Rock Chronicles. 1980s: Motley Crue

artist: motley crue date: 05/10/2008 category: rock chronicles
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Rock Chronicles. 1980s: Motley Crue
When: Late 1983 Where: Elektra Records offices on La Cienega Boulevard, a main thoroughfare running north/south. It bisects Sunset Boulevard just a few blocks west of the infamous Continental Hyatt/Riot House, the place where rock bands stayed, played, and sometimes decayed. What: Shout At the Devil had just been issued and Elektra was setting up press. The entire band was supposed to have been present but only Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil were there. The bassist would later disappear but not before Mick Mars showed up. So, for a few minutes three of the four were there. Then, Nikki vanished completely. No, that's incorrect. Nikki kept answering the phone when it rang. We were in one of the publicity offices and every time the phone blasted, Sixx would pick it up and play-pretend he was an employee. It turns out that one of these calls was actually for him but I may be imagining that. That's why I thought he actually left because someone was waiting for him in another office. Anyway, a half-hour or so into our talk, Mick Mars would show up but Tommy Lee never made an appearance (which is OK because we unearthed him years later when he did his first solo record and you can read about that in the next group of interviews for the 1990s). So, it was Vince who ducked out and left the Sixx/Mars duo behind. And that was fine, too, because for all of Nikki's sordid behavior, he was the captain for this ship of misfits. If any insights were to be made, they were going to happen inside his brainpain. Now you can maybe understand why, in the introduction to the Rock Chronicles chronicles, I had a difficult time remembering who was present and who was not. Additionally, I had some personal baggage I'd been carrying, and that didn't help in dislodging a stuck memory stick. I remembered having met Mick sometime earlier (a couple years previously perhaps). We had lunch and he arrived in his very slick 'Vette and with his even slicker girlfriend (looking back on it, this may have been Emi Canyn, a girl he'd marry in 1990 and divorce about four years later, but I'm not certain if he'd met her by this early date). Slick really captures the moment here because after the pair of them devoured lunches complete with before/after aperitifs, he deftly maneuvered out of the cafe and left me with the tab. There is no life on Mars - and there is no life in Mars either. In the interview itself, he came across as a bit snide and impersonal. When I asked him a question about miking his guitars he responded by saying, That's a secret. At first I thought he was just joking but when I realized he wasn't, it angered me. Firstly, there are no secrets to miking guitars or more specifically, amp cabinets. You use a Shure or a variation thereof. Secondly, to believe his tone was such that it deserved to be kept secret, really pissed me off. Mick's tone varied from dirty to grungy and it was alright. But to adopt that type of attitude really took a stupid and selfish individual. So, maybe it was a conscious thing trying to forget that Mick the Slick was there. And I also tried to forget about the singer's showing up because he just didn't deserve being remembered on any level. About a year after this conversation, Neil was charged with vehicular manslaughter. Driving while drunk, he killed his passenger, Razzle, the drummer for then-ascending glam band, Hanoi Rocks. He spent 30 days in jail and paid $2.5million dollars in fines. And they released. It was a pathetic display of justice for the rich. Neil was magnanimous in his statements about the consequences of his vehicular manslaughter, maintaining that his penalty was not severe enough for having taken a life. I did 30 days in jail and got laid and drank beer. It was fucked up. Indeed, he was able to maintain this lofty tone because they didn't sling him in jail for the next 20 years. They should have convicted his addicted ass for some hard time. They didn't and he showed up that day. But the interview belonged to Nikki, in the same way the band's entire vision and its future would belong to Sixx. Though he was slammed to the gills on coke and heroin and codeine and Jack for most of his career, he was a high-functioning inebriate and truly had a plan for the Crue. He recently chronicled a year in the life in his book, The Heroin Diaries. He spilled a lot of JD and all of his guts over these pages and maybe that's what made him so intriguing. That honesty, the urge or need or whatever it might be, to open himself up; he did it on stage in front of thousands of strangers. And he did it in front of me, one stranger, when we sat and chatted. This dialog was not centered on the face paint and the histrionics, but more on the actual music itself. They were on the brink of monstrous success. Shout At The Devil would inch its way to Number 17 in the charts; Theater Of Pain, released