Mötley Crüe: Health Kick
GW Your rhythm guitar parts were obviously well thought out. How about the solos?
MARS Some were, some weren’t. “Dr. Feelgood” was one that was completely improvised. But there were some solos that I really had to work on, like “Sticky Sweet,” and “Rattlesnake Shake.” A couple of them I thought needed a more melodic thing, rather than just the wheedle-wee stuff.
GW How did the talk box solo at the end of “Kickstart My Heart” come about?
MARS I wanted something a little different. I was thinking about how Jimi Hendrix would “talk” in colors, and this was a different color, rather than me just plugging into a stack of Marshalls and ripping a lead. Sort of like how in “Crosstown Traffic” Hendrix used a comb with wax paper to double the lead-guitar line. That became my way to add a different color.
GW Another big hit from the album was “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” which was a bit of a stylistic departure for the band in the way you mixed acoustic and electric guitars and didn’t bring in the chorus until the last part of the song.
MARS Nikki came up with the parts, but he didn’t know how to put it all together. There’s the verse, and then the chorus, and then the third part, which is the real chorus. But it was like, How do we get back to the beginning? So we decided to do all the verse and chorus stuff first, and then end with the third part and let it go from there. We put the hook at the end of the song, which was a little different for us.
GW Dr. Feelgood was Mötley Crüe’s only Number One album and remains your biggest-selling effort. At the time, did it feel to you like you were creating your definitive record?
MARS To be honest, it seemed like just another record. I didn’t think it was a milestone for us. But having my first Number One record was a big deal. I remember my manager calling me up and telling me that we did it. I was like “That’s all good!”
GW It was validating for you?
MARS Definitely. That album was like the standard that everyone else had to beat. And all the other bands that were around at that time…can I mention them?
GW Go ahead
MARS Your Firehouses, your Poisons, your Warrants, Great Whites, Dokkens… all those guys just went woosh! Gone. I mean, they still played, but they didn’t take that next step, in my opinion. They just