Nikki Sixx: 'The Secret To My Success Is That I Just Won't Die'

artist: Nikki Sixx date: 08/18/2007 category: interviews
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Nikki Sixx: 'The Secret To My Success Is That I Just Won't Die'
Mtley Cre founding member and song-writer Nikki Sixx has taken a different stroke with the pen via his first book Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star which will be released come September. Co-written by Ian Gittins (Guardian, Q Magazine) Heroin Diaries is based on Sixx's journal entries beginning Christmas 1986 where he documented the tumultuous relationship he had with heroin and his mega-selling band, Mtley Cre. Chronicling the highs and lows of being in one of the world's biggest rock bands while being one of the most notorious junkies to survive the excess of the 80s, Heroin Diaries also includes commentary from those closest to Sixx - then and now - who had an all-access pass to his struggle and recovery from his addictions. Accompanying the book will be a dynamic sonic diary that was written and produced by Sixx, James Michael and DJ Ashba under the moniker of Sixx: A.M. that retraces Sixx's path from destruction to salvation. On the eve of the release of both projects, Joe Matera spoke to Nikki Sixx to discuss the Heroin Diaries, the soundtrack, Mtley Cre and cheating death. Ultimate-Guitar: Your upcoming book is a riveting read, a no holds bar account of your descent into drug addiction and overdose. But rather than be a first person account it works on many levels for the reader. Not only do we get an intimate account of your experience, the thoughts and feelings you were going though but we also get perspectives from those around you at the time, your friends, family, musicians all of which gives a balanced view of everything. If I had released these diaries as they were and just wrote my overview story or tried to show how clever I was with my writing, I would have given the message to the readers that would have been something along the lines of 'well woe me, a multi-millionaire rock star selling out arenas and who can have anything and everything he wantsoh and he has a drug problem and now he's going to say oh it was bad'that's what it would have sounded like to them. So it needed to have a little more of a fly on the wall perspective of having been there. Though having a relationship with the pen and paper was wonderful and very important to the core of the story, I wanted to also have other people's interpretation of this story. That way you can see what happens in the extended world. You can see the perspective of the family of the person who is going through the crisis as well as with band members and musicians that I've associated with and ex-managers, ex-girlfriends, publicists and people that were living day by day with me. We also brought in my mother, my sister and my grandfather. What all this allowed me to see was that if I looked back as far I could see, there was a dysfunction for me that kind of started off on the wrong foot. And that is telling as afar as psychologically looking at the story. To do the imprint across the top of it as a writer today and actually be able to write my story from my teenage years until now, really allowed me to close the chapter on it all. And show I think, a very true and rounded story instead of it being just from one person solely. Didn't you start the early writing sessions for the book with Neil Strauss (The Dirt)? No, Neil and I had talked about it but what I needed was somebody - and though Neil is one of my favourite writers - I needed somebody that was going to go in there and really pull the information out of the other people. It was very difficult to try and sit down with a band member and say 'tell me about my darkest days?' Because they're going to say, 'well you weren't that bad' or 'yeah you were an asshole but you hey want go out for a burger?' So I needed somebody to go in there and disarm them and turn them around and get them to really open up to what really bothered them or didn't bother them. And Ian Gittins was phenomenal at doing just that and at filtering the information back to me as I was writing the overview of the story. The core of the thing is the diaries but there is all this other stuff that fills out the story too. There's a line in Van Nuys, the second track on the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, which I found quite profound. The line goes, 'I just want my father to know that I finally made it'. Since you did change your name originally to Nikki Sixx as an act of rebellion against your father, do you think that has been the impetus behind everything you've done in your life and career where it has been about the need to prove to your father who and what you are? You know that's a part of where I was at the time. I had to go back and revisit those feelings when James Michael first brought that song in and said, 'this really feels like where you were at'. We all wrote together and independently for this project, three producers, songwriters a lot of people. I had to be able to talk with James and open up to him about was those lyrics brought up in me. There's two parts to that song the first part is 'I don't want my mom to know I've sold my soul' and 'I want my father to know that I finally made it'. Those are very adolescent feelings that I think anybody whose in that downward spiral would definitely feel and would be saying, 'God I just wish they knew'.
"In my case, drugs and alcohol don't make me more creative, they make me less creative."
