Interview with Nikki Sixx in part 1. Discussion with Vince Neil in part 2. This interview contains strong language.
Q&A with Nikki Sixx from his car phone
Sheila Rene': Hello, Nikki. I hope this works.
Nikki Sixx: I have no choice since I don't have any time in my life.
SR: Where are you headed?
NS: To rehearsal.
SR: Let me tell you this is one killer album for me.
NS: Thank you.
SR: I loved seeing you on the American Music Awards. We were jumping up and down at my house.
NS: Yeah, we had a good time, too. It was actually more fun not being there because of the production value we put into the presentation going out to television land. That to me was very cool. We really spent some time with Dick Clark getting the unique production. No one's ever projected to the world what we projected. They always just go on and play really crisp, mean and clean. We really wanted to take over the television.
SR: You did that. You got everyone's attention.
NS: That was the point.
SR: It album starts off with someone saying "Destroy!" Who is that? It sounds so Flash Gordon to my ears. I was screaming YES! YES! YES!. I was so excited that my cat, Led Zeppelin ran out of the room.
NS: Yeah, laughing, I don't know where we stole that from. It was from some old movie or something. I can't remember. It might be Lon Chaney's voice.
SR: "Find Myself" is my favorite but there are so many more.
NS: Oh, you dig it?
SR: You bet.
NS: Cool. The album takes you on a journey.
SR: Is that you singing on "Brandon?"
NS: No, that's Tommy. I'm singing on "Rocketship." I'm singing the low voice on "Find Myself" during the verse.
SR: I love that voice you get. Is that you on "Beauty" as well?
NS: That's Vince. It's a little Iggy Pop thing.
SR: I just love that voice. In 1992 Vince is out and January 14, 1993 our friend from Scream is in. What happened that made you guys get back together. Who put up the white flag?
NS: Who put up what?
SR: Who put up the white flag first? When you surrender?
NS: Oh, you know, I don't know. It just kinda happened. Everyone makes a bigger deal out of it than it is. It just happened. We're into making music. We looked at our history and realized that we had done some pretty cool stuff together. We talked and it just happened. It wasn't any kind of master plan, I'll put it like that. I think some people assume that it's a bigger deal than it is. We're just a rock band.
SR: Okay, I'll agree with that. I just think the whole theme of "Generation Swine" is a cool one. You nail this generation right there. We all want our stuff but we have to give back.
NS: (lost the phone line) Just to be able to communicate one on one is phenomenal.
SR: Was the recording of this album one of the easiest you've done?
NS: It was the most fun. I don't know about easy. The easiest album is the first one. After that it gets progressively more and more difficult because you have to push your own envelope to create. If that's the kind of artist you are and you don't want to repeat yourself.
SR: I would think for sure that you guys could record and produce yourself quite easily.
NS: It's nice to have another ear. It's nice to have outside help. Egotistically, yeah that's cool. We did it all. Conceptually, it's nice to have other people involved in the project. We need to know when enough is enough in their opinion. Teamwork is everything.
SR: "Shout At The Devil '97" was reworked. How?
NS: That was a blast. We took the basic track and sped the track up. Tommy went in and cut a whole new feel to the drums then I went in and turned off the guitars, but left the lead vocal alone. We wrote a new verse to the song then Mick went in and played over the top of that and then Vince went in to add embellishments. We all did the shouts and added some loops and samples then we mixed. It. It went very quickly. It only took a couple of days.
SR: I love all the industrial kind of texture you get on these songs.
NS: It's kinda funny. We hear industrial and to us it's a whole different animal. It's just embellishment that's added to the tunes. Someone said we were a blues band on "Girls Girls Girls" because some of our blues roots were showing. I think showing your roots or an interest in something is different than becoming it.
SR: Exactly. I'm really excited to win my "Generation Swine" jacket. I did my homework and I'm ready to get down. I've got my 45 second down. I've been practicing. All the Internet fans are getting serious about winning.
NS: (laughing) I think it's a blast. We're having a good time with it.
SR: What are you looking forward at this point?
NS: Breaking rules.
SR: Will you carry a big stage out with you?
NS: I mean everything is comparative with what happens with the album. If the album is what we expect it to be, the production will follow in Motley Crue tradition.
SR: In retrospect, was there one thing any of you could have done to stave off the breakup?
NS: Who knows and who cares?
SR: I care.
NS: I'm here now, man. I live in the present.
SR: I missed you.
