(Interview with Nikki Sixx)
The following is a transcript of a conversation between Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx and Chris McKay. The interview took place on Tuesday, August 29, 2000. Sixx was at a hotel in Indianapolis.
Nikki Sixx: Hello?
Chris McKay: Hey, this is Chris McKay calling for Nikki Sixx.
NS: [clearing throat] How you doing?
CM: Hey, I'm alright. I've been having a hard time tracking you down, man.
NS: Yeah, I was doing something. I was on-line checking this email and I got lost.
CM: No problem, no problem. So what's up? How's it going on the tour?
NS: It's going good, man except for this bit of a cold today. Everything's good.
CM: Really, well that sucks. Um, well the tour doesn't. I actually saw the show
NS: Oh, you did.
CM: Yeah, I thought it was pretty rocking.
NS: Cool, man.
CM: The last time I saw you guys was about ten years ago, and I actually thought
you were about ten times better this time.
NS: Really? [sounding genuinely surprised]
CM: Yeah, I really do.
CM: I had a great time. So what's up with Randy? [Randy Castillo is the ex-Ozzy
Osbourne drummer who replaced Tommy Lee, but was sidelined by emergency surgery just
before the tour began.]
NS: Randy's coming back at the end of this leg which is over in... five days actually, and then we go home, and we're going to take just a little bit of time off because we haven't had any time off in about seven months. Yeah, and recharge the batteries and head out for Japan, Australia, Hawaii and then we'll be back home. We're going to start another U.S. tour, Canadian tour, Brazil, Europe... a lot of ground to cover.
CM: Wow, it sounds like a long time out. How long are you planning on being out
there for this record?
NS: You know, we'll probably stay out until September of next year, and then at that point... um, we'll probably put the band on hold for a few years. We've been going really hard and just [need to] recharge and take the time to write the right album songwriting wise and stuff.
CM: So how long did it take to put together this record?
NS: Three months including writing it.
CM: Was it different working with a new drummer in there?
NS: No, it was seamless. It was amazing.
CM: Well, Randy's a pretty amazing drummer... but Samantha [Samantha Maloney is
the drummer for Hole who is currently filling in for Randy Castillo.] seems to be kicking
pretty hard, too.
NS: She's awesome, man, and she came to the rescue, thank God.
CM: She had a great energy up there; she fit in really well with you guys. I was
actually surprised by how well she fit in. I hate to say it, but with a girl being in the
band, I thought it might change the dynamic or something, but she was wonderful.
NS: Right, right. She's a rocker.
CM: Changing gears a bit, what would people be surprised about being on tour
with Mötley Crüe?
NS: Probably by how much we work. I think people don't realize how much work we put into everything from the stage show to the radio stuff we do. You know, we play a lot of radio stations. We have very little time off. I think people would be surprised that at the end of the day we're just all so fried. People say like, "Hey, let's party!" And we're burnt!
CM: It's a pretty energetic show. The work definitely shows. You're out there
every night, but if you look around there are a lot of people declaring that rock is dead.
NS: Yeah. [laughing]
CM: So what's your opinion on the state of rock and roll right now?
NS: Well, I know it's a cliché, but it's been said and said again... you can't kill rock and roll. It's always going to be there. It's the one music that has sustained itself through every fad. Whether it was disco, alternative, rap rock, it's still here. Maybe it's not as popular as 'NSync this week, but next week... we don't know. It's a mainstay for people of all walks of life.
CM: You guys were considered really "dangerous and controversial" 10
or 15 years ago. The closest thing like that probably now are performers like Limp Bizkit
or Eminem. What do you think about those kind of artists?
NS: Are they dangerous?
CM: They're certainly looked at that way.
NS: Yeah, I don't know about dangerous... I've never heard Eminem before, and Limp Bizkit's pretty cool. They're okay. I've got to say that I prefer singers who sing over more growling rapping. I think that I was really excited about [rap-rock] five or six years ago, but it's just gotten a bit redundant. It seems like every album sounds the same. So it's a little bit difficult for me to make a positive or negative statement, because I keep weeding through record stores trying to find something that kicks my ass the way Queen did the first time, or the way Cheap Trick did, or the way Aerosmith or The Stones have. You know, that's what I consider to be something that people can listen to. If you're making a music that is really fad oriented, the problem is when that fad goes out, your life span's over. I do agree that there's fast food music out there, and it's just like Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch or The Partridge Family. All these bands come and they go, and do what they do. I think the real story is the ones that last 20, 30 years. That's a story. The story isn't two years and two records. It's sort of like when Marilyn Manson put a book out. And it was like, but there's nothing to write about. [laughs] He hasn't done anything, he's got, like, one album. To me, stories have to have depth and bands have to have history, and people have to have controversy. I think that some of these bands are starting, but whether or not they last... if they do, God bless them.
