Nikki Sixx and his mates in Mötley Crüe wanted this summer’s Crüe Fest 2 to be anything but the “Same Ol’ Situation.”
True, last year’s inaugural Crüe Fest, which the band dubbed “The Loudest Show on Earth,” brought in $40 million in ticket sales and was 2008’s most successful summer touring festival. Repeating the success, it seemed, wouldn’t take much.
But the Crüe had other plans. Crüe Fest 2 features a second stage with five more bands, including a local group in each city, while Mötley Crüe is delivering a special treat for its fans by playing its chart-topping 1989 album “Dr. Feelgood” in its entirety.
“If you look at any of the successful festivals, it’s like anything else — there’s a learning curve,” explains Sixx, 50, who was born Frank Ferrana Jr., in San Jose, Calif. “The first one was a lot to put together; it’s not just putting bands on stage. There were a lot of things that go into it. Working with a lot of other partners, whether it’s radio stations or sponsors, it becomes more moving pieces.
“So this year, we added the second stage. What’s next, we don’t know. It grew from one to two (stages), so two to three will be something very exciting for us.”
And, Sixx adds, it’s not just about quantity.
“(Crüe Fest) is growing into something,” he explains. “It’s more of a community than just about Mötley Crüe, which in the end is a really good feeling. I feel good about being able to look over at the second stage and see the fans enjoying those bands and see that we’re bringing a lot of variety of rock music around us.
“The big picture is keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive.”
The idea certainly took hold in 2008, during the inaugural Crüe Fest. “That was one of the best tours we’ve ever been on,” says Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix, who performed in town earlier this week with Nickelback. “All of the bands were great, and the audiences were just alive every night. It was very exciting.”
And Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin, whose group is on Crüe Fest 2, notes that “this is probably the best tour we could’ve dreamed of. We’ve been hard at work trying to get a new record written and working in the studio. It was great, first off, to play with the legendary Mötley Crüe, and a nice way to poke your head out after being gone a little while.”
Of course, having to close a six-hour day of thumping hard rock can put a certain onus on a headliner, but Sixx says Crüe doesn’t feel that kind of pressure on Crüe Fest.
“Y’know, we’re used to it,” he explains. “We’ve played festivals since we were a very young band. We understand the lulls in the crowd. It’s a long day for fans and, hopefully, it’s been worth it. I haven’t hard any complaints from Mötley Crüe fans, I can tell you that.”
In fact, the Crüe has heard mostly positive shouts at the devil for the “Dr. Feelgood” segment, which recreates the band’s top-selling album — more than 7 million copies worldwide — from front to back. Sixx contends that the quartet didn’t realize it was the set’s 20th anniversary, but he says the group is having a good time tucking into “Dr. Feelgood” and even playing a couple of the songs it’s never brought to the stage before.
“It’s a cool concept for the fans,” Sixx says, “although when you do it, you realize that albums are put in order based on listening, not life performance. I think it would’ve been easier to not play the album in order, but I think we felt that was part of the whole concept, so it’s been an interesting challenge.”
Sixx says Crüe Fest 2 will not be documented like last year’s tour, which produced a DVD that debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Music Video chart. And he’s cautioning fans that they may have to wait awhile for a third Crüe Fest, since the band members are working on their own solo projects — including Sixx’s Sixx:AM and drummer Tommy Lee’s Methods of Mayhem — and then hope to get in the studio together for a new Mötley Crüe album to follow 2008’s “Saints of Los Angeles.”
“I feel like we’re ending being out for quite a long time, touring and (recording),” Sixx notes. “We’re really going away on a big high to start working on writing a new record and looking forward to the next Crüe Fest, which’ll probably be in 2011.”
But one day, he predicts, there may even be a Crüe Fest without Mötley Crüe.
“There have been offers and suggestions of other bands that were interesting in going out and doing Crüe Fest if we didn’t do it,” Sixx says. “There might be a day we don’t do it, a year we’re working on something else and somebody comes in and says ‘We want to do it.’
“We’ve heard there’s interest. It might be a bit young and premature to do that now, but it’s nice to hear it.”
Crüe Fest 2 takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 15) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Mötley Crüe, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool and Charm City Devils perform on the main stage; Rev Theory, Cavo, Shram, 16 Second Stare play the Monster Energy Stage. Tickets are $82.50 and $57 pavilion, $37 lawn with a $144 lawn six-pack. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to