Nikki Sixx: "rock’n’roll is embarrassing – as it should be"

Nikki Sixx
(Image credit: Kevin Estrada / IconicPix)

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This interview was conducted to mark the 300th issue of Classic Rock magazine, which launched in 1998. The anniversary issue is available to purchase online (opens in new tab), and also features interviews with Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Rick Nielsen, Slash and many more.

Motley Crue may have released just two albums since the launch of Classic Rock – 2000's New Tattoo and 2008's Saints Of Los Angeles – but Nikki Sixx has been a busy boy. 

His main band have broken up and reformed twice – the second time after promising they wouldn't – while Sixx has been part of four other projects: the short-lived 58, the longer lasting Brides Of Destruction, Sixx.A.M., who stuck around for a full decade, and supergroup L.A. Rats, who formed just last year so who knows. 

There's the books: best-selling Motley Crue tell-all The Dirt was made into a hugely successful Netflix film, and his own Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star and The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx. He's hosted a radio show, is working on a children’s book with his wife, and there's a coffee table poetry/photography book on the horizon. 

With the band's Stadium Tour with Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett kicking off this week, Nikki Sixx still has a lot to say. 

Alt

If we’d asked you back in the first issue of Classic Rock, in 1998, whether you’d still be in Mötley Crüe in 2022, what do you think would have been your answer and why? 

Well I mean, I think what all bands would say is: “Of course!” But all bands aren’t Mötley Crüe. So maybe the answer would be, like: “Who the hell knows?!” 

You won our ‘Showman’ award at the Classic Rock Awards back in 2012. What are your memories of that evening? 

I was doing my radio show at the time, so I was at the back and a lot of guys were coming in – Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons, a lot of the classic-rock heroes, the Lynyrd Skynyrd guys. So that was great for me, cos I’m a fan as well as a peer. I get a little bit embarrassed about awards. I don’t handle myself great. I went up there and Duff [McKagan] was hosting it. Duff was telling jokes, and I love Duff. 

And I remember he gave me the award, and I looked out and there’s all these guys that were on my bedroom walls when I was a kid! I don’t think my speech was very good, but I really had a great time. I still have that award sitting on my mantelpiece on the fireplace, so it’s pretty cool. It’s pretty badass. And it’s a cool-looking award on top of it! 

What is your personal highlight of the past twenty-four years? 

It’s kind of hard not to talk about my family, but I don’t think that’s exactly what we’re talking about. We’re talking about musically. I think we made some great records. I think we’ve done some great tours. I’m so excited about the stadium tour, us and Def Leppard and Poison and Joan Jett over in America, and we’re looking at the rest of the world, and when we can do that.

And your lowest moment? 

[Pauses] I have no idea! I don’t have an answer for that one. 

YouTube is one of the biggest things to have happened in Classic Rock’s lifetime. What’s the most embarrassing footage you’ve seen of yourself? 

It’s funny, the only time I ever really dig down and listen to Mötley Crüe is as we’re putting together a show; you kind of go through the albums and stuff like that. I dug into YouTube and was looking at some of the old videos, and I guess it could all be considered embarrassing, because rock’n’roll is embarrassing – as it should be. We should be ridiculous, we should be outrageous, we should be pushing envelopes and we should be rebelling against each other. We’re supposed to be loud and rude and in-your-face. 

What do you make of the state of rock’n’roll right now? Is it in good shape? 

My criticism is that it’s extremely overproduced in a lot of cases. It’s ProTooled to death, it’s chopped to death, and I miss some of the slop. I miss some of the flat notes. I miss when a guitar player doesn’t exactly come down perfect. I kinda miss some of the nuts and bolts of just being in a raw rock’n’roll band. 

With that being said, there’s some cool bands that are coming out and just going to the studio and cutting it pretty much live off the floor, and it’s real – you can feel it, that they mean it.

Tickets for the Stadium Tour are on sale now (opens in new tab).

Classic Rock editor Siân has been an obsessive music nerd for as long as she can remember. Has a pathological hatred of people turning the rock canon into jukebox musicals.