THE mercury in Minneapolis is plunging mercilessly past zero as Middle America wallows in snow. Vince Neil, however, is waltzing down the hotel corridor towards his multi-room penthouse in a sleeveless v-neck shirt and blue boxer shorts.
His dirty blonde hair spews out from under a neatly reversed baseball cap, just like the one he wears in all those celebrity golf tournaments.
The shortish screamer, 28 and one-forth Mexican, is what hundreds of thousands of white teenage males see as rebellion. American-style rebellion, that is. Capitalist anarchism. Or, as Jon Bon Jovi once said of Neil, “the Rolex Axl Rose”.
“What does that mean?” Neil asks when I repeat that quote safely inside his palatial quarters.
Perhaps it means there is some contradiction about singing about rebellion and life on the streets and being filmed riding in a limousine jacuzzi down Sunset Strip with a bunch of bare-breasted models.
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. He’s just run out of insults, he’s run out of things to say.”
The nine-year-old Los Angeles-based quartet, of course, hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with Jon Bon Jovi since last year’s Moscow Peace Festival when Bon Jovi used fireworks and the Crue weren’t allowed to.
They axed manager Doc McGhee – a man with a similarly less-than-saintly past – and proceeded to slag off Jon Bon Jovi as a “candy-ass lying asshole” to the world’s music press.
Motley Crue may now be sober and three-quarters married (bassist and founder Nikki Sixx will marry Brandi Brandt in May) but never let it be said they are candy asses.
Didn’t Vince punch out Guns N’Roses’ Izzy Stradlin in at last year’s American Music Awards for pinching his wife on the breast?
“We don’t lie to our fans. We’re an honest band. We keep everything on the table.
“When I heroine overdosed, we told the truth.
“When everything’s gone down, accidents, divorces, bad times, good times, we’ve always told the truth.”
In 1987, the Crue’s severe drug problems forced them to cancel a sold-out tour of Britain that left them hugely out-of-pocket and with a poor reputation in that country.
Clearly, Motley Crue has not ALWAYS told the truth; the band did not admit its drug problems had caused that cancelation until recently.
“Sometimes it’s better not to tell the truth at the time … solve your problems and then talk about it,” says guitarist Mick Mars.
NIKKI Sixx is watching the MTV request program like an expectant father. In between trying to guess the bra size of the female VJ, he is wait to see the chart position of the latest Crue single.
Resplendent in a terry-towelling t-shirt and old blue jeans, he gets up from his couch to turn down request number two, KISS’ “Forever”. “This song blows,” he says with disgust.
His disappointment is short-lived, however, with sickly Dr Feelgood single “Without You” topping the chart as expected.
Sixx was born Frank Carlon Serafano 30 years ago in San Jose, California. He grew up with his grandparents after his mother left his father for a musician in Frank Sinatra’s band.
Motley Crue’s founder and chief songwriter, Sixx claims to have got his first guitar by walking into a music store with an empty guitar case and asking for a job. When the manager turned his back to get an application form, Sixx reputedly stuck the guitar in his case.
Though amiable, Sixx is visibly tiring of my line of questioning, about how much of Motley Crue’s success to date has relied on their decadent image.
“The point is, we just got sick of being off-stage what we were on-stage,” he says, earnestly.
“I don’t think we have an image, I just think it’s music right now. ”
But were you, at any stage, more interested in being rock stars than musicians?
Drummer Tommy Lee would later admit to finding the band’s non-musical influence over its fans somewhat sobering. He comments: “You’ll see a kid with a fag go ‘Crue Rules’ and chug a bottle of Jack. You go to yourself ‘fuck, that kid’s only 15. In two years, he’ll be a basket case’. His dad will beat him for coming home late’. Lee says, however, he’s not responsible for this. “Eveeyone’s responsible for themselves,” he says.
Sixx left LA glam band London in 1981 and set about starting his own band. Lee, who was then a bass player, was the first to come to the party. Next came Bob Deal (aka Mick Mars), who had advertised in a trade magazine: “Loud, rude, aggressive guitarist available”.
The oft-quoted snippet from Sixx, which appears in the band’s biography, says: “We didn’t even have to hear him play. We went: ‘This is the guy, he’s disgusting.'”
As the man who shaped the multi-platinum four-piece’s fearsome image, Sixx is now set on longevity. He sees the success of Dr Feelgood as a sign Motley Crue will now step into some sort of honest rock’n’roll ascention, built by the likes of Cream and Mott The Hoople.
“What ever happened to those bands?” he asks rhetorically. “What ever happened to the Stones, Aerosmith, Mott The Hoople, old Queen? What ever happened to the real shit, living and breathing for one thing that was most important in your life and that was rock’n’roll?
“What’s going on in the music business? Why is everybody so into this, the money, money, money, greed, greed, greed shit?
“It’s so sad, so fabricated, so corporate.”
While his statements appear somewhat shallow in the light of Motley Crue’s shamelessly exhibitionist past, Sixx seems an important difference between his band and other pop-metal acts, like Bon Jovi.
“We never sold out,” he aserts. “It’s never been, like, ‘let’s get in Desmond Child and write a hit single’ As far as we’re concerned, using outside writers is a sell-out. ”
To some Motley Crue fans, however, sobriety is a sellout in itself. American rock fanzines have been flooded with letters from teenagers disillusioned with idols who inspired them to drink in the first place now giving up the habit.
Sixx says staying sober has so far been ‘a breeze’ and he has no trouble with the image of going home after a gig with an orange juice. “An orange juice in a tight black dress,” he smirks.
“If it’s three naked hookers and a fucking midget and three porno movies running simultaneously in our dressingroom that keeps us going crazy, if that keeps us sober, then that’s what we do.
“Just because you’re sober, doesn’t mean you have to be normal. We’re not normal people, we’re a little off the deep end anyway.
“We don’t let those – what we consider – boring people backstage, the people with the drugs, the fucked up chicks that are slurring and can hardly walk.”
Nevertheless, Motley Crue’s image amongst the sober is not being helped by quotes from Sixx like: “This is a male-dominated world and we’re dominant males”. He looks surprised when I tell him some people may find this offensive. “Do they?”
“It’s only my opinion. Women, they have more power and more strength than any man. This is still a male dominated world, man always comes first. Conflict is so fucking important. It creates everything: good, bad, man, woman…”
He will marry his girlfriend, Bandi Brandt, a model he started dating before travelling to Vanvouver to record Dr Feelgood, after the Australian tour in May.
“It’s cool but I’d rather not say too much about it,” Sixx says coyly. “Who told you about it anyway?”
“NIKKI is getting married in May,” Vince Neil says early in our interview the day before. in a southern California drawl that threatens to add “dude” to every sentence.
“Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t rock’n’roll.”
Neil has been married for two years to an LA mud wrestler known mainly as Sharise. Some time ago, it is alleged Guns N’Roses Stradlin accosted here at a famous LA club called the Cathouse.
By means of retribution, the blond frontman approached Stradlin after last year’s American Music Awards and punched him.
Neil: “We never ever said shit about other bands cause we like everybody. But when people start pushing your buttons you have to react. I think it’s pretty immature of bands to do that.
“I only speak out against people who fuck me over, whereas you take someone one like Axl, he gets on the soapbox about everything and everybody in the world.
“When I punched Izzy, Axl made a whole bunch of lies about it and made a big deal out of the whole story, put out a press release that was a complete lie.
‘Funny thing was, you never heard from Izzy. Izzy never put out a press release because he knew exactly what happened.
‘Now Axi has said a bunch of stuff about Nikki. It’s a shame, Axl used to be a nice guy.”
Nell says he is excited about going to Australia, but Sixx claims his singer feels uncomfortable outside the US. “Vince and Mick are American guys, they like their hamburgers at 12 o’clock every day. I like to experience other cultures more.”
According to Vince, 1987’s drug problems not only cost Europe the chance to see Motley Crue live, it also cost Australia.
“We were gonna go on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour and we ended up cancelling the last part of the tour. We were going to go to Australia after Europe. It’s like everybody’s been there but us.”
Neil, who had been driving a Ford Pantera back from a beer run, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol.
He was forced to pay $2.6 million in settlements, do 200 hours of community service and spend 20 days in jail.
Part of his probation was that he was to stay straight on the following tour, the Girls, Girls, Girls tour, but he now admits he was “more fucked up than anyone on that tour”
“At the end of that tour, nobody talked to each other, “he says. “We’d see each other at the gigs and then we’d all go our separate ways.
“It came to the point where we were gonna break up because we just couldn’t go on doing what we were doing and be successful.”
He glares at the ceiling and lets out a light chuckle when I ask if there’s any truth in the rumour he had a luxury jail cell and was visited regularly by Playboy bunnies, compliments of Hugh Hefner.
“Nah, it was jail! It was still jail, I mean it wasn’t like this! I had to feed the other prisoners, clean up the jail cells, wash police cars and stuff like that. I was with two other prisoners. One guy was a Ferrari thief, the other guy was a jewel thief or something like that.”
Neil was even swifter in denying two other rumours — that he takes steroid shots before every show and that all his stage raps are written out for him by Sixx.
“Every audience is different, it’s always all been ad-lib,” he says.
It is hard to imagine how anything in Motley Crue’s state of the art, million dollar arena extravaganza could be ad-lib.
The show begins with a laser image against a suspended screen, the character changing faces from demonic (Shout At The Devil) to theatrical (Theatre of Pain) to sleazy (Girls, Girls , Girls) and finally into a doctor.
Backing singers the Nasty Habits — Donna McDanniel and Emma Canyn — are silhouetted atop the huge catwalks and powerful hydraulic lifts fire the four Crue members up from below the stage.
They kick in with ’Kickstart My Heart, a song inspired by Sixx’s near death, in which Neil sings: “When we started this band, all we needed was a laugh. Years gone by, I’d say we’ve kicked some ass, when I hit the stage, in a fit of rage, adrenalin running through my veins, I’d say we’re still kickin’ ass. ”
At the height of the mayhem, Tommy Lee’s saucer-shaped drumkit rises like a UFO and moves along a ceiling-bound track out over the audience, lowering to within metres of its collective head.
He beats out drum sequences from classic songs by the likes of AC /DC and Cream, and the kit returns to its rear stage slot majestically. Wearing nothing but a studded g-strlng, Lee turns his back to the audience and exposes hs backside.
Of all the members of Motley Crue, Lee is least affected by superstardom’s trappings, despite being married to an actress.
“Being on the road really makes you want to have a girlfriend,” he says. “And hen you’re out there, I suppose the next best thing is getting laid.”
Motioning towards an old brown suitcase, Lee says: “It’s like, there’s my life. It’s really nice to call home and go how are my dogs, how are you. It’s cool, I really dig being married.”
Born in Athens, Greece, Lee took to only coed volleyball and art at school. He was just 17 when the band formed.
Tapping his knee feverishly, he says it’s the first time he’s ever done an interview after a show.
“I would never have done one before we got straight, but I got so much energy now that I don’t know what to do with it,” he says.
“Not one day goes by when I don’t want to rip the fuckin’ door off and scream ‘give me a fuckin drink’. I swear, every day. It’s a disease.
“When this tour is fuckin’ over, I’m going to get fucked up. I swear. I’ve worked hard.”
Lee is distracted for a minute. “Hey, you know Midnight Oil? Can you go out in the desert like that and drive around in one of those those old trucks?”
Tommy Lee’s birthday is on October 3. Last year he had an unexpected birthday present when Motley Crue went to number one on the US album chart for the first time.
“We get no respect, everyone fuckin’ hates us, the press don’t like us, they say we can’t play. Going to number one was like a big “fukk you’!
“It wasn’t … there’s a lot of this shit that goes on, political buying the number one spot. Anybody can have a number one spot. If your record company pulls out enough dough and pays off the right people, it can happen.”
It is hard to imagine a knockabout skin n’bones joker like Tommy being embroiled in the drug-fuel intrigue that almost killed Motley Crue.
“Me and Nikki were slugging it out in Japan, Vince had a gun pulled on him,” he assures me. “This Japanese mafia guy. This is how fuckod up he was. This Japanese mafia guy was at a table with two nice American blondes on (his) arm. Vince went up to him and said ;fuck you’ and pushed over his table, knocked this bottle of champagne over his girls and him. Vince didn’t know who he was, he thought he was some little Japanese man.
“He reached in his Japanese suit and pulled out a gun. Our security guys dove in and eventually threw him out.
“At that same club, Nikki and I were really drunk, we’d been on tour a long time and we were getting on each other’s nerves. When you’re drinking and been on drugs you snap really quickly. I thought he’d said something to me that he said he didn’t really say. And I fuckin’ punched him, and he punched me. These little Japanese girls are crying, seeing two members of Motley Crue fighting, going no, no. People were going wow, what???.”
Lee was the mn who allegedly punched former manager Dcc McGhee in Moscow when Bon Jovi’s fireworks went off at the Peace Festival. Jon Bon Jovi, who it was originally rumoured had been punched by Lee, told Juke shortly after: “Not punching me. If he had’ve punched me, I would have belted his fuckin’ head in, he wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.”
