ROCK CRUISING: Going Overboard (2012)

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By STEVE MASCORD
ON the final night of Vince Neil’s Motley Cruise in 2008, shortly before the aforementioned peroxide imp was about to go on in front of a raucous crowd of heartland head-bangers, a representative of Carnival Cruise lines approached the stage manager.
“I’d like to make an announcement,” said the uniformed official, smiling. “Sure,” he was told.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” several-hundred tipsy-to-slaughtered fans in the Carnival Fantasy‘s ornate ballroom were told, “We would like to thank you for coming along tonight and coming on the cruise.
“We hope you’ve had a great time and have enjoyed yourselves.
“In closing, I would like to assure you this will be the last Motley Cruise. So if they’ve started asking you for deposits for next year, you should think about getting that money back off them tomorrow morning.
“Thank you.”
Backstage, according to Larry Morand, who helped organise the cruise, “everyone’s jaw dropped – including Vince’s and (guitarist) Jeff Blando’s. We couldn’t believe someone would get up there and say that.”
While eighties hair metal and AOR may have become – as the name of this magazine suggests – “Classic Rock“, with all the soccer mom connotations that term carries – there was still a major cultural gulf between the genre’s beer-chugging constituents and the ultra-conservative world of cruise ships.
Too big a gulf for Carnival.
“They didn’t tell the other people who booked their honeymoons and retirement parties and things like that,’’ Neil later said in a TV interview.
“Because, my room overlooked the swimming pool and I could see all these people, just drinking and women with their tops off.
“And this is, like, eight o’clock in the morning!
“Then, on the other side, you’d see the little old ladies with the cruise director, getting told where the shuffleboard was, what time that’s going to start. They’re looking over the other side, saying ‘who are these people and are they going with us?’’’
But Carnival’s greivances were more precise, Classic Rock presents: AOR can reveal. Like the couple caught having sex in the pool and kicked off the boat at the next port. Or the man locked in the brig for smashing a glass window (“and that’s sea glass – not something that you can do by accident,” Morand admits).
Almost before it got started, Cock Rock Cruising had no future. This story was almost over before it began.
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INDUSTRY veteran Morand, an experienced tour and production manager, didn’t give up so easily. He and his partners just had to find another cruiseline. They also had to find another name, since Motley Crue were reportedly not all that impressed with their clever pun. Read: possible legal action.
Italian cruiseline MSC, whose first ship burned in port at St Thomas in the 1960s and whose second was hijacked, had a brand new commission in the Poesia. It has a capacity of 3605 passengers and on the first Shiprocked cruise, they included the likes of Queensryche, Tesla, Ratt, Skid Row, Broken Teeth, StoneRider, Endeverafter and Lynam.
The sight of Geoff Tate and wife Susan waltzing during the fancy dress eighties school disco was the highlight. The following year, Vince Neil, who shared his stateroom with four strippers, leaving the stage for the bulk of his own show while his band played Led Zeppelin covers was unarguably the low light.
But slowly, Shiprocked was moving away from the original premise of the Motley Cruise by including modern rock acts such as Drowning Pool and SevenDust. Over the course of three years, other things changed too.
The Poesia learned not to close the bar at 2 am – and that drunk people wanted pizza at 1am when the ship cafeteria would normally be closed  and ‘normal’ passengers tucked up in bed for the night.
While this writer was offered drugs more than once on the Motley Cruise (one passenger even asked if I knew his Melbourne-based dealer), there was a zero tolerance rule on Shiprocked. Nevertheless, sobriety was not exactly a popular pursuit and it became apparent that there was a core group of fun-loving fans who attended each of
these cruises, along with the M3 Festival in Maryland.
“There is no Metal Edge magazine anymore,” says Morand. “There’s no Headbangers Ball. How do these bands reach their fans? That’s what we tell them. This is where you come to find out who your fans are.
“And for the fans, this is their chance to go on vacation with their favourite band. The interaction is a big thing.”
While mostly positive, this aspect of the cruise also has a dark side. Normally, you can have a beer after a gig and whinge about how the band sucked.
On Shiprocked/Motley Cruise/Monsters Of Rock, chances are the band are behind you in the drinks line. When Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer overheard a damning assessment of his outfit’s performance and was later asked by the critic for an autograph, he replied: “yeah, I’ll sign with with this” and offered his middle finger.
At least, that’s how the story was recounted to me – five minutes after it happened.
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MORAND worked with Ronnie James Dio at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington in 1987.
“The best thing about it was the vibe backstage with all the bands that was great,” he said. “I mean, Download is a little like that – but not so much.
“I’m not as big a fan of Download but maybe that’s because I’m older and codgier.”
But it was an American DJ, Harlen Hendrickson, who re-animated the Monsters Of Rock brand name. The promoters of Donnington let it lapse and official records show Henrickson – who runs a syndicated metal radio programme – registered it on February 11, 2002.
“He called me saying he’d like to put a concert together,” recalls Morand. “I already had contacts through the cruises and I said ‘nah, let’s make it a cruise!’ He said really?'”
Instead of selling out half a ship – creating the sitation described above by Vince Neil – the new partners decided to take over a whole thing. To pull that off, they needed bands – a lot of bands.
If you are fans of a certain period of time, a certain boulevard in Los Angeles and a certain brand of hairspray, then there is no festival on dry land like this one.
In March this year, the Monsters Of Rock Cruise boasted: UFO, Tesla, Cinderella, Night Ranger, Kix, Stryper, Firehouse, Y&T, Lynch Mob, Helix, Eric Martin of Mr. Big, Ted Poley of Danger Danger, Keel, Black N’ Blue, Faster Pussycat, John Corabi, Bang Tango, Rhino Bucket, XYZ, Odin and DC4.
All on a ship, in three days – seriously.
Whereas previous cruises allowed guests to sleep in or lounge around until the music started at sundown, MOR was more like a three day festival with music kicking off early afternoon and most acts playing twice. For aficionados, there was almost no time for getting drunk.
Here at Classic Rock presents AOR, we are nothing if not aficionados but somehow we still managed to miss one of two of these storied hair metal icons.
And we still managed to get drunk.

