Artist: Mötley Crüe
Mötley Crüe is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981. The band was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, who were later joined by lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil. Mötley Crüe has sold more than 80 million album copies worldwide, including 25 million in the U.S. The band members have often been noted for their hard-living lifestyles; all members have had numerous brushes with the law, have spent time in jail, have suffered long addictions to alcohol and drugs...
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Nikki Sixx Speaks Bass Guitar, Jun 2003
The Mötley Crüe survivor talks to Joel McIver about business manoeuvres, string-boiling and how saliva can make your bass sound better.
DEEP DOWN INSIDE, we all think were rock stars, dont we? Wed be lying if we said we hadnt at some time or other strapped on our beloved axe and struck a pose in front of the mirror. Not that most of us would actually enjoy living the life of the average rocker: the sweaty on-the-road existence of drugs, groupies and booze cant be all its cracked up to be. Can it?
And anyway, we have people like Mötley Crüe to do it for us . . .
Formed in LA in 1981, the Crüe were one of the first glam-metal bands and influenced countless other rock acts, from hairsprayed no-marks such as Poison and their laughable ilk to more credible bands such as Guns NRoses, Buckcherry and the Murderdolls. Over two decades, the foursome (Vince Neil, vocals; Mick Mars, guitar; Nikki Sixx, bass; and Tommy Lee, drums) issued eight studio albums plus live, rarities and best-of sets 11 of which have just been reissued by Universal and experienced highs and lows more extreme than almost any other living band.
For starters, Neil and Lee argued incessantly in the 1990s, with the singer replaced at one stage by Scream frontman John Corabi. After Vinces return, Lee himself departed the fold in 1998 to form Methods Of Mayhem, although his real fame comes from his, er, starring role in the infamous leaked home video he made with his wife, Pamela Anderson. All of them over-indulged in alcohol and less savoury drugs, too, with Sixx famously dying of a heroin overdose in 1987 (an adrenaline shot revived him and inspired him to write the song Kickstart My Heart). And all this was revealed in a 2001 book, The Dirt, an awe-inspiring tale of hedonism and depravity, which is soon to be made into a film.
Powerful stuff, and its all the more amazing that the now-cleaned-up Nikki Sixx, currently playing in a side-project called Brides Of Destruction, can remember it all. Just dont ask him what he thinks of volume pedals . . .
Theres been a lot of Crüe activity in the last couple of years.
There has, hasnt there? The book has been amazing, and Im really looking forward to seeing the script very shortly of the movie. Production on that will definitely start this year. No, we wont be playing ourselves, it needs to be unknown actors for the most part. The script was easy, the funding was easy, the partnership with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films was easy. Everybody was like, we wanna do it. All the majors wanted to do it. Finding the actors will be the hard part.
The bands story hardly needs dramatising, but in fact will the film jazz up the truth a little?
From talking to the writer, I think its a story of survival. Its based in rocknroll, but its not really much different than the story of, say, a guy who became the best soccer player in the world, and the chequered path he took getting there.
Whats the status of the band at the moment?
Well, we met a couple of years ago and said that when the movie was done, we would go out and support it, and do our best to put the original band back together. And if that happens Ill be really happy. If it doesnt, then I guess its just not meant to be.
The whole band including Tommy?
Yes, including Tommy. He lives right around the corner, we talk all the time.
Was it difficult to arrange the deal in 1998 which gave you complete control of your back catalogue?
Well, it didnt make the industry happy, heh heh. What we do is we license it to labels we believe could be the right distribution source. And at the end of the licensing period we either re-evaluate that relationship or we go somewhere else. And we continue to keep it in the bloodstream that way. Youll see Mötley on Universal and on other labels. Its still in the stores. Its just whoever wants to do the business with us.
Do you handle the legal side yourself?
I handle a lot of the day-by-day business, yeah. Ive always had my hands in everything with Mötley Crüe, I feel like its such a part of me that its important that I oversee everything. Mostly people are pretty happy with that.
Are you pleased with the new reissues?
Theyre fantastic. I think a lot of people will enjoy the bonus tracks. The concept to me is not to re-buy the records if you already have them: but if you are gonna buy them, theres some added value. Its a lot of work to find those tracks, you gotta dig deep. .
The first album, Too Fast For Love, still sounds very raw and punkish to this day.
Yeah. At the time, you know, we wanted it to sound better, but now I look back on it, I really was nailing my influences. I was pretty much blending in early AC/DC and Aerosmith with the Buzzcocks, the Pistols and all my pop influences. The shit I loved about Mott The Hoople lyrically, and Slade, all the stuff that I thought was pretty fuckin cool.
Was there much difference between the original recordings and the later version, which was reworked by Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker?
Well, I thought it would really make the record stand on its own, and it wouldnt be a lo-fi, basic, cheap demo. But you know, I think we lost a lot: theres something nice about the original album. Nice in that its real.