on June 21, 1985, would ascend to Number 6, and Girls, Girls, Girls, issued on May 15, 1987, would be perched in a tantalizing fashion at Number 2. Dr. Feelgood, released almost six years to the day after SATD, would climb to the mighty Number One position. You do come away with a sense of this chemistry, the feeling that Nikki was, and always would be, in complete control. This is light enjoyment but it does manage to get stupid once or twice. Oh, as an aside, I mentioned in the main RC essay that I keep my tapes in numbered/catalogued binders. When I pulled out this Motley interview to start working on, guess what number it was? Swear to God: 666. One final aside - as I dig deeper into these stories, I'm finding myself really trying to remember what happened and how I was affected and how the artist was acting and demeanor and that type of thing. A lot of the comments in the introductions to these various interviews have arisen as a by-product of time. I can now look back on these exchanges, through a lens clearly. I can evaluate and sum up and more honestly reveal who these people really were. Time, in that respect, is a terrific tool. For everything else, the passage of days tends to be not such a great thing, but that's for another day Anyway, that's these observations are there. And they're only small pieces that I saw for an hour or so. Some of you won't like it because you feel like I'm toppling your heroes. That's not it. I don't think Mick Mars is the most talented individual to ever lay fingers across strings. I don't. But he has affected a lot of people - musicians and fans - and his legacy will be forever written wherever the tales of rockers finally get scribbled. That's an extraordinary accomplishment, one that very few guitar players will ever achieve. I'm awed by that. But everyone has to be accountable and if you really want to know someone, you need to be aware of the flaws as well as the flash. I could have presented the Motley piece and the other stories in Rock Chronicles in a pretty safe and narrow style. That would have been easy. I wanted these tales to be broader and bigger and more touching than just another regular guitar interview. I tried to create that sort of piece with the inclusion of these opening narrations. __________________________________________________________________________
"Maybe when the day comes we're so big, we might want to have black backup singers for all I know."
Going back to the beginning, what were your reactions to the remixing of the first album, Too Fast For Love? It's going around that you weren't really pleased with what you heard? Nikki Sixx: If you paint a garbage can red, it's still a garbage can, you know? I mean, we only had $7,000 to record it, mix it, and put the package together and everything. So what can you do with that type of quality. It was basically one-take things. Vince Neil: We recorded it in like a day. Sixx: It was recorded in a day. So we just went in there and laid the tracks down and then started mixing as fast as we could because we only had so much money to get it done. It's like anything else: when you hear something first, and you hear it different, even if it's better, you're always going to go, 'I don't know if I like that too much.' And that was part of the reaction to it when it was remixed with Roy Thomas Baker's supervision. It sounded so different to us that we preferred the old way; I think our fans did too. Neil: It was a lot rawer because we had mixed it ourselves and basically produced it ourselves. So it was a little more Motley Crueish. Sixx: It sounded like we sounded live at that time. Neil: When you record now, you try to make it sound like you sound on stage. So when the kids come and see you they don't go, 'God, they don't sound nothin' like their album.' Did you have any input when Roy was remixing? Were you physically there in the studio? Sixx: Mmm hmmm. I've wanted to work with the man for years; I mean his credits go back so far. As far as us doing Shout At the Devil with him (Tom Werman produced that second album from 1983); it didn't seem like the right time to work with such a high polished producer. Maybe in the future, a few albums down the road (if) we want to expand our sound, we'll work with someone like that. For just doing the remixes, he was the perfect person. If anything, what did you learn from recording Too Fast For Love? Did you apply those principles when you went in to work on Shout At the Devil? Neil: I think everybody individually learned different types of things to be in a studio. From doing our first demo tapes to recording Shout At the Devil, we progressed so much. Sixx: You can see that growth between Too Fast For Love and Shout At the Devil, how much we did learn. We learned about backwards masking and different types of vocal tricks and breathing for Vince; everything down to my attack with my bass where you can hear it over the speakers and what not to do. Can you address some of the techniques you tried not to use in the studio? Sixx: I learned that when