Mötley Crüe released their first album of new material in nearly a decade this past summer, but that's business as usual for singer Vince Neil. "We stop touring and don't put a record out and everybody says we broke up, and it's not really true," Neil insists. "We were just taking a vacation." That break fully came to an end this year.
The veteran glam-metal act celebrated the release of Saints of Los Angeles with the inaugural Crüe Fest, a traveling multi-act hard rock roadshow that also included Sixx A.M., the side-project of Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx (with producer-vocalist James Michael). Crüe Fest 2 is already planned for summer 2009. And last week, Mötley convened again for a special show at the Hollywood Palladium in preparation for a 2009 U.S. arena tour that begins in San Diego on February 2nd.
That concert marked the debut of a new support act, the Last Vegas, a band chosen in a nationwide competition sponsored by Guitar Center to open the show every night on tour (along with Hinder and Theory of a Deadman). The Palladium gig also brought the four members of Mötley Crüe back to L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard, where the band notoriously began its career more than two decades before. "We walked down the street with our high heels on — stiletto heels — and dog collars," Neil remembers with a laugh. "We didn't have any money, so we looked cheap, but it was good cheap."
Why choose an unknown band to open for the tour?
Kiss took us out when we were just playing clubs, and then when Ozzy took us out it really broke Mötley Crüe. Those bands took chances on us. So why not give back and take a chance with a new unknown band? The Last Vegas are young and aggressive, their songs are good and they look good.
If you could go back and see Mötley from the early days, how do you think you'd react to them as a new band?
I'd probably go, "What the fuck are these guys thinking about, man!" Bands don't do what we used to do. Bands don't have the theatrics. We were lighting ourselves on fire. I had a chainsaw and cut a nun's head off. You don't see that shit at all anymore, which is kind of sad.
How does that connect to what you're doing now?
We just have more money to do it with. We've created a monster and we have to top ourselves every year and put out a bigger and better tour. When you go see a Mötley Crüe show, you know it's going to be a huge production, a lot of cool effects and eye candy, plus the great songs.
Mötley Crüe is an active band now, but you've gone through periods where you've stopped, split up, done different things.
Yeah, there was a breakup a long time ago, but give us a break. You can't put out a record and tour every single year. People like to talk about us, and the press makes more of what happens with Mötley than it really is. Me and Tommy have been friends for 30 years. How many people can really say they still have a friend from 30 years ago? Not very many. And if they did, I'll bet you fought with the guy. I'll bet you had an argument.
Was making Saints of Los Angeles any different from the past?
It was different because technology today made it different. Last time we did a full record was 11 years ago. You can do everything at home now. Tommy did the drums at his house, Mick did guitars at his house, I did vocals at the producer's house. It makes recording easier and cheaper.
Is that as much fun?
You know, being stuck in a studio for six or seven months is no fun, believe me. I live in Vegas, so I came in to L.A. to do the record. I did a song a day. In two weeks I was done.
Any more solo projects in the works?
I'll be recording my record in April, when Mötley's off, before Crüe Fest 2 starts. Then I'll probably release it in early November, when Mötley's finishing this tour.
Are you in the same state of mind with the solo projects?
No, it's a different set of guys, a different style of music. It's a little more aggressive than Mötley, more like an AC/DC vein. Obviously, we play smaller places, which is cool with me. I get the best of both worlds. I love playing in theaters, and I don't mind opening for somebody else. It's very humbling but it's cool.
• Album Review: Mötley Crüe, Saints of Los Angeles
• Mötley Crüe Tune Up For Summer Tour
• Nikki Sixx: "This Album Comes From Our Demented Souls
• Nikki Sixx: "Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers Are Not Rock and Roll"