VINCE NEILSTEIN INTERVIEWS NIKKI SIXX IN METALSUCKS EXCLUSIVE!
“Hey Nikki? You’re on with Vince Neilstein.”
The above line was actually uttered by someone on Motley Crue’s management/label/PR team when they connected me with Nikki Sixx for an interview this past Friday. PR girl chuckled at the absurdity of the moment while I became flush with embarrassment, and I’m pretty sure Nikki didn’t notice / didn’t care / was too confused to say anything back. And so began my 10-minute chat with Sixx about the Crue’s upcoming Las Vegas residency, the forthcoming Sixx A.M. acoustic album (now streaming here), Nikki’s in-the-works new books, and Rod Stewart.
Nikki: Hey. How are you doing, man?
Vince: Hey. What’s up, man? How are you?
Nikki: What are you doing?
What am I doing? I’m talking to Nikki Sixx, and I’m stoked on it! What are you doing? Are you incredibly excited about Las Vegas?
I’m so excited. It’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. We were just trying to find the right set and The Hard Rock is perfect. I also like the fact that the band is going to be, for the first time, in a residency. So what we do with the show can be more interactive, it can be over the audience, the audience can be on the stage. We don’t really have all the details worked out yet, but the idea of being in one place and not having to pack up and go to another city every night is pretty creative.
Yeah. Whose idea was it to do this?
It’s something that the band has been talking about for years. There was a conversation about six years ago about it, and we just couldn’t make all the pieces fit – the location wasn’t right, it wasn’t the right time for the venue, it wasn’t the right time for the band. We really wanted to do it on a short term for about three weeks and see how it feels for the fans and for us. If it’s something that we all have an amazing experience doing, I have a feeling that it is going to be one of those life changing experiences and something that we can look at doing more of down the road.
How involved are you guys in coordinating the logistics of an event that’s such a huge undertaking like this one?
We jam on it as a band. We work with our production manager. We work with a really talented group of people whether it’s pyro or choreographers, but it all really comes from the band. The vision comes from the band, either the history of the band or where the band is at now visually and lyrically. We start jamming on ideas and we start kind of shooting for the moon to be honest with you. You just go “can we do this” and it’s like “well, we’ve never done that before. Let’s check into it”. Then you find out either you can or can’t and then it all starts to come together. It’s kind of the best time, that creative time.
Vegas has set the bar so high with a lot of shows – not really the bands that have played because I think there are a lot of cool bands that have played there — but there’s not really a band that’s been in a residency there. That’s kind of what we’re excited about. There’s been no KISS, there’s been no Mötley Crüe, there’s been no bigger than life rock show there. There’s been Celine Dion, there’s been Rod Stewart, Elton John (who I love). I love Rod Stewart, but it’s not the same kind of beast. I think Mötley Crüe really fits the whole feeling of what Vegas is about more than just anybody.
Can we expect a Rod Stewart cameo in the Las Vegas Mötley Crüe residency?
How cool would that be? When I was working on “Don’t Go Away Mad,” to be honest with you, I kind of nicked it a little bit from “Maggie May” from the Faces, Rod Stewart. Then later, Cee Lo nicked “Don’t Go Away Mad” with his song with “Forget About You.” I think we should have Cee Lo, Rod Stewart and Mötley Crüe all at one time and burst into flames.
[Laughs] Make it happen. You still have time. What’s Rod Stewart doing right now? He’s got nothing else better to do. Cee Lo maybe does.
I think he’s in Vegas.
There you go!
He’s still got the coolest hair in rock.
[Laughs] Well you have time to make that happen. Let’s hope for it. Are there any specific details? I know that it’s still in the planning phase but is there any one thing that you can tell us sort of akin to you having Tommy on the rollercoaster on the last tour? Something like that? Some little bit that you’re trying to execute for this series of shows.
To be honest with you, we have about four different floor plans that we’re looking at, different kinds of lighting designs, different ways to be interactive with the audience, so if I gave you a tidbit by tomorrow it may not even be true. I can’t really go there. To me, again this is the most exciting part where you can throw everything on the table and see what you can get away with. In the end, that’s what it is for us – what can we get away with?