we play first of all, when you play live is so much different; the aggression in the right hand for me, playing bass, I was over-playing. Not as far as notes, but as far as attack; it was distorting and it was clicking. Where you had to learn not to lose the power of the punch but still to just pick and be more in control. I think that's the word, control, when you're in the studio. Is recording in the studio more difficult than playing live? Sixx: It's just a whole different animal, it really is. You mentioned a moment ago that you do use a pick when you play. Have you always done that? Sixx: Yeah; I like the sound of fingers but I got too impatient to learned. Are you using your live gear in the studio? Or recording direct? Sixx: I use both; I use the same basic setup that I use live. I use about half of the amps: I use Ampegs (with) 8x10s. I use Ampeg SVT heads. I've always played through those; I experimented for a while with Risson amplifiers 'cause we couldn't afford to get Ampegs at the time. So we could get like a wall of amps for less money and in the club days, we always had the most, we were the loudest, so I'd go with those for a while. But now that we're doin' better, been able to invest in better gear. What are the Risson amps like? Sixx: It's a company from Orange County (California) and they basically copy the Ampeg as far as the bass rig setup; and then the guitar, they also go for the Marshall-type 4x12 cabinets and 100-watt heads. What kind of a bass tone are you looking for? Sixx: I like to get a real bright, punchy sound and I'm still not 100 per cent satisfied with the bass sound. I'm still finding out new things that I want. I'm going to start working with front-loaded 18s. And I have used 4x12 folded horn cabinets with front-loaded 8x10 cabinets. So what I want to do is get rid of the 4x12s and go to Crown or McIntosh power amps or something like that and just push the front-loaded 18s for the punch, then use the SVTs and the 8x10s for the brightness of it. Last time in the studio, I think I used 8x10s, front-loaded 15s, and two SVT heads. Two heads and two bottoms. Live, I'm using three SVT heads, four 8x10 cabinets, and two folded horn 4x10 cabinets. So I'm using six cabinets, three heads. I guess you would call Motley Crue a pretty live band then? Sixx: (laughter) What did you say? If you're not pushing it right to the limit especially with guitar, you're not gonna get your sound. In the studio, it's pretty loud but it's not as loud. If you want to get more quality of sound, you don't want leakage and stuff. What is the recording routine like? You mentioned earlier that you're looking for that spark of a live performance? Sixx: He'll (referring to Vince) lay a rough vocal down and we like to all get together and just really rock, so we can get the feeling out of it. We'd rather keep the bass guitar and drums rather than like some drums just like to keep the drums; we like to keep that whole feeling of one time and then have Mick add the second guitar part on top of that. And then get a mix between the two as far as feel. And Vince has his technique of recording separate from ours. How much overdubbing goes on with a Crue record? Sixx: It depends on the song but not a lot. We have a song called 'Too Young To Fall In Love' (Shout At the Devil) which is our new single and we used piano, like grand piano chords, as the progression went on; it went with bass and against the guitar and we just mixed it down. And on 'Looks That Kill,' there's synthesizer in there; we use it as padding instead of, 'Oh, there's synthesizer.' It just makes it sound richer, you know? You don't really hear it so that's the most overdubbing we do. And there are brief moments of acoustic guitar? Sixx: Mick will use a little acoustic. There's a track where he's got, I wasn't there when he did all the recording, but I think he used three different acoustic guitars, and I think there are seven different passages on those three guitars. 'God Bless the Children Of the Beast' (instrumental written by Mars) is real pretty. Are keyboards not of any interest to the band? Sixx: I just don't think we're the type band that needs a permanent keyboard player. Maybe when the day comes we're so big, we might want to have black backup singers for all I know. We don't know; we're not so planned out that we can't grow ourselves. But umm, I like it a little bit. Tommy, our drummer, plays piano and he's got some really good ideas (you'll hear Lee talk about these ideas in his interview in the 1990s section of Rock Chronicles). I wouldn't mind doing something as far as just like a prelude or something; something we'd never use live. Do you compose on bass? Sixx: I use both, guitar and bass. If I'm working with Vince to work out a melody, I'll use guitar because it's more familiar to his ears. If I'm workin' on guitar parts and bridges and stuff like that, I'll usually use the bass because that's more familiar to me. You'll present the band with a demo that has bass and guitar parts on it and see what the reaction is? Sixx: That's how it basically works; I'll take a song and tear it apart about a hundred times until I think it's kind of good 'cause I don't want to bring in like 10 songs and only one's good. I'd rather bring in one song and go, 'Here, what do you think of this?' And Vince can go, 'Well, maybe if I add this part in there and make it a little stronger' and change the rhythm and Mick can do something a little different and before you know it, it's turned into a Motley Crue song. What was it like working Tom Werman (producer of Shout At the Devil)? (An embarrassed silence) Neil: Uhhh, I don't know. Sixx: I don't remember. I don't think he does either. We definitely got drunk in the studio. Neil: He's one guy who can keep up with us anyway. Is being able to hold your liquor an important asset for a producer in working with Motley Crue? Neil: Well, you have to get along with the people that you work with and for us it's drinking together. Sixx: As in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Neil: We had a good ol' time in the studio. Sixx: I think the best thing about Tom Werman was for Vince. Neil: Yeah, he really helped me a lot. Well, he's got a really great ear, I mean a really great ear and he could tell if something was a fraction sharp or a fraction flat. And I'd sing a line, I'd be singing and he'd go, 'Hold it.' And I thought it was like great and it was like, 'Woah, what's goin' on here?' And he'd say, 'Well, you were a little flat on this one part.' We'd listen to it back and I wouldn't be able to hear it. And so I'll sing it over again and now that I listen to the album, I can tell where he really came in handy. Sixx: He had the three-track idea. Neil: Yeah, a way of sorting things out. I would sing a song three times, right? And each line, he would put a checkmark whether it was good, whether it was bad, or whether it was alright. And then he would combine all three songs Sixx: all three tracks Neil: Yeah, all three tracks and take each line out of it. So it was a pretty cool thing. Note: The phone has been ringing in the office where we were sitting. Nikki picks up the phone and in an officious-sounding voice says, Elektra/Asylum. It's a very funny moment but maybe you had to be there! The caller was actually looking for the person who normally inhabited this office [Sue from publicity]. Nikki instructed the caller to contact the front desk. Generally speaking, you'd record a keeper vocal in three attempts? Neil: Yeah, that was about it. Sixx: They would combine, say, the first line and the second line from different tracks. So he would combine them together and put them on one track. Neil: If the second line on the second song was better than the second line on the first track, then they would use the second line on the second track for the first track and (laughter conveying a sense of confusion). I got it. Neil: It worked really well. Sixx: I just heard the new Twisted Sister album and Tom did it. I don't know the guys in the band, I don't know their recording technique, but I've heard their stuff before and he's got their vocals sounding amazing (Werman recorded the group's first three albums: 1982's Under the Blade; 1983's You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll; and 1984's Stay Hungry that included the two hits, We're Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock). They (vocals) don't have any bottom end or punch and I don't know if that's the way the band recorded; sometimes that just happens in the studio or what. But it just goes to show you that he always comes out with good vocals. And with us being melodic, it's very important. You do hear yourselves as being a melodic-oriented band? Sixx: Yeah, of course; we're just like Journey, aren't we? We could write like a punk rock song on speed and still have it come out with a melody on it. Then it's still a song, it's still good. We don't think melody is just limited to slow Beatles songs or Journey songs or love songs. It doesn't have to be. The bands you listened to had those kinds of qualities? Sixx: Of course; like the Sweet. My God, what a band, what melody. You can hum any one of their songs. Specifically do you know the types of mics and effects you used? Neil: He used different mics all the time. Mick Mars enters the room. Mars: I think it was a Neumann U87. Sixx: There you go! Mars: I like microphones. Sixx: This is Mick by the way, our guitar player. What was it like recording in Cherokee in Hollywood? Neil: It's a really nice studio; they have everything you could possibly want to use. It was a nice atmosphere; everything sounds great. Sixx: It was a good sounding drum room. What was it like working with engineer Geoff Workman? Neil: Genius, the guy's a genius. Sixx: That was Tom Werman and Geoff Workman's first project together. So they've been off doing some other things so we're looking forward to our third album because just like we're saying about recording, we'll now they're gonna learn to work together.
"When you record now, you try to make it sound like you sound on stage."
