Yesterday, Mötley Crüe announced their Final Tour – the only chance to see the iconic Hollywood heavy rockers’ last-ever live shows. Indeed, the notion of an end for Mötley Crüe was emphasized by the Grand Guignol theatrics of the event: the band members – drummer Tommy Lee, guitarist Mick Mars, frontman Vince Neil, and bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx – arrived in a hearse and sat behind personalized “R.I.P.” tombstones as they spoke and answered questions. They even signed a formal “Cessation of Touring” legal agreement provided by the band’s attorney, Doug Mark, in front of the assembled audience of worldwide media. Explaining the reasons behind this unexpected career move by one of the most successful rock bands of all time (over 80 million albums sold), Sixx quoted bandmate Lee, noting that Mötley Crüe wanted to stop before “there was no milk left in the titties.”
Ironically, the announcement of Final Tour – for which tickets start to go on sale Friday, with classic shock-rocker Alice Cooper providing support – arrived at a moment when the Mötley mammaries appear fuller than ever. In addition to Final Tour, the press conference also served to reveal the existence of two new high-profile projects. In Summer 2014, Big Machine Records – home to Nashville megastars like Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift – will release an album-length country-music tribute to the music of Mötley Crüe, with expected contributions from Florida Georgia Line, the Eli Young Band, LeeAnn Rimes and more. As well, the long-gestating film adaptation of the best-selling Mötley Crüe warts-and-all biography The Dirt was announced to have a worldwide release in 2015. The film will be directed by Jeff Tremaine, who helmed the Jackass and Bad Grandpa movie franchises.
Rolling Stone spoke to Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx to find out if this is really, in fact, the end to the decades of decadence comprising Mötley Crüe’s existence as one of the world’s biggest rock bands.
What was the actual moment when this idea came up for Mötley Crüe to bow out in this way?
Neil: It came up 3, 4 years ago. We were in Japan. We’d started thinking about a farewell tour – a final tour. I think it was brought to me first by Nikki.
Sixx: It’s been thrown around jokingly for some time. I remember talking to Vince in Japan, and the conversation came down to, “How do we want to be remembered?” If we wait 5 or 10 years, we might still be in the position were in, but we know we’re in the position we’re in now. It really came down to figuring out how do we bow out with dignity. It’s like when people put on certain t-shirts – you puta Ramones t-shirt on and you’re like “I’m going out, I’ve got my Ramones gear on, and I’m not ashamed.” I want that for Mötley Crüe – when someone puts on their Too Fast For Love shirt in twenty years, they go, “Fuck, those guys, man.” You don’t do that if you hobble off.
How did you decide to specifically make this the final tour – not a farewell?
Neil: As people say, there are so many bands that do farewell tours. We don’t want to be that band: we don’t want to say “Okay, Mötley Crüe is done – farewell,” and then when a couple guys in the band leave, they’re replaced, and then go out as Mötley Crüe again. We’re one of the few bands left out there that has the original members. That’s the way we want to go out: the same four guys, leaving on our terms – not leaving because we have to.
Sixx: The idea of not being the original band out on tour – of having possibly two different Mötley Crües being on tour? Can’t have that. Man, I just want people to be proud. Our energy comes from the fact that we’re a family. When Vince left the band, he was like, “Fuck you guys. I’m the singer and I’m going to go do my own stuff.” We went and made more music after that: we made a great record, but it wasn’t Mötley Crüe. Now I look back on that and think we were just young. To be honest with you, if I had to blame anybody, I actually blame our managers at the time, Doc McGee and Doug Thaler, for not saying, “You know what? You guys are fucking stupid, fighting right now. I don’t care if it takes a month – we’re going to sit down and figure this out.” Knowing us, it would’ve probably taken fuckin’ two minutes. But we were young and didn’t have anybody around us that said that. We’re responsible for that happening, but at the same time someone stronger should’ve been around us to help.
Did all four members of the band agree immediately on the “final” concept of the tour?
