Mötley Crüe: Health Kick
GW I’ve heard that prior to hiring Bob, there was talk of getting Quincy Jones to produce Dr. Feelgood.
MARS Yes! I think that Nikki put in the request. But you know, it’s Quincy Jones. [laughs] He was probably like, “Who the hell is this band? Who do they think they are?”
GW Bob was known in those days as something of a perfectionist. You’ve talked in the past about spending as much as two weeks tracking the guitars for just one song on the album.
MARS That’s the truth. He really nitpicked. If I had to double a rhythm, I would get maybe a quarter of the way through the song before he’d stop me. And that really interrupted my thought process—I mean, I could have played through and then gone back and fixed any problems, you know? But Bob would stop the tape and be like, “What’re you doing? You missed that little click,” talking about the way my pick hit the string or something. That’s how picky he was. I might have done something by accident, and when doubling the part he’d stop me and say, “You didn’t get that. And I’d go, “I didn’t get what?” And he’d say, “That.” And I’d go, “But I don’t hear anything!”
GW It’s rumored that, when it came to Vince’s vocals, at the end of a day of singing he would often have only one word down on tape that Bob would deem usable.
MARS That’s completely true. I don’t really know how Vince felt about that, to be honest. I should ask him! But truthfully I wasn’t really too surprised, due to the condition Vince was in then. We were all coming out of this haze that we’d been in for a long time. Gradually, we all slipped back into it again.
GW Did you appreciate Bob’s attention to detail?
MARS It kinda got on my nerves after a while. I mean, some of the things that Bob was picky about, they were so minute you couldn’t even hear them. I listen to my favorite older albums and hear mistakes all over them, and that’s what makes them sound human, you know? But I get what he was trying to do with us, and in the end it worked.
GW Your guitar sound on the album is huge. Part of that stems from the fact that you tune down a whole step to D, but it also sounds as if your rhythms are heavily layered and multitracked.
MARS There’s a lot of guitar on Feelgood. I think I was doing about five rhythm tracks per song and then had different little parts going on and stuff. When we were done and I looked at all the tape we had used, there were about 120 two-inch reels. That’s a lot. Of course, when we did our next album with Bob [1994’s Mötley Crüe] I had 80 tracks of guitars!
GW What guitars were you using on Dr. Feelgood?
MARS A bunch of stuff. My black Les Paul from the early days [Mars’ ’72 Les Paul Special], a couple of Kramers, a couple of Strats, a Telecaster. Then I also had some lap steels and Dobros.
GW You played a lot of slide on that album, on songs like “Slice of Your Pie” and “Without You.”
MARS Nikki and Tommy at that time loved it. So they were always going, “Play slide!” And I was like, “I don’t wanna play slide.” And they would respond, “Play slide!” So I did.
GW What was your amp setup?
MARS I was using my Marshalls that were modded by a guy named Jose Arredondo [Arredondo was an in-demand amp technician, known for having worked on Eddie Van Halen’s rig in the Eighties.] I had maybe five or six of them, all old—everything from a ’67 to a ’72—and they all sounded really different. I think I had about seven stacks in the studio all together, with different heads on them. And then I had a few 50-watt Hiwatt half stacks, a Vox AC-30 combo, and also this amp called a Garnet. I used that strictly for its bottom end, to thicken up my tone. It was just this old head that I stuck on a Marshall cab. All it did was go pffftttt. It sounded like crap! But it worked. So the whole setup was just really loud and powerful. We’d have fans and all these kids standing outside the studio, behind the building, because they could hear me through the walls. It was leaking through everything. Aerosmith were in the next room recording Pump, and it leaked all over their album, too!
GW So you can hear Mick Mars’ guitar playing on Pump?
MARS If you listen hard enough you probably can. Unless they gated it off tight enough. Steven [Tyler] actually came over one day and said, “Hey dude! You gotta turn those amps down!”