Tommy Lee says Motley Crue’s current tour is “special because it’s another Crue tour and it’s summertime, man. That’s always special.”
But there’s more to it than that this year.
The tour commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles hard rock quartet’s debut album, “Too Fast For Love.” The group — whose adventures and particularly misadventures since then are rock ’n roll legend and are chronicled in the 2001 band memoir “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” — is celebrating by playing its greatest hits throughout the summer, but the mark has given the Crue members a degree of pause.
“It’s a weird thing to say, ‘We’ve been together for 30 years,’” says frontman Vince Neil, 50, who served a 10-day sentence for drunken driving in Nevada earlier this year. “That’s quite an accomplishment, if you look back at what we’ve gone through as a band. And we’re still out there, selling tickets.”
Lee, who rides a 360-degree drum roller coaster during the shows, adds that “it definitely feels like less” than 30 years. “Sometimes it feels like it should feel like 30 years,” he explains, “but there’s other days where you’re like, ‘Dude, it just feels like a few years ago we were getting all this going.’
“Then you look out in the audience and there’s some 14-year-old kid on his dad’s shoulders, singing ‘Shout at the Devil.’ You’re like, ‘What?! That kid wasn’t born when that song came out. What is happening?!’ I pinch myself a lot, you know?”
Lee, 48, is also excited about both of the groups, Poison and the New York Dolls, accompanying the Crue on the road this summer. “I’m really excited about the Dolls,” he notes. “They were in that handful of early inspirations when we were all 17 and 18 years old, looking at their style and their music. So it’s cool to go on tour with them.”
As for Poison, a onetime rival on the Sunset Strip scene during the ’80s, Lee says, “I never really got into all that ... rivalry or feud.”
“Just go up and bang out your tunes, dude. Who cares about anything else? I really don’t.”
The Crue, which has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide, last released a set of new music in 2008 with “Saints of Los Angeles.” That’s on the docket, too, although the group work has been waylayed by various solo projects, including Lee’s second album with his band Methods of Mayhem and bassist Nikki Sixx’s new Sixx: AM album and book, both titled “This is Gonna Hurt.” But Lee hopes being on the road will instigate some creativity within the band.
“When the four of us are together, which we will be in the summer, that’s usually when it goes down,” he says. “We record sound checks with new ideas. I always have a studio on my bus. So I would imagine we’ll start compiling ideas this summer.
“It’s almost like you’ve got to get away from home to start writing music. That’s crazy, isn’t it?”
New York Dolls
Just a few years ago, David Johansen could not have guessed his New York Dolls would actually be an active concern when the group’s 40th anniversary rolled around — especially not after the original incarnation of the group flamed out in 1976.
But the group has been back together and thriving since 2004, and this year it released its fifth studio album, and third since the reunion, “Dancing Backward in High Heels.”
“It’s hard to surprise me, but I’ve been pleased,” says Johansen, 61, who played solo and as his alter ego Buster Poindexter during the interim. “Everybody in the band is really bringing it and playing their best, and people out there are really getting into it. The main thing is to be sensible about this and not be hasty. We want to keep having fun with it.”
Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, the two remaining members of the Dolls’ founding lineup, recorded “Dancing Backward” in Newcastle, England, with Louis XIV frontman and current Dolls member Jason Hill producing. Hill, Johansen says, “had very definite ideas about the way it should sound,” which the singer was happy about because he and Sylvain came into the sessions with “very few” ideas of their own.
“We’re procrastinators,” Johansen explains. “We showed up with very little stuff. We just started recording before we had any ideas — we had ideas, but we didn’t know where they were going. It was more like we created the whole thing from scratch.
“But we’ve done that before. I think we’ve got it into our skulls that we can assume the producer will make sure the record comes in on the prescribed date — that’s a nice way of saying, ‘Let him worry about it.’ And I think (Hill) did a brilliant job.”
Motley Crue, Poison and the New York Dolls perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50-$99.50 pavilion, $29.50 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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