So you're saying you would work with that team on the next record? Sixx: We definitely are. Did Geoff have some ideas in terms of recording your guitar? In the past he's worked with the greats like Jeff Beck. Mars: Yeah, he's really good at it; like ten different mics in different places in the room. Different kinds of mics. Can you describe some of the mics you used? Mars: It's top secret; I don't want anybody else copying my sound. Note: The truth is, there are no top secrets in recording guitars. Mars' reluctance to talk about his sound was simply stupid. Could you talk a little bit about the guitars you used? Mars: I used a Les Paul, a '71. Sixx: Pickups? Mars: PAF DiMarzios. Sixx: Kind of strings? Mars: Gibson 740 Ls. Sixx: Shoes you wore? Mars: My NBAs. Do you have any preference of old instruments versus newer ones? Mars: Not really; I like the newer ones somewhat better because the technology has gotten a lot better. So, it's like less is more; it's less of a guitar but it sounds better than the old ones. Have you always played Gibsons? Mars: Yes, except for recently I've been playing BC Riches and Hamers and Washburns. Sixx: We've both been experimenting with different guitars. What are those guitars pictured on the back of the first album? Sixx: Those are just props; they didn't work or anything. 'Cause like our guitars were so fucked up. I had this white bass, a Thunderbird, and it was just blood-stained, you know? It looked pretty sick. On the first album I used a Thunderbird and on the second record I used a BC Rich Warlock. You like BC Rich guitars? Sixx: A lot. As a matter of fact, I recently bought a Hamer, the Explorer bass, like the one the bass player in Def Leppard uses (Rick Savage). And they have a brass nut, the Washburns do, too, and they even had a whammy bar on it as well. And I really liked the feel of it and the sound of it and it had a Jazz Bass pickup and a Precision pickup; but I always had the two Precision pickups. The Jazz bass (pickup) was like the rear position. So, BC Rich has now built, similar to the Hamer - not to the body style, just the nut and the pickups and the whammy bar and everything. I'm real happy with them. A whammy bar on a bass - that should be different. Neil: Wowww owwww woowwww (imitates sound of low strings being raised and lowered). Sixx: It's like if you go: doo doodoo doodoo dooooo (sings simple little six-note bass phrase and the last note is lowered ala a whammy bar bend). It's like if you had a tiny little break and you had something to do. Maybe just a couple times or somethin' on an album or one specific song I might be able to use it. I don't think I'd use it more than one song; it could get annoying. You do like what Hamer does with their basses? Sixx: I like Hamer, yeah, but I just don't like the Explorer body shape; I think it's overused. I want to have something that's identifiable to me. Getting back to basics, what kinds of strings do you use? Sixx: I haven't bought them in so long Mars: Rotosound. Sixx: Rotosound Swing Bass. I should have my bass tech come in and do this. You really lose track of what you have and what you're doing. You just say, 'Look, I need more volume.' What type of amps were you using, Mick? Mars: We used two Marshall stacks wide open with Furman equalizers and that's it. The Marshalls are fairly new, 70s. No pedals or nothin'. And everything is on 10? Mars: That's it. And live is the same way? Mars: Yes. Sixx: We have our amps built into racks for the stage show so you don't see our amps or our heads. Have you always maintained that sort of organic approach? Mars: Straight in. Yeah, but I just bought a Lexicon and I'm doing stuff with that. There's echo and a bit of flanging from the board; nothing really devastating. How important is the PA when you perform on stage? Sixx: It's everything. Let's put it like this: If you're guitar sound or your bass sound isn't happening, all that's doing is amplifying it. So you've got to get your sound down. At that point, you've got to take advantage of the PA; if you're gonna be louder than your PA, that's ridiculous. You've got to play on stage at a volume that's reasonable so that they can get it out front because that's what it's all about. Do you travel with your own PA? Sixx: When we go on tour and we're headlining, obviously we rent out a huge company and if we're opening like we're opening for Ozzy Osbourne, we use his PA system. Is it too early to talk about the next record (Theatre Of Pain)? Sixx: We've got about 10 songs pre-Too Fast For Love, some songs that were pre-Shout At the Devil, and then newer songs that have just been written. Different subjects but it's basically the same type of stuff. Like I was saying we had 'God Bless the Children Of the Beast' and we'd like to do something as far as a Tommy (Lee) with a piano prelude or something. I don't think we'll be doing any covers; we're not sure at this