Members: Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars
Be warned! Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the house, the world's most notorious hard rock band is back, and the story isn't a pretty one, but this time it has a happy ending. No band has consumed as many drugs and downed as much booze without dying as L.A.'s MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e. And now, after their headlining 2005 Carnival of Sins world tour, named by Pollstar one of the top-grossing of the year, the platinum two-CD greatest hits package Red, White & Crue and 2006's Route of All Evil Tour with Aerosmith, the CrÃ¼e return with Saints of Los Angeles, the ninth studio album of their career, and first with the original line-upâNikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee and Vince Neilâin over a decade.
That is a major event for a band that has sold more than 50 million albums, 25 million in the U.S., to date including '83's four-million-selling Shout at the Devil, followed by five consecutive Top 10 records in '85's Theatre of Pain (#6), '87's platinum Girls, Girls, Girls (#2), '89's six-million-selling and chart-topping Dr. Feelgood (#1), '94's MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e (#7) and 1997's Generation Swine (#4).
Having survived 3 decades of decadence and nearly every possible obstacle, including several brought on by themselves, Motley Crue now find themselves in a once inconceivable positionâthat of rock royalty.
The band's new Eleven Seven Music album is described by chief songwriter Sixx as "loosely based on The Dirt," the band's 2001 autobiography, a New York Times best-seller that is currently being developed as a major motion picture, a tale of dirty needles, damaged minds, music industry battles and a whole lotta sex.
"We needed to make new music," says Sixx of Saints of Los Angeles. "We're not a nostalgia act. It seemed to make sense to me to get the bullshit out of the way and just make music. We've created our own sound and it was time to do it again."
Inspired by his experiences writing his own current N.Y. Times best-seller, the critically acclaimed The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, and recording the accompanying soundtrack with his band Sixx: A.M, Nikki turned to his collaborators on that project, James Michael and DJ Ashba, to help him, Mick, Tommy and Vince on the new album. The two co-wrote and co-produced the title track and first single, "Saints of Los Angeles," inspired, according to Sixx, by the 103 streets named after saints in Los Angeles. The single debuted on AOL Music's Spinner.com in April.
Coinciding with the release of Saints of Los Angeles, MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e will embark on the first annual Crue Fest, headlining their own version of the Next Great American Rock Festival. Dubbed "The Loudest Show on Earth" the inaugural tour features several acts poised to ascend to rock's royal throne, currently occupied by the Crue, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Nikki's own Sixx: A.M. The 40-city tour gets underway July 1 in Florida.
The singers of all the participating Crue Fest bands are featured doing background vocals in the "Saints of Los Angeles" video and the single.
"Josh Todd from Buckcherry came up to me in the middle of shooting the video, with all these half-naked women and crazy-looking extras running around and said, 'This is going to be the summer of excess," says Nikki. "'It's like we'll be leaving a trail of panties from coast to coast.'"
Regarding the new album's title, Nikki laughs, "It's supposed to be sarcastic, because obviously we're not saints, but we are from the streets of Los Angeles. As a lyricist, I've become a story-teller of reality. Much of life is looking back and remembering what happened to you. Let's share those memories, re-enact them, turn them into songs, plays, movies, books and a soundtrack to life."
That is just what Saints of Los Angeles does on songs like the opening "Down at the Whisky."
"When you hear that song, you're standing on the Sunset Strip somewhere between 1979 and 1981," says Nikki. "You can see it going down. You can smell it. We were there, so it's nice to be able to share that with people who weren't. What is was like back then."
Other new songs include "White Trash Circus," according to Nikki, "a Mick Mars-inspired sleazy strip club anthem that just drips with grimeâ¦ I'm excited about that one."
Sixx describes "Facedown in the Dirt" as "straight-up sarcasm, mixed with angerâ¦ there's a lot of humor on the album because, let's face it, we're ridiculously funny."
That comes through loud and clear on "Chicks=Trouble." "That's like Groundhog's Day in MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e land, where we just keep stepping in the same fucking piles of shit. There are piles and we pick 'em."
That goes double for "This Ain't a Love Song (This is a Fuck Song)," a glorious return to the heyday of Shout at the Devil, Girls, Girls, Girls and Dr. Feelgood.
"It's snotty and we're not going to apologize for it," insists Nikki about the new album. "So let the critics line up with their poison pens and say what they will say, but in the end, they'll be backstage just like everybody else, wishing to get a glimpse of the decadence."
Recently named President of Eleven Seven Music, Sixx is raring to go with his new job, sharing his own experiences by guiding other musicians to achieve their goals, creatively and commercially:
Of course, the CrÃ¼e have been doing that for 27 years now, and the amazing thing is not that they lived to tell the tale (although that is, in a way, a kind of unholy miracle), it's that all of their wildly uncontrollable habits are clearly audible in their music, then and now. Just listen to these albums and, if you concentrate hard enough, you can hear the sound of the coke coming off the tables, the squeak of the bed springs, and the sheer sleazy grind of California heavy metal over the last two decades.