Lee has since denied doing anything but pushing McGhee.
“No-one in our camp has changed,” Lee asserts. “And I’ve seen a lot of people change.
“I remember when Jon Bon Jovi was nothing, nobody knew who the fuck this kid was. He was begging our manager Dcc ‘please, please let me hang out with the Crue, let me spend just a couple of days on the bus. I want to see what a fuckin’ real tour’s like’. So Jonny comes out with us, we show him the ropes of the road, we put him on our bus, get him fucked by this bunch of girls, get him drunk…, show him what the arenas are like, we’re playing these big gigs. He was just like “wow.. .this is great’.
“Then the fuckln’ guy has some success and all of a sudden he won’t talk to us. All of a sudden we’re dickheads. We’re like “fuck that guy, man. We showed that guy what rock n’roll is all about, we took him out and showed him the real shit”. He’s just being too fuckin’ cool.”
Lee’s solo is the highlight of the show. “I always wanted to be a guitar player or a singer- up front. So I decided to take my solo to the people.’
Guitarist Mick Mars, meanwhile, plays a short solo and barely leaves his corner of the stage.
“Mick wanted to do something with holograms where he plays with himself, battles with this image of himself and disappears and shit,” says Lee.
“We never had time to got it together, so maybe next time.”
“YEAH, i guess it pisses me off,” Mick Mars says with a warm, almost shy, grin.
Mars, polite and quietly spoken, is not referring to his solo. He’s refering to the fact that a lot of people think he’s a shitty guitarist.
“I had this guy from a guitar magazine do an interview the other day and he says ‘my editor asked why do you want to interview Mick Mars? He’s a shitty guitarist..
“I felt like going ‘fuck you’.”
At 36, Mars has been changed the most by not drinking. Sitting between two guitars on a sofa, he explains that this is the first tour on which he hasn’t been drunk before taking the stage. He also explains that while the other members of Motley Crue deny that Dr Feelgood was a deliberate attempt a having a hit album, it WAS the goal.
“For me, it was a chance to prove I could play,” he says. “I may not be the fastest guitarist in the world but I do what I do and I do it well.”
Underneath the Dr. Feelgood stage is a small room where the three of them disappear while Mars does his ten-minute solo spot. He’s never been given his solo spot before, and he now realises that he can play well.
Onstage he has a rack of three country-steel guitars set up like keyboards, which he uses to play the opening slide rift of “Slice Of Your Pie”. His love for ‘60s white blues guitarists like Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Leslie West and Alvin Lee of Ten Years After has always been there, but it took producer Bob Rock to wring it out during the Feelgood sessions, giving the entire LP a definite punch. Mars was responsible for four of the best tunes on the album.
Although he grew up in California, he was born in Huntington, Indiana. Today, when you drive into town, you’ll see a sign proclaiming Home Of Mick Mars. Another famous person from that town is US Vice-President Danforth Quayle.
Married three times already, he dates Canyn, one of the backing singers. He’s the only one of the four who prefers cars to bikes. He drives a Corvette. The others move around mostly in Harley Davidsons.
Mars and Sixx first hit it off because they shared the same hair dye. Mars’ slide work sounds very much like Peter Wells. He says he hasn’t heard Rose Tattoo records, and that it goes back further to blues guys like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters.
“Without being egotistical, hopefully I can use whatever position I have, to turn our fans in that direction.”
Three years ago he could not be animated without alcohol. Nowadays he looks at anyone whos strung out on dope or drink and think “they’ve copped out of life.”
AS HE sprints from his limo into the 16,000s eat arena that plays host to Motley Crue tonight, a T-shirt falls from the air and lands on Nikki Sixx’s head. Glancing upwards, he sees three pubescent girls grinning and screaming.
“Here” he beckons “you want it back?”
“Only if it’s been touched by you” the blonde in the middle yells back.
In the dressing room, as he warms up to go on. Vince Neil laughs about the incident.
“I don’t think anyone in the band thinks of themselves as rock stars,” he says. “Pretty much every night we wonder ‘is anyone going to show up tonight.’ I still think of us as the same bone- heads that played the Whiskey A Go Go club.”
In the dressing rooms, all the four put on eyeliners. Nikki, who shed 30 pounds before the tour so he could go onstage shirtless, is the only one who wears leather and studs. Mick and Vince were T-shirts and vests, Tommy a brief bikini and torn off gloves. A string vest is all that covers his 6’4” body. The Japanese tattoo on his arm catches the dressing room’s fluroscent light and looks magnificent.
Outside, the crowd roars louder. The air of excitement thickens. “OK boys” Nikki calls out “lets go and do it”.
They stumble through the darkness, helped along by roadies with torches, up the stairs and then, whooosh!, the spotlight hits, and the crowd’s screams are mesmerising. It’s the ultimate thrill, a moment that the four keep trying to recapture in their lives away from the stage…
Filed for JUKE MAGAZINE , April 28 1990
YOU’VE GOT to give Bret Michaels one thing — he’s a hustler.
Ten minutes ago, he had just one shiny billiard ball to sink on his miniature pool table, and I had five. An embarrassing defeat was looming for yours truly.
Now, we’re both shooting for the black.
“I can’t get beaten on my own table,” Bret exclaims, pressing a bangled right hand to his forehead- It’s as if he doesn’t realise I have the billiard-playing ability of a watermelon.
Glancing around at the platinum discs adorning the wall of Bret’s games room, it occurs to me that he might let me win. As a good-will gesture, to put me in a good mood for the interview.
Yanking gently on his cue, Bret sends the white ball gliding across the baize, striking the black just so, and it goes tumbling into the left pocket.
“Aw, bad luck,” he opines, replacing his cue on the rack.
BRET MICHAELS lives in a rather impressive, but by no means obscenely plush, two storey house just 15 minutes from Sunset Boulevard. The door is answered by his girlfriend Suzy Hatton (for whom he is currently producing an album) and she takes me onto what seems at first to be a video set, but which is actually a lounge.
The acoustic guitar bearing a painted rose sits on a stand in front of the fireplace, like a freeze frame frons the ‘Every Rose…’ vid. Everything is bathed in a luminous green light.
“I thought it was about time to do something worthwhile with my money, so we moved into this house,” Bret explains on his descent from upstairs.
“You should see my room. Everything’s in suitcases — it’s like a hotel!”
Bret, now 27, is eager to impress. He’s about to go out, wearing an ebony cowboy hat and a pair of jeans fit for an anorexic scarecrow.
With Flesh And Blood still fresh on the shelves and a do-or-die Donington appearance approaching, we don’t have to scrape the barrel for topics of conversation. The LP has only spawned one hit single to date, “Unskinny Bop”, but Michaels says he’s elated with it and thanks mogul producer Bruce Fairbairn.