On your last tour you did this past summer, you guys played for two hours which is pretty intense. Is it going to be even bigger and longer than that?
That’s the thing – when you play at a place like this, you can decide how you want to break it up. Do you want to have intermissions? Do you just want to play solid the whole time? Do you want to have different elements that happen? How long do you want to play? How much different music do you want to play every night? That’s an element that we’ve already been talking about. I think that it’s kind of important, especially when you have a Friday, Saturday, Sunday when you have a lot of the same people that are hanging in Vegas that are gambling and coming to see the Crüe. [During the period of time we’re doing it] there’s Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl weekend, Presidents’ Day. It’s really one of the busiest times in Vegas. We need to shake it up and keep it interesting.
It’s actually true, yes. It’s coming out in a few weeks. It’s 7 songs. The thing about Sixx:A.M. that’s really interesting is that it’s so diverse where we go from anything from spoken word to orchestrated stuff to just straight up hard rock to really gut wrenching mid tempo dirge-ish stuff to just beautiful ballads. When me, James and DJ were talking, we were like “all these songs sound great on the acoustic guitar. All these songs sound great on piano”. To be honest with you, most of those songs were written either on piano or acoustic guitar. We sat in the hotel room and the three of us would just write the music. James took on the task of converting everything over, grabbing all of our parts and realigning everything, and we went in and redid some stuff where there was a piano, orchestra and acoustic guitars. It’s a really interesting album. I played it for a few of my friends and they’re like “this is one of the coolest records I’ve ever heard”.
There were a couple of things that I have heard over the years – covers of other people’s music, and there’s one called the Casualties of Jazz. It’s not relatable to what we’re doing, but what they did is the first Black Sabbath album in a jazz format. Knowing those songs so well but hearing them in that format just reignited your love for those songs. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think. We love it.
That’s great. Any plans to bring that band on the road?
We’ve turned down almost every tour, but we did go out on Crüe Fest on the first record. At this point, we’re not sure if touring is the way to do it. We don’t know what that means. We know that the band is really an art project, and that we don’t really fit or have to fit any format. We’re just sort of letting it shake itself out and feel itself out. Mötley Crüe is the mother ship. I do my radio show and it’s on over 100 radio stations. That’s just such an amazing creative thing for me. Sixx:A.M. is another creative thing for me, and so is photography and writing books. I just have to let things happen organically or it’ll feel corporate.
Yeah, yeah. It seems like with the first record, which I thought was great, people knew about it, but it seems like the second record really came out of the gate a lot stronger. If it’s that kind of progression then maybe when it makes sense, you’ll do something.
Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re saying the same thing. I’m not saying that we’ll never tour, I just don’t know when or what that will look like. Is it one night only? What is it? Is it an acoustic tour? Is it a festival tour? I don’t know. Do we wait until the third or fourth album and start a headlining tour and actually do it in arenas? It’s kind of nice to not have to do it for money and not have to do it for ego. Mötley Crüe is built the same way. We love Mötley Crüe and do it for the right reasons and it’s been very successful. I want to keep that same formula.
Last question because we’re on a time limit here: with these new books that you’ve been teasing in the press, I think a lot of people are going “well, the Heroin Diaries was great and the second book This is Gonna Hurt was great. What is there possibly left to write about?”
If I’m going to write about my life, I need to wait 20 years so that I can do something that takes off where This is Gonna Hurt ends even though it’s not an autobiography. It is a sort of look at society through my eyes. What I’m doing next has nothing to do with me. What’s happening after that has nothing to do with me. It’s actually going to be something for the readers. You start to go “what does that mean?” Does that involve art? Maybe. Does that involve more of a novel-based thing? Possibly. What it isn’t is an autobiography. What it isn’t is a tell-all. For sure it is neither of those.
Well that clears up absolutely nothing.
Yeah it does. I basically gave you a whole lot of hints.
I’ll have to go back and parse that and really analyze it and let the internet rumor mill do its thing. Thanks a lot for taking the time, man. I really appreciate it. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Alright. Thank you, man.