NS: You know there's a reason for everything. A kid falls down, scrapes his knees and the kid cries. Everyone says 'poor kid.' No, not poor kid. The kid just learned a lesson, tie your shoelaces.' Everything is a lesson, man. I don't have any regrets in life. I've never said anything that I'll apologize for. You move forward with the speed that you feel comfortable moving with; and, if other people aren't comfortable with that, that's their own insecurities. You just have to be prepared to take the consequences, as it says in Primal Scream, you know. You want to live life on your own terms, you've got to be willing to crash and burn. That's exactly what I was willing to do it and willing to crash and burn over it.
SR: Are you happier at this point in your life?
NS: I'm happier every day whether I'm in Motley Crue or I'm a construction worker. I'm happy and I have my set of standards that I refuse to bow to not being a perfectionist and not being loyal and driven. I'm a pretty happy camper. I'm a stubborn motherf**ker. I refuse to lose. Losing is not an option for me. Whether it's writing a better song or putting out a better album or putting on a better show or standing up for what I believe in no matter how many people it gets up their ass. I just refuse to lose and it's a standard of excellence has become a Motley Crue tattoo. It's something to wear with pride. The four of us wear it the best. Together. It's a certain, undeniable chemistry. I'm very proud it.
SR: It suits me just fine.
NS: It suits me just fine.
SR: What bass did you use on this album?
NS: I usually use a Gibson Thunderbird. I'm pretty much a straight-ahead guy then I give the bass its anarchy via attitude. I play it according to the need of the song. It's very easy to change the sound of a bass with a simple aggressive register. Maybe just plugging into a distortion pedal or compress it a little but keeping it really clean. The bass is not quite as complex an instrument as the guitar where you have to go with 13 or 14 different guitars, tones and amps. Mick went through a whole combinations for each song. He gave each song a tone of it's own. Each song has a different vibe.
SR: I love all the different tones and textures.
NS: Of course, we're not able to duplicate that texture live, so that's why for the last ten or 12 years we've used a lot of sequencers and lot of tape and embellishments live. It's funny because I see these other bands who do the same thing and they won't admit it. They won't admit it and it's like they're cheating or something. We just bust up laughing, and of course now it's becoming a little more the norm and a lot more bands are using it. I think whatever you do, man...If I go to see a band live they'd better blow my f**kin' skirt up. I've seen so many bands lately and it's like watching paint drying. It sounds horrible. The way I see it is that every drop of f**kin' energy must go into making it sound great, look as great and be as chaotic as possible. You've got to have that f**kin' tension, it's part of the sound. You have to do what you have to do. I'm not going out there with one guitar player, one bass player, one drummer and one singer and be able to create a song like "Flush" with all the sequencing and all the tonal qualities that Mick has done. We played it and we'll just have a machine play it along with us.
SR: I love it.
NS: Yeah, man it's awesome.
SR: I had a problem back in the '80s with those same bands.
NS: The bands in the '80s just f**kin' wreaked. (laughing)
SR: Are you ready that they're all coming back?
NS: Awww, you know, they're going to wreak just as hard. I never had anything to do with those bands. I'm a punk rocker. What do I have in common with those bands?
SR: Who are you listening to these days?
NS: There are some f**kin' killer bands out there. I love the Wildheart's record. Have you heard the Japanese version of that album?
NS: Not their greatest hits album? Oh, my god, the f**kin' double album thing is insane. Manic Street Preachers is one of my favs, love Garbage and God Lives Underwater. Bands that don't push their own envelope bore me. I like a lot of hip hop because I like to groove. I like De La Soul. They're probably my favorite band now. Nobody that I grew up on is doing anything creative today.
SR: Weren't you supposed to work with House of Pain at some time?
NS: We were, yeah. I think they broke up. I haven't heard from them in so long. The last time we talked they weren't getting along too well. Word on the street is that they kicked it.
SR: You have to get along when you're working so closely. Did you guys write any new rules?
NS: Communicate. That's what I was saying about nobody I grew up on is doing anything that's blowing my mind. A band like Aerosmith, one of my all-time favorite bands, they just made an album worse than Foreigner. Come on guys, you're f**kin' Aerosmith. You guys have got the balls to do. f**kin' make a record that'll blow everyone's mind. Take a chance. Get rid of these bubblegum songwriters. The guys who wrote "Walk This Way" and "Dream On" do not need songwriters.
SR: That kills me too.