“Bruce is great with melody,” he says. “I’d try something and he’d say, ‘That’s cool, but I think you can do it better than that’. So I’d try something else and we’d finally come up with something unique.
“Lately I’ve been trying a lot of different things vocally. I’ve really spread my musical wings — or my vocal wings, you might say. I’ve been trying a lot of new things since we ended the last tour.
“There’s a song called ‘Souls Of Fire’ which was the only song that didn’t make the record because I think we need to work on it more. It’s a real, real soulful song. I think we’re gonna hold off until the fourth record on that one. It has a great riff and a great melody but I don’t think we’re ready to put it on a record yet.”
WHILE POISON’S new platter has been received reasonably well, their first visit to Ole Blighty has the potential to start the world tour on a bitterly flat note.
Hardly universally liked in this country, the thought of what a few well-aimed bottles of piss could do to their confidence is frightening.
And the situation isn’t helped by the fact that the Glamsters have never visited these shores before, and so will have fewer supporters on hand at Donington than any other band on the bill.
Why, when their last tour went for 15 sweat-soaked months, did they not bother to include Europe?
“We’ve just never played there yet. I don’t know why, we just never scheduled it,” Bret says, holding outstretched hands above his head.
“No reason, we just never thought about it. Good or bad, we just didn’t do it.
“But Donington will be raw. It’ll just be some drumkits, some amps and us. No explosions, no nothing.
“We’re not that big over in Britain. We won’t make any money, believe me, but I know we’ll make some good fans. What’s interesting is that it’s like America; we’ve got to build our following there first. We’ve got to go over there and prove to a lot of people that we’re good.
“You can’t just go over and expect the world to love you. It doesn’t happen like that.
“At least with us it doesn’t, anyway..”
‘Lord I’m feeling lonely, Feel like like I can’t go on/The streets have all grown cold now/The mystery’s all gone.”‘(‘Life Loves A Tragedy’)
POlSON ARE the ultimate rock stars. Big cars, big arenas, big wallets, big sex, perhaps big drugs and – yeah -big, loud pop-rock. I toured with Poison during the final stages of their last tour—just two cities in Australia. And, for them (stealing a phrase from Bruce Dickinson) life really was ‘a limo and a bottle of Jack’.
There were models applying to be included on their infamous ‘groupie computer’, the arenas were sold out, their albums and singles were riding high in the charts and every day was a party. This was the dream of every red blooded, starry-eyed kid, never mind musician, in the world.
But now, Poison are serious. There are no real dirty songs on this album, no boasts that ‘I got a girl on the left of me/A ‘girl on the right/I know damn well I slept with both last night’ Yes, Poison have got serious. On the surface it seems to he just another exercise in tasteless marketing, but it maybe not.
AT CHRISTMAS 1988, Poison bodyguard Kimo died alone in a Palm Springs hotel room. A close friend of the band, a night’s heavy drinking didn’t mix with his daily insulin shot.
Two weeks later, another dream came true — ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’ went to number one in the US. But what should have been pure euphoria was only numbness.
A year later, in a nearby Palm Springs bar, guitarist CC DeVille’s former girlfriend was busy fixing drinks on a still night. A violent drunk stumbled in and started harassing patrons. He was thrown out, but when he returned he brought a shotgun and the blast could be heard around the block.
A grieving CC flew back from Vancouver, where Flesh And Blood was being recorded, to attend the girl’s funeral. They had only just decided it worked better if they were friends. In the meantime, a girlfriend of drummer Rikki Rockett died in a car accident.
Something very sweet had patently gone very, very sour.
THE very problems which may prevent Guns N’ Roses from ever releasing another album, the consequences of excess, the untimely reminders of mortality that haunt anyone who thinks he’s immortal, produced Flesh And Blood.
Then, at the other end of a harrowing emotional spectrum, the band’s arch party animal and leading hedonist, bassist Bobby Dall, got married. The ‘Flesh’ component fell into place. Bret wrote “Flesh And Blood (Sacrifice)”about that.
If you try to tape this LP onto one side of a C90, “‘Life Loves A Tragedy” won’t fit. You’ll miss the one song that’s worth the cover price alone, in which Bret admits: “One more step and I swear I go 0ver theedge/I’ve got to stop living at a pace that kills/Before I wake up dead’.
Michaels pauses and winces just a little, as if he’s recovered a painflul memory.
“That’s kind of a hard one to describe,” he says, when asked about the song. “Actually, that was about a night when I was in Hollywood, and I did some substances I shouldn’t have. It was a party night, it was the first time of trying it – it was pretty heavy stuff and it gave me a bad experience.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those nights, where you’re partying with not quite the right partyables. I won’t go into the explicit details. But I stayed up all night, needless to say, and next morning I was still up and I etched some things down for ‘Life Loves A Tragedy’.
“It’s just a growing up process,” he theorises. “It just reflects that the more experiences I got, the more I had to write about. When you’re 16 years old, you just care about getting laid, y’know what I’m saying?
“You care about gettin’ laid – and where’s the party? When you turn 21, by then you’ve had your first break-up. You went out with a girl, you dug her and she.., screwed you over, and you take something to heart. As I get older, the more things I have to write about.
“And although I don’t want to get older, unfortunately that’s the way it goes…”
THE FIGURE sitting next to me on the sofa seems a world away from the mascara-masked lead singer who once admitted that he always wanted to prove ‘I drink too much, I fight too much and I fuck too much.”
“We were young and innocent when we did our first record,” he remarks. “We didn’t know about anything. That’s the best thing about our band, we just don’t know any better.
“My theory on making a record is: make everything louder than everything else!”
But has that changed now?
“No. With everything we do, you can’t take away two things: the honesty and the heartfelt quality. You can’t take it away. We’ve made some mistakes, we’ve screwed up, we’ve gone on stage drunk when we shouldn’t have. We’ve done a whole lot of things that we shouldn’t have.
“I went on stage at Madison Square Garden when I was shitfaced, off my brain, collapsed because my blood sugar level was low (Michaels is a diabetic — Ed.), and we took shit for it. And we should have. We didn’t mean to do it, it was just one of those things we felt like doing.
“We were partying all day. We loved it; we were in New York, it was great… then you turn around and you have a touching moment…”
Relapsing back to his usual self, however, Michaels assures me that Poison have not totally de-sleazed themselves.
Reaching down to the torn knee on his demins, he says “we start from here, go to here, and….”
All well and good but with this new heady subject matter, are they growing with their audience or simply making an over-obvious pitch at longevity?
