Mötley Crüe: Health Kick
GW At that time both your band and the guys in Aerosmith had recently gotten sober and were committed to living a healthy lifestyle. I remember hearing that the two bands would go jogging together during the daytime.
MARS The others would. Not me! But yeah, that was an interesting time for all of us. I remember one time the receptionist at the studio brought in a cake for some reason or another. It was a rum cake, but I didn’t know it. And I took a bite of it and almost spit it out, like, “That’s got rum in it!” And Steven Tyler was just sitting there freaking out, because he really wanted a piece of cake but knew he couldn’t have any. That’s how serious it was at that time.
GW How was the vibe within Mötley given that everyone was sober for the first time?
MARS It was all right, I guess. Tommy and I would joke around about it, just to yank Bob’s chain. We would get frustrated because Bob was so on top of every little thing we did. With Tommy it was always, “Play it harder,” or “Play more like this.” And then with me it was, “That part ain’t right!” Every time he’d say something like that, Tommy and I would go boom! and act like we were slamming back a big shot of Jack. We tried to have some fun, because there were definitely some frayed nerves. But we got along okay.
GW How did you deal with sobriety?
MARS I didn’t have any withdrawals or real cravings, but I missed the way it made me relax, especially during the recording process. The flipside, of course, was that drinking made me a much sloppier player. So it was better that I wasn’t doing it.
GW Around that time the band was also engaged in group therapy sessions.
MARS That was never for me. The way I felt about therapy and rehab and all that is that I’d seen it all fail, so many times. And the people there are very uncaring in my opinion, and they don’t follow through. They keep you in there for 30 days, give you a little bit of stuff, put you in this group thing, and everybody lets their guard down and embarrasses each other. It’s just a bunch of crap. My feeling is, if you want to quit, you set the shit down and go “I’m done. That’s it.” A couple of the guys in the band had a hard time with that. I didn’t.
GW Were you all sober during the writing process for Dr. Feelgood?
MARS I’m not sure. It was around that time, after the Girls tour, that we all started getting straight. Although I remember one time Nikki came to my house to do some writing, and he rode his bike over and was a bit high. That pissed me off. That was the day I played him a rough demo of “Dr. Feelgood.”
GW That was a song you had completely mapped out on your own?
MARS Pretty much. I was just goofing around and came up with the lick and put it down on a little eight-track. I don’t know where it came from…it came from my brain! I had to take that song into the band maybe four or five times before I could get the rest of the guys to pay attention to it. It was the same with “Slice of Your Pie.” It took me a while to convince them to really hear it. The problem was that when Nikki had a song, like “Kickstart My Heart,” it would be much more complete, with lyrics and everything. But while I write a lot of music, I’m not so good with lyrics, so as a result my songs came together later. For instance, one time we went up to Vancouver to meet with Bob, and in the car on the way back to Los Angeles I wrote the song “Sticky Sweet” in my head. When I got home, I picked up the guitar and I could just play it.
GW The main riff always reminded me of “The Wanton Song,” by Led Zeppelin.
MARS Yes! Although that wasn’t intentional. But when I listened back to the song after it was done, I definitely heard that. It’s like George Harrison with “My Sweet Lord”—I’m positive the guy didn’t realize he was doing [The Chiffons’] “He’s So Fine,” but it happens, you know?
GW Speaking of Harrison, the outro to “Slice of Your Pie” quotes directly from the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”
MARS That was obviously intentional. I don’t think we had a real ending for the song, so we started goofing around with ideas. It was fun doing that, figuring out the chords that would be reminiscent of the song, but with a twist. We did a lot of that kind of stuff on the album, little nods to the classics. Near the end of my solo on “Time for Change,” for instance, I lift a little of the melody from [Mott the Hoople’s] “All the Young Dudes.”
GW I noticed that. I also caught the “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” reference in “Rattlesnake Shake.”
MARS That’s right! [laughs] And I took the chorus from [The James Gang’s] “Funk #49”!
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