It's four hours before Mötley Crüe hit the stage at the Pepsi Center in Denver, and Nikki Sixx is sitting on his tour bus, leafing through a book about the 1936 Olympics and talking up his badass Uno game. "Last night I played with my wife and daughter until 1 a.m.," says the bassist, 55. "I'll play anyone in Uno and crush them."
This guy was declared dead after a heroin overdose in 1987, but a lot has changed for all four members of the Crüe since those crazy days. "When you're young, you drink all night, fuck a thousand chicks and snort as much blow as you want," says Sixx. "I'm sober now. I have the desire to conquer more things."
Right now, Mötley Crüe are on the first leg of their final tour, packing arenas across America with special guest Alice Cooper. We spoke to all four members of the group for a story in the new Rolling Stone. Here are 19 things we learned from the interviews.
1. Initially, even the band's own promoters thought they were bluffing about this being their last tour.
"They said to us, 'This is a good marketing thing,'" says Sixx. "It really bummed us out. They said, 'You know, this is good for five years.' We were like, 'There's no fuckin' way. Who do you think we are?' They said, 'The Who has done this, as has Kiss and tons of others.' That's when we came up with an idea to legally bind us into a contract so we'll never tour together again."
2. The "cessation of touring agreement" does have a loophole.
"If all four band members agree we could overrule our own contract," says Sixx. "But that's never going to happen. There are people in this band that would refuse to do that, and you're talking to one of them. There's no amount of money that will ever change my mind. Even if we get offered $10 million to do 10 shows a decade from now. The way we've set it up, including this conversation right now, we'd just have way too much egg on our face. It's never going to happen."
3. Mick Mars wants to write a book when the tour wraps.
"My story is going to be a little different than everybody else's though," he says. "I don't want to follow the lines of, 'We went on tour, then I screwed this chick and this chick gave me this.' Who cares? I want to write about the music and the ups and downs of the business."
4. They travel on separate busses.
"That's just obvious," says Vince Neil. "Nikki has nine people on this bus. Tommy has his kids all the time. Everyone has their own schedule. There's also not much for us to talk about unless it's about the show."
5. Not all the tension from the old days is gone.
"There's still turmoil," says Sixx. "There are differences and friction. It's like having a girlfriend and you can't stand her, but it's the best sex of your life and you keep going back for the sex, even though she drives you crazy. That's kind of what Mötley Crüe is."
6. Tommy Lee's drum roller coaster, known as the Crüecifly, initially scared the shit out of him.
"It's gnarly," he says. "At the highest point it's about 55 feet in the air. I have to admit I have a little poo-poo in my pants the first time that thing goes upside down."
7. Playing drums upside down, while suspended 55 feet in the air, is no easy feat.
"My job is to make it look easy," says Lee. "But it's twice as difficult as playing on the ground. Gravity pulls your arms down and your feet off the bass pedal. You've got to constantly keep your feet on the pedals and your arms in the upwards position. Jesus Christ, could I have picked a more difficult thing to pull off?"
8. Mick Mars has no plans to retire from music once Mötley Crüe is over.
"I want to make a solo album," he says. "I don't want to sit around my house and get fat and old. I'm already old enough. I want to work until I'm dead."
9. The Dirt movie is going forward.
"Nikki and I just sat through a two-hour table read," says Lee of the movie based on the band's bio. "It wasn't the actual actors from the movie, but people they hired to read the entire script. Fuck, it was such a trip to listen to 30 years of your life go by in two hours. It was just surreal. On the drive home, Nikki and I were looking at each other like, 'What the hell did we just watch?' I can't wait until they start shooting the thing. It's supposed to be soon, at least I think."
10. The final tour is going to expand into 2015.
"I'm sure we'll come back and do the States again," says Neil. "There are a lot of cities we aren't playing. We also have to do Canada, Mexico, South America, Asia, Japan and Europe. We have a long way to go."
11. The use of pre-recorded backing vocals remains a sensitive topic.
In a recent interview with Eddie Trunk, Mars voiced his dissatisfaction with the group's decision to supplement Neil's vocals with pre-recorded parts. "That could get me in a lot of trouble," he said. "Let me put it this way. I'll say two words and you'll know: Britney Spears... I don't like it. I could put on a Mötley CD and play along with it all day. I don't wanna do that."
When asked about it now, Mars has a slightly different take. "I'd rather hear on-key vocals than not," he says. "I guess that there are some people that don't dig it. Some people like raw upfront stuff. I think that background vocals strengthen the band in some ways. I mean, it is what it is."
12. Vince Neil has seriously toned down his drinking.
"I'll have cocktails every once in a while," he says. "I might have a glass of wine with dinner. That's about it."
13. Despite intense pain due to his long struggle with ankylosing spondylitis, Mick Mars remains clean.
"Some days are worse than others as far as pain," says Mars. "But I don't take any painkillers. That's a big no-no. I went that route about 15 years ago, and I never want to go there again, thank you very much. It's not a good route. The quick fix is not a way to go."
14. Mars is considering a reunion with singer John Corabi, who fronted Mötley Crüe for a few years in the 1990s.
"John and I have been talking bout writing some stuff," he says. " A full-blown tour hasn't been discussed, but it's possible."
15. Opinions vary about whether or not they will record new material when the tour ends.
"I don't see that happening," says Lee. "That's just not on the horizon, unless it's for the movie of The Dirt, but I can't imagine what the purpose would be since the movie is about our history." Vince Neil has a different take. "I see us recording stuff in the future," he says. "Absolutely." Nikki Sixx is somewhere in the middle. "We might make music again," he says. "There just has to be a vehicle for it."
16. Should they enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, expect a one-off reunion.
"If some people would get out of their own way egotistically, we would indeed reform for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," Sixx says. "But amongst my peers, the Hall of Fame has become a bit of a joke. But maybe we'll play again for some sort of award or the Super Bowl or something."
17. They've come to terms with the fact many rock critics don't like them.
"We've never been a critics' band," says Neil. "To lots of people, we're a quote '1980s band.' Everybody wants to get rid of the 1980s. They want to go from the 1970s straight to the 1990s, but the 1980s was a huge era for music. It started a whole new type of music that sold a lot of records and people still embrace."
18. They refused to cooperate with the Broadway musical Rock of Ages and subsequent movie.
"I specifically am not one to embrace that era of music," says Sixx. "I don't think we are era-specific. Rock of Ages offered us so much money. They offered us points. They offered us a percentage. We said no. It was a piece of shit movie that has nothing to do with what we believe in."
19. The final Mötley Crüe show will be in Los Angeles.
"It's gotta be there," says Neil. "It's the only place to end it. I'm hoping we do it on January 17th, 2016. It'll be our 35th anniversary." The exact location hasn't been figured out yet. "There's talk of a couple of nights at Staples or the Forum," says Lee. "Afterwards, there might be a 1:00 a.m. show at the Whisky, where we really started this shit. I mean, fuck, we all lived around the corner from that piece of shit club. It would real nice to finish off there."
No matter where and when it happens, Sixx has a vision of that night in his head. "I dream about getting in my car after the final bow," he says. "I'm going to drive home, alone, with the radio off. I'm going to drive pass the Whisky, the Roxy, the Rainbow and the Troubadour. I'll drive up to my house, put the key in the door, walk in, turn around and be like, 'Where did all the fucking years go?' Then I'll close the door and wait for the next chapter."