“Put it this way, I want longevity. There’s nobody that doesn’t. I want Poison to be around forever, or for as long as we can do it. But you can’t force anybody to like your band. You can only play what you play and do what you do and there’s only so many people who are gonna like you.”
BUT IF you’re planning to toss any bottled bodily fluids in Bret’s direction this month, don’t expect him to stand there and take it. Poison aren’t in the habit of scampering meekly offstage if their make-up streaks or someone calls them names.
“Y’know the World Series Of Rock?” Bret recalls. “We played that. We were headlining, our first night headlining, two nights sold out. The first time we went on stage our complete back line shut down. We had to stop the show. It sucked. We just kept on going. My mic worked, I clapped for a minute, rapped, the crowd loved it, and we got the guitars back up, and the sound and we were playing again five minutes later!
Last time I spoke to Bret, he had become cynical. With all the misfortune since then, surely he must be worse by now.
“I never became cynical about playing live. I just became cynical about some of the red tape that’s involved in whether your song gets played on the radio, like whether you said hello to eomeone’s daughter. Because you forgot to, maybe you were sick that night, in the next day’s newspaper it’s written that you’re the worst band in the world. There’s a lot of red tape that’s involved between rock bands and the media. That’s the truth.
“I don’t mind someone having an opinion about me. If you leave here tonight and you write, ‘I thought Bret was an asshole’, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I just don’t like it when someone puts words in my mouth, and that’s been done a lot. I’ll do an interview and the interviewer will write whatever they think should have come out of my mouth.
“Sometimes, it seems, if you’re cool it all gets bubbled away, but if you’re an asshole what you said gets in there.”
YOU MAY think Bret is an asshole. You may hate Poison’s new album. You may think they’ve grown up and bccome boring.
Even if you do, they say they’re coming back to Europe early next year to give you another chance to like them.
They’re not thinking about failure. They’ve already met the biggest challenge imaginable — surviving.
Filed for: KERRANG!
BASSIST Nikki Sixx has confirmed Motley Crue will tour Australia in May — and challenged Jon Bon Jovi to a fight!
Sixx has called Bon Jovi “a lying asshole” after the New Jersey frontman told Juke last month he had nothing to do with the incident at the Moscow Peace Festival which saw Motley fire their manager Doc McGhee.
Commenting on Crue drummer Tommy Lee allegedly punching him. Bon Jovi told Juke: “Not punching me, I would’ve busted his f–kin’ head, he wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.”
JBJ has since described Sixx as “the Kevin DuBrow of the nineties” and accused the Crue of being afraid of “living in Bon Jovi’s shadow.”
“Do you really think Jon Bon Jovi could kick anybody in Motley Crue’s ass?” Sixx blasted from Boston.
“If he wants to, man, I’ll meet
“Tommy didn’t even punch Doc McGhee. He pushed him.
“Obviously Jon Bon Jovi’s a liar. He went and got married and then said he didn’t, then he did, he can’t make up his mind what he wants to be.”
Sixx said there was now no doubt the Crue would tour Australia bringing as much of its monstrous stage set as possible.
“We’re definitely coming,” said Sixx. “I’m just taking one day at a time now but I’d say we’ll be there in May or April.”
Sixx accused everyone involved in the Moscow anti-drug and alcohol concert in August of being drunk for the duration of the show and revealed the Crue may quit the scene completely for up to four years after their Current tour.
“Listen, we were the only people there who weren’t on dr.., who weren’t drunk and f-ked up and it was an anti-drug concert, OK?” said Sixx.
‘There’s so much lying that went on. It you’re over there to talk about not doing drugs, how the f–k can you be over there and be shittaced?
‘1 don’t think any of it was done honestly. I don’t buy into it.’’
Sixx described Bon Jovi’s music as “a sellout” and claimed Jon’s version of events in Russia, as printed in these pages, was “bullshit”.
“That group of people lied,” he said, referring to McGhee Entertainment, which manages Bon Jovi and other Moscow Peace Festival acts Cinderella and Skid Row.
“That’s something Motley Crue has never done. We don’t lie to our fans. We’re an honest band, we keep everything on the table.”
On the shock plan for a long break, Sixx said the band would be touring for at least 18 months, “then we’ll probably be releasing a greatest hits album and we’ll probably take two or three years off.
“We always take two years so I’m thinking maybe we’ll do a greatest hits, then take three and it could even be four.
“We’ll take as long as we want.”
— STEVE MASCORD
Where no King Of Funk Metal has gone before. That’s DAN REED’s avowed intention, and who would bet against him achieving this otherwordly aim? With a new single ‘Stardate 1990’ on release and with mega Rolling Stones support shows on the horizon, STEVE MASCORD beams down for a hairy car journey with our shaven-headed space ace. KIing ’on to his seat, our man finds the‘Slam’ man recovered from his much-publicised identity crisis and determined to take the ‘Illogical’ rout, to fame ‘n’ fortune….. ..IT’S TRUE. Your life really does flash before your eyes when you’re about to die.Dan Reed’s weatherbeaten sedan is veering all over a highway leading out of Portland, Oregon towards the city’s airport.From the passenger’s seat I can see cars breaking and swerving to avoid sideswiping
Meanwhile a large cement-retaining wall looms ominously to the right. Dan, a bandana shrouding his
once well-maned head, is oblivious to our impending doom.
His latest batch of songs is blaring from the underpowered car stereo, but alas there is no vocal track. So he’s singing to them.
If only he’d drum his knees with one hand instead of two and not leave the steering wheel to find its own way to airport!
I am perilously close to missing my flight to Minneapolis. Dan had been late for our scheduled chat which had begun 40 minutes before… his first face-to-face interview since, er, ‘becoming bald’.
He’s patently still somewhat self-conscious. But when I first catch sight of the supposed King Of Funk Metal, outside
hotel hamburger joint, the lack of locks is less than striking. He’s still the same svelte, lean and passive- looking figure.
DAN REED’S hasty decision to murder one of rock’s most celebrated hairdos has won him a huge amount of publicity. He says, however, it was no publicity stunt. Nor, he says, was it a purely physical transformation. Fans attending this month’s Rolling Stones support shows can expect somthing VERY different; Dan’s naked cranium is just the tip of the iceberg.
“If I had done this later, it would have looked like a publicity move,” he says, taking a seat opposite me in the otherwise deserted cafeteria. “I want to do this now before this band is huge.
“Now when I look in the mirror I don’t see that same guy. Now I see just Dan Reed, and I have to look him right in the face. What I say onstage, everything I do now, has to basically come from inside. I can no longer hide behind this drama thing.”
While too much has already been written about Dan’s head, it appears to be inextricably linked to his band’s transformation.
