2015 Preview: Mötley Crüe, Europe, Clutch, Venom, Deaf Havana

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What do the Crüe, Venom and Europe have in common? They’re all releasing brand new albums in the next 12 months.

MÖTLEY CRÜE

Nikki Sixx looks ahead to the band’s final days.

Critics have been waiting for the curtain to fall on Mötley Crüe’s career for more than 30 years. Even in their infancy it always seemed that annihilation was just around the corner for the Sunset Strip’s most self-destructive band. The Crüe finally do bow out in 2015, but they do so on their own terms, with all four original members agreeing that enough is enough. Mötley Crüe will cease to exist as soon as the calendar hits 2016, and it seems that the impending doom has brought this notoriously spoiling-for-a-fight foursome closer than ever before.

“Pulling the trigger on it and announcing the tour unified the band in a way that we’ve never had before,” says bassist Nikki Sixx. “We’re getting on better than ever. The band didn’t just break up, and then get back together for a farewell tour. We made the decision.”

That decision, to sign a contract promising that their 2014-15 Final Tour marks the end of the band, has sparked speculation over where the last-ever show will take place. For Sixx it’s a no-brainer: “The last show will be in Los Angeles on 31 December 2015,” he states. “How many shows we do in LA, we don’t know. But we’ll end in Los Angeles. That is the most romantic and dramatic ending, in the city we started in.”

Some dates have already been confirmed for 2015, including summer European festivals. When asked if the band have any new material for these last shows, Sixx suggests there may be one last surprise: “We did (new song) All Bad Things Must End and we will put that out in 2015. So we haven’t ruled out the idea of a new album. We’re proud of the songs Sex, Sick Love Song, All Bad Things… We just need a second to think about it.”

Even if a new album doesn’t come to fruition, Mötley Crüe are not going to go away quietly once New Year’s Day 2016 rolls around. They’ve already got the film of their autobiography-cum-hedonist’s bible The Dirt due, to continue their legacy long after the band has slipped into retirement.

“Anybody can make a shitty rock movie,” says Sixx. “We don’t want to do that. A lot of people don’t understand rock music and the rock’n’roll lifestyle. It’s not just sex, drugs and car crashes. Those things happen, and in our case more than usual. But what’s at the core of it all is the creativity and the personal relationships between each band member. We don’t just want to slap together the thrill moments. Any of the great movies, whether it’s Walk The Line or Ray, they got the music right and the personalities right.”

EUROPE

Heavy hooks and Viking sagas from Swedish AOR giants.

“People have been saying rock is dead. But it’s just been on vacation,” quips Joey Tempest. “It returns again in February, believe me.”

Some 12 tracks were recorded, including a title song “loosely based” on the Viking saga book The Long Ships. “There’s another really majestic one called The Second Day,” he adds, “which is in the style of No Stone Unturned [from Europe’s 2009 album Last Look At Eden], and California 405 is another that I really like.”

Dave Cobb, who also oversaw California Breed’s recent debut album, favours a spontaneous method of recording that took that band’s frontman, Glenn Hughes, by surprise. And Tempest had a similar experience. “Yeah, Dave captures things as live as possible,” he confirms. “We’ve used a lot of vintage gear, and the results sound amazing. We even wrote a song with him on the night of Jack Bruce’s death which will probably be called Angels With Broken Hearts.” War Of Kings will be released via Europe’s new label, UDR Records.

ETA: March 2015.

CLUTCH

Maryland rockers lose their heads.

There’s tension in Neil Fallon’s voice. “I don’t like recording,” the Clutch frontman rumbles. “I’m in the middle of it right now, and there’s more grey in my beard because it’s an intense process. With us there’s no effing around in the studio. A record is forever.”

If sessions at Austin’s Machine Shop go to plan, the band’s new record will be out in June 2015. “It’s a close cousin to [previous album] Earth Rocker,” Fallon says of the new material, again produced by Machine. “There’s fast songs, and more moody things where we’re kinda trying to channel Pink Floyd. We’ve got Sidewinder, which is a straight-ahead rocker where the intent is not to reinvent the wheel, just rotate the tyres. Our Lady Of Electric Light is the most anomalous – a slower, three/four-time song. Then there’s Decapitation Blues, which is an oblique reference to surgery I had last year. I had to get three vertebra fused together, and they sliced out the pieces in-between and put in cadaver bones, bolts and a plate. I was technically decapitated, so I kinda took that and ran with it.”

All told, this shouldn’t be your average autopilot 11th album. “We’re attacking it from different angles,” says Fallon. “But it’s also about knowing one’s strengths. I’m not gonna present a bunch of love songs to anybody any time soon.”

ETA: June 2015.

VENOM

Geordie thrash metallers go back to basics.

Thirty-five years is a long time in rock’n’roll, especially if you helped define thrash metal in the early 80s. Geordie veterans Venom, however, only seem to have sharpened with age. “Our last record was so fuckin’ venomous that I got a bit of a shock,” marvels leader, bassist and frontman Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant. “Usually I’m sick of an album after we’ve made it, but with Fallen Angels [2011] I couldn’t stop playing it.”

Venom used Fallen Angels as the jump-off point for the follow-up. “The first ideas we used were the ones we didn’t use for the last album,” Cronos says. “And we just kept going from there.”

Due in late January, the album, titled From The Very Depths, was recorded with minimal use of modern technology: “Music’s becoming cleaner, but I want heavy,” Cronos continues. “I don’t see the point of spending hundreds of pounds on a Marshall amplifier then using some plug-in. I want the fuckin’ tubes screaming, I want to hear the creaking of the pedals.”

As well as the new song Rise, which has already become a highlight of Venom’s recent live shows, Cronos also earmarks Long-Haired Punks and The Death Of Rock‘n’Roll as soon-to-be fan favourites. The first refers to the band’s pre-black metal days of the late 70s and is “about us being hooligans”. The second, meanwhile, is very much an anthem of intent. “The whole idea of the song is that rock’n’roll is evolving,” Cronos explains. “The chorus goes: ‘Light up the Marshall stacks/ We’re killing King Creole with devastating thrash/ The death of rock’n’roll’. Who knows, it might make people get out their old Elvis records.”

ETA: January 26, 2015.

DEAF HAVANA

Shit or bust for the Norfolk noiseniks.

“Everything was on track,” Deaf Havana’s lead vocalist/guitarist James Veck-Gilodi, says of their fourth album. “Then we had a bust-up with our accountant, fired our manager and found ourselves in massive debt. We’ve only just got back on our feet.”

The Norfolk collective have been holed up with producer Adam Noble in London’s Strongroom studio, where four songs have taken shape so far. “One is called Trigger,” explains Veck-Gilodi, “which is more upbeat than anything we’ve done before. It almost sounds like The Police. I’d like people to be able to dance to it. Then there’s Ashes, Ashes, which felt like getting something off my chest. That song is a goodbye to the miserable side. I’m in a better place than both previous albums [2013’s Old Souls and 2011’s Fools And Worthless Liars], when I was just a bit unhealthy mentally and physically. People might be surprised at the lack of misery.”

Despite the good vibrations, how the new album is received could make or break Deaf Havana. “I think this record is the one that decides whether we continue to be a band,” he admits. “If it goes well, then obviously we’ll stick at it. But if it flops… I don’t know how much more room there is for us. I think you’ve got to know when to call it a day.”

ETA: Winter 2015