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Nikki Sixx Interview

A Conversation with the Motley Crue and Sixx AM Songwriter/Bassist


Nikki Sixx

Nikki Sixx

Eleven Seven Music
Nikki Sixx has come a long way over the years. He lived the wild, rock-star lifestyle, chronicled in his first book The Heroin Diaries along with the classic Motley Crue book The Dirt. These days, Sixx is older and wiser. He's cleaned up his act, become an author, photographer and radio DJ in addition to being in two popular bands. Motley Crue is still touring, and will be going on the road this summer with Poison. Sixx AM, more of a mainstream rock/hard rock band, had a very successful debut album, and their new release is This Is Gonna Hurt. That's also the title of Sixx's new book, a combination photo book and journal. I spoke to Sixx when he was in the middle of his book tour, and we discussed the new book, the Sixx AM album, what's going on with Motley and other subjects.

Chad Bowar: How is the book tour going so far?
Nikki Sixx: It's going really, really well. What's exciting is seeing the look on fans' faces. They get it, they get the book, they get the message. They feel like they are a part of the whole process.

Are the crowds coming to get their books signed pretty similar to the crowd you'd see at a Motley Crue show?
Both are evolving. There are so many young kids at the book signings. That's a pretty cool thing. We're seeing that at Motley live shows, too. We get young kids there, sometimes coming with their parents, sometimes not. I heard quite a few times at the book signings that “my daughter brought me here,” who had not even heard of Motley Crue, but just knew about Sixx AM. The mom then told her daughter Motley Crue was her band growing up, and they came to the book signing together. It's amazing.

Did writing this book come from a similar headspace as The Heroin Diaries, or was it different?
The similarities are going to be in my writing style. I like the Beat Generation style writers. There is going to be no way around that fact. But subject matter-wise, it's completely different. I think my dark sense of humor doesn't evolve too much, whether I'm writing now or 10 years from now.

You also didn't have as much help with this one, I understand.
Exactly. I didn't have a ghost writer, I did everything myself. I worked with an editor putting it together. The diaries from The Heroin Diaries were written in the '80s, but the part I felt was important wasn't the addiction, but the recovery process. It was fantastic working with Ian Gittins. Ian not only inspired and pushed me in my own writing, but collected those important interviews with people that were able to reflect back on that time and report to the reader what it was like then, and what it's like now. The whole idea behind The Heroin Diaries was addiction and recovery.

In addition to the book and CD, you also put together a documentary exploring more of the background of the characters in the book.
As the album was being written, me and DJ (Ashba) and James (Michael) felt there was an interpretation that connected directly to the three of us, individually and collectively. What a lot of the photography was and the message coming out of the photography and the book was that I was with these two other guys and making music. It's a big part of where my heart is at.

My interpretation of who I'm photographing is my vision. I'm capturing it with a camera. The story of the photo is being told by Sixx AM, which is our interpretation of my interpretation of that song. I had a film crew filming me do the photo sessions. I was talking to the guys, and we thought the people being photographed need to have a voice, too, as well as us in the band. We want to be clear about what we're doing. We started putting together this documentary, and instead of doing it as one big piece, we decided to break it up into six episodes, and let people absorb it and give the people who were photographed a voice.

I think it's been really inspirational to people. Everyone is really getting it. It's very positive, but at the core it's still very raw and unhinged. Check out our Facebook page and see what people are saying. Because of the honesty of the music from Sixx AM and the honesty between The Heroin Diaries and This Is Gonna Hurt, it's giving people a place to meet and be completely honest, publicly. People are telling publicly their deepest, darkest secrets. It's amazing.

Going into the first Sixx AM record, it was an unknown quantity. Did the success of that first album change the vibe or add any pressure this time around?
No, because we really don't know who we are, which we really love. We are trying to figure it out. We definitely are not linear and one-dimensional. I don't think we fit into a “make a record, do a tour” type of package. We don't even have a drummer. We're really songwriter/producers. It's like an art project. It really cross-pollinates with a lot of stuff. It's kind of cerebral at times, but yet it's slamming guitars and definitely rock.

Motley Crue is touring this summer with Poison and New York Dolls. Was there a thought of having Sixx AM also play, like you did a couple of years ago on Crue Fest?
It never came up. It was something that we did that was really a great experience. We got to open for Motley Crue, which was the weirdest thing ever. The only thing weirder would have been if I could have sat in the crowd and watched the band, which I hope doesn't happen. (laughs)

This summer Motley is going out with Poison and the New York Dolls. The Dolls have a big influence on a lot of levels to a lot of bands, and we feel that Poison has so many hit songs. All three bands are survivors, and I like that. It feels like an underdog tour. None of these bands should be here, and here we are. It's very exciting to see the reaction of fans. The ticket sales are through the roof. That tells me the fans asked for something, they got what they wanted, and they are really happy about it. The bands are happy, and everybody is really excited. With the economy being so bad and it being hard for people to go to concerts, for people to be excited for this tour to come through their town makes us feel like we made the right decision.

Vince Neil has had some issues recently, including a DUI arrest in Las Vegas and other charges involving an incident with his girlfriend. Any concerns about him and his status for the tour?
Vince is fine. Don't believe the gossip. There has been so much gossip about this band for 30 years. Whether it's Nikki's dead or Tommy's gone AWOL or Mick's not going to make the tour, and now there's new stuff about Vince. We were just all together and we were laughing. He's made some mistakes, he's rectified that, we're going to rehearsal and we're going to kick some ass.

Are there plans for another Motley Crue studio album?
I think our best record is still in us. I really believe that. When we buckle down towards the end of the year and next year and really put the songs together, I'm excited. Saints Of Los Angeles was fantastic. It was nominated for a Grammy, and after being around for 30 years and being nominated tells me we're still making music that people are noticing. Album sales are down globally and the band is still doing great.

We're always figuring out ways to reinvent ourselves and keep the adolescent charm alive in the band. That's part of the beauty of the band, its simplicity and fragmented, weird personality. That's what makes Motley Crue and we really don't want to fix that. We love being in a band together. We love our music and the fans are loving it. Without sounding like a cliché, I'm really grateful that I still get to do this.

You're also doing a nightly syndicated radio show along with a weekend countdown. How has that been going?
I've been a huge fan of radio since I was a kid. I know how it works, but it still feels like magic to me when somebody says something into a microphone and it comes out of a speaker somewhere.

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