"I've got a sex tape out? Big deal! So do lots of people!": A strange and occasionally antagonistic interview with Mötley Crüe

Motley Crue standing at a photo call during a press conference in 2005
(Image credit: Patrick Riviere via Getty Images)

In December 2004, Mötley Crüe announced a reunion tour. It wouldn't be their last, of course, but it was as much a surprise as the band's contract-defying Stadium Tour of 2022. Why? Because Mötley Crüe apparently hated each other. Because Mick Mars hadn't played guitar for two years and wouldn't last on the road. Because they were over. So, prior to the UK leg of the Carnival Of Sins tour, Classic Rock sat down with the band to figure it all out in a baffling, occasionally exhausting interview.    

“It’s all good, bro,” Tommy Lee says, reassuringly. “Your kid’s eight? No worries. Our show’s like a big circus. Oh, but after my drum solo we have the Titty Cam. You might wanna get him some popcorn or something then. Not before my drum solo, though – my drum solo’s awesome! But until the Titty Cam, it’s all gooooood.”

Having no doubt reached some sort of horrifying crossroads in my life, I’m getting parenting tips from Tommy Lee. Sent to Portland, Maine to interview Mötley Crüe, I’ve ignored all good sense and brought along my eight-year-old son on something of an impromptu Take Your Child To Work Day.

Lee good-naturedly blathers on about the “awesomeness” of his solo (apparently, word never reached him that most humans, if given the choice, would pick a colonoscopy any day over a drum solo – anybody‘s drum solo), but my son is out the door and down the corridor and I’m hot on his heels. 

Luckily, the backstage bacchanal at the Portland Civic Arena, key to the Crüe mythos, is nowhere in evidence, sparing me a small fortune in child therapy bills. We make our way past the punch-the-clock spectacle of behind-the-scenes middle-aged rock: roadies lugging cables and crates; tour managers and their assistants multitasking on laptops, Blackberrys, pagers and cell phones; and local rent-a-guards, generously proportioned men with moustaches and pronounced New England accents, sitting around munching fried chicken as they catch up on the sports pages. The mood is so arid and bloodless it’s a wonder that mass narcolepsy hasn’t set in.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, there are no second acts in American lives. Somebody forgot to tell the Crüe, so here they are, three weeks into their Carnival Of Sins Tour – and it is something of a scaled-down Big Top, with jugglers, fire-eaters, and a small-person master of ceremonies (one wonders why Tommy Lee hasn’t yet volunteered to be shot from a cannon) – enjoying not only a second act but pulling off an entire two-and-a-half hour show – no opening band – for the first time in their turbulent two decades-plus career. 

This being a reunion tour, or farewell tour, or reunion/farewell tour, or we’re-back-from-our long-hiatus-tour, the stakes are high, but so far so good. Every show is sold out, if not literally then technically, and that’s close enough to brag about.

Bragging rights are what it’s all about for the Crüe of 2005, and they’ll take what they can get. Remade, re-educated and rehabbed (well, sort of), this Crüe is a much different beast than the pillaging band of pirates who ruled the charts and concert stages for most of 80s and part of the 90s. For the first time they’re touring without benefit of a new studio album.

“The fact that we’re touring at all is what the story should be about,” says Nikki Sixx, smoking an ever-present cigarette and admiring his tattoos. “Look what we’ve been through. Look what Mick has been through. The fact that we’re even alive is worth the price of admission.”

On the subject of Mick Mars, Sixx has a point. Ankylosing Spondylitis is about as bad as it gets, and the 50-something guitarist has been at its mercy for most of his life. A painful, progressive, rheumatic disease that fuses some or all of the joints and bones of the spine together, it can also affect other joints, tendons and ligaments. Other areas, such as the eyes, lungs, bowel and heart can also be involved. In the annals of medical raw deals, it really sucks, and it’s incurable to boot. Shout at the Devil, indeed.

So it was something of a small miracle when the Crüe announced a reunion that would include the ailing Mars, and although they’re outwardly pleased with themselves for hitting the stage intact, one if not more of Mars’ bandmates had his doubts about the guitarist‘s chances of surviving the rigours of the road. “I can’t say who,” Mars says, “but there was a doubting Thomas. Or Thomases.”