NS: It breaks my heart to hear a song like their first single "Falling Down Is Hard On Your Knees" or whatever it's called ("Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees"). I just go 'Nooooo, man. Come on guys, you're f**kin' Aerosmith. You're the bad ass motherf**kers! You hear the song they did for that "Sargeant Peppers" movie and the music they're doing now and you just have to hang your head. I'm not going to be that band. We're going to keep pushin' and pushin'. We may lose some people. They may say 'Well, I wish they sounded just like "Girls Girls Girls". When we did that song people's eyebrows were all crunchy. They didn't know what the f**k we were doing at that point? What's all this crazy groove shit with all these gospel singers and street f**kin' things? We came out with Theatre Of Pain and it was about mainlining cocaine and we were on a hallucinogenic trip from hell. Somewhere along the way people thought we were a glam band. We were f**kin' high. We were a f**kin' dope band. We were The Dolls, man, on more drugs. Confusion.
SR: I know you're healthy today. I interviewed you guys through the years, I saw what was happening and I worried about you.
NS: I'm very healthy today. We were pretty messed up as in anything else we do whether it's tattoos or our opinions or the way we present ourselves musically or with drugs. We do it so full-on that we can never look back and say 'We weren't the most intense.' All I want is to be the most. The biggest, the fastest, the loudest, the rudest. I want to be everything. I want to be the lover, the hater, the f**kin' drug addict. I want to be the cleanest. I need to get high on extremes. I can't relate to just being mediocre.
SR: Any plans to give back something to the fans.
NS: That's the listening events. Right now a lot of fans are asking since it's been a long time and you should do these things for free. Our opinion is 'you know what? Let's not do 'em for free. Let's charge and whatever money is left over, since we're going to have to put some into production, we're working for free. We'll just donate whatever money is left over to the Skylar Neil Foundation. We're more into asking our fans to help us help the people who need the help more often. We get the music out on the Internet early. Doing stuff for the fans financially is not as cool as doing things for the fans musically. We all have a life and everyone has to take care of that issue in their own life. We try to keep the ticket prices within reason and keep the quality of the concerts up so that it's really an awesome event. It isn't going to be four guys staring at their shoes, bummed out. That's the key to the Crue right there. Full on.
Q&A with Vince Neil
SR: Good to hear from you Vince. What's happening after the listening parties. All sold out in six minutes.
VN: We're going to Europe just to do one show in Copenhagen and then take the month of July off. Toward the end of July we start gearing up for the world tour. We start in Japan in August and then the arenas in October.
SR: Is there a story about the getting back together? Sixx played it down.
VN: He's right. We're just a rock band not rocket scientists. It just happened.
SR: Motley Brue. Is it out? I'm having a problem finding it. What a great idea. Ozzy is selling personally blessed Holy Water at the OzzFest.
VN: (laughing) That's funny. The Brue is out in underground shops, coffee houses and surf shops. It should be easy to find.
SR: Most of the songs were written by Tommy and Nikki; although, they say that some of the last written are the best ones.
VN: Everybody had a collective part of all the songs. I'm proud of all the songs that I sing.
SR: These are some of the best sing-a-long songs I've heard lately.
VN: Yeah, there are some great songs in this batch.
SR: You guys are working on a radio station idea?
VN: It's not a radio station. We had an idea of doing a pirate radio station, but it's a lot harder to put together than we thought. I don't know what'll happen with that. One of these days we'll put it together...Radio Free Swine will have to wait a while.
SR: The Internet debut is on the 23rd. You've got Letterman and Stern on the same week.
VN: We did Stern last week. It was lots of fun.
SR: Are you touring with a keyboardist?
VN: No, Tommy plays piano when it's needed.
SR: You've got a Hustler cover happening.
VN: It'll be November/December I think.
SR: You're such a golfer. You've done so much to help other people with your tournaments for charity. What's your take on our newest hero, Tiger Woods?
VN: I think it's awesome. He's one of the best things to happen to the game in years. I haven't had a chance to meet him yet.
SR: I bet you'd love to play with him sometime.
VN: You bet. He has brought so much to the sport where you get people out of the golf courses these days. There hasn't been so many sell-outs in a long time. This hasn't happned in 20-30 years. He's bringing a lot of young people to the sport as well.
SR: Tell me about your take on the Internet?
VN: It's the '90s. Pretty soon there won't be paper left. No one is going to need it.
SR: I don't buy that and I don't buy Musician Magazine's story that the Internet will destroy the live concert.
VN: I haven't read the article. The thing is that you'll never see a whole concert. You may see parts of a couple of songs, but that's it. The only thing that could happen would be a pay-per-view thing. It'll never replace live performances. That's what it's all about.
SR: I just can't say enough about this new album. The more I listen the more I like.
VN: Oh, thanks. We'll see you on the road.
SR: I've received a lot of E-mails raving about you and the music. Many believe you're the greatest singer in the world and say that they'll support you in anything you want to do.
VN: Oh, thanks so much. That's great to hear.
SR: Good luck on hitting the charts big. I love you.
VN: Thanks, Sheila. I love you too.