Mötley Crüe will wrap up their second Las Vegas residency at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Joint this weekend. The L.A. quartet’s plans after that are up in the air, but the end is nigh for the group. Frontman Vince Neil said over the summer that the band was planning a farewell tour next year. Nikki Sixx confirms that while the timing is not set in stone, the band will at some point in the future set out for one last jaunt around the world as "brothers."
As the group gets set to put Vegas behind them, Sixx spoke to Rolling Stone about his vision for the finale of Crüe, the importance of pyrotechnics and interviewing Paul McCartney for his radio show, Sixx Sense.
How did the residency feel to you?
It’s always exciting and a challenge to build something that in a lot of ways you can’t tour with elements of it, so you have that opportunity to work on things. And a lot of elements in our show are based strictly in fire, and fire is always an issue with fire marshals in each city. Some have had bad experiences, some are open to it, some understand that everything we do is safe for the audience. The only people that would actually be in danger are band members if they stepped into the wrong place, but we kind of know where we’re supposed to be most of the time. So when you’re in one city, you’re able to go work the show out and be consistent every single night. That’s the great part of it.
Are there individual elements of the show you’d like to take forward on the next tour?
One of the things we did is we got rid of the pyro company we’ve been working with for years because we sat down with them years ago and said, "Look, we need to push the envelope with our pyrotechnics." What happened for us is we started watching Super Bowl commercials, car commercials, other bands. I would go to concerts and go, "Wait, those are our flame projectors that we developed. That’s our set." And we got pretty bummed out because people get complacent and the pyrotechnic companies are no different. They’re like, "This has been approved, this is safe, this works." And we’re like, "No, we want stuff that’s never been seen before." So we worked with a new company, we feel like we’ve really developed something new and fresh. So yes, we’d like to be able to bring elements of it on the road.
Will the next tour be the farewell tour, as Vince said?
We haven’t decided when that is, we’re talking about that. It’ll happen, but we don’t know when it will happen. The most important thing about a farewell tour is that the band doesn’t lie to the fans, and the band doesn’t tour and then come back years later. That’s what’s important for us, planning what’s the right time to go out. We have a great fan base, we have original fans all the way down to teenagers, and we really feel grateful to that and we continue to reinvent ourselves over the years. People always tried to make us an unimportant part of rock history and that doesn’t really affect us because it’s always been that way. Critics have always snubbed us. The thing about Mötley Crüe is we are a people’s band, we don’t kiss ass to the industry. We believe artists should be in control of their own destiny and that destiny also includes when it should be done so that their fans can forever be proud. It’s not one or two band members up there dragging the band name around. It’s a band for a reason, it works for a reason. We’re really proud of that. I think that’s why, when the day does come, we want to be proud of our band and what we’ve achieved.
Someone said to me the other day, "Won’t you be sad?" I go, "No, I’d be sad if we were playing half-full theaters and only two band members were in the band." That would be sad. Sad is not taking your final bow in Los Angeles all together as four brothers. I talked to a friend the other day and they were talking about a friend of theirs who passed away. And after the funeral, they had this huge party and everybody was celebrating, drinking and telling stories about this guy and how fun he was and how much joy he gave everybody in life. That’s how I feel about Mötley Crüe. When that day comes, that’s what I want: one big fucking huge party to celebrate what we’ve done, all the good, all the bad, all the in-between. There it is, one big party, one final bow. It’s gonna be fucking rad, but we’re not there yet. Right now, we got three shows left in Vegas and then we’re gonna start looking forward to when we tour next.
Could there be multiple tours, or is the next one the finale?
We don’t know right now. We said as brothers and a band, that’s something we plan on doing sometime in the future, but we’re not there yet, so we don’t have any idea when. We’re not sitting down right now planning on that.
When these shows are over, then does your focus turn to Sixx A.M.?
Gonna finish the Sixx A.M. album. The album is so rich and we have so much music, we’re deciding on which pieces of that music we want to put together to make an album. For us, it’s very important to make an album. We still think it’s important to make records, full-length records that somehow all tie together, that you want that whole body of work, all ten or twelve songs, because they do something for your life. For example, Bruno Mars' album I listen to from top to bottom. I have songs that are my favorites, but I listen to the album top to bottom. I listen to Physical Graffiti. It’s a double album, I put it on and listen to it all the way through. When bands make 1o, 15, 20 songs that are really great songs, you’re inspired to listen to the whole record, and that’s really our intention with Sixx A.M.
You mention listening to Bruno Mars. Does the Sixx A.M. album cross a wide variety of genres?
I’ve always listened to so many different genres of music. Growing up in Idaho, there was country radio, then discovering rock radio that was piped in from Boise – we were in Jerome, Idaho – that got me discovering the little mom and pop record store in town. I got my Harry Nilsson and Deep Purple albums. I’d be listening to funk, metal, rock, Beatles, Stones, Elton John, Queen, then discovering T Rex, Bowie, Slade. Those bands are all song-oriented. So, to me, if you’re listening to an artist, whether it’s thrash or pop, it’s how good the song is. I just interviewed Paul McCartney for my radio show, Sixx Sense, last week and I got to spend a lot of time with his new record. When we talked, that was so important to him that I listened to his record, I knew the songs.
Had you ever met him before?
No, it was the first time we ever met. I love musicians, I love rock & roll. When you put the two together and it’s bands that have been a soundtrack for my life, it’s exciting for me. And what happens for me is we just have conversations. I’m not so awestruck as much as I’m excited to talk about music. For me, it was nice talking to McCartney because I mentioned a couple of things to him on a song "Early Days," and how it sounded and felt vulnerable, and that’s why the song reached out to me. And he was able, as a musician and a guy who’s probably pretty close to a perfectionist in the studio, to say, "It’s really interesting you said that because I didn’t want to keep it, I wanted to go in and re-sing it and maybe make it a little bit better. But the producer I was working with said, 'No, that’s what’s beautiful about it, it’s so vulnerable.'" And on that level we were able to connect, and I think that’s what happens when fans of music or a musician like myself am able to talk to another musician. It’s not like a sales pitch at that point, you’re just talking music.