As I chase my son away from the motorcycles the band will ride some 10 feet on to the stage to perform Girls, Girls, Girls, I bump into Jozie (“Jozie with a Z,” she stresses, “like Liza”), one of the Mötley Crüe dancers. Long of leg and tooth, Jozie is a veteran of three Crüe tours. “This one’s the best,” she says. “The mood is way up there. Everybody’s happy for once.” I ask Jozie with a Z for any tour highlights and she’s quick to tell me of her “naked showers with Tommy and the other dancers.”

Asked to clarify “naked” showers from showers involving clothes, Jozie bats her pole-dancer eyes and says, “It’s not like you think. It’s not sexy or anything. It’s more like a brother-sister thing.” I neglect to tell Jozie with a Z that my sister and I don’t shower together, and if we did, if we had to – if we were at gunpoint, for example – it certainly wouldn’t be sexy.

The plan was to interview the members of Mötley Crüe separately, one after the other. This plan is shelved the minute we arrive backstage. Instead, we wait – one hour, then 90 minutes. My son fidgets; I negotiate. 

Finally, road manager Jack Carson informs me that Vince is ready. Then he’s not ready. Then he’s ready again, but we’ll have to do it in Vince’s tour bus which is parked outside the front of the arena. And so it goes: Mick isn’t here; Mick’s here. Where’s Tommy? OK, Tommy’s here but no Nikki. Oh, Nikki’s here but you’ll have to do Tommy and Nikki together. When Carson informs me that today is “one of the more orderly days” on tour so far, I can’t help but laugh.

Talking to Mötley Crüe is bizarre: each member of the band, in his own highly individual way, remembers little or nothing about the same event. Every time one of them starts to answer a question, he pauses a moment too long, unable to stop the goings-on in his head. It‘s exhausting to watch. At the end of a very long day, when my son asks me the most innocent of questions – “Is something wrong with those guys?” – I have no idea how to answer.


Vince Neil

Vince Neil sits in his travelling wine cellar that doubles as a tour bus and gulps an endless glass of Chardonnay. Apparently, white wine isn’t liquor, at least in the land of Vince. Alcohol both steadies him and taunts him with moments of faux profundity. Despite a public makeover on reality TV, he still resembles a weathered, heavy metal version of Saturday Night Live actor Jon Lovitz. He rubs his eyes as if he’s just been roused from a nap. “What do you wanna know?” he asks, forgetting to offer me anything in the way of liquid refreshment.

This has been called a reunion tour, a farewell tour, but the prevailing view is that it’s a get-the-money-while-the-getting’s good tour.

The money’s good, no doubt about it. But you know, everybody’s pretty set. We don’t have any money worries. The main thing was getting the band back together. We had no idea it was going to be this successful. Reunion tour, farewell tour – all I know is, it’s a tour, and we’re doing great. Every night’s sold out.

Why didn’t you record a new album before hitting the road?

Recording an album is a heavy commitment, brother. But hey, what am I talking about? We do have a new record out: Red, White & Crüe.

Which is a greatest hits album with three new tracks. It’s your third greatest hits release within 10 years…

I don’t pay attention to numbers. Besides, the thing’s platinum, or it’s platinum in Canada or whatever. I never thought I’d have another platinum Mötley Crüe album on my wall. It’s crazy. It’s wild, man.

Vince Neil onstage

(Image credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Greatest hits packages aside, the band hasn’t put out a new album since Generation Swine – that’s eight years ago. And Dr Feelgood came out in 1989. Wouldn’t it have been better for the fans for you to record a new album of really strong material, and then do the tour?

I don’t know. Making a record is a lot of fucking work. But this tour’s been kicking ass, man. Every show is sold out, people are going nuts, and they love hearing the old songs. Old songs are what people get off on. Most of the time they hear something new and they don’t give a shit.

So, it’s not so much ‘Give the people what they want’ than it is ‘Give the people what they had’.

[Vince appears to consider this, but doesn’t respond.]

Let’s talk about the VH-1 documentary (Inside) Out: Resurrecting Mötley Crüe…

Is that what it’s called? I haven’t seen it. They followed us around with cameras, but other than that…

From what little I’ve seen, every three minutes one of you jumps up and yells, “This isn’t happening! Tour’s off!” There’s a lot of storming out of rooms in a huff.