TESLA have a loyal following, charge promoters a little more than many of their contemporaries and with good reason. Singer Jeff Keith’s voice is strong, he is more than willing to spend time with fans between shows and the band is as tight as a drum.
CINDERELLA are also reliable – as long as Tom Keifer’s voice holds out and the right piano is wheeled out (he tipped one over in disgust during one cruise). NIGHT RANGER included Damn Yankees and Ozzy Osbourne covers. “I
asked my friend Ted Nugent if he wanted to come,” Jack Blades – who was in the super group – told the crowd. “He said ‘can I bring my gun’. I said ‘nope’ so he isn’t here but the next best thing is a Damn Yankees song, right?”.
Morand thought of KIX as a “cult band” and wasn’t disappointed. Singer Steve Whiteman told a delightful story during the outdoor deck show about how he once jumped in the air at the start of a gig and shat his pants – a situation he had to battle through for the remainder of the gig.
Y&T seem to play in Europe more than the US these days but Dave Meniketti was up against driving rain and wind at one stage during their set. It’s sad not to see the late Phil Kennemore anymore but the California act has lost little musically.
HELIX delighted the Canadians aboard with a full tilt, deafening set in the tiny indoor lounge (although the appeal was somewhat lost on the reviewer), FASTER PUSSYCAT continue to impress with their updated sleaze sound –
now tinged with industrial leanings – while BANG TANGO have a great current album to work off (something Cinderella haven’t had in decades) and RHINO BUCKET’s rifferama was reminiscent of Broken Teeth on previous cruises.
Each night, after midnight, punters would stagger out of the bigger shows held in multi-storey ballrooms and find the likes of ERIC MARTIN or JOHN CORABI performing in a bar or lounge. The hirsuite Corabi played acoustic versions of Motley Crue’s “Hooligan’s Holiday” and The Scream’s “Man In The Moon” along with classic rock material, while Mr Big’s Martin fronted a full band including his wife Denise on drums.
To hear Mr Big’s “To Be With You” belted out by the ageless and eminently capable singer who made it hit must have beggared belief for some fans who had already seen four or five acts that day and would normally maybe only witness one of these bands live every six months.
After being snowed in following a casino show in Michigan, STRYPER and LYNCH MOB literally missed the boat. They raced the Poesia and each other down the Florida coast in rented vans to join the cruise when it stopped in Key West.
“One minute Lynch Mob was in front, then George saw water and wanted to get out for a swim,” Morand recalled.
When the ship set sail that night, Lynch joined Tesla’s Frank Hannon and Corabi for an all-star jam in a lounge. “My name’s been associated with this but don’t blame this shit on me,” the former Dokken axeman told revelers. “We’ve never met each other and we don’t know any songs.”
Starting with Free’s “All Right Now”, the jam was fantastic.
Fellow absentees Stryper were close to being the band of the weekend. They’ve toned down the bumble-bee look somewhat but still cut a striking figure in their black and yellow accoutrements (and still throw our bibles) and Robert Sweet, with his kit positioned side-on in centrestage, is a mesmerising skinsman.
DJ Luc Carl conducted morning “gym sessions” in support of his book “The Drunk Diet” which tells readers how to lose weight and get wasted at the same time.
There were occasions things did get a little cheesy – as you would expect from one of rock’s most commercial genres. Night Ranger appeared to spend plenty of time striking rawk poses and KEEL frontman Ron Keel’s favourite subjects seemed to be himself and the “rock history” he was making on the deck stage.
UFO were one of the few bands who only played once on this cruise and US DJ and television host Eddie Trunk was slavish in his praise of the veteran blues rockers when he introduced them. The US metal crowd’s reverence towards UFO knows no bounds and they were greeted in deafening fashion.
At one stage in a flawless set, vocalist Phil Mogg paused to watch a video on the big screen – opposite the stage – promoting sales for next year’s MOR. In it, a David Lee Roth lookalike posed on his bed surrounded by scantily-clad nymphs and empty whiskey bottles.
“Who’s That fellow?” said Mogg. “My cabin’s not like that at all. There’s a lamp and a couple of books.”
Mogg and bandmates, apparently, had taken the “fan interaction” aspect of MOR to new heights, opening and closing the main bar on the pool deck some days.
Pointing out fellow drinkers from the stage before “Lights Out”, Mogg said: “Just to show that I’m not completely gone … Lulu, Collette and Leabond.
“I’m not doing too bad. Blokes’ names, you can make up as you go along – ‘hi John, awright Fred’, drinks on you, drinks on him’.”
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BUT do most bands enjoy, or merely tolerate, living at such close quarters to their fans?
Georg Dolivo, of Rhino Bucket: “There were certain people, who shall remain nameless, who had rockstaritis going on and were thinking that they didn’t want to be over-run by their over-zealous millions of fans.
“Everybody was respectful. Every now and then they’d come up and want to take your picture but, that’s fine. Plus, we were blind drunk the whole time so I don’t think anyone wanted to come near us.”
A strong indication that rock cruising has moved into the mainstream – after the tetchy start in ’08 – comes with the news that KISS have now done two ‘KISS Kruises’. After all, there’s nothing more mainstream than KISS.
Starting with an unmasked accoustic set outdoors, with a stage built over the pool, the KISS Kruise also features two full shows which must be performed at anchor because the painted ones’ platform boots are so high they make playing at sea dangerous.
The band answered pre-subitted questions after the acoustic show. One youngster said his dad, a veteran, did not want to come because “he thought he wouldn’t get on with people from other countries”. Paul Stanley said those who criticise the continuing use of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss’ makeup “can go fuck themselves”. The band also undertook to send one fan’s entire family on vacation.
When KISS play, the entire deck between their dressingroom and the stage is closed off. Gene Simmons and Stanley were rarely sighted between shows (Eric Singer carries hundreds of guitar picks everywhere, handing them out) but one
kruiser told me he was able to get 20 minutes with the demon – by spending $4000 on a Punisher bass.
Simmons’ business partner had set up a shop in one cabin. You negotiated your price for the instrument, and if you bought it, you were taken to a cabin to see Simmons.
Bear in mind the former reality TV star had just been married at the time and was no doubt being paid a fortune to take part in the cruise. But an extra few grand was clearly worth him investing some of his valuable time.
But KISS fans are a different breed (if you were from the same town or country as a fellow cruiser and they didn’t know you, you seemed to be considered nothing more than an insignificant infantryman in the KISS Army).
Generally speaking, says Bang Tango drummer Trent Anderson, fans no longer tolerate such aloofness.
“It’s changed from even five years ago,” he says. “People no longer want the rock star to go hide in the dressingroom or in their cabin on the boat. They want you to be personable, they want you to be real.
“These people have supported this music … for thirty-something years. They’re no longer intrigued by the guy who’s a jerk and goes and hides. They want recognition that they’ve been loving that music for 30 years. If you’re not giving that to people, they’re not going to stick around.
“Our theory in Bang Tango is we no longer have fans, we have family and friends.
“We’re not curing cancer. We’re not feeding the poor. We’re just a bunch of monkeys at the zoo, trying to be entertaining.
“Today’s rock star is the guy who sits there and hangs out with you and has a beer.’
Dolivo did admit that by the end of the second day, things had started to become a little “tedious”. “You’re on a floating hotel with the people,” he said. “You start to think …. OK, can we move on now?”
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KISS sold out their second KISS Kruise. The second Monsters Of Rock, setting off on March 16, features many of this year’s acts – along with a reformed Arcade, Queensryche, Lita Ford, Saxon, Loudness, Great White, Dangerous Toys, Nelson, the Quireboys, LA Guns, Enuff Z’Nuff, Femme Fatale, Alcatraz and Russ Dwarf.
Shiprocked continues independently. In December, it included Godsmack, Korn, Five Fingered Death Punch, Sevendust, POD, Fuel, Filter, Helmet, Lit, Geoff Tate, Gilby Clarke and The Letter Black.
The KISS Kruise is run by Sixthman, who specialise in this sort of thing. They’ve done similar events for Kid Rock and Weezer.
Morand’s little business is booming, too, a DJ with a keen eye for a trademark has a profitable stake and everyone is getting royally drunk.
“The first Monsters Of Rock, we got beers from around the world and around different parts of the United States to recognise where people had come from,” says Morand.
“But the staff on the Poesia were a bit … European. They hid the beers where no-one could see them and sold what they normally sell. We can still improve them, make them think in a more American way.”
Not that getting wasted is a peculiarly American passtime – as evidenced when Morand received a phone call from security as the first Monsters Of Rock cruise was disembarking in March this year; a phone call that put the smarmy Carnival announcement of four years before very much in perspective.
“This guy says to me ‘we have a problem’,” Morand recalls. “He said ‘I’ve got the singer from UFO here, passed out in a deckchair’. I said ‘well, wake him up. We’re all getting off the boat’. He said ‘he’s unresponsive’.”
Morand responded with horrified silence.
Eventually, Phil Mogg game around. But not before the promoter of Monsters Of Rock had recalled several important plot devices from the movie “Weekend At Bernie’s”.