point. We've only done one cover song which was 'Helter Skelter.' Talking about covers, did you hear Gary Moore's version of 'Shapes Of Things' by the Yardbirds? Sixx: Good? Yeah. Sixx: He did 'Wishing Well' by Bad Company (on the 1982 release, Corridors Of Power). Mars: That was a good one. Sixx: That's hard to do Bad Company; nobody can do Bad Company. Do people tend to overlook the band's instrumental abilities because of the image? Sixx: Mmm hmm. Sure, they're bound to, you know. But you can't judge a book by its cover. It's not really fair. So, as our career has been going along, we've been doing more interviews like this which makes us feel better. And me and Mick as far as guitar and bass are gonna be doing some things on the next album I think that'll We're not writing for musicians; we want to have a good time, we want to have a good song, we wanna kick ass. But we are gonna start doing some things - different timing signatures, different passages. I think a lot of people are going to stand up and take notice. But it won't be that different from Shout At the Devil. Do you actually spend time in practice? Sixx: Yeah, all the time. Mars: Definitely. Sixx: I practice at least an hour a day. I write songs for an hour a day as well. Do you have any kind of pre-show routine? Mars: Just simple scales to get your fingers loose. What about from a solo standpoint? Are there certain scales or specific chord shapes you work form? Mars: Keep it melodic. Are your solos off-the-cuff, first takes? Mars: A lot of things I work out; then there's some just like whatever comes off. But when you do it live you have to do it the same so you have to know what you're doing. Sixx: The 'Red Hot' solo. Mars: The 'Red Hot' solo was pretty cool. I like the 'Too Young To Fall In Love' guitar solo vibe. Sixx: That's a great one. Mars: If I could go back in time and re-do one solo it would be the one in 'Ten Seconds To Love.' Why is that? Mars: Just because I think I could do it better now. If I had any complaint about the first album, it's that the guitar solos were buried and a little unidentifiable. Sixx: The whole album sounded kind of muddy. Mars: Basically it was recorded poorly and trying to save a demo tape. Sixx: All it was was a demo tape. And I understand you did multiple tracks of acoustic guitar on the new album? Mars: Yeah, about four or five tracks on 'God Bless the Children Of the Beast.' Sixx: I thought there were seven. Mars: No, there were three or four quiet electric guitar parts. (I used) Guild, Gibson, and that's about it. Just layering it. And the Les Paul. Is that difficult a texture to create effectively: electric and acoustic? Mars: I don't think so; not when it's just guitar. If it was like acoustic piano and electric guitar or something like that, that might be a little difficult. A record company publicist pops her head in the door and informs us she needs to Take Nikki in ten minutes. Sixx executes a deep-throated and sinister chuckle. The minor intrusion causes a break in the conversation and the bassist regales us with a tale about him and a telephone pole. Sixx: Have you seen that telephone pole lately (to Mick)? There's a telephone pole I hit in my own car because there's one like this (indicates bent pole with his hands and fingers) and another one holding it up. The wires are all fucked up. Coldwater Canyon. Seventy miles an hour it's how I got this (reveals abrasions on his shoulder area). It was a fractured shoulder; I dislocated the bone, it kind of fell apart. They had to put a steel pin in there to hold it together. But they gave me these great downers. I went to the Rainbow (rock and roll hangout bar on Sunset Boulevard) and picked up this chick. I was fuckin' her, right? It was the day after I got out of the hospital; I snuck out of the hospital, I was still supposed to be there. But I wanted a pizza so I took some downers and left. I was fuckin' her and it (shoulder) broke again so now I've got to pay for life. I've got to get another operation on that; they have to drill. I didn't even feel it. Do you listen to other guitar players, Mick? To pick up new ideas or see what the competition is doing? Mars: I listen to quite a few guitar players but I don't really want to copy any of their stuff because I don't want (people to say), 'Hey, I know where you got that from.' Do you listen to Van Halen? Beck? Mars: I listen to Beck; I listen to Blackmore; I listen to Schenker. The phone rings again and this time Nikki simply hits the blinking button [this is still in the rotary phone days] and disconnects the call. Also, somewhere in the past few minutes Vince has disappeared. Do you use the same basic settings on your guitar for solo and rhythm work? Mars: No; usually when I'm playing rhythm parts, I come down to half, at about 5; naturally solos are screaming 10.
"We're not writing for musicians; we want to have a good time, we wanna kick ass."