Look, here’s my attitude on doing this tour. I wasn’t going to do it unless everybody in the band was committed to doing it, too. Why start something and a month later one of the guys says, “I’m not doing this.” You know what I mean?

But that is what you guys said. You said it… continually.

Yeah…Well, there were times when we weren’t going to tour. Everybody’s been involved in his own lifestyle for so long, all these different projects that had to be put on hold. Deciding to put Mötley Crüe as a priority was hard, and I didn’t think it was going to happen. But it did. Here we are.

Is there any truth to the rumour that Dave Navarro was lined up to tour if Mick couldn’t hack it?

No, that’s an internet thing. I don’t know how these things start.

Even so, you did have reservations about Mick touring.

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and when I finally did – whew! – he looked pretty frail. But now he’s rocking. He looks great, he’s playing great, he’s running around the stage – he’s Mick Mars.

You say that as if Mick Mars was always this run-around-the-stage kind of guy.

I see him run around on occasion. You gotta catch him at the right time. Actually, he’s getting in my way on stage with all the carrying-on he does.

Motley Crue backstage

(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns via Getty Images)

One of your new songs, If I Die Tomorrow, is written by a couple of the guys from Simple Plan. How come?

That’s a question for Nikki. Honestly, I have no idea where that song came from, although the way I hear it is that Bob Rock, our producer, was working with the band Simple Plan…I don’t know, I had nothing to do with it. Great song, though. See, that’s the thing, does it really matter who writes a song? A great song is a great song. I don’t care who writes it. Some guy’s mother writes it, who cares?

It’s been a few years since the publication of The Dirt. Looking back, do you think it in any way changed people’s perceptions about the group?

I don’t know about that, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. We wrote it, so it’s 100 per cent truthful. When I’m talking, that’s really me talking. That’s Vince Neil. Same with the other guys. I would have been really bummed out if we weren’t truthful and honest. The good thing about the book is, in some parts I’m the asshole, and in other parts I’m the hero. It doesn’t gloss over the bad stuff.

Then again, if you did gloss over the bad stuff, you’d be left with a pamphlet.

[Vince shrugs, sips wine.]

Are there plans to update the book? You could add some chapters from this tour.

No. None that I’m part of. [Laughs]

Having been together, what, 20, 25 years, has everybody in the band hit one another at least once?

Probably. It’s sort of fuzzy. When you think about it, though, how could we not hit each other? I remember my best duke-out was with Nikki, in a hotel lobby in San Francisco. This was when I quit the band and he got all pissed off. We were rolling around on the floor of the lobby and I nailed him.

Good times. As a member of Mötley Crüe, what are you most proud of? At the same time, is there anything you wish you could change?

I wouldn’t change anything about the band, good or bad. We are what we are. We’re playing better than we ever have, we’re playing longer than ever before. I was very afraid to do a show with no opening act; now I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

What’s the deal with you doing all these nutty reality shows? In The Surreal Life you were in a penal colony with C-list celebrities like MC Hammer…

My man, Hammer!

…And then in Remaking: Vince Neil you got a face-lift and tried to lose weight. It’s a bit cheesy, don’t you think?

I did lose weight, though.

Mmmm, OK. But aren’t you concerned about what your long-time fans think? Getting ‘remade’, so to speak, is like being in Weight Watchers ads. It’s not very rock’n’roll.

I don’t know, I think reality shows are very rock’n’roll. The way it happened for me was, I was hanging out having cocktails at the Ritz-Carlton down in Miami, I got a phone call, and my manager said, “VH-1 called and they wanna remake you.” I started thinking, here I am, I’m 44, I’ve got a gut from drinking, I’m not in the best shape, you know, I’m not 22 anymore. You watch these shows and you always want to get that fire under your butt, that motivation. Doing the show motivated me. I had three months to do it, and by the end of the show I had to look, sound, and be better than I was than at the beginning of the show.

Vince Neil onstage in 1984

Vince Neil in 1984 (Image credit: L. Busacca/WireImage)

Otherwise you’d look like a moron.

Right. It was a tough commitment, but I got through it. The real cool thing was, when it finished, that was right when we started talking about getting Mötley Crüe back together, so I had a head start on everybody as far as getting in shape goes.

