On the Road Again with Motley Crue
Posted July 18, 2012
Bad first impression: The last time Mötley Crüe went on the road with Kiss, the Crüe got kicked off the tour. At least that's the way Nikki Sixx remembers it. "That's what we were told," the Crüe bassist says. "But when I mentioned it to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, they don't remember it that way." Whatever happened, Mötley Crüe lasted only a handful of dates on Kiss' 1983 Creatures of the Night tour. At the time, rumors swirled that Sixx had gotten caught having sex with then-drummer Eric Carr's girlfriend. "We definitely did do stuff like that back in the day," Sixx says.
Two times the spectacle: With the bands together again after 29 years, the 43-date Mötley Crüe/Kiss tour that kicks off Friday in Bristow, Va., is "not a co-headline but a double headline" bill, Sixx says. The groups collaborated on a stage that incorporates each act's more spectacular elements, like Tommy Lee's drum roller coaster and Kiss's rising platforms. But they want to keep elements of the two productions from overlapping, so don't be surprised if the Crüe goes light on the blood this time around. "Gene has been doing the blood thing since I saw them when I was 14 years old, so we're obviously going to be respectful of that," says Sixx, 53. When it comes to blowing up stuff, though, there's no problem: "We both perceive pyrotechnics in an entirely different way."
Crüe's control: With all the pyro, the bandmates have to be sure they hit their marks. "We have to be at a certain place on the stage, or we will go up in flames," Sixx says. Occasionally, the band has to watch out for overzealous fans, too. One got on stage and "took off in a dead sprint" at guitarist Mick Mars, who has ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease of the spine. "I don't think it was malicious, but he put his head down, jumped and actually tackled Mick Mars. Mick went down, his head hit the monitor, his guitar flew off his body. The second that happened, Vince Neil, me and Tommy all jumped the guy. It was scary to see. If the fan had gotten on stage at the wrong time, he could have gotten hurt."
Beyond the stage: In his spare time on the road, Sixx hosts his syndicated radio show, Sixx Sense, and tries to find time for his photography (he published a book of photographs, titled This Is Gonna Hurt, in 2011). "I've got a couple of bikes" he takes along for days off. "I head to the bowels of whichever city I'm in and hope to dig up something moving. Any time I can get off the beaten path, that's when my heart takes off as a photographer."
The rock 'n' roll life, circa 2012: Mötley Crüe fans who lived vicariously through tales of hedonistic exploits during the group's early days might feel let down if they encountered Sixx after one of the band's shows now. "You'd probably be fighting me for the remote to the History Channel," Sixx says. "At the end of a day that starts at 7 o'clock in the morning, I've been going for 15 hours. In the old days, I would amp it up with a line of blow or whatever else was available and keep it going through the night. To be honest with you, I had a hard time being able to write and tour and not be completely burnt out and on the brink of some kind of breakdown."
Unplugged: But the downtime has its upside. "Now I'm able to do so many different things, not only just being a father and being in a really healthy relationship with my girlfriend. The radio show is something I put a lot of time into. I have two bands (Mötley Crüe and Sixx: A.M.), both of them very successful in different ways. At the end of the day, I pull the plug out of the wall. That's the only way I can keep going."
Wire to wire: Since releasing first album Too Fast for Love in 1981, Mötley Crüe has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide. And the group has a new single, Sex, ready for the tour. But Sixx says he knew he had found his life's desire in a rehearsal room in Burbank, Calif., before all of that. "We were showing Vince, with pen and a piece of paper, a song called Live Wire. And I said, 'Mick, play that part.' I sang him the melody line and said, 'Do you want to try it?' He said, 'I got it,' and he grabbed the mike. We played the song top to bottom, first time ever together, perfect. I knew this is everything I've ever wanted in this three minutes and 27 seconds. You know we've never played a show and not played that song?"
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