John Corabi, Frank Hannon & George Lynch – “All Right Now (live)” from Steve Mascord on Vimeo.

Filed for: CLASSIC ROCK PRESENTS: AOR

MOTLEY CRUE: Feeling Minnesota (1990)

Motley Crue
By STEVE MASCORD

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?

“Izzy fucked around with Vince’s wife so he punched him out,” Sixx says, turning his attention to Guns singer  Rose. “And if Axl doesn’t shut up, he’s going to start something too.

“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.

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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?

“Probably.”

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?”

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“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 became withdrawn, grew a beard and pulled out of from public life after his December 1984 accident, which killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle and seriously injured two others.

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.

“I almost got arrested for that once,” Lee, an excitable ball of enthusiasm , says after the show.  ‘It’s just ‘fun.”

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???.”

The story originally appeared in JUKE Magazine on April 28, 1990

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

LOUDMOUTH: September 2012

@Loudmouthcolumn

BASSIST Robbie Robbie Crane has quit Lynch Mob, giving no reasons for his decision.

The band has just released a well-received EP, the Sound Mountain sessions, but the experienced Crane obviously is unsatisfied with his current situation.

He issued a statement saying: “With much thought and regret, I am resigning as the bass player of Lynch Mob…

“Thank you to all of the fans for your support of the band and ‘Sound Mountain Sessions’… It has been a wild two-year ride that I wouldn’t change for anything!”

There is speculation that Crane is about to join a supergroup formed by vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, although Turner recently played this down

DOKKEN are previewing 11 new songs from their Broken Bones album, due September 25, on iTunes.

The album comes as all original members of the 80s metal heroes – aside from singer Don Dokken – prepare to release their own new project, Tooth & Nail.

Unusually, drummer Mick Brown is in both bands. Tooth & Nail are rounded out by bassist Jeff Pilson and guitarist George Lynch while the remaining members of Dokken are guitarist Jon Levin and bassist Sean McNabb.

Here’s the Broken Bones track listing:

1. “Empire” 3:33
2. “Broken Bones” 4:54
3. “Best of Me” 4:18
4. “Blind” 3:23
5. “Waterfall” 2:48
6. “Victim of the Crime” 4:30
7. “Burning Tears” 4:41
8. “Today” 4:20
9. “For the Last Time” 3:58
10. “Fade Away” 3:46
11. “Tonight” 4:57

Here’s the preview link

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MOTLEY Crue will play on despite vocalists Vince Neil breaking his foot during a show at Cuyuhoga Falls, Ohio.

Neil, 51, Tweeted after the show that medicos had diagnosed a broken foot and that he would have x-rays in Toronto. The next day, he Tweeted: “Ok this sucks but doctor just said I broke two bones in my foot!”

He posted the accompanying picture.
One report said the injury was suffered when Neil tripped on a piece of onstage equipment. In keeping with the Crue’s 1981 song “On With The Show”, Neil completed the performance, which is part of a national tour with KISS.