You look the same, though. No offence.

I don’t know. Everybody else seemed to like the new me, other than the fact that my hair was brown. The bottom line is, I wasn’t doing it for anybody other than myself. I didn’t care if the show turned out good, if anybody watched, I didn’t think about what Crüe fans would say. I did it for me.

Being remade hasn’t curbed your drinking. It’s 3.30 in the afternoon.

Somebody’s gotta uphold the Mötley Crüe tradition. [Laughs]

What’s with you guys and your sex tapes getting out to the public? Tommy and Pamela had one, you have one… I hope Mick doesn’t have one.

[Laughs] Can you imagine that? Wow. Who would watch that? See, the difference between my sex tape and Tommy’s is that I didn’t do what he did and that’s go on every talk show and talk about it. I just figured, OK, it‘s out, people know about it. I thought if I didn’t talk about it that no one would care.

Why on earth would you think that?

I don’t know. The thing with my sex tape was, I was with these two girls, one of them was this famous porno star, Janine, and the other girl was this Penthouse Pet Of The Year, and she – the Penthouse Pet – ended up selling it.

Are you upset about the lost revenue?

[Laughs] Nah. I really don’t care. I wasn’t going to file a lawsuit, I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. Whatever. So, I’ve got a sex tape out. Big deal. So do lots of people.

Lots of people don’t.

That’s for them to decide.

Now that you’re older, does courting trouble seem as inviting as it once was?

How do you mean?

How do I mean? This could take all day! Calling one of your greatest hits packages Music To Crash Your Car To – not subtle, dude.

We’ve never been a critics’ band. If they…

No, no, no. Not critics. I mean fans. There’s a lot of people who were offended by that. And rightly so.

Yeah, but…If you’re going to talk about fans, hey, we’ve got fans coming in droves. They’re coming to the shows, they’re buying the record… Personally, I don’t see any downside to anything we do.

Mick Mars

Mick Mars sits backstage and counts the hours until showtime. Literally. “I don’t do much anymore,“ he says, his frail, battered body all but disappearing into a black leather couch. Constant pain has left Mars with a puzzled countenance. His stanchion-like neck muscles and laser-beam eyes resemble the work of a taxidermist. Speaking barely above a whisper, he exudes the withered pathos of an elderly man whose every move is a calculated risk. The very process of being interviewed takes a noticeable toll on his energy, and by the end of the conversation it‘s clear that he’s relieved to have made it.

Insomuch as you’ve never killed anyone, OD’d, died, been brought back to life, been to jail, gone back to jail, or had sex tapes sold to the public, do you ever feel like maybe you’re the boring guy in Mötley Crüe?

Wow. Put it like that and I do. To be honest, with my condition I feel like I’m finally getting noticed.

Not a great way to get noticed. How are you feeling?

My health’s been OK. I’ve got a personal assistant who travels with me. He’s kind of like my sober coach.

You mean like in Alcoholics Anonymous?

Mmmm, kinda. See, I get addicted to anything I put in me. You name it and I always want more. The last few years I’ve been addicted to various prescription medications for my condition. I love opiates but they don’t love me.

So, you’ve been strung out the past couple of years?

Oh, yeah. Strung out, burned out. I was dying. I didn’t care, either. That’s what happens when you’re sleeping on a blow-up mattress. Not just sleeping, the blow-up mattress was everything I owned.

All you owned was a blow-up mattress?

That’s all I had. Financially, I was in bankruptcy. And you know what? I didn’t even care. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t play guitar for two years. Why would I? I was dying. I didn’t care about playing guitar anymore.

Now, when you say ‘dying’…

Physically dying. I didn’t care. I had pneumonia and the doctors thought I had cancer. They weighed me in the hospital and I think I was something like 95 pounds. To show you how fucked-up I was, I was in the hospital but I thought I was at the gym.

The gym. You thought you were playing basketball or something?

I don’t know if I thought about any specific sport, but I definitely thought I was at the gym.

I never pictured you as a big work-out type of guy.

I’m not. But that’s how out of it I was. I felt like there wasn’t anybody in my life that gave a shit. So I had my blow-up mattress. Well, I had a house, but all I had in it was the mattress.

