Mick Mars Of Motley Crue: 'Don't Let Anyone Stand In Your Way'
UG conducted an interview with Mars, who filled us in on the inspiration behind the overhauled website and the Crue's upcoming schedule.
Posted on Feb 13, 2009 05:59 pm
After almost 3 decades in the business, piles of platinum and gold albums, and a whole lot of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, the gentlemen in Motley Crue are still a viable force in the music world. It's not necessarily such an easy task when you spend 8 years away from the studio and must reconnect with newer, younger generations, but the band's latest album Saints Of Los Angeles debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts and is closing in on gold status. At the heart of every Crue endeavor has been the instantly recognizable riffs of Mick Mars, who has opted to stay out of the spotlight while his bandmates have frequented the reality show circuit. The past few years have been no easy ride for Mars, who has privately suffered from a debilitating, inflammatory disease called ankylosing spondylitis, but one look at the veteran guitarist's schedule indicates that pain will be no obstacle.
While Motley Crue has already kicked off its latest tour in support of Saints Of Los Angeles, Mars has a few other irons in the fire. His latest endeavor is www.MickMars.tv., a highly interactive website that will not only offer general information on the Crue, but will also feature guitar lessons taught by Mars. The site, launched by Paid, Inc. on January 29, will include periodic clinics, interactive tablature for legendary Crue songs, and opportunities to acquire memorabilia.
Ultimate-Guitar recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Mars, who filled us in on the inspiration behind the overhauled website and the Crue's upcoming schedule. Although the interview was conducted via email (all responses have been left as Mars intended), the guitarist's soft-spoken persona was conveyed effectively. He may be a man of few words, but Mars made one thing loud and clear: There is no shortage of passion for his role as musician.
UG: Thanks so much for talking with me today, Mick. Your newest endeavor, MickMars.tv, sounds like an incredible source for fans and musicians in general. What inspired you to launch the site?Mick: I felt that the old website I had was not good enough. The new one has a lot more information on what I'm doing.
I understand you'll be featuring online guitar lessons through the site. Will you be covering musical theory as well as covering classic Motley Crue songs?
No music theory. I feel from my soul and heart.
"Music and touring keeps me going."
Congratulations on all you've accomplished in the past few years. Between the Grammy nomination and the nod from iTunes (which placed the song Saints of Los Angeles on their Best of 2008 list), Motley Crue definitely is having a resurgence in popularity. When you were writing Saints of Los Angeles, did you have a feeling that it would stand up against such classics as Theatre of Pain or Dr. Feelgood?
I had every intention of doing just that.
Did the songwriting process for Saints of Los Angeles change dramatically from the approach you have taken in the past few decades?
Yes, the recording process has changed a lot over the past few years. It was much easier to record S.O.L.A. using new technology, a lot less stress.
The new album marks the first time you've had James Michael as a producer. What kind of dynamic did James have with the band, given that he's spent a good deal of time working with Nikki in Sixx: A.M.?
Simple. He's young, knows how to use Pro Tools, he has a great ear for tone and he is really easy to work with. A very talented person.
The band has used quite a few different producers in the studio over the years. Is that to keep things fresh?
You have been responsible for some of the most identifiable rock songs in the music world. Do you feel a certain amount of pressure to keep the iconic riffs coming?
Sometimes I do. I try to be as original as possible with my riffs.
It looks like the band has a steady stream of tour dates for the next month. I know that you've got a lot of fans who have been concerned with your physical plights and are thrilled that you are still going strong in spite of such a rigorous schedule. Are you anxious to get back on the road?
Always ready to tour. Fuck the pain. Music and touring keeps me going.
You've been keeping quite busy outside of the Crue, co-writing material with Hinder. Are those experiences highly collaborative or are you given creative autonomy?
It was only one session. It took me about an hour. I was thrilled at the chance to play on their album.
You also are a guest player on the new Papa Roach track Into The Light. Talk a little about those sessions.
Those sessions were recorded on the road during Crue Fest. A lot of the bands on the tour had studios on their busses. I had a killer time working with Papa Roach.
I'd love to talk about what equipment you're using these days. I know you've used everything from Gibsons to Kramers to Fenders over the years, but what are we most likely to see you play at the upcoming shows?
Fender and Marshall. There is no other !!!!!!!!!!
"I try to be as original as possible with my riffs."
Do you tend to use the same equipment on tour that you used in the studio?
No. I use different equipment in the studio than live performances.
You've been known to down-tune your guitar to obtain a meatier sound. Did you try out any new tuning styles on Saints of Los Angeles?
Yes !!! I dropped down another whole step for a couple of other songs on the CD. M.F.O.Y. (Motherf**ker of the Year) for one.
There's a heavy blues influence in much of your writing, and you have been known to often utilize the slide and lap steel. Have any of Crue's songs started with just a slide line or does that element come along much later in the songwriting process?
Sometimes I experiment with slide. If I like the way it's sounding and fits the song then I'll use it.
I've read that the period after Motley Crue's split in 2001 was a difficult phase in your life, and at one point you even gave up playing the guitar. What was the turning point that inspired you to return to music?
I put my guitar down for a couple of years mostly due to depression. It took me that long to get back into and excited to play again.
Looking back to the days when you first began to play guitar, can you recall any methods or techniques being particularly beneficial to your progress?
I learned by ear. So I would learn licks by slowing my albums down. Way back when they still put out vinyl.
Motley Crue has pretty much defined all the glory and excess of rock n' roll, and the public was given a little glimpse of the band's life through books like The Dirt and The Heroin Diaries. Looking back at all you've been through, do you have any regrets?
My only regret is what I didn't do.
When can we expect the film version of The Dirt to be released?
When the time is right, the right script, director, etc. I don't want some cheezy cheap movie made like Rockstar or those other stupid unreal movies.
In closing, do you have any advice for all the rock guitarists out there?
Play from your heart. Practice A Lot !!!!! Don't let anyone stand in your way.
Interview by Amy Kelly