With the world more or less at his feet, Dan decided he no longer wanted to be a rock star. His extended early morning shave was a way of thumbing his nose at the music industry and all conventional notions of commercial success.
The Stones shows will very much determine if Dan Reed is to continue the climb to the top regardless, or simply be reduced to an obscure eccentric who got too weird.
“If we pack out coliseums with us now, with the new music, nothing about the looks… it’ll feel like we finally accomplished something on our own merit,” he announces. “We’re no longer Prince meets Bon Jovi. I’m so tired of that, and we WERE kind of that, Prince meets Bon Jovi.”
Dan Reed moved here in 1983 from his birthplace, South Dakota. He says Portland’s comparative isolation stopped him becoming too involved in the ‘scene’ that surrounds being in a successful major label rock band. But it’s only now, he explains, that he has learnt to ignore the distractions.
“When we were recording the last LP ‘Slam’ in New York, I was sort of realising life outside of my Portland, Oregon existence,” he said.
“The new songs I’ve been writing are like the best stuff I’ve written, spiritually. Not in a religious, preaching sense, but spiritually in a love for the world sense. It’s something I feel now. Before I was aware of it — like on songs like ‘Slam’. I was aware of it, but I wasn’t living it.”
I tell Dan that it sounds a touch superficial to think a band can be perceived differently, be taken more seriously, just because the frontman has shaved his head. Motioning towards where his hair used to be, Dan says: “I don’t know how to explain it. You have this for five years and you use it in everything, your personal relationships, your business. Sometimes you miss saying whole sentences because you’re sitting there playing with your hair…”
CLEARLY, WE have here a man who’s undergone a sizable identity crisis over the last eight months.
Dan is piecing his new outlook on life together for me meticulously, describing his beliefs with an enthusiastic fervour that borders on fanaticism.
There are 24 new songs to choose from for the Stones shows. They are not more funky or more rocky… ‘just more Dan Reed Network’. Dan says the show will be the same.
Less suss and strut and more Dan Reed, the REAL Dan Reed.
“I want to get back into the dramatics of the show. When we used to play clubs, I used to put in a lot of dramatics, not just go out there and go ‘hey hey hey’ and shake it. And there’d be parts of the show where I’d be singing from here.”
Reed, holding his burger in one hand, thumps his chest with a clenched fist.
Management and record company response to the new DRN material has been overwhelmingly positive. By the time Dan and company arrive in Britain all 24 tracks should have been committed to tape and a new single, ‘Stardate 1990’, will be on release.
Work proper on the third album will begin in September.
What Dan has done is a huge gamble, and he sure knows it.
His biggest audience in the world is the hard rock-orientated European audience. They are fresh and eager, making them quite susceptible to being totally turned off by the band’s new direction.
At the very least, he is pushing their loyalties to the limit, although opening for the Rolling Stones could win him a completely new following.
“We are five guys from different races,” Dan says. “The five of us are living proof that it can work for the future, that’s all.
“We’re not drug addicts and were certainly not in this for the chicks. Even if we were in the club days, we’re not any more. So now the values of it are so much stronger and I hope that people will still be able to get into it and I hope that I didn’t screw up, turn people off.”
AS THE ailing automobile screeches into the car park of the American Airlines terminal leaving a wiggly vapour trail in its wake, Dan Reed turns and says, “It feels a challenge for me for the first time in five years.
“And for the people who don’t dig it, for the people who used to dig the band because of the hair, then I’m kind of glad.
“I kinda wanted to weed out all of the extraneous bullshit anyway.”
Filed for: KERRANG! http://www.kerrang.com
Shellharbour Workers Club,
TONIGHT, THE Angels were actually faced with something of a challenge in front of arguably their most fanatical audience. Having to follow two superb support bands and one good one, they opened with ‘No Exit’, Doc sliding slowly into gear — but he soon got wound up as he fed off a baying packed house. Whew.
‘Bald Bob’ Spencer storms around the stage with his sunnies on, Rick Brewster is motionless and expressionless as usual, Brent is banging away gutsily and James Moreley gets brave and takes over vocals at one stage.
‘Beyond Salvation’ sends proceedings into warpspeed — and that’s where they stay; hard, crunching fare without the trimmings. ‘After The Rain’, ‘Jump Back Baby’, ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, ‘Let The Night Roll On’… Bang, bang, bang, like a callous assassin who can’t be bothered with a silencer and whose bullet shatters into a million pieces upon impact.
No widdly solos, no stoopid between-song raps, only one encore. Just classics and unbridled, anarchic mayhem everywhere.
Doc sings ‘Bleeding With The Times’, muttering to a pained, leashed riff: ‘I see myself silhouetted at the wheel/Like an alien without a friend/Nothing to conceal/So I climb into the backseat/and I wonder if it’s love/When it’s down to getting naked/it’s just like any other photograph’. I sense the chill stirring at the base of my back and making its way northward.
I’ve been thousands of miles (and used up even more dollars) looking for the perfect gig in the last three months, and little did I know it was waiting for me just down the street. STEVE MASCORD
Filed for: KERRANG!
GENE SIMMONS swivels his demonic head and directs a deathly, horror movie glare towards the sound-desk.
“Slow black—out!” he barks into the microphone at a hapless lighting roadie. “Yes sir,” comes the meek, intimidated response. “I understand what you’re saying.” “No,” Simmons retorts solemnly. “This is ‘what I’m saying…”
The multi-millionaire bassist mimics the cocking of a gun and sends a deafening “KA-POW!” shuddering through the obscenely loud PA.
It’s the day before the kick-off of KISS’ back-to-bombs-’n ‘-pyro world tour and Gene is seething at a lighting cock-up. The next night, a stage roadie is out of a job and most of the lighting crew are on a warning after the 35-foot talking Sphinx uttered nothing but gibberish and some of Gene’s worst production fears came true.
Half of the giant KISS sign spluttered and died, there was none of the green sludge that was supposed to spew from stage-front pipes, and lighting during Eric Carr’s drum solo was obviously out of synch.
KISS HAVE been holed up in the sleepy Texan ‘ burg of Lubbock — birthplace of Buddy Holly — for nine days, putting the finishing touches to a tour that almost never was. But now Paul Stanley is sitting beside me in a Holiday Inn hotel room, insisting: “I can safely say we’re ready.”
The Stanley/Michael Bolton-penned power ballad ‘Forever’ had dropped out of the US top 10 two weeks before, after after becoming the having becoming the band’s first bona fide Stateside hit in a decade. Back in February, the tour was postponed because of a lack of interest. Are KISS, I wonder, touring on the back of one single? Was this whole massive jaunt – with Slaughter and Faster Pussycaty in support – conceived as a reaction to just one song?