Neil: Yeah. Everybody was like, “Okay – we’ll put together a plan and we’ll do it when the time’s right.” It’s been a while in the planning.
What can people expect to hear from Mötley Crüe’s catalog on this jaunt?
Neil: The tour doesn’t start until June, so we’re just now putting together what the stage set will look like, what music we’re going to play. It’s pretty much in its early stages right now. But we’re going to try to give everybody a little bit of everything. A lot of people identify with “Home Sweet Home,” so they’d say that’s Mötley Crüe’s legacy – but then other people love “Kickstart My Heart.” Each song means something different to everybody.
Sixx: It’s kind of hard. We have this conversation every tour: do we leave out the hits and appease the 200 people in the arena that want to hear the deep tracks? Do you not play “Girls, Girls, Girls” and play “Fight for Your Rights” instead? It’s hard: by the time you load up all the hits, it’s a long show, but that’s what people pay for.
A lot of the Mötley Crüe tours had such iconic visuals. Is there any thought to bringing some of those back?
Neil: I know it’s been talked about – going through our warehouses and saying “Oh, maybe we can use this thing.”
What about recreating the stage costumes of the early Crüe days?
Neil: [Laughs.] Yeah, I don’t know about that…
Neil: I’ve actually been trying to find my old stuff. I actually found my original Shout at the Devil outfit. The last time I wore it, it was wet, so I rolled it in a ball and threw it in the corner. Now it’s just a ball of leather.
How has touring with Mötley Crüe changed over the decades?
Neil: January 17th actually marked 33 years of the band being together.
That was the age of Jesus when he died.
Neil: There you go! I’ve got a tombstone right here! [Laughs.] It doesn’t feel any different than the first shows we ever played. We were in the Whisky a Go-Go the other day doing the CBS Morning Show, and it still feels the same. When I’m on stage, I look to my left and there’s Mick, and to my right there’s Nikki – even though it’s 30 years later. Nothing has changed, except we’ve gotten older and the shows keep changing and getting bigger and better.
I’m assuming the partying backstage won’t be the same. Although, it is your last hurrah!
Neil: Yeah! [Laughs.] It stopped being that 25 years ago – actually, three of the guys don’t drink anymore. But everybody has their own little thing. We don’t travel in the same bus: people say “Oh they’re fighting again – that’s why they don’t travel together.” That’s not true. When you’re on the road for years, you want to be comfortable – and everyone travels on their own schedules, too.
I was struck by the hearse, the tombstones – all the death imagery accompanying this announcement. This is a band that’s come close to death for real in so many ways, with band members almost dying from drugs, car crashes, and the like. It’s amazing you’ve gotten this far.
Neil: We’ve been really lucky. We’ve had our hard, bad times just like every other band but we’ve overcome them. Take Aerosmith: when Joe Perry left the band, they couldn’t sell out a nightclub. But then when they put out Pump, they got back out there. And then there’s the example of the Man In Black, Mr. Johnny Cash: he was drug addict, done, but then he got back on top. Everyone has to go through that, but you have to survive and persevere through it.
Sixx: It seems to be the one thing that always comes up about Mötley Crüe: that we have lived right on the edge of destruction. And to be honest with you, internally, sometimes it’s a little frustrating. Like, what about the music? When we play live, we play 90 minutes of hit songs: it’s not like we get through two songs and self-destruct. We brought the music with the lifestyle. We’re proud of that.
So you actually signed your “Cessation of Touring” legal agreement just twenty minutes ago in front of the world. That was some stunt! What did it feel like, finally getting to that moment?
Sixx: That was the dummy version of the contract. Actually, we signed all the legal documents last week. It wasn’t just something we threw together: we’d worked on it with corporate lawyers for a long time, going through everything and make sure it was right. But it’s done. There’s no backing out now. It’s been like this fuckin’ blur, maybe because we’re going so fast. Perhaps when it’s done, things will come into focus. At that point, everyone in the band will be doing their own creative stuff, but there will be moments where we’ll miss this. But we’re not there – no tears yet!