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Posted on Feb 25, 2014 12:29 pm
After 33 years, nine studio albums, countless world tours and enough debauchery and decadence to last twice that long, Motley Crue is pulling the plug. Determined to go out on top - in 2013, the band was listed number 77 of the top 200 touring bands for the year - Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil held a press conference in Hollywood, CA where they announced their retirement. Undertaking what they called the Final Tour, the band would hit the road for what could be another two years of live dates.
They talked about Motley's final days while seated at a long table that was fronted by four headstones adorned with their names. The band said Alice Cooper would open all the shows. To make it official, each member signed a Cessation of Touring Agreement, which meant the band could never reconfigure as Motley Crue without the expressed consent of all the other members.
Here Motley described what they were feeling and what they expected in the final days of their remarkable career.
UG: Why are you calling this the Final Tour versus a Farewell Tour?
Vince Neil: We started talking about it a few years ago and we don't want to be one of those bands that maybe have one guy left in it or somebody's brother or something like that. We want to go out with the four founding members of Motley Crue and go out on top. And leave a legacy of a band called Motley Crue.
Nikki Sixx: For us, we're really proud of our band. We started this band and no one believed in us and no record company would sign this. None of us graduated high school but we figured out how to form a record company, which is kind of funny. We then figured out how to distribute that record and none of the record companies believed in us in Los Angeles. We sold 40, 000 copies of that first record, "Too Fast for Love" and that launched our career. Since then we've always been proactive about everything we do including the end of our career. Like Vince said we started talking about, "How do we wanna go out? We don't want to hobble off into the sunset." Tommy said it best recently when he said, "A farewell tour is when a band does a farewell and then gets back together and does another farewell tour. And then breaks up and gets back together until there's no milk left in the titty and it's a ripoff for the fans." So we decided to call this the Final Tour and sign a contract telling you this is real. Because we want to be proud of Motley Crue and we want our fans to be proud of Motley Crue for decades to come.
You've always had a very special connection with your fans.
Tommy Lee: It's always been important to us. We take a lot of pride in everything from the production and involving fans in the show. I think it's just been something we've always taken a lot of pride in.
Did you ever think that when Motley Crue began over 30 years ago that you would have accomplished all the things you did?
Mick Mars: I would say for myself we had every intention of doing and accomplishing everything that we did. We did it and we're now in our final tour. We've been here, we've done that, we love each other like brothers and let's go out on top instead of waiting for another farewell and all that kind of stuff. It's time for us to throw the towel in so to speak.
Last year you were one of the highest grossing bands out there - why go out now?
Sixx: It's a good question and something we've talked about amongst ourselves for - as Vince said - the last few years. It's because of that and because we are on top. It's because we are holdin' it together and we're playin' better and sounding better. We want to leave a legacy and we want to have some dignity. We feel there's a lot of bands out there that don't have dignity. We started this band 'cause it's something we believed in: rock and roll. We wanna call it a day and like I said be proud. It's pretty embarrassing what's happening with the state of music with bands out there. I don't wanna name names because I just don't think it's really my place but you know there's so many bands out there that are just rippin' ya off and we're not gonna do that.
What will you do when the tour ends?
Neil: Well I mean I've been in the restaurant business for a long time and so I'm just continuing that. And also music, I'll never stop singing onstage. And uh, kind of carry that Motley banner with all the other concerts I go to that I perform at. So I'm lookin' forward to this. I'm not ready to kinda stop - I have to have music in this so I'll be continuing that.
Sixx: I have a side project, Sixx:A.M. And that's something I'm very passionate about and I'm gonna keep doing that. I have a radio show (Sixx Sense) that I do and working on a Broadway play. Continue to make music. I think all four of us are extremely creative guys so it's exciting for me. I support my brothers in what they do outside of Motley Crue. So it's gonna be cool to watch everybody doing their own thing as well.
Lee: I've got some big surprises that I can't talk about at the moment but just know that there's things, hah hah hah.
Mars: I just recently moved to Nashville so I got lots and lots of musicians to work with. I play on seriously pursuing my solo album now and coming out with a book about myself. I might write it backwards - from death 'til I was born. I'm not sure on that one yet. But I've got like lots and lots of people in Nashville besides country people - blues people, jazz people, all sorts of stuff there. I should have a very diverse album. Be a lot of fun.
Years down the road, would you play a one-off tour somewhere?
Neil: Definitely not looking at it that way. We're gonna finish off this tour, which will last - could last - two years and maybe even a little longer before you finish out the whole world. And then we're gonna do our own stuff. But like the in the contract, it's gonna take all of us to really do agree and do something but I don't see us going back on our word and saying, "Ah, forget it. Forget you guys. We were just kidding." No, we won't be doing anymore concerts.
When the final show is played and you wall off stage for the last time, what will you feel?