Paul struggles to overcome the local Lions convention singing ‘Give Me A Home Where The Buffalo Roam’ in the enclosed courtyard outside.
“I’m not one for bullshitting and I’m not one for lying,” he says. “When you’re going to undertake a tour of this size you’re not going to do it for your health. To go out and launch a massive tour makes no sense unless there’s a reason to do it.”
So are you, as you told Kerrang! back in ish 286, putting your ‘ass on time line’ with this tour?
“That makes things sound too much like a do-or-die mission, and nothing is a do-or-die mission. We wanted to do something massive — in terms of the range of songs as well as staging.”
FOR KISS fans who have remained loyal and believing, there is something rather contradictory about Slaughter’s inclusion on the bill. Slaughter are a band containing two ex-members Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum. Vincent was, of course, once KISS’ guitarist. First, we hear that Vinnie Vincent was the bad guy, that he was (and I quote Paul) “riding on KISS’ coat-tails”. Now we buy an album by Slaughter, the band whose name in itself takes advantage of Vinnie’s success, and read the liner notes which proclaim, ‘Thanks to KISS fan dubs around time world’. Are they not claiming fame for being in band for five minutes with a guy who was in KISS for 10 minutes?
“They’re not riding on his coat-tails because in a matter of weeks they’ve got further than he ever got,” Paul observes coldly. “So, if anything, I think you’d have to believe he was holding them back.
“I’d dare say … Vinnie would like to ride on their coat-tails…”
JOINING UP with the KISS caravan for three days is an intriguing experience. Half of America’s media was invited to Lubbock, but only Spin magazine, MTV’s ‘Headbangers’ Ball’, local scribes, some radio stations and of course Kerrang! bothered to show up. Meanwhile, kindred ‘70s demi-gods Aerosmith are sitting pretty on the cover of Rolling Stone. If was Paul Stanley, it would annoy me.
Paul seems, at least, to be annoyed at the question.
“I don’t give a fuck,” he says. “The truth of it is that we’ve secured our place, and what people choose to write will be unbiased – which I prefer – or based on their own insecurities.”
Paul doesn’t like these questions and I really wish I didn’t feel compelled to ask them. But here KISS are. 17 years on, and everybody who’s not wearing a KISS T-shirt is sniggering at their overblown theatrics and school toilet lyrics just as they did all that time ago. Only now, KISS are old as well as overblown and juvenile. That’s what ‘they’ say.
When I enquire if KISS really arc still sufficiently hungry, the words play on Stanley’s mind enough for him to bring it up out of the blue in an interview later that afternoon, saying it had pissed him off.
“This whole nonsense about being hungry is a way of glamorizing something for critics that is totally irrelevant for the fans or the band,” he informs me, peering out from under neatly curled hair.
“If you want to starve, you go do it.
“Maybe some of the critics, their writing would improve if they went hungry for a while. Quite frankly, I don’t sec enough starving critics.”
As one punter remarked at the gig, KISS have never received serious press and it’s a sore point. For me, it’s a sore point that such influential figures should even care by now. Asked how aware he is of criticism, the Starchild pauses:
“That’s an interesting question…”
Paul reacts carefully when I tell him Axl Rose has described his music as sludge rock. Paul, conversely, rates Axi as one of the few true rock stars of the ‘90s.
“I didn’t know about that. Do I follow him? I’m certainly not an aficionado of what AxI Rose has to say. I don’t know him any more than I know anyone else.
“If you’re an interesting personality in rock ‘n’ roll, then that’s great, but respect to me is something that comes with time. As far as I’m concerned, you’re just an interesting personality until – with time – you prove yourself to be something more.
“If somebody takes swipes – which is sometimes natural – well the truth is you sometimes get attention by doing that. Whether you have something valid or not to say will on1y play ’ itself out in five or 10 years, because by then people might be saying, ‘Who said that?’ “
PAUL DOESN’T turn when I say goodbye for the last time. An answer to whether he thinks KISS (generally) get the respect they deserve is cleverly avoided, but I think I have the anser anyway.
There’s an ominous rumble swelling from 10,500 Texans by the time the ‘Hot In The Shade’ World Tour is ready to be unveiled. Slaughter got the girlies interested, Faster Pussycat entranced the punters with no taste, and there are fights, chants and can throwers.
A grandiose fanfare, the sort of stuff you hear in ‘Curse of Tutankhamen’, rises above the buzz. The lights are killed – on time! – the smoke billows and the curtain drops to reveal the (unbespectacled) monolithic Sphinx.
The Sphinx appears on the cover of the ‘Hot In The Shade’ opus wearing giant sunglasses. But backstage, there’s a 25-foot pair of dark sunglasses left surplus to requirements, victim of a last minute Simmons-Stanley creative decision. The rest of the stage is a chaotic concoction of pipes and girders, presumably a re-creation of the New York rooftop in the ‘Hide Your Heart’ video.
The Sphinx’s mouth opens slowly and a line of pin-like lasers fire outward, hitting the back of the ageing. spherical arena. Between the beams of_light stand Gene, Paul, Bruce Kulick and Eric ‘Sign My Tits, Please’ Carr.
Fireworks explode, the boys take their places and a concussion bomb bloody-near deafens us as they launch into ‘I Stole Your Love’. from the ‘Love Gun’ opus.
Yeah, pretty damn heart-warning. Excavated artefact ‘Deuce’ sounds positively filthy and yeah, even HUNGRY. That riff sends a 100-below chill down my spine and to every extremity as Paul rocks from side to side with his hair in the wind like it’s 1975.
NOW, GIVEN this is a two-and-a-half hour, I25 song set, I’ll spare you the minute details. Things went wrong, sure; but a lot of other things went awfully right. Gene’s stalking, kicking and jumping. Paul’s strutting along the catwalks and grimacing at the power of the stuff as much as he’s pouting.
Eric bang-s away reliably, Bruce concentrates on his playing and ambles around unassumingly. The set list boasts ‘C’mon And Love Me’, ‘Detroit Rock City’ and the sleaziest reworking of ‘Fits Like A Glove’ imaginable.
Four tracks, yep, four, from the 1974 debut album, three each from ‘Hot In The Shade’ and ‘Destroyer’ and double servings frona ‘Love Gun’, ‘Lick It Up’ and ‘Animalize’.
Paul’s raps, adorable as they are, were kept to a minimum by the sheer amount of material. His intro to ‘Strutter’, in which he reveals it could have been written about any girl because “they’re all the same”, could do with a bit of’90s enlightenment, however…
‘Heaven’s On Fire’ looms predictably but seductively and flame-throwers spit fireballs on cue. ‘Hide Your Heart’ confirms itself as one of their greatest hits-that-never-were, with lasers making undulating patterns on the back wall
before dying chillingly as Carr beats out the gunshot at the songs climax.
