Motley Crue is used to being a headliner on the road. But this summer the quartet has been happy to defer to the elder statesmen of Kiss.
"We did four or seven shows with them when we were first starting out, and that was such a thrill and an honor," says bassist Nikki Sixx. "We loved those guys. Kiss and Ozzy (Osbourne) gave us our first breaks on a big stage, so it's great to go out and play with these guys again."
The feeling is mutual, according to Kiss' Gene Simmons.
"The Motley guys put on a great show," he notes. "We took them out on their first tour, and they are a more proficient, professional band now, which makes us proud."
Both groups, of course, are known for their extravagant stage sets and stunts. But Sixx demures from a conversation about which one brings the best toys and eye candy for the fans.
"I think they're really different shows, to be honest with you," says Sixx, 53 (real name Frank Serafino). "Kiss is an extremely theatrical, well-oiled machine, and our machine is...a bit more chaotic. That's the best way to explain it.
"The main thing is it was important to both bands that the other band gets to deliver 100 percent of what they do. The whole spirit of this tour's been about giving the best show that we can give and doing it for the fans, and what I've been hearing from fans is, 'Man, I just saw TWO headliners!' There's no feeling they didn't get what they wanted from both bands."
While Kiss is starting to roll out tracks from its upcoming new album "Monster," those fans are also getting a bit of new music from the Crue. The group released a new song called "Sex" prior to the tour, distributing it for free to fan club members and subsequently putting it on sale online. "It takes time to put together music," Sixx explains. "We happened to have this song everyone was really excited about, so instead of saying, 'Let's add it to the pile of songs we have and we'll sort 'em out later,' we were, 'Hey, let's finish this one up.'
"We got it out there for the fans, for the tour, and it's exciting for the band to play something new. We love the classic and the hits, and I know the fans love that, too, but to be able to play something new is great."
But Sixx stops short of calling "Sex" a harbinger of a new Crue album, its first since 2008's "Saints of Los Angeles.
"Right now we're jut writing music," he says. "There's tons of material always there -- there's riffs for days, ideas, choruses here, verses there. For us, it's how many sons have written (and) how many do we love and what do we want to do with them? It's about finding the time to go home, be off the road, get everybody in a room and start riffing and see where it does."
Kiss, Motley Crue and The Treatment perform at 7 .m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $90.50 and $50.50 pavilion, $36 lawn with a $108 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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