Sixx: I've thought about that and I don't know. I imagine it's gonna be emotional. I've known these guys and they've known me longer than we've known anybody except for our parents. Longer. We've been through everything together so there's gonna be a lot of emotions going on. You know this is a celebration and it's not a bad thing. We're pokin' fun at it with the hearse and the funeral procession and the headstones to kind of make a point. But to be honest with you it's a huge celebration for us and we're proud of what we're doing. We're not taking this very lightly. It's gonna be a really fantastic, amazing tour.
There's a tribute album coming out with country artists covering your songs. How does that feel?
Neil: I'm lookin' forward to it. I think it's gonna be fun. I think it's gonna be pretty cool to bring Motley Crue maybe into some lives or some country people who maybe heard the name but have no idea what we're about. They have some of their favorite country stars playing some of our songs, that's good for everybody. It's a win win.
Mars: I think it's also interesting how country artists can take and twist a rock and roll song around. It's like totally different sounding and you go like, "Whoa." I think it's gonna be really cool.
Will you take the same stage show around the world?
Sixx: We're just working on the production ideas right now. We're just in the beginning stages. We always try to take as much of our show everywhere that we can. Sometimes you can't because it doesn't fit in certain places. We've done our best to do that globally throughout our career.
How would you like to see the legacy you leave behind for Motley Crue?
Neil: I've always thought it was just, "They did it their way." A little cliche but we did - we did everything against the grain. We were never a critic's band and never won any big awards but we've always been a fan band. That's the thing I think people are gonna remember about us is that we did it right because we did it the way we wanted to.
We just passed the 30th anniversary of "Shout at the Devil." What are your memories of that record?
Neil: That album's a blur especially with those two guys. You put (Geoff) Workman and (Tom) Werman together and that's not good influences on us.
Sixx: I was hopin' someone in the band would tell me 'cause I don't really remember being there.
Lee: Mick and I were talkin' about it yesterday. We were like, "Do you remember laying on the ground on our backs holding the gong and recording some messages and shit?"
Neil: It was in that house; it was in a crazy house.
Mars: I think it was Michael Nesmith's house. Remember from the Monkees? Now that's how much I remember.
What does it feel like to be onstage in front of tens of thousands of fans?
Lee: It's pretty fuckin' amazing. It definitely ranks up there with one of the best feelings on the planet. When the house lights go out and you hear "Hahhh" you're like, "Oh, yes. Here we go." There's nothin' to not like about that.
Which is the opposite kind of vibe you have in the studio?
Lee: Yeah, totally different.
Motley Crue really developed from playing clubs and doing live performances on the Sunset Strip.
Lee: Yeah, it was a cool scene and there was a lot goin' on down there. It's weird to walk around there now. It's really odd.
The Strip doesn't feel anything like it did back in the day?
Mars: I don't expect it to 30-something years later.
Why aren't there real rock stars today like there were 30 years ago? Is it because of the online thing or the lack of record companies?
Lee: It's a lot of components you mentioned. It's like I think about new bands starting out now and I can't even imagine the barrage of music that's given away. It's like, "Go to this website and hear this Soundcloud." It's just insane.
Back in the day, you bought a magazine or heard an album.
Lee: When we were coming up, you heard it because somebody either told you about it or you were there or a big brother or a friend turned you onto it. It wasn't like now where you're like, "Push that stuff away. It's just too much information." Where before you wanted it. I'd have to sit there next to the radio and you'd hear AC/DC and a new song and you'd be like, "I'm f--kin' going to get that record." It's not like that anymore because you needed to get in your car and go buy it. So much stuff has changed.
And that includes the rock stars of tomorrow - where are they?
Mars: To me instead of having feeling for guitar or drums, today it seems like bands are more mechanical. Like they go to M.I. (Musician's Institute) and learn how to play and then they learn how to play faster and faster and faster. Then it kinda just is a blur and you can't even understand any notes.
Which means having more technique doesn't always translate into having more character as a player.
Mars: Here's a very good example - BB King. He can sit up there and do one note and milk it and people go, "Yeah, that's cool." Somehow with another guy - and as Tommy goes - it's, "Look at me ... look at me."
Lee: Look at me ... look at me ... look at me (Tommy says the words quickly like a guitar riff).
Mars: I think that's what's kind of lacking in today's music. But what is cool about today's stuff is that if you do onto iTunes and buy a record, it's alike almost back to the '60s where you could buy a single. I used to walk into Kmart and see the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and it was, "Wow, 45 cents." But I got another side with it - know what I mean? So it's kinda cool because it's kinda gotten back to that kind of thing.
Back in 2009, you released the Greatest Hits album. When you were putting that record together, how did you see that body of work you'd created?
Lee: We played all those songs on the road. Live, fans always loved hearing those songs and would sing along to it and that's how we picked the songs on that album.
Mars: We can go out on tour and say like we have a new album out. Say Dr. Feelgood is out and we'll play a lot of music off of Dr. Feelgood and you can tell when they hear "Dr. Feelgood" even if they're numb they're going, "Yeah, yeah." But they'll hear something like "Time for Change" and they just sit there.