CM: Do you think Mötley Crüe is still "dangerous" or have you become
NS: I don't know what people think about us, and to be honest with you, I don't care as long as they listen to the music and go "I get it" or "I don't get it," but whatever they do, they listen to the music. You can't listen to a Mötley Crüe album and not go "Those are great songs." Whether you like the band or not, I have no power over that, but is it dangerous? Is it sexual? Is it sexist? I don't know, it's just rock and roll.
CM: What are you listening to right now in your CD player?
NS: Um, if I go through my... hold on. [sounds of unzipping] Let me see here... in my CD case I've got Aerosmith Draw The Line, Jeff Buckley, JoDee Messina, Guano Apes, first Aerosmith album, Physical Graffiti by Zeppelin, Imagine by John Lennon, Queens Of The Stone Age, Eleven, Skynyrd's Gimme Back My Bullets, P.J. Harvey, Hole's Celebrity Skin, Rasputina, Faith Hill, Mazzy Star, got some AC/DC High Voltage, Whitesnake's Slide It In, and what's next here? What is that? Aerosmith Rocks. [sounds of zipping] I listen to quite a variety.
CM: What makes Mötley Crüe stand apart and different from all the other bands
from the '80s that are back out there now?
NS: I don't know. I always kind of never understood that '80s thing myself, because we came out before everybody else and we're still here. So that kind of doesn't make us an '80s band. Does that make us a '90s band, a new millennium band? We've been making music for 20 years, and we just do what we do. Whether or not anybody else copies us or doesn't copy us or is influenced by us doesn't really have any impact on us, because we're very narcissistic as a band. We really only care about ourselves. I really don't care about anybody else. I either listen to people's music or I don't.
CM: Who did you steal from when you were first starting out?
NS: The Stones, New York Dolls, Pistols, Ramones, Buzzcocks.
CM: Is there anybody out there that you think stole from you?
NS: There's this band. I forget what they're called. Maybe it's The Deftones, I don't know. Some band's riff to their single is the exact riff from "Starry Eyes" from our first album.
CM: That was back when I was into you guys, the first few records, before I grew
old and cynical.
NS: [laughs] I think that you can't be in a band and not listen to a generation of bands before you. When you're growing up, that's what you're listening to. Now, those bands are out there doing their own thing. Let's see what they're doing in 20 years.
CM: What, from your entire history, would be your favorite Mötley Crüe song?
NS: I really like the song "Primal Scream" a lot. That song has a special meaning for me, a special feeling. I don't know what it is about the song. I really like the new song "Treat Me Like A Dog." It just cracks me up. It's so fun.
CM: It's almost Spinal Tap. When I heard that song on the record, I must admit I
was thinking of Spinal Tap. However, in the live environment you managed to pull it off.
NS: There's so much humor with us.
CM: Yeah, I was chuckling in the audience at that and it rocked at the same time
which is a hard thing to pull off. Speaking of the show, how do you manage to pick a set
list out of all of your material when you've only got 15 or 20 songs that you can play at
a given show?
NS: It changes from night to night songwise. We have a few times in the show where we just wing it, and basically we have some that we have to play. You know, I think the thing is that we've been touring so much in the last five years that for us it's about getting through this last bit of tour. Then when we go back to recharge, it'll be time to ask ourselves "What do we want to play live?" I mean Aerosmith's always going to play "Draw The Line." They're always going to play "Back In the Saddle." Mötley Crüe's going to always play "Girls, Girls, Girls." There's no other way around it. People would be disappointed. When bands come out and don't play songs people want to hear, at least those ones that are mainstays on radio and stuff, I think that's stupid.
CM: What about stuff like "Smokin' In the Boys' Room"? You ignored
that one in Atlanta?
NS: We do play it sometimes. It's just like you said, there's only so many songs and sometimes we get burned out on songs, and don't play it. There's a certain amount of songs that we have to play.
CM: Honestly, if you're going to do a cover, I never got to hear you play
"Helter Skelter" live before so I was happy to hear that one instead.