Mick Mars onstage

(Image credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns)

Man. I hope it was a nice mattress. How often did you have to blow it up?

[Smiles] It stayed that way. If it ran out of air I probably wouldn’t have blown it back up. That’s how fucked-up I was. I didn’t want a bed, I didn’t want anything. I had a girlfriend and she was even more fucked-up than I was. Bad news. I don’t know where she is anymore.

How did you pull yourself out of all this?

I went away to Cedars [Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles]. I was there for about seven months, detoxing. Then I checked into a hotel to stay clean.

A hotel? Which one?

I’m not going to tell you that.

Oh, come on.

No, no… But that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve done rehab before and it doesn’t work – 30 days and they spit you out and you wind up back in rehab, telling your problems to a bunch of people in a circle. That tears you down mentally. They tell you it’s to help you but they just want your money. Fuck that. No, what I did was I checked into a hotel and had a psychiatrist treat me one-on-one. Obviously, not everybody can do that.

Are you on any medications now?

Celebrex. It’s an anti-inflammatory drug, it doesn’t fuck me up or anything. I’ll tell you something, this is the first time in a while I haven’t been hearing voices or seeing people.

As in people who aren’t there?

Yeah. I used to hear people talking to me, saying how they were going to rob me. I’d be in my house on the blow-up mattress and I’d talk to people but nobody was there.

You might have considered a few pieces of furniture.

But that would’ve meant that I cared, and I didn’t. The only thing that brought me back was the band. The thought of doing this again… I realised I had something to prove. I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

You say the band brought you back, but there was a fair amount of scepticism among the other guys that you couldn’t pull this off. ‘Doubting Thomases’ you called them. You don’t name names.

No, I don’t like to do that. Sure, there was some… scepticism whether I’d be able to do the shows. It was never anything hostile. It was more like, “Is there a back-up plan?” Business is business.

Mick Mars onstage in 1984

Mick Mars in 1984 (Image credit: L. Busacca/WireImage)

And this being a business, a reunion tour with three of the original four members would only be three-quarters of a reunion tour.

Right. That’s why I wore a mask for the first few gigs.

Excuse me?

I didn’t want people to know it was really me. “Oh, you don’t think I can’t cut it? Think I can’t play a show? OK. I’ll make you think somebody else is playing.” After doing a few shows I proved I wasn’t going to fall on my face, so I took the mask off. I know how to shut people up.

Having not played the guitar for a couple of years, how long did it take for you to get your chops back?

Not long. I’m a real wilful person. The part of me that wanted to die is the same part that wants to make music. I may not have been playing the guitar but I still had one in my mind. My disease has worsened. My feet don’t move so well, and I can’t move my head or my back, but my fingers still move – that’s all you need to play guitar.

Of all the tours you’ve done, this is literally a circus. How does the musician in you reconcile himself with sharing a stage with fire-eaters, little people…

Midgets. That’s Mighty Mike. He uses that term, too. I wouldn’t say it if he didn’t. Look, Mötley Crüe has always been theatrical. There’s no getting around it. People come to see us for the show. Personally, I’ve always hated the make-up and explosions. I would like fans to come for the music, for my guitar playing, and I don’t say that egotistically.

What do you do to pass the time on tour when you‘re not playing? Do the doctors have you on any kind of routine?

Mainly I keep to myself. I spend a lot of time alone.

But no blow-up mattress?

[Smiles] No. I could always order one, though. I could probably get one overnight.

Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee

Spend five minutes – no, make it one minute – with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee and yet another of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s bon mots comes to mind – that there is nothing more obnoxious as other people’s luck. And luck is what the Crüe rhythm section seems to have in endless supply. How else to explain the longevity of the walking, talking lawsuit machine and emergency-room resident sprawled before me? 

While Sixx smokes his head off, Lee quaffs white wine with considerable gusto. (Unlike Vince Neil, however, Lee offers me a glass.) It is somewhat fitting that my day concludes with Sixx and Lee, for they are, by their very existence, Mötley Crüe. In fact, their Crüe-ness grows exponentially before my very eyes. F. Scott Fitzgerald would have a field day.

I just left Mick in his dressing room and all I can think about is blow-up mattresses. How do you think he’s doing?

