Against all odds, Mötley Crüe have survived through 30 years of bad behavior and loud music. Tonight, they’re marking the unlikely anniversary with the Dallas kickoff of a 45-date summer tour of North America. “It’s pretty massive, more than we’ve done in quite a while,” 60-year-old guitarist Mick Mars tells Rolling Stone. “We’ve got much more pyro going on than Rammstein. The pyro is over the top, the lighting is awesome, the stage is bigger than it’s been in quite a while. I’m very thrilled and excited.”
Mötley Crüe is a rare act from the Eighties glam-metal scene: They’re still together and they’re still touring major venues. Mars, singer Vince Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee have also come to a point in their careers when the band is being honored with lifetime achievement awards, including a recent one at the Golden Gods in Los Angeles. In August, Mötley Crüe return to the site of their birth (and some notorious scenes from the band autobigraphy The Dirt) as headliners and honorees of the Sunset Strip Music Festival.
“As long as I’m happy in my band and playing and touring, I would be just as contented with that – even if I was shunned by the big corporate people,” says Mars. “Honestly, I’m more about music than anything else. I just enjoy playing and touring and having fun and seeing my fans – from back 30 years ago. It’s fun to see them with their kids. I have a great time doing that.”
For this summer’s road trip, Mötley Crüe is performing a setlist chosen from an online survey of fans, and will include songs not performed in nearly two decades. The quartet is also joined on tour this time by their pop-metal contemporaries Poison and – in an inspired bit of concert booking – first-wave glam-rockers the New York Dolls.
“I love those guys,” Mars says of the Dolls. Before this tour, he had never before met the flamboyant Seventies proto-punk act led by singer David Johansen. “I really like David Johansen a lot. He has that same charismatic thing as Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler – you look at them, and charisma just flows out of them. It’s really cool.”
After this year’s busy touring schedule, Mars says, Mötley plans to begin work on a new album in 2012 – the first since 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles, which debuted as a top five album. “The SLA album was a level up for Mötley, and I think we should step it up even more – and become more current,” says Mars. “I know a lot of people liked it, and I was okay with it. It was a good record. But I think we can do a lot better than that honestly.”
That album was the first with the original quartet since 1997, which came amid years of dissension and the comings and goings of Lee and Neil. The full quartet reunited in 2004. Those days of tension and breakups seem to be behind them in 2011, says Mars. “We have been brothers for 30 years. Of course you’re going to get into disputes here and there and get mad at each other and go, ‘OK, I’m leaving the band!’ It’s doesn’t last too long,” says Mars. “You’ve just got to fight through the crap. We all still love each other very much.”