After 27 years of Mötley Crüe, including three different lineups and a three-year hiatus, Nikki Sixx’s perspective comes down to this:
“We are the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of rock ’n’ roll,” says the Crüe’s bassist, chief lyricist and co-producer. “It’s a complete love story, including the fistfights and the breakups. We’ve been married and divorced more times than I can … count.
“That’s what we do, and that’s what makes the music so passionate.”
Nowadays, Sixx says, “we’re on a … honeymoon,” and these are indeed good days for the Crüe. Last month, the hard-rocking Los Angeles quartet — which has sold more than 80 million albums and scored enduring hits such as “Wildside,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “Home Sweet Home” — released “Saints of Los Angeles,” the group’s first new album in eight years and its first featuring the full original lineup in a decade. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 99,000 first-week copies.
And now Sixx and company — singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars and drummer Tommy Lee — are leading their first Crüe Fest, topping a bill that includes fellow rockers Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Sixx’s side project, Sixx: A.M.
The Crüe’s current bonhomme is a relative calm in a career filled with strife and turmoil, both within and outside of the band, and prodigious debauchery that’s all chronicled in the group’s 2001 biography “The Dirt,” which it’s been working on adapting into a film. “Saints of Los Angeles,” which the Crue has been working on since recording three new songs for 2005’s “Red, White & Crüe” collection, is actually an aural version of the group’s story, coming on the heels of the Sixx: A.M. companion to Sixx’s 2007 memoir “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.”
“When I started talking to the guys about this (album),” Sixx recalls, “I said, ‘Y’know what would be really fun is thematically kind of write this about ‘The Dirt.’ Everybody in the band was like, ‘That would be really fun to do,’ and that turned into ‘Saints of Los Angeles.’”
And with its brash, riffy and celebratory rock songs, “Saints ...” allowed the Crüe to reclaim some of the humor that’s also part of its story.
“Absolutely, because we are a comedy,” notes Sixx, 49, who was born Frank Feranna, Jr., in San Jose. “Y’know what — we laugh a lot in this band. We do laugh a lot. We have a good time. I know a lot is exploited and talked about — the drug overdoses, the jail time, the fist fights, the divorces.
“But we laugh a lot, man. If you’re a fly on the wall in our rehearsals, you’d be like, ‘These guys are having a ... good time.’”
Sixx and company hope to infuse the same spirit into Crüe Fest, a 40-show outing that Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson calls “more fun than human beings should be allowed to have.” Mostly, Sixx says, the tour is designed to celebrate the idea that “rock ’n’ roll is ... back,” evidenced by excitement over the Crüe reunion in 2004 and the platinum success of Buckcherry’s 2006 album “15.”
“We wanted to do a festival for long time, but we wanted to wait for the right time,” Sixx explains. “We really do feel like rock ’n’ roll is back. That’s why we’re taking Buckcherry. That’s why we’re taking Papa Roach and Sixx: A.M. and Trapt.
“We believe it’s time to bring that excitement back. We believe people want to, people need to feel that feeling.”
Sixx says Mötley Crüe’s own goal in all this have changed over the years. “It’s not about the money, like, ‘Oh my God, I gotta make everybody get along ’cause we’re gonna make a bunch of money,” he explains. “I don’t (care) about the money. I (care) if we’re the greatest we can be. That’s what’s exciting, and that’s what I believe Mick and Tommy and Vince, want, too.”
And he hopes they continue to want it for a long time.
“Y’know,” Sixx says, “we’re a gang. Gangs implode, but they get back together. We’re together right now. But, y’know, when do the fists turn inward? I don’t know.
“Maybe they never will again. It would be nice, but to predict the future ... it’s just too fatiguing.”
Buckcherry Under The Gun
Buckcherry frontman Joshua Todd says this summer’s Crüe Fest tour is “a great warm-up” for his band.
But the real heat comes Sept. 16, when the California quintet releases “Black Butterfly,” its follow-up to the 2006 comeback album “15.”
The platinum effort brought Buckcherry back from a fouryear hiatus with the monster hits “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry,” along with chart-smashing Internet and ringtone sales and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.
So the group is under a little bit of pressure this time out.
“We’ve had the biggest record of our career and now we gotta follow it up, and it’s not easy,” acknowledges Todd, 37. “To us it’s the sophomore slump (potential) all over again.”
Nevertheless, he promises that “the album’s great. Everybody’s gonna be really happy.”
“Too Drunk …,” the first single from “Black Butterfly,” has already leaked on the Internet. Buckcherry is playing that song in its 45-minute Crüe Fest set, along with the new song “Tired of You.” “Once the record comes out, we’ll start incorporating more songs in the set once we find out what everybody’s gravitating towards,” Todd explains. “I just can’t wait for people to be able to hear the whole thing.”
For now, however, Buckcherry is happy to be in “tour mode” after taking most of a year off to write and record “Black Butterfly.” Crüe Fest, he says, has “been a lot of fun so far,” marked by big turnouts and plenty of backstage camaraderie.
“Everybody gets along well,” Todd notes. “We’ve all toured together before, so everybody’s very friendly and the shows have been coming off effortless and the fans have been great.
“And it’s hot out here, so there’s lots of scantily clad women and sweat. What more could you ask for?”
Nikki Sixx Does Crue Fest Double-Duty
With his myriad roles — musician, songwriter, producer, record label chief, fashion line owner and more — Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx can stake a convincing claim as one of the hardest working men in show business.
And he’s certainly the hardest working man on the inaugural Crüe Fest tour.
In addition to playing the headline spot with the Crüe, Sixx is also performing with his side project Sixx: A.M., the group he assembled to record the soundtrack to his 2007 memoir “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.”
Released 11 months ago, it’s sold more than 200,000 copies and launched the rock radio hit “Life is Beautiful.”
“I didn’t want to do it,” Sixx says of the double duty at Crüe Fest. “It was the promoters who were like, ‘Look, this band hasn’t toured, and it’s really in demand ... But then Mötley started happening, so I figured Sixx: A.M. was gonna go on the back burner.
“And everyone was like, ‘No, dude ...’ And then (Mötley Crüe) was very supportive. The guys were like, ‘Dude, it’s a great record. Why not, man?’And it’s something I’ve never done before, so I figured, ‘What the hell — why not?’ “
Sixx is hoping to make another album with Sixx: A.M. once his latest spate of Crüe activity dies down. His Sixx A.M. cohorts, Michigan native James Michael and DJ Ashba, also worked on the new Crüe album, “Saints of Los Angeles.”
Crüe Fest, featuring Mötley Crüe, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Sixx: A.M., takes place at 5 p.m. Tuesday (July 15) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $99, $85.50 and $65.50 pavilion, $30 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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