[Sixx and Lee look at each other for a second]

Sixx: He’s great, man.

Lee: Yeah man, he’s doing alright. I think these shows are really helping. He’s got something to focus on now.

Sixx: He’s feisty again. Don’t you think he’s feisty?

I don’t know if he’s feisty. He sounds like he’s been pretty depressed, not playing guitar for two years.

Sixx: Yeah, it’s fucking weird. The man is very ill.

Lee: He’s alright, though. Not playing guitar wasn’t a big issue, but all of us not playing together was. When we first started rehearsing again it took a few days to get back in the groove. We’d be looking at each other like, “What are you doing?”

Sixx: Certain songs sounded bad. Some songs sounded like we hadn’t played ’em in six years, some sounded like we hadn’t played ’em in six days. Bands are living, breathing animals… the good bands are. When I hear Tommy dragging his feet, it’s no big deal. [Lee looks at Sixx, bewildered by this remark.] That’s what bands do. We’re not machines. I’ve seen the Stones play like the shiftiest bar band in the world, that’s cool. Zeppelin was the same way. Oh my God, have you seen some of those clips? Great band in the studio, one of the best ever. But live?

Lee: You’re either on, or you’re off.

Sixx: We’re just fortunate that we’re mainly on.

Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx backstage

(Image credit: J. Shearer/WireImage)

Give me an example of you being off. In rehearsal, were there any songs that just wouldn’t cut it?

Lee: Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room. We tried playing it and after a few days I was like, “Bud, I just don’t know if I can play this anymore.” It’s not that I don’t like the song, I’ve just played it too many fucking times.

Sixx: In my case, I just don’t like the song. And I‘ve played it too many fucking times.

Did you ever like it?

Sixx: Yeah. Back in the day I was cool with it, but not anymore. That’s the way it goes. It’s not always unanimous. Take the song, Bastard, shit, I played that song in this other band I was doing, Brides Of Destruction, we played it at Donington and 40,000 people lost their fucking minds. Have you ever seen 40,000 people lose their fucking minds? Anyway, we started playing it in rehearsal and Tommy was like, “Dude, I just don’t like this song.” It’s not worth getting upset about. Maybe Tommy will love that song two years from now.

Lee: Maybe he won’t! [Laughs]

Sixx: So, OK, we’re not going to play Bastard, so let’s try Red Hot. Oh my God, I wanna slit my fucking wrists! One of the greatest rock songs ever, but in rehearsal I’m like, “I am going to hang myself if I have to play this song one more second.” But we get out there on stage, and I love playing that song!

Lee: The crowd really gets off on Red Hot.

Sixx: They really get off on it. Then there’s Glitter. We play that song and I can tell the crowd isn’t really into it. You know what? I don’t care. I like playing it. I sometimes go on the internet and I check out what the fans are saying: “Why are they playing Glitter? Why don’t they play Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room?”

Yeah, why don’t you play Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room?

Sixx: Because I don’t like Smokin’ In The Boys Room! I like Glitter. How many times do I have to say it?

Tell me about the process of reuniting. Obviously, it’s not as easy as picking up the phone and everybody’s in.

Sixx: The problem is, you’re talking about four guys who each have separate lives. Getting four guys to agree to commit to something is a bitch, man.

Lee: You know what’s weird? Yesterday my manager called up and told me The Globe [US newspaper] wanted confirmation about me snuggling up to some transvestite in Seattle. [A weird moment as Sixx and I consider this change in the conversation.]

Sixx: You know what? I say go for it.

Lee: I do my DJ shows on days off, you know, just for fun, so I guess I was doing whatever. Did I not notice the Adam’s apple? Beause you know, they can’t hide that shit.

Sixx: I say go for it. Whatever makes you happy.

Mötley Crüe doesn’t have a big gay or transvestite audience. This could open up some doors.

Sixx: Chicks with dicks, man. I say go for it.

Lee: She was beautiful, I’ll say that much. She, he…

Sixx: The thing about Mötley Crüe is, I don’t know what we could do at this point to hurt our image.

Lee: Are you saying I should go for transvestites?

Sixx: I believe I said, “Go for it.”