Are you in the studio alone when you cut solos? Mars: Yeah. In the studio I don't worry too much about turning up and down my volume on rhythms and on lead (phone rings again). Shut the fuck up! Because I let the engineer take care of that but live and stuff you have vocals going on and stuff and you want to not bury him. So he can hear himself and stuff. Live is it just the Les Paul? Mars: No, I use a Flying V, Gibson, custom made. The only one of its kind in the world. It has one single pickup, one volume knob, and it's arched on the top as opposed to flat. And the points come out a little pointier and the headstock comes out pointier; it's more of a point than rounded. I have a Hamer that looks like an Sixx: Explorer. Mars: Right. And a Washburn and a BC Rich Warlock; an Aria and, what is that acoustic guitar I have? Sixx: Ovation. Mars: That's it. And two Guilds. You play acoustic live? Mars: No. So you only have them for show? Mars: I only have one Guild acoustic, I mean Ovation and that was played on 'Merry-Go-Round' (from the Too Fast For Love debut). Playing in a three-piece band must allow you the freedom to play just about anything you like? Mars: Yeah. Have you always played in three-piece bands? Mars: No, not really. There's usually a keyboard player but I found that I'm not saying anything against other instruments in the band but when you have a keyboard player or another guitar player, they always tended to get in my way. Always like: This is my turn to shine here, it's my spot, not yours. It turned into a big bunch of bullshit so three-piece. What are the band's immediate plans? Sixx: We're leaving for New York tomorrow to shoot the second video, 'Too Young To Fall In Love.' Then we'll be coming back and preparing for our second US headline tour; we'll be taking Saxon out as an opening act. We'll be touring until June and we'll be coming back here doing some festivals; we're gonna be doing some writing; and then we'll be doing the European markets with AC/DC and Van Halen and we'll be doing Castle Donnington. Stuff in Europe in the summer. And then we start recording and then we start touring and we keep getting laid and we keep getting drunk and having fun. Do you see yourself as being similar to AC/DC or Van Halen? Sixx: Well, I mean in the sense that we're a live rock and roll band, yeah. I mean to really appreciate it, you gotta be there. But we do try to put it across on record as much as we are live but it's real hard to get it across. You think the third record will bring you closer to bridging that gap? Sixx: I think we're real close with Shout so I think the third record will hit it right on top of the head. Does the actual physical attire of the band - the gloves and everything - ever get in the way of playing your bass? Sixx: It's how we've always dressed. Who knows? Can you see other bands out there chasing after the Motley Crue look and sound? Sixx: In Los Angeles somewhat but that doesn't bother us; it's like a backhanded compliment. Videos must hold a great attraction for you since the band is so obviously visually oriented? Sixx: Oh, yeah, videos are a top form of entertainment right now to get yourself put across. When you first come out, it's testing the waters for kids who are going to spend $800 on a record. Then they look at it, 'This band is good,' they go buy the record and then video is also another way for them to go, 'Well, they were good on video,' they see a couple videos, see if the band is visual, and go, 'I'm willin' to pay for a concert ticket.' A lot of people don't like to take chances; there's a lot of one-song bands, there's a lot of bands that come around and they don't want that. That's not what we're about anyway. Motley Crue is not a band of fly-by-nighters? Sixx: Drunk-by-nighters! Nikki exits the office to take care of business elsewhere and Mick finishes the conversation. Vince has disappeared completely. Do you ever get involved in record budgets? Are you aware of how much money you're spending? Mars: The record company is pretty good; if we go over budget some, they're pretty good giving us the extra money we need. How long did it take to record the last record? Mars: Three, four weeks, something like that. We can go faster if we're under pressure but we wanted to make it right. Does the band have the last say in terms of a certain guitar performance or vocal going down on record? Mars: Yeah, pretty much, yeah. I mean the producer comes in and it's pre-production and stuff like that and he says, 'Hey, why don't you try this? I think this might sound better.' And you try it and if you like it better then (you keep it). Does the band go through a fair amount of pre-production? Mars: Yeah, because it saves time when you go in there and you know just about what you wanna do and just phffttt, lay it down. Time is so important; you lay it down but it's not quite right so you just go, phffttt, and re-do it again. Like I laid down five guitar tracks in one day and they said, 'Wait a minute, this is going too fast!' And they said, 'Slow it down so we can pick at it.' What do you do, Mick, when you're not on stage or in the studio with Crue? Mars: Sit at home and play with my computers; write new songs; guitar exercises and junk like that. Watch a lot of TV. Do you listen to much other music? Mars: I'll tell you what, all's I have at home is like a JVC ghetto blaster. So listening to songs and stuff becomes now, I listen to 'em and stuff but it's like secondary. The success you've had so far must feel pretty extraordinary. Mars: I'm real happy with it. I guess there were some hard knocks on the way. Mars: You bet; we've been doing this stuff a while. That's it? Bye 2008 Steven Rosen
More motley crue interviews:
+ Motley Crue: 'We Wanna Call It a Day and Be Proud' Interviews 02/25/2014
+ Mick Mars Of Motley Crue: 'Don't Let Anyone Stand In Your Way' Interviews 02/13/2009
+ Motley Crue's Mick Mars: 'I've Always Been About Melody And Tone' Interviews 09/06/2008
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