In 1981, bassist Nikki Sixx left his glam-rock band London and met up with drummer Tommy Lee. Both were strung-out adolescents in search of good times and a record deal (in that order) and had a knack for creating fists-in-the-air anthems that parlayed their ability to play loud. Responding to an add in L.A.'s Recycler for a "loud, rude and aggressive guitarist seeking a band" placed by Mick Mars (who reminded Sixx of Cousin Itt from The Addams Family) and singer Vince Neil (who Mars referred to, perhaps unwisely, as a "blonde bitch" at their first meeting), the band named themselves MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e (the umlauts were intended to make them look tough. Of course, as Vince tells it, the idea came from a bottle of LÃ¶wenbrÃ¤u) and recorded an album, Too Fast for Love, which was released in November 1981 on their own LeathÃ¼r Records label. An insanely catchy, riff-driven record, TFFL turned rock fans' expectations upside-down and ultimately led to the formation of an entire glam-metal movement based in Los Angeles. Without Too Fast for Love, there would have been no Bon Jovi and no Guns n' Roses, but more than that, no Nirvana and maybe even no Green Day, either.
Picked up by Elektra, the CrÃ¼e released a string of classic albums in the '80s, beginning with Shout at the Devil (1983), controversial for its satanic reference, and Theatre Of Pain (1985), a slightly darker, more introverted record (perhaps stemming from Vince Neil's car crash with Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, who was killed in the incident). However, Girls, Girls, Girls (1987) was as rock and roll as anything they'd done before and, together with 1989's enormous Dr. Feelgood (which also marked the CrÃ¼e's wake-up call into rehab, after Sixx "died" from a heroin overdose and was revived with adrenaline, described in the classic "Kickstart My Heart"), catapulted the band into the mainstream.
By the '90s, MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e was a full-blown stadium act, with all the freedom (big production budgets, a string of models and porn stars) and hindrances (censorship issues, management and intra-band strife) that this entails. Neil left the band in 1992 and it was Scream singer John Corabi that provided vocals for the 1994 album MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e, which attempted to match up to the angst and power of newer metal bands. However, by 1997's Generation Swine, Vince was back and the CrÃ¼e's fortunes revived, leading them to issue Greatest Hits (1998), Live: Entertainment Or Death (1999) and a rarities collection, Supersonic and Demonic Relics (also 1999). All offered a unique perspective into the life and work of the CrÃ¼e, with remixes, live and demo recordings, and unissued tracks all part of the package. By 2000's New Tattoo, the band was working at full steam again, despite the departure of Tommy Lee, by then a tabloid star, thanks to his infamous home video high-jinx with his then-wife, Pamela Anderson.
MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e is also one of the only bands in history to successfully acquire ownership of all their master recordings. In 2003, their wholly owned label, Motley Records, licensed their catalog to Universal Music and saw reissues of all of their albums as well as the first installment in their box set, Music To Crash Your Car To â Vol. 1, a four-CD set that is the first of three volumes chronicling the band's storied career. Volumes 2 and 3 came out in the spring and fall of 2004, respectively. The first-ever greatest hits DVD on the band was also released in 2003, entitled MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e: Greatest Video Hits.
The band's 2005 reunion, their first concerts in six years, began in February with a 30-city U.S. tour presented by VH1 and VH1 Classic, dubbed "MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e: Red, White & CrÃ¼e Tour 2005...Better Live Than Dead," which kicked off with a press conference at the Hollywood Palladium, where the band performed. Eventually seguing to Latin America and Europe, they returned to North America that summer for another 43-city jaunt before wrapping up the year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. VH1 produced a "behind the scenes" documentary which showed how the band's management company, Tenth Street Entertainment, managed to put the feuding group together. The four original members recorded three new songs for the two-CD anthology album, Red White & CrÃ¼e, which was distributed by Universal Music Group, going platinum. One of the three songs, "If I Die Tomorrow," was accompanied by a video culled from footage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, helping raise funds for recovery, and became an Internet hit. A first-ever MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e concert DVD with all four original members documenting the tour, Carnival of Sins, was also released, featuring Tommy Lee's notorious "tittycam" and the claymation footage from the animated film Disaster which opened the show. In 2006, they were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and co-headlined with Aerosmith on the Route of All Evil tour.
How important is MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e? Let's just say that they made rock and roll what it is today. Without the CrÃ¼e, stadium rock in the 1990s might have been all about Journey, Foreigner, Kansas and REO Speedwagon. And they're not about to let it happen in 2008, either.
"This is what we need," says Nikki about the band's new album Saints of Los Angeles and upcoming Crewfest. "Artists dictating what will happen musically. This is not a safe bet, a show for the weak of heart. This is fuckin' rock and roll. This is what we need."
And MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e is just the band to give it to us.