It turns out that the lasers are quite capable of doing more than patterns but Simmons has ruled that writing ‘Kiss’ on the back wall is not cool.
On the last day of rehearsals, he had ordered a change to the voice synthesizer – the wiggly lines you see on cardiac machines. Simmons wanted the laser synthesizer to appear IN the Sphinx’s mouth, not be projected from the mouth onto the back wall.
When the time came around for it all to happen on opening night, the synthesizer did appear in the Sphinx’s mouth, but started talking one riff too early, stuttered, and when it was supposed to say, ‘I am the lord of the wastelands’… mumbled nothing but rubbish.
The lights during Carr’s gadgetry-aided solo were also less than spot-on, and there was no sign of the water that was supposed to fall from the Sphinx’s nostrils. Stage-front, instead of green sludge from the pipes, there was only trickling water. (Maybe they should have tried it the other way around — Ed.).
But the show went on. ‘Detroit Rock’ City’ was as devastating as you’d hope, the Sphinx sunk and disappeared, the extinguishers fired and the concussion bombs went off.
The special FX verdict…? Impossible to compare to the ‘70s extravaganzas simply because even if there are as many bombs and lights this time around, they are now spread over a much longer show. By necessity, some songs in the current show are completely pyro-less (!).
But they came back after a break, they played ‘I Want You’, and the familiar moniker rose from behind and at least began to flash before faltering. And with ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite’ cut ‘n’ thrusting, the pyro exploding overhead and the flashpots going off, it could have been 1983, 1977 or 1974.
EARLIER – SOMEWHERE mid-set – sheer exhaustion had created something of a lull among the mere mortals in the stalls.
Stanley had paused and announced: “People have been asking us why we started the tour in Lubbock. When we couldn’t even fill clubs in the rest of the country, we came to Lubbock and you treated us like kings. We’re never going to forget that”.
Showmanship maybe, but a close look at the kids who are roaring overwhelming approval shows them to be just that — kids. Here, in the American heartland, KISS aren’t old and they’re not even survivors, they just ARE.
“We defied all the laws, we defied the critics, we defied the norm, we set the standard for what a show should be… we showed an audience what they should expect and not accept less from anybody,” Paul had gushed the day before. “I think we showed there’s no reason for an audience to accept complacency or lack of respect from a band.”
Clearly, it is the unfashionable nature of KISS that is the very key to their popularity. If the whole game is about rebellion, KISS need only stay afloat and unpopular with critics to win every time.
But what more can they possibly hope to achieve in the ‘90s?
“That’s an interesting question, but one that is probably more important to you than me,” Paul answers delicately.
“What’s left is to continue.”
Filed for: KERRANG!
March 6, 1990
“WE GOT a f**king loud bunch of motherf**kers here tonight,” bleach blond Hollywood nightclub proprietor-cum-rock star Taime Downe yells across the vast expanse of this 16,000 seat mid-western arena.
There you basically have Faster Pussycat’s stage show. A guy who could well be your local garbage man squeezed into embarrassingly tight black spandex, a couple of scarves and make-up that do little to disguise his over-eagerness, saying f**k into a microphone and taking a step back to bask in the response. That and ‘Where There’s A Whip There’s A Way” and the teeny-cuteness level of ‘House Of Pain’.
Aside from that, the most poignant, relevant and symbolic Faster Pussycat song is ‘Don’t Change That Song’. They don’t. The whole 45 minute set sounds like a whining groan.
But this crowd, whose parents are probably already waiting In the foyer, are impressed by the word f**k. Every time Motley’s Vince Neil says the magic word, the kids throw their fists in the air and cheer.
Motley Crue are a Pop Metal band with a yearning for immortality. That still means catwalks and pyro and lasers, but no make-up, leather, T-shirts and dark colours on their mammoth stage set.
A demonic face appears on a suspended screen hanging over roughly the 15th row and mumbles something about ‘Shout At The Devil’, then ‘Theatre Of Pain’, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and ‘Dr Feelgood’.
The Nasty Habits’ ample silhouettes appear on top of the catwalks, the lights go up. Tommy Lee is visible behind his drumkit and Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars are fired upwards by hydraulic lifts from under the stage. Neil snaps his fingers downwards as ‘Kickstart My Heart’, a Motley classic, revs up. He runs from side to side, puts his hands up in the air and the horde cheers.
I love arena rock. I love the euphoria and escapism. Intimacy is for intimate music. Motley Crue’s music is tailor-made for arenas. Even the primitive ‘Live Wire’ runs on seamlessly from the band’s more slickly- produced recent material.
Party song after party song whistles past you as the Crüe roll out the bubblegum faves. ‘Sticky Sweet’, ‘Smokin’ In The Boys Room’, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’… Neil tells everyone how much he lurves Minneapolis. Sixx leans back and glares, Lee sticks his elbows out as wide as possible and smiles amidst the mayhem he creates. Meanwhile Mick Mars is just in the corner playing guitar and making it all sound like music. That’s all.
Mars plays a very competent bluesy solo, his guitar collection suspended horizontally on a rack in front of him. Soon after, Lee’s kit quivers and is lifted clear to the ceiling while he begins playing to sample tapes of the likes of AC/DC and Cream. The kit floats out on into the audience and lowers frighteningly close to their collective heads.
Lee, wearing a studded G-string and absolutely nothing else, puts one hand on a pole and leans out over the audience. He looks genuinely in awe of his situation, oblivious to the tact he does this every night.
“LOOK HOW CLOSE I AM TO YOU F** KERS, MAN!” he cries.
He straps himself back in and keeps drumming.
This is supposedly ‘the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show that’s ever been seen’. It Is indeed impressive. But the highlight for me is in the encore, that definitive hymn of decadence, ‘Wild Side’. ‘Namedropping no-names, glamorize cocaine, puppets with strings of gold.’ Neil is singing it, looking straight out into the darkness, not looking down at the front row. Motley Crue are no longer on the Wild Side, they no longer glamorize cocaine… and whether or not they are puppets with strings of gold is open to interpretation. Neil is singing a stirring song, the pyro is ready, the staging is perfect, I love the music.
So why am I not moved? Why does Neil not even seem to be in the same country as me? Why do I think listening to the Crue on my Walkman would be more enjoyable?
Perhaps because it’s all too much for my finite senses.
Perhaps because I sense that, underneath everything, there isn’t very much at all.
Filed for: KERRANG!