After that, did you have a specific sound in mind for each album?
Well, I knew that when the band was really focused we could get it right. Basically it was an evolutionary process.
How do you look back on John Corabis involvement?
It was an interesting chapter. And I think we made a really great record, although I dont know if we made a really good Mötley Crüe record.
Later on you got more experimental on Generation Swine.
Well, we all listened to a lot of different music. So when youre making a record youre almost being influenced by all sorts of things, but it still comes out sounding like Mötley Crüe. Like when the Stones do something thats country or reggae, it still sounds like the Stones. With us, whether its pop or punk or metal or experimental, it always comes out sounding like the Crüe.
What basses do you play?
Well, Ive been with Gibson for a long time, and Thunderbirds have been a big part of my life. There was a time when I played Specters, and I had them designed in the fashion of the Thunderbird, non-reverse and reverse. But in the last year Ive been playing these five-string Warwick Thumb basses. Oh my God. I cant pick my Thunderbirds up any more. I tell you,. I love that bass. Ive asked them to make me one with a little cooler body, so theyre mocking one up thats like an iron cross. So I can do an Ian Hunter, haha. But of course Im asking them to do me a Thunderbird one. Im not crazy about the body, but I got to tell you, Ill fuckin deal with that! Because its just so amazing. In the Brides Of Destruction I use that low string all the time. Whenever I use the low string my band smiles. We tune to D just like Mötley, which I didnt want to do, I wanted to tune to E because thats the key I write songs in. In Mötley we always played in D because Mick Mars said that was what we had to do. But my voice sounds better in E I dont like singing but I do when Im writing a song. But our guitarist Tracii Guns said, were tuning to D. He said, nobodys sounding like Mötley Crüe: were tuning to D!
What about six-string basses?
No, Ive played six-strings but theyre kinda useless! For me, I mean. Maybe in the right kind of music, but the Brides is pretty dirty.
Amps have been Ampeg SBTs for my whole career, but right now what Im playing through is two SBT cabinets with 8x10" speakers, one on each side of the drums, and then I have a Crown stereo power amp and an Eden Mike pre-amp. And thats what Im using, with totally flat EQ.
Do you like a clean sound?
No, I want it dirty and I want it to sound like a piano. Like that big piano low-end note. I overdrive it with my hand. I hit really hard, so it kind of does it on its own.
Do you use any pedals?
I dont use any right now but Im thinking of getting this thing by Line 6 called an amp simulator, my guitar player uses it. Its unbelievable! We have this song called Shut The Fuck Up and in the middle of the song theres this weird, Arabic-sounding guitar riff. He just hits it and plays with it, and theres his Marshall sound going on behind it, and its done so well compared to anything Ive heard in the past. We wanted to have the bass just blowing up, just going (makes distorted noise) and so Im trying to get them to spot me one.
Do you have a signature bass?
Yes, the Gibson Blackbird. Its a Thunderbird with the pickups screwed directly into the wood. All the foam and everything is taken out from behind the pickups. Its just flat black and has iron crosses in the neck. We took the volume knob off, I just have a toggle switch. You know, theres just no need to have any finesse if youre a bass player, haha. Not in my world! Theres no foreplay!
You dont use a volume pedal for soloing?
Fuck that! Its on or off. Why bother?
Youve said that you used to boil your strings when you were broke. Any tips for skint bassists?
Get a big pot, stick those fuckin strings in there and boil em for about five minutes. Pull them out with a drumstick and throw them on the floor. And throw em back on your guitar! Usually theres blood, sweat and bits of skin and spit and whatever gets thrown at you on them. And after a while you cant hear the bass but that fat, sweaty sound is the best. I used to say to my bass tech, never change my strings and never clean my bass. And hed come back and say, you know, theres a big loogie on your bass can I clean it off? And Id say no, heh heh. And hed say, why do you keep it? And Id say, because its mine.
ITS ALL THEIR FAULT
The bands that influenced Nikki Sixx most
I just loved the power of the guitars. It was snotty, and the songs were really written great. There was something about Noddy Holders voice which was addicting. I always liked singers who didnt sound like other singers. Hence Vince. Bob Dylan: cant sing. Love him. Springsteen: drives me crazy vocally. Love him. Ian Hunter: oh my God, he can barely fuckin croak. Love him. Vince Neil: average at best. Love him. Ozzy: love him. David Coverdale? Snore! Gimme Johnny Rotten.
I fuckin love the Pistols.
Huge. It was the slime all over it that I liked.
I love all of his albums but my favourite album of all time is Diamond Dogs. Of all time. To me its one of the greatest albums ever done, from top to bottom . . . Bowie blurred all the lines. I always felt that I had to run to catch up to him.
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mötley crues ner´w song by their new album saints of los angeles thesong called face down in dirt.
Second track from the Cd, Saints Of Los Angeles!!!! Comment AND rate.