Bassist Nikki Sixx Tweeted on Friday: “Yes we are playing tonight(and the rest of the tour)even though @TheVinceNeil has two broken bones in his foot. He is a trooper.”

LOUDMOUTH: August 2012

@Loudmouthcolumn

* IT seems the illness which placed Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen in hospital is not as recent as the band has made out.

Reports emerged on August that Van Halen had undergone “emergency surgery” for diverticulitis, an inflammation and infection of the intestines. That statement gave the distinct impression this was a breaking story.

But the latest news indicates that EVH was in hospital for three weeks recovering from the surgery and is already home. The band has indefinitely postponed its November Japanese dates and Edward has to spend six months recovering.

* KINGS Of The Sun drummer Clifford Hoad has announced he will be the band’s new singer.

Hoad has been searching for around two months for a vox to replace that of his brother Jeffrey, who is no longer interested in show business. He announced on the band’s Facebook page he would be assuming the duties himself.

The band is to be relaunched shortly.

* MOTLEY Crue drummer Tommy Lee is being sued over his rollercoaster drum kit.

Lee invites fans onstage to ride the kit, which performs a 360 degree  manouvre on a rollercoaster-like circular track. But engineer Scott King says Lee stole the idea, which he first pitched to him in 1991.

King says Lee turned down the idea 21 years ago and then used it in 2012 without any recognition or payment. He’s threatening to sue.

* ROSE Tattoo have been confirmed as support for Slash on his Australian tour this month.

Evidently, Angry Anderson is going to take a break from his burgeoning political career to renew an alliance with the former Guns N’Roses guitarist.

read on

LOUDMOUTH: July 26, 1989

Compiled by STEVE MASCORD
DIESEL will drive your dollar twice as far next month following the announcement of a second show on the Rock N Roll Tour for the Hordem Pavilion on Wednesday August 16.
What’s more, lasi time we looked there was still a cuppla seats left for the first gig on August 15. So be the first on your block to go utterly deaf after just two nights out!
While you’re at it. cop the mighty Georgia Satellites and gee-tar history make: Alvin Lee for absolutely no extra charge.
“I saw this song on MTV – I don’t have it at home but I was looking at it at a friend’s place – and I saw this song I really liked.” an anecdotal Satellites frontman Dan Baird told Loudmouth from (where else?) Atlanta,  Georgia.
Then at the end of it it said it was Johnny Diesel and I thought ‘so we’re touring with them – cool’.
“You don’t know what a relief it is to be touring with a band you actually like.
“Wc toured with one we didn’t like once, but I don’t want to name them because that’s ugly”
It appears the nasty execs from Electra have banned the advance release here to co-incide with the tour of a single from the Satellites’ upcoming third LP. the reason being such a release would “interfere with the US market. Sure, and President Marcos may coach Canterbury.
Baird says the Satellites will play ten songs in their 40 minute supporting set on the tour – three from their debut, three from Open All Night, three from the newy and “Hippy Hippy Shake”, their contribution to the Cocktail soundtrack.
Once again, Loudmouth will collect its filthy, stinking pile of scurge-ridden possessions and hit the road, destined for the Rock n Roll Tour’s Oz debut at Adelaide Thebarton Theatre on August 2.
Alvin Lee better change his hotel pseudonym before he arrives, or else he’s gonna get some phone calls from working class kids wanting to speak to Jimmy.
Speaking of which, what are the chances of Mr Barnes (whose pseudodnym might be Mr Lee) not getting up with the Diesels in Sydney? About the chance of Slash being a virgin, methinx.
For all those people calling OTS this week. no. Alvin Lee is not a former member of the Chipmunks-
No, I don’t know if the Chipmunks have broken up. Go awav.

MUCH of the new release interest this week revolves around Black & White, a group of rap vocalists and HR musicians who stage a high frequency audio war on vinyl. Aside from saying members of Guns N’Roses and Motley Crue are playing and a bunch of rappers are singing and that’s where the name comes from, we can’t tell you anything more ’cause they won’t tell us!

LETTERS TO THE ‘EAD ‘ITTER.
Dear Loudmouth,
Last week I saw a Sydney band that’s been doing the circuit for a few years. I’ve been hearing about the band’s great guitarist for a while now. Everything I heard about this guy was soon confirmed. I’m a little disappointed at the lack of recognition this fellow’s getting.
I spoke to the guitarist after the show. His name is Lorry Rayment.
I would like to see something on the guitarist in your magazine. I would really appreciate some photos to be published.
Perry Richards (Bankstown)
Loudmouth now has enough letters like this to build a life-size paper mache opera house. How many relatives you got, Laurie? Funny how they all seem to be from Bankstown.. . Hahaha. Or. if they’re all real punters, why haven’t we written a story about you. Good question, that…

Don’t forget. White Lion’s “Little Fighter”, a tribute to the Rainbow Warrior, is out now as a single, while the great cover art is enough to tell us that there’s another WL LP on the shelves, this time Big Game.
Roxus guitarist Joe Cool lists “writing a symphony” as one of his major ambitions!
• Remember when there were ethics which stated if you were a journalist and you worked as a public relations officer for a band, you were automatically excluded from writing about them?
After all, you’re hardly gonna be very impartial if good press is likely to line your pockets, are you. And beneath all the glitz and hype, it is still journalism, not cheap promotion of personalities.
Why the f * “k, then, is Guns n’Roses band publicist Arlett Vereecke writing interviews with Axl Rose for magazines? And why is she selling the stories?
I’ll give this,caper away the day I pay for press releases.
• If you’ll remember, the last (spectacular, brilliant) Great White album was called Once Bitten. The follow-up is Twice Shy, and it’s already up around 16 on the US charts. Lemme tell ya, the single “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” is so good its in sell-your-grandmother’s-underwear-on-the-black- market-to-get-the-money territory. It’s that good.
• For those with a distinct AOR bent. Richard Marx gig at the Enmore Theatre (where? Enmore Road. Where? Enmore) on August 25 shapes up as a biggy.
“Satisfied” recently went to number one in the US, keeping up his huge profile since all those hits off his debut album.
In case you didn’t know. Ricky wrote Robin Zander and Ann Wilson’s “Surrender To Me” and co-wrote/produced Vixen‘s breakthrough “Edge Of A Broken Heart”.
• Now, I know it’s a case of you either love or hate Marx, but personally I think he’s one of the few believable AOR stars around at the moment, with a voice as convincing as Lou Gramm‘s and a freakish knack of writing quality songs.