When you overdosed in December of 1987 and were declared dead but remarkably were revived by paramedics, do you remember anything of the experience of having come close to the other side? I'd done a VH1 Behind The Music a few years ago which first brought up what has always sort of been in my head. You see I sort of remember things like I remember sort of seeing the event even though I was actually lying on the ground with a sheet over my head. There was a part of me that thought, 'God did I really die? Is it real or is it fake?' It was very confusing and I kind of blurted it out those feelings on Behind The Music. Then later I was like, 'God I wish I hadn't said that', because I just didn't want people to think I was fuckin' nuts. But then when I found the diaries and read that part of it, I was fuckin' blown away. I was like 'fuck that was exactly what was in my head'. And it was scary. Having come close to death, did it give you a new spiritual outlook on life? Not so much from that experience but in general. I think I'm a very spiritual person. I believe there is a power greater than myself and I believe that there is something else out there. It would be pretty narcissistic to think it's all about us? Even though we have this great terminology of rock god, I mean it's a bit of a farce though isn't it? That whole period in the 80s with the success of Mtley Cre and all your underlining drug addictions, looking back now, do you think that if you hadn't gone through all that debauchery and whatnot we may not have the songs you wrote that came out from all of that? You know one will never know. I look at an album like Dr. Feelgood and I see it as one of our best albums and that was done at a time when the band all had their act together. And then I look at the other albums where we were really smashed and out of it and they were what they were. No one will ever know. In my case, drugs and alcohol don't make me more creative, they make me less creative. So I can only imagine. I mean I look at the soundtrack for the Heroin Diaries and the creativity that is happening on that record where it was all done with clear heads, it tells me right there that I'm probably a better artist when my I'm clearer. How important do you think was your producer Tom Werman to the overall band's success during that whole '80s period? You know I don't want to apologize for anything that we've done like that. I think that was all part of the process. I still have a very good time when I tour and the only difference is I don't snort anything. I just probably have to remove more pairs of panties to get laid. Getting back to the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack it sounds very cohesive on a whole yet all the songs are capable of also standing on their own too? Our goal for the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack was just to create what ever was right for the song and sort of follow the inspiration of the book and the writing. When we put the album together it was very important for us to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Which basically are the tracks; X-mas In Hell, Intermission and Life After Death and then we filled in what was right for the album in there. We actually had written a double album's worth of music. And it was difficult but very important to hone it down to the thirteen songs. The soundtrack provided the impetus for the formation of your new band Sixx AM? Well up to about a month ago we weren't even a rock band! Me, DJ and James were just making a soundtrack to the book. But people kept saying this is really, really spectacular and radio was really interested in playing it. And people were then saying 'it's got to be by somebody'. So begrudgingly for me, we kind of agreed well James and DJ agreed to call the band Sixx AM. And so we just became a band. And as far as what's next, do they make a movie out of this do we do a tour? I just don't know as it's all speculative. At the moment, it is all coming at us one day at a time and we're really excited.
"Probably the secret to my success is simply that I just won't die!"
You've played Gibson Thunderbird basses for most of your career? Yeah I first started out playing a 1976 Thunderbird and then when that fell apart, I ended up playing B. C. Rich and played that for awhile. Then I went to the Kramer Thunderbird and from there I went to Gibson and have been with them for the past 20 odd years playing the Thunderbird. And I also have my own signature model bass called the Blackbird which is kind of a customized Thunderbird. What gear did you use for the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack? Most of the record was played with a '59 Fender P-Bass which is kind of my favourite studio bass. And for most of the stuff I just recorded through a '64 Fender Bassman. I used no effects and no nothing. I was just one microphone in the middle of the room and that was it. What are your views on the whole music downloading issue? I think anything we can do to spread music around is good. I like the way that you can fire away, you know, infect a whole community so to speak. So I think that it's all good. I do believe that you can't control it and you shouldn't try to control it. It will spread beyond what it is where people will actually purchase all their music via it. Will it affect some things? Probably. Does it increase sales at the same time? Probably soyes. I would agree with all of those arguments. And it's an argument that I've watched artists take both sides on but I tend to stand on the side of letting it all get out there. So when can we expect another Mtley Cre album to surface? Well we just got done touring for quite a few years recently. Now I'm home working on the Heroin Diaries project, the soundtrack and getting the message out there. As well there is the clothing line that I'm doing with Kelly Gray called Royal Underground which is really doing well. I'm just really enjoying this creative time at home and am not so really inclined to get up and go do a Mtley Cre at this point in time. I mean at some point, sure but right now it's like I've never done Mtley Cre and my projects at the same time anyway so right now it's my time to do whatever I want to do. And I'm also working on a novel which I'd like to eventually finish too. Finally what do you think is the secret to your success and longevity? Probably the secret to my success is simply that I just won't die! (laughs) 2007 Joe Matera
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