NS: Well, that's cool.
CM: It's been 20 years now. What's kept you going so long?
NS: I love it! I don't have a really intelligent answer other than that's what I do.
CM: When you're taking this break, how do you feel like you're going to be able
NS: I'm going to completely disconnect, and try to do some of the things in life that we never get to do. That will recharge me in a way that when I come back, I'll be so full of energy. It's very depleting [being on the road]. It's very wearing, and it's very abusive to the body, the soul, the mind. I wake up and my fingers are bloody. My arms are bruised. I'm stiff and I can't move, because I abuse myself on-stage.
CM: Is it worth it?
NS: It's worth it because I love it, but it's like anything else. Like a race car, you can only run it at 250 miles an hour around that track for so long before you've got to stop off and get some fuel. It doesn't make the car any less valid. You know, bands like The Stones and Aerosmith, they take five years off.
CM: When you were talking about doing the things that you never get to do, did
you mean family and a normal life or what?
NS: I mean, it could be everything from family to simply just decompressing and being able to write music not under a dark pressure cooker.
CM: I guess that explains 58. [Nikki's "glam-hop" side band with
producer Dave Darling and Barry Gibb's son]. That's a great record.
NS: Thank you.
CM: Are you going to do anything with that or go any further into that area?
NS: I'm not going to tour. I have no intention at this time of doing any touring with it. I will make another 58 record. It's such a freedom. Me and David just get together and bang it out. We had a lot of fun doing it, but I was telling my wife the other day. I can't wait to go home and be able to just go into my studio and have her go "Wow, that's really cool. Who are you writing that for?" Nobody. To write music is sometimes the most fulfilling thing that can happen to an artist. To be able to go, "Okay, I'm writing the next Mötley Crüe record or 58 record, that just sometimes depletes you. You sometimes just put so much into it, and sometimes just taking a drum loop and some crazy outboard gear and just going crazy and having no intention of anybody ever hearing it [is what you need to do].
CM: Which is kind of the way the 58 record comes across.
NS: Well, it does. That's how that was done. That's possibly how the next album will be written.
CM: The next Mötley Crüe album?
NS: Who knows? It won't sound like 58. I'm just saying instead of being so geared towards "Okay, we're going to go write an album and then we're going to go record and then we're going to go tour." I'm saying I'm going to go home and do fucking nothing.
CM: Do you ever get the desire to write a deep, philosophical, introspective
NS: Who knows? I like the idea of not knowing.
CM: Bands like The Stones take off years and work on side projects and that
seems to be the direction that at least you are headed for with Mötley Crüe.
NS: Yeah, that's definitely where the band wants to go. I think that by another five or 10 years people are going to stop having that little bit of doubt that they want to have for some reason with certain bands. You know, it's like "What are you going to be doing in 10 years, Nikki Sixx?" And I'm like "Playing in Mötley Crüe, what the fuck do you think I'm going to be doing?" [laughs] And then they go "Well, can you keep doing it?" And I go, "Has anybody else been doing it this many years that you can think of besides the greatest bands?" And the answers always like "Well, yeah, I guess you're right." I mean, do you think Slaughter's going to be doing this in 10 years? God forbid!
CM: Let's hope that in a few years bands like KISS and Alice Cooper will be in
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which those guys have been shut out from so far. Do you
feel like you're in there with those groups? You've got the show, you've got the longevity
and you've got the material to back you up. Maybe some other people will realize that.
NS: Yeah, it's coming. In time it will happen.
CM: Do you feel "classic" at this point?
NS: Classic? Oh, God. [laughs] The band kind of lives our lives pretty close to the one day at a time theory. It (doesn't) really work so well to constantly be looking backwards or looking forwards. You miss a lot of moments that are happening right now.
CM: Use it or lose it, huh?
CM: Here's one more for you. Who's idea was it to blast Frank Zappa's "Crew
Slut" before the show. That was really cool.
NS: We've used that for years.
CM: I guess that shows how long it's been since I've seen you. I actually saw
Donna [D'Errico, Nikki's wife and former Playboy Playmate and "Baywatch"
star] beside the stage singing along with that one.
NS: [laughing] Did you? That's great.
CM: Well, good luck, and thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me.
NS: You got it.
CM: Maybe I'll get to talk to you again at some point.
NS: Okay, definitely.
CM: Thanks a lot, Nikki.
NS: Thanks, bud.