Filed for: ON THE STREET

Motley Crue To Tour In May 1990

By STEVE MASCORD

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

MOTLEY CRUE: Bounty Or Mutiny? (2011)

By STEVE MASCORD

“I really don’t understand what Mick’s talking about. Maybe he took the wrong pill that day.”

The man at the other end of the telephone is Vince Neil, the 50-year-old singer from Motley Crue. He seems unimpressed with his guitarist, Mick Mars. I am in Philadelphia, at baggage claim. Vince is in Las Vegas, presumably at home. I had interviewed Mick backstage in Melbourne.

Now, I need you to concentrate here. It’s complicated.

I also quizzed Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee – over the phone, even though we were both in Melbourne at the time. And – I’ll say this slowly – I had 15 minutes on the phone with bassist Nikki Sixx, when I was just outside his dressing-room and he was in hotel  less than a mile away!

That’s the way the Crue wanted it. Bad Boys. Rock’n’roll.

So as glam metal’s greatest survivors prepare to tour the UK this December with apparently good friends Def Leppard and depends-who-you-talk-to acquaintances Steel Panther, this Classic Rock AOR feature story comes to you after more than a month in the making. To be fair, there were times I was unavailable. There were more occasions, however, on which tracking Vince down looked like it was going to require the Navy Seals.

To explain what a rather surprised and aggrieved Vince Neil is taking about above, we need to go back to back to the start, back to when Mars – sitting adjacent to me in a nondescript backstage room at Rod Laver Arena – had placed his left thumb and index finger on his forehead after a query. “That’s a hard question to answer for me personally,” he had said.

And there had been a pause. A long pause.

Oh no, I thought at the time. I had clearly been stupidly insensitive. I enquired as to whether Mars could see an endless horizon of touring and recording, now that the original Crue were back together and their place in popular culture – not just rock – was enshrined thanks that tome of depravity, Neil Strauss’s The Dirt.

But matters other than popularity and marketability will affect what Mick Mars is doing a decade from now. One, he is 60, easily the oldest member of Motley Crue. Two, though a little more agile than in recent years, the Indiana-born axeman has ankylosing spondylitis, a joint disease which causes him to “seize up” and resulted in a 2004 hip replacement surgery.

It’s a condition I did not take into account when posing my question…

Things had started well when I had been ushered into the room.  Mars – clad loose-fitting black with a cap – was initially laconic, until the line of questioning engaged him more. And until what I immediately assumed to be a gaffe, he had been a generous interview subject.

“There’s always room for improvement. You know that,” he said when I commented that the Crue were particularly tight in late September Down Under. “It all depends if we all get together a week or so before we go (to the UK) and get tight again, before they ship all the stuff over there.

“I think every band should do that. I’m sure every band does. Sometimes, we’re lazy and we don’t do it.”

Towards the end of our chat, Mars says this: “My health is fine. As a matter of fact, I’m the only one in the band – hahaha – that has life insurance or that could get life insurance. It’s just that I’m bent, from the AS. It bothers me sometimes. It comes and goes. It isn’t anything life threatening. It’s more of an inconvenience for me than anything because I can’t lift my head up and down or shake my head back and forth

“I’m always looking down, I can’t see so I run into a lot of things. I hurt the top of my head! That kind of deal. I walked into a piece of glass today on one of these rotor doors, went ‘boof’ just this afternoon.

 “I kind of map out the floor (of the stage) so I can see where I’m at. I can see, when I’m standing up, a certain distance so when I get out to the edge of the stage (I check) whether there’s a truss out there or there’s not so I’ll know when to stop. Otherwise I’d be on the ground.”

In other words, the man formerly known as Bob Deal is not sensitive about his health at all. It isn’t why he paused, considering what to say next. His comment about the Crue’s reluctance to rehearse is – in fact – only the tip of a north-Atlantic sized iceberg which Vince Neil is about to be confronted with.

But as you probably guessed I was going to say at this point, more of that later…..

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HAVE you ever mentioned Motley Crue in a text message? If you have, you’ll have noticed that on some phones, the umlauts are automatically inserted. “No way!” says ageless surfer dude Lee. “That’s pretty cool, I didn’t know that, I like that,” is Neil’s reaction.

“That’s what happens when you are the undisputed heavy metal champions of the universe!” extols Sixx. “It happens when you’re the heavy metal Bono.”

That was what this story was originally going to be about. This writer composed a rather sour and immature gig review 22 years ago from a US venue which has long since been knocked down, in which he described Motley Crue as “a pop metal band with yearnings for immortality”.

Well, Apple software still interprets “Dokken” and “Ratt” as misspellings. Yearning achieved, then….

But how? Why did Motley outlast the others and, achieve pop culture relevance considered worthy of predictive text recognition.  “You can’t eradicate cockroaches,” is Sixx’s initial answer, which he lets just hang there for a while, without elaboration.

“That’s a tough one,” says Lee, polite to a fault despite cancelling a scheduled 11.30pm post-gig meeting with me. “It’s hard to ask someone on the inside. I don’t know … what’s given us longevity is, when I look out in the audience I still see fuckin’ 14 year old kids coming to check out something they’ve never seen before, something their older brother or even parents turned them onto.

“That makes me realise, cements the fact that, we’re going to be around for a lot longer. If there wasn’t new fans out there, I’d be concerned. Like, ‘wow this is a time period type thing’. But that’s not the case. I see different ages and colours and all that and it’s just so fuckin’ cool to me. I think our lifestyle, the whole essence of Motley Crue is sometimes bigger than its music, you know? It’s continued to live on and people keep coming to check it out … never have we not taken the money that we’ve made and put it right back into our show. So every time, we come around bringing some crazy shit to blow their fuckin’ minds.

“I think at the end of the day, people want to be entertained. There’s nothing better than rockin’ out, goin’ ‘dude, I saw Motley last night bro, it was fucking insane’.”