Let’s talk about your image. More specifically, the fact that people don’t focus on your music as much as they do your famous exploits. How much of a drag is that? No pun intended, Tommy. [Lee smiles, then thinks better of it.]

Sixx: Critics don’t count.

What’s with you guys and critics?

Sixx: Critics don’t like us, and we don’t like critics.

I’m talking about fans. People in your audience know you as much from tabloids as they do from any of your songs.

Sixx: You could say the same thing about Zeppelin. You could say the same thing about Queen. You could…

I don’t know. Zeppelin and Queen weren’t the gossip column fodder that Mötley Crüe has always been. Put it this way: Tommy, my mother knows who you are, but she sure as hell doesn’t know any of your songs.

Lee: That’s cool. I don’t get all wound up about it anymore. I used to. I used to be like, “Fuck, why don’t people talk about our music? Why is it always about the other shit?”

Sixx: I don’t pay any attention. I go on stage and I see 15,000 people lose their fucking minds and I’m like, “Who cares?”. I hope the press talks about us as much as possible. It seems to sell tickets.

Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee onstage, 2005

Sixx points the way as the band reunite in 2005 (Image credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Nikki, what happened to your book, The Heroin Diaries?

Sixx: It’s coming out… In January, I think.

Is there going to be an updated version of The Dirt?

Sixx: There’s going to be a movie.

Lee: I’m still wondering who’s going to play me.

Sixx: Brad Pitt’s fighting over whether he should play me or Tommy.

He could play dual roles. Did you ever see Dr Strangelove? Peter Sellers played three different roles in that.

Sixx: Dude, that’s it!

Lee: What‘s it?

Sixx: Brad Pitt could play both of us. Hey… how would he do that anyway? Hey, are you going to ask us anything about our music?

Actually, I am. One of your new songs, If I Die Tomorrow, was written by a couple of the guys in Simple Plan…

Sixx: No, no. That’s not the truth, really. What happened was, Bob Rock was in the studio producing them, and they started to play part of this fucking heavy riff, and Bob was like, “Uh, you guys can’t play that. You’re not a heavy band.” But he made a little tape of it, a loop or whatever, and he sent it to me: “Here’s something you might wanna check out.” So, that’s how we did it, we kind of wrote a song by email. It was the riff, or part of the riff. This whole story about Simple Plan writing a song for us got started by Tracii Guns.

From LA Guns?

Sixx: Yeah. I used to be in a band with him. That guy’s been so jealous of me for being in Mötley Crüe for so many years that he got on the internet and said, “Simple Plan wrote Mötley Crüe’s new song.” I don’t get that guy. First of all, fuck you, dude. Second, it’s just not true.

Lee: Who cares?

So, is this Mötley Crüe’s comeback?

Sixx: I don’t know if it’s a comeback. You know what I call this? Check it out – when I go shopping I don’t like to buy something until I’ve tried it on. That’s what we’re doing: we’re trying it on. We’re trying on Mötley Crüe. We recorded and we were like, “Oh, wow! That was really fucking cool.” We made a video and we went, “Wow!” We did some photos and we went…

Let me guess. You went “Wow!”

Sixx: That’s right. We started rehearsing and we went, “Wow!”. Then we went on tour to see how it feels. That’s what we’re doing, we’re going “Wow!”. See, now that we’re older we realise that small shit is small shit. We don’t get upset about the same things like when we were younger. We’re at a much better place now, all of us. We can be solo artists, we can be entrepreneurs, we can have families, we can have Mötley Crüe and we can take a break from Mötley Crüe… all at the same time.

Well, not literally at the same time.

Sixx: No, I mean… yeah, we can do some things at the same time, but other things have to be done individually. It’s fucking awesome!

Lee: I’m calling this the One Day At A Time tour.

Sixx: And you know how it is when you do something one day at a time: Five years go by and you go, “Wow! Five years went by just like that!”.

Between the two of you there’s been a fair amount of dying and being thrown in the slammer. Did you ever think about some hobbies?

[Sixx and Lee laugh heartily.]

Sixx: We don’t have time for hobbies. Our lives are our hobbies.

Lee: Our lives are other people’s hobbies.

This article originally appeared in Classic Rock 81, published in July 2005. Mötley Crüe's 2024 tour has dates lined up throughout the summer.

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.