fuckin’ grabbing at straws to get attention. I mean, c’mon man. And nothing he says makes any fucking sense! You ever read the interview where he said that his band sold more records than our band? I was like, ‘Dude, are you crazy!’ [mimics McCoy] “We sold fifty million records and they sold forty, we were a bigger band than them.”
And I’m like, ‘Dude, why to you care about my ass so bad? You won’t stop talking about it.’ He’s got a fuckin’ crush on me or something. (laughs) Fuckin’ fag.
WM: The only way I’ve actually heard of Hanoi was through everything that happened with Vince.
NS: Sure. It’s a very sad thing to happen, but dude, stop already trying to get attention for yourself. He’s like the drunk chick at a party, that won’t stop splashing everybody. But she has bad tits. Stop! (laughs) No one’s gonna fuck ya, no matter – Andy, no matter how much you talk about Motley Crue, your band still isn’t gonna make it! Figure it out! I mean, go talk about Keith Richards, maybe that will give you another fuckin’ one album sale. (laughs)
WM: Anything to say to the Wisconsin music fans reading this that have supported the Crue through the years?
NS: Well … I would want to say, ‘Thank you’ first of all. And second of all, ‘I’m sorry’. (laughs) And I think it speaks for itself. Thank you for letting us be who we are, and I’m sorry we are who we are. We can’t help ourselves, we’re insane!