On this point, Vince agrees. “I think we didn’t do anything really cheesy. We tried to prove ourselves by putting out better new music and bigger tours. At the end, we stayed through the tough times and things turned around. A lot of bands, you know, when things aren’t going their way, when music tastes change, they always tend to just break up and stuff and go their separate ways. We didn’t do that and I think the main thing is we touched the younger generation and that’s where it is. You go to a Motley show and you see 15 and 16-year-olds in Shout At The Devil shirts and those are the new fans. That’s how we’re able to sell out arenas and amphitheatres. It’s not just fans who’ve grown up with us. It’s their kids.”

Mars is enigmatic “It’s the umlauts!” he says “That’s what does it! That’s what put us right there on the map, the umlauts.”

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SO that’s what this story, which involved interviewing every member of Motley Crue, was going to be about. But when you’re dealing with Motley Crue – as I can recall from writing a similar story in Minneapolis back in ’90 –  you can’t expect events and words and actions not to steamroll your best intentions.

Because although Vince, Nikki, Tommy and Mick all seem to agree they have – in the words of Lee  – “something really special that only the four of us do”, there seems to be precious little consensus on how, why, when or –most crucially – what’s next.

Take the role of aforementioned book, The Dirt, in shaping their return from club- and theatre-land to arenas and ensuring their survival. I once bought it as a present and a shop assistant half my age described it as “the gift that keeps giving”. Tales of alcohol and drug abuse, of groupies, jail, of Nikki Sixx actually dying and coming back to life – a life that took him from sex God to blind dates and back again – impressed hipsters who would normally have derided Motley Crue as a tragic hair metal act.

But the extent to which Motley Crue are still touring a book divides the band.

Lee reckons it’s just a good yarn.  “ … it’s weird, that book, I’ve had people walk up to me and go ‘dude, this is the rock’n’roll bible, dude. It’s bizarre. It’s a really cool story of four guys who really came from fuckin’ nowhere and woke up one day in a haze of drugs and alcohol and fucked up marriages and all kinds of crazy shit and they’re all still alive and still playing. It’s really a pretty epic story, you know?”

Sixx has a more sophisticated theory. “If you stick around long enough and continue to release music and continue to tour, you do reinvent yourself,” he says. “At a snail’s pace, but you do, and people follow you. But if you have a vehicle like the book, you get to be reinvented at a faster pace. Word of mouth is more powerful than anything else. That’s how we discovered music in the beginning. As much as I want to talk about the internet and where radio’s going, I always go back to: if a kid loves something, he’s going to tell all his friends. They might tell their friends. It’s like an infection.”

Mick Mars?  He says The Dirt got Motley Crue back together and kept them together, after Neil and Lee strayed – plain and simple. “I think us doing the book had a lot of impact in resurrecting the band, because of all the turmoil,” he says. ‘I’ve leaving the band’, ‘I’m going’, all that crap. But when people read the book and could understand what was going on with the whole thing, they got it. When you’re outside looking in, you’re like ‘(gasp), no wonder!’

“I think it resurrected the band in terms of being human. That’s the way I look at it.

“When the band came out, it was like’boom’ and we were kind of used to that kind of thing. And the fall, after some shit went down and stuff, to try and come back was a lot more difficult. There were a lot of good bands out there. That was when you had all the alternative and grunge and hiphop and rap and all that stuff was coming in.

“But when the book came out, it was either Canada or the UK who said ‘you guys need to …’ I forget the exact way it went down but we did the book and all of a sudden the band blew up again.”

Oh and Vince? Guess what? “I don’t know, that book came out ten years ago so I don’t know if it really has that much to do with us now. It seems like the people who read the book were really the fans who grew up with us. Maybe there were some fans from the younger generation discovering the book but I don’t know…..

“I don’t know if it helped or didn’t help, whether it made it worse. Who knows?”

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THE extent to which the world is laughing WITH Motley Crue and their sex tapes, celebrity girlfriends and jail terms or AT them is at least worth discussing. I saw the Crue in Brisbane on the current tour and they were no laughing matter – intense, compelling, slick and cool. Vince has often been justly criticised for singing every third word; it was the best vocal performance I can remember from him since the ‘90s. (“That’s why I go out on those solo tours,” he says)

But when you reach a certain level of fame, your life can become a circus. And that’s where Steel Panther come in – they are the undisputed clowns of the hair metal carnival. Singer Michael Starr often jokes during shows about being 50 and undergoing extensive plastic surgery. Now they’re opening for the biggest Sunset Strip circus of them all.

How many members of Motley Crue have a post-modern view of their own foibles? Half, as it turns out. And not the half you might expect…

Vince Neil: “I’ve actually sang with them before. I like the band. I think they’re funny. That’s their gig. They don’t take themselves seriously, they go out and people love them. They are really nice guys. I like the guys. I just said to them, ‘look, it’s great, but you can’t go up there and play cover songs like they do in these clubs and such here in Vegas and LA. You’re going to have to play some original songs and be a real band, play themselves and not other bands, you know what I mean?’”

Mick Mars: “I’ve never seen them. I know that they do parodies on bands. I believe that they have their own music. I believe that they’re fairly big in the UK. I heard that they’re really popular in Germany. You hear about them around Hollywood, they play at the Key Club all the time. You hear cool stuff but they’re, like, a comedy act. Like Steve Martin or something.

Steel Panther

“From what I understand, they’re all good players.

“They mock everybody. They don’t just mock Motley Crue. They mock Pink. Pink went up on stage and sang with them. It’s their whole bit. They’re comedians. Actually, I think that every comedian is a musician and every musician is a comedian. It’s whatever you make it in first.”

“Our thoughts were that we knew nothing about it!” Sixx says earnestly when asked about Michael Starr, Lexxi Foxx and the rest. “We’re always looking for current bands. I called up Joe Elliott, I said ‘hey Joe … I know the guys in Steel Panther, they’re sweet dudes but they’re just a cover band. Why don’t I call the guys in Sick Puppies or a bunch of other bands? There’s a really cool band, I think they’re British, called The Treatment. Why don’t we get someone cool like that?’ He’s like, “I didn’t know about it either’. It was one of those things. We’re at a really seedy time right now when you’ve got companies owning management companies owning ticket companies, owning promoters, owning all that kind of stuff. You start to get a thing where it’s almost a monopoly and these type of situations happen and you end up feeling like the fans aren’t really getting what the bands want. Joe didn’t want that. He said ‘yeah, I didn’t want that but it’s like I guess it’s OK’. The same thing came from our side. And in Steel Panthers’ defence, they probably never knew any of this and in the fans’ defence, I’m sure that people do really like the band.”

But when you’re Tommy Lee and a parody metal band comes out with a drummer called Stix Zadinia… well.

“Steel Panther? That was not by our choice” ‘T-bone’ says stridently

“That got thrown on there. I don’t know. I think something happened where they got put on the bill without us approving it. To me, it’s … what do you call those bands? Like a parody band?

“It is what it is. I don’t know. I can’t imagine. I guess it’s funny if you’re drunk and you’re going to see some shit on stage but it’s weird. I definitely don’t take myself that seriously but for us to play a tour with a band that mocks you is just fucking weird.

“I don’t get it. For me … whatever, I don’t have to sit there and listen to it. I feel bad for the fans if that’s not something they want. It wasn’t by my choice.”

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TWENTY years ago, Motley Crue’s pending “feud” with their opening act might have made the tabloids. Maybe they still will. But whether the tabloids are interested or not, Motley’s still got fueds.

Massachusetts metallers Godsmack have a new song, penned by singer Sully Erna, called “Cryin Like a Bitch”, which is about Sixx. Er, sorry we brought it up, Nikki…

“Nobody cares about Godsmack!” he storms. “Let’s talk about something real. That’s a pub band at best. The thing is, they had a couple of good songs. The guys in the band are really nice guys. The only guy who ever had a problem was the singer. It’s funny, his own band told me he’s an asshole and his own managers told me he’s an asshole. I just laugh. You know, the bottom line is that cat called me up personally and begged to be on Cruefest. He said that they hadn’t been out in years, they were going to put an album out, they didn’t know if they even had a fanbase left. The nineties were dried up and gone and they wanted to get in front of a rock audience and lay it down.

“I said ‘you guys can do that’. Then they started taking things personally. I guess it was supposed to be their tour and their stage and their everything. The thing is, when you’re on someone else’s tour, you need to understand it’s their tour… When we played with the Stones, it was their tour. When we played with KISS, it was their tour, when we started out. Iron Maiden, it was their tour. I didn’t see us running around bitching and complaining about it. That just tells me it’s insecure people.

“I told my friend – they said ‘hundreds of thousands of people, they just love you”. I said ‘oh, you’re oh so wrong’. They said ‘what do I mean?’ I said ‘there’s just as many people that hate me. When the day is done, that is important – that you have as many people that go ‘fuck him’ as ‘I love him’. Rock’n’roll loses its balance when you try to appease people and you’re not willing to ruffle a feather.

“Do fans like feuds? I don’t really care what other bands think about us, personally. I think it’s too much, like, let’s all be chummy and cosy and friends. I’d rather be on the outskirts of town. I don’t like being in town and playing with everbody nicely. You have to venture into town and find out if you’re going to get decapitated by everybody because they’re not happy with you. It’s more exciting for me than anything.”

Oh, sorry, quick comment from Vince?  “I have absolutely no thoughts on it because I never really got what was going on. It was between Nikki and those guys. I just kind of heard stuff second hand. So, whatever Nikki had a disagreement with the guys in Godsmack, that’s his gig.”

Right….

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OWEN Wilson as Vince Neil? James Franco as Tommy Lee? Russell Brand as Nikki Sixx? The umlauts are one Hollywood blockbuster away from spreading from Apple to Blackberry, it would seem….

“We’re focusing our energies on getting the film made, The Dirt,” says Lee, who later apologises to me for not having his drum rollercoaster at the show I went to.“All the ducks are starting to come in line to where it’s going to happen. Our next immediate plans will be to get that underway and also to make some new music for that to go along with that …. I’m sure.

“We’ve been going since June so I’m sure people want to take a little bit of time off. Not myself. But sometimes the other guys want to chill out for a minute.

“We’ll have a lot of control. Otherwise we won’t do it. We’ve got it so that we’ll be very involved in making sure the essence of our story’s told because it’s a fucking hell of a story and I think we’ve got the right people in line now to make sure that doesn’t really get messed with and it gets … you know how you read a book and the film’s never quite … sometimes it’s really good but most times it’s not as good as the book?

“We want to make sure we’re not one of those statistics.

“I just saw a booklet and DVD of all the people. But they had taken a bunch of actors and taken me Vince, Mick and Nikki and they had taken pictures of the actors and put our hair and face makeup on them. It was interesting.

“One of the guys for Vince was Owen Wilson, I think. It was so weird. James Franco was me. Johnny Depp….it was wild to see them dressed up like us.

“ I knew Russell Brand  … he did an MTV interview saying he would love to do the movie. There’s interest out there. Who knows? I don’t know where it’s all going to go but that’s where we’re focusing our attention.”

Mars, who is also working on a solo record with former American Idol contestant James Durbin, says of the movie: “I know it’s based on The Dirt and the director we have picked, for now … I can never tell if it’s going to change or not.

“The guy sent some booklets and pamphlets and stuff like that and I saw what he was doing. When you see some of it coming together, that’s what makes the thing real. Nikki would sit in his room, prop – what are those things with the drawers?”

Er, a filing cabinet?

“Yes, and he would push it against the door so no-one could get in and he’d be like this (sits there, arms folded). That’s the realism. That’s what we’re trying to capture.

“We’re hoping this guy captures it. If he starts not to, I’m gonna go ‘hey, you on the waterskis, come here, that ain’t the way it happened’.

“I suppose I could go around asking actors (to play me), or have my lawyer ask if they’d like to play me. It’s a matter of doh-re-mi… ‘who’s going to invest money in this’ … I hate it.’

I suggest to Mars – who uncannily seems frail and powerful at the same time – that seeing one’s life portrayed on the big screen has prompted some people to break down “I’m not watching it,” he says with a faint smile. “I’ll make sure it’s right…”

And then sneak out of the premiere?

“I don’t think I’d be able to do that. Of course you have to do the red carpet thing…..”

Vince Neil does not seem to be “focusing his attention” on the The Dirt movie. At all. “I haven’t heard a word – I have no idea what’s going on with the movie. I’m not excited about it. You know, it’s kinda been going on for so many years, the movie getting made, not getting made. I’m just kind of over it.

“If it had been made 10 years ago when the book came out, that would have been fun and exciting. Now, it’s been going on for so long that I don’t want to get my hopes up.

“I don’t know if we’re going to have that much involvement in the movie. It’s not like we’re going to be there while we’re filming every scene and things like that. We’ll look at the script, we’ll look at the choices for the actors and that’s really kind of it…..”

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SO this is where things come to a head.

After carefully mulling over what he wanted to say about Motley’s path towards respect, longevity and stability, Mars came out with this: “I think there’s potential for us to be able to do that if we make the right decisions.

“And so far, I haven’t seen the right decisions made.

“We could. We could be the Stones. We could be Aerosmith. We could be U2. We could be. But if the decisions aren’t made correctly by us four, no.”

And what areas do those decisions need to be made in?

“Um….. growing up. There’s a few things that I think … you know, with Mick Jagger … let’s use him for a whipping post, OK? He’ll go up and he’s real strict with his band. He’s like ‘Ronnie, a drink’, this other guy whatever. You won’t drink before this and this and this. They’re professional. When they’re on stage, they’re not going to do this, this, this and this. It’s, like, very focused.

“There’s some …. I think, because my band was so young when they made it, they still think that they’re that young and they’re not. They don’t understand that they’re 50-year-old men. They still think they’re 16.

“I’m not saying we won’t have the longevity. I’m saying … I’ve got to think of the right word. I hate stumbling around looking for a word that’s on the tip of my tongue. If you see an actor or an actress – Johnny Depp for instance. You see him on the screen only. That’s where you see him and it seems like, not real.

“It’s, like untouchable. It’s like, here’s this thing. The Stones have that. Aerosmith has that. U2 has that.”

Like, an aura?

“Yes! That thing, that charisma, that shit, that ‘wow’. But I feel like there’s a few flaws yet that need to be fixed. A couple of childish things. If that didn’t happen … it’s just part of Motley, what they do but I wish that sometimes they wouldn’t. That would put us into a more respectable kind of … royalty, like the Stones are and Paul McCartney and those kinds of things. That level, that I think this band could really reach if there were a few things that were handled differently or changed or … still being us, still being rebellion, still being crazy, over-the-top, whatever-the-heck. You can be that way – like Iggy Pop. There’s a good example. Iggy Pop is still over the top and crazy and nuts and cuts himself up with glass and does all this shit but he’s, like, this entity where you just go ‘whoa’. You see the guy and you just go ‘wow’.”

Vince does not like be compared to a 16-year-old.

“Yeah….you know, I really don’t know what he’s talking about,” he says after I read the quotes to him. “This last tour, Japan, Australia, the shows were good. I look at it like, your private life is your private life. The life you have on stage is where it really counts. You’ve got to go out there and do your best. That’s why people like you, because they want to see you onstage. You can’t fuck around like that.

“That’s Mick. I don’t know what he’s getting at.”

NIKKI Sixx is less shocked at Mars’ comments, which could be interpreted as being only just short of a very public intervention against his bandmate’s partying ways.

“What he’s saying is we try really hard to make smart decisions,” he responds. “When we sit down and make decisions as a band, that’s when we figure out what’s right for the legacy.  For me, it’s not about the money anymore. It’s about the legacy. What’s the footprint we leave when we walk away? Because we’ve all made the money, we’ve all had the fame and we’ve all had the chicks, we’ve all had the ups and the downs. That’s all said and done. Now it’s like this body of work and what’s the legacy when we walk away, whether that’s in five years, ten years or 20 years?

“So now it becomes a conversation which I know other major bands have had, where they sit down and they go ‘why are we doing this’ and ‘what do we want it to look like’ instead of ‘hey, let’s just go rock’. When you’re onstage, that is what we do.

“We should have that discussion. That’s what Mick’s saying.”

Normally, a band of Motley Crue’s stature disagreeing so publically – OK, they have slagged each other off before – would never be considered a good thing.

But whether it’s spin that would outstrip Lee’s drum rollercoaster, or whether he is the most perceptive bass player on the planet, Sixx says it all adds to mystique. “I still look back and go ‘was he or was he not?’ about Freddie Mercury. That’s what’s magical. Did they worship Satan or did they not, Led Zeppelin? That’s what was magic. Is he stable or is he unstable? That’s the magic of rock’n’roll. There’s only so many notes and so many riffs. It’s the other stuff that adds to the magic..

“We were not bred to do it right. Motley Crue is cut from a cloth that’s against the grain and the personalities of this band – while a times warm and charming – are at the same time easily turned into … Rottweilers and serial killers. We don’t necessarily do the right thing and in some weird way that’s worked for us

“It’s the same thing as having a rattlesnake for  a pet. I have friends who have poisonous animals for pets. They’re like ‘aren’t they beautiful?’ and I’m like ‘they’re really beautiful, can you please keep them in their cage?’. That’s the sense of a real rock band. I felt that with Metallica. I felt that with Guns N’Roses when they were together. I felt that with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. There was mystery and great music and something was brewing underneath that i didn’t know. I felt at any moment it could turn on me and I don’t feel it with REM or Coldplay. I’d rather jerk off with sandpaper than listen to that shit. It’s just so fucking safe. It’s ridiculously monotone and linear.”

So, what’s great about Motley Crue is not just that they’re still here. It’s that they’re still capable of conflict, contradictions, drama and flat-out weirdness like that detailed above.

How about that? we ended up answering that question this story was intended to ask in the first place…

Filed for: CLASSIC ROCK AOR Appeared November 2011