"I'm dying for rock and roll to become exciting again"
Tonight, the grand rock and roll triumvirate of Motley Crue, Poison, and the New York Dolls pulls into the Toyota Center. Each band comes armed with decades of experience, great songs, and a boatload of modern influence, including the Dolls, who helped create glam-rock, punk rock, and made a world of men dress like women from 1971 on. They all got laid too.
As for the other two, they helped draw a line in the '80s glitter between what most saw as harmless pop-metal (Poison), and gruesomely sleazy cock-rock (Motley Crue). This year the Crue is celebrating its 30th year in operation, which is astounding, considering the whole band is still alive.
Yesterday, we told you about all the stories in their book The Dirt and Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries, and the the band's other literary works. If you have read those, you understand that the gods of rock have been leading them with a steady hand away from the afterlife.
A few weeks back, Rocks Off talked to Sixx as the band was gearing up for this massively scaled tour, which Sixx said was built for maximum value. In the face of the economic downturn, he said, rock and roll has a duty to be affordable. After all, it is the best medicine.
Rocks Off: So I follow you on Twitter, and so it seems I know everything going on with you. I get to see you talking to Tommy and Vince. It's like a little inside Crue world.
Nikki Sixx: It's fun, right? I enjoy it. I love communicating with the fans and fucking around on there. I enjoy it.
RO: I think I get drunk sometimes and try to talk to you. Ask to write The Dirt movie...
NS: I think a lot of people do that! It's a really interesting thing, social media. I don't believe that I would have any sort of filter in the '80s if I had that technology. It would have been an absolute train-wreck (laughs)...
RO: So this is the 30th anniversary of the band. How does it feel to be on top of the mountain?
NS: It's interesting when you stick around and you make music and you perform, and it becomes such a part of you, and it is you. Like a tattoo. Other people see it and I look in the mirror and don't see it, but then I walk on the street and people say "Look at that guy covered in tattoos, he's crazy-looking."
You forget that you do this thing called Motley Crue and all these projects because you are in them all the time.
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RO: Being around 30 years, you guys can get one of your biggest influences, the New York Dolls, to open for you...
NS: To me, that is the reason for the tour, the Dolls doing it. Them and the fans were the ones that closed it the deal. The fans really asked for Motley Crue to tour with a band that they wanted to see, different than what we had done before.
We've done Godsmack, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, but they were like "We love it, but we want to see a band that is packed with hit singles too." They said Def Leppard, Poison, Guns N Roses, and the fans were the ones that voted.
We talked to David Johansen and the other guys in the Dolls now, and they were on, and we talked to Bret Michaels and he said "Let's do it." It's just a great package.
RO: Knowing your history, it has to be a thrill for someone like you to be able to show kids the Dolls every night.
NS: I think it's our responsibility that when we do interviews to talk about how important these bands were. I grew up in the '70s, and great bands came out of the '70s, and you are hard-pressed to find bands that measure up to some of those standards. There are exceptions, of course. I look at bands today like Muse, who are definitely raising the standard, musically, living in the world that Queen was in. That's exciting because Queen was a huge influence to me.
Seeing bands like the Dolls still out there still doing it makes me scratch my head and ask why there are not more rock stars. Why are there not bands out there putting on a show, writing great songs and putting on a production? I don't understand why more bands aren't doing it. I'm dying for rock and roll to become exciting on a multitude of levels again.
RO: What is your favorite New York Dolls song?
NS: I always say "Personality Crisis" because I related to it when I was kid, but also one of the greatest songs they had was a song sung by Johnny Thunders, "Chatterbox." Such a great song, so well-written.
But there are so many great bands out there that don't get mainstream airplay. Slade was one, Mott the Hoople was one. There are great bands out there, some of them that never make it, but that doesn't mean they weren't great.
The really important message to young artists is, look at Motley Crue, Poison, and the New York Dolls; we're going to got out there and play a really amazing amount of top-notch songs, from "Personality Crisis" to "Kickstart My Heart." There is also a higher calling. Look at the standard. Let's see bands do this and put 110 percent in. I'm frustrated with seeing bands that don't put 110 percent in.
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RO: Hearing that makes my heart sink, thinking that I missed so much cool stuff, and that YouTube won't do it justice for younger kids that weren't there.
NS: I miss it. I need it. Me and my friend were watching old UFO YouTube videos, that stuff with Michael Schenker and Pete Way on bass. That band was scary. That had it all, that sound, that guitar, that rock-star vibe. That's what we all love, and talking to Bret I know that's what Poison loves too.