Do any songs stand out for you from the Greatest Hits album?
Mars: Some of the songs that are on "Music to Crash Your Car to: Vol. 2," that was just Tommy and I sitting in there jamming on this weird thing. Then Vince coming in and saying stuff over the top like "mood ring." That was just like us…
Lee: On the outtakes and sh-t.
Are your favorite songs also the songs the fans loved?
Lee: I mean yes and no. I don't know why but it's always about that way. There are popular songs that everyone likes and we like those. But there's also other cuts you bring in that are technically more of a challenge to record and write. But it doesn't necessarily translate to your fans so sometimes those tracks get left in the dust but we had a blast recording them.
The songwriting on your solo albums reflects more of that technically-challenging songwriting.
Lee: Yeah. It's so weird like we'll finish a record and the record company will listen to it and the record company more times than not picks the wrong f--kin' songs. For some reason, I don't know why that is. I've been misled so many times. They're like, "Yeah, that's the first single" and I'm like, "I don't think so guys."
But Motley Crue has had a lot of hits.
Lee: No, not with Mötley. I'm talking about my stuff. I don't listen to anybody anymore, hah hah hah.
Can you shed a little more light on what you'll be doing after the tour is over?
Lee: I can't. I want it to be a surprise and I can tell you that it has to do with music. I'm not gonna go into brain surgery. I'm sure everybody's gonna be keeping some music in their life. So yeah, it will definitely to do with music.
It will involve you as a songwriter and a drummer?
Lee: I will continue to make music for sure.
You have plans to finally make a solo album, Mick?
Lee: That's cool. I'm excited about that.
Mars: Yeah, vocals and there may be a few instrumentals on there. The ideas I have in my head, I went and jammed with Terry Bozzio and he didn't even fully understand what I'm talking about. Which is a lot of rhythm going on. I'm gonna take rhythms from Cajun, from Jewish music, and from Celtic music and put them all together. Then experiment and play with it and then put electric guitars on. There will be so much diversity in the music and that's what I want to do. Whether it happens or not could be like a big mess.
Kind of rock-meets-World music.
Lee: That will be interesting because depending on what kinds of beats and rhythms that you compile, that's gonna inspire and dictate some new guitar thing.
Motley Crue was always bigger than the musicians in the band - did that ever bother you?
Lee: That stuff happens. I think guys like Mick and I are forgotten about in Motley Crue. Sometimes it's so overwhelming, it overshadows the actual talent. The guitar playing and the drumming get overlooked a lot. But that would be nice to actually be recognized for that. Mick doesn't get very much recognition and I don't either. I probably get more recognition for the actual craziness that I do live than the actual drumming.
Without a doubt.
Lee: And it's funny because one of the reasons I started even doing those things - this is interesting - is when I first saw my first drum solo.
What was that?
Lee: It was Tommy Aldridge playing with Ted Nugent. No, with Pat Travers. And I'm watching Tommy Aldridge and he f--kin' destroyed the drum set. I'm watching and I'm standing on the seat of my chair like a fan and I'm looking around and I'm watching everybody leave. This dude is f--king shredding and people are going to get a beer and going to buy a t-shirt. I'm looking around and I'm noticing not a lot of people are paying attention.
It's usually only other drummers or other musicians who watch solos.
Lee: People are kind of mingling around and going to do stuff. And I went, "That's the problem. That's a huge problem." I go, "I have to figure out" - and this is when I started in my mind putting this together - "a way to make the drum solo visible." Because when a drummer's playing, all of it is blocked. All you're gonna see is sticks flying. You don't see his feet and you don't see what's happening on the snare. It's impossible because it's blocked by toms.
That's when you got the idea for the roller coaster drums?
Lee: I thought, "If I move the drums around like this, I can see what he's doing." Now it's interesting because you're not watching some guy behind a wall of drums just wail. So I'm like, "If I make it interesting, people will watch and go 'Oh, that's what's going on. Both feet are going and they're going like f--k." That's really what inspired me was the drum solo where you couldn't see what was going on.
Will Motley Crue record one last album of original music?
Lee: We haven't really talked about that. Not that I know of.
"Sex" might be the last song the band ever records?
Lee: I think so.
Which would make "Saints of Los Angeles" your final album. Looking back, how do you see that as your sort of last musical statement?
Lee: You know when you think about it that way, it's good but it wasn't really a big team effort. So I don't know if it represents our true last effort as a band.
Would you like to make more music with the band?
Lee: I think it would be fun to make a few new tracks for the movie (a film is being made from "The Dirt," the band's autobiography). I think that would be cool. Something we do together for the end of the movie. I think that would make sense and have a purpose and not just to make music and put it out. It might be kinda cool just to hear the very first scene and the very last scene.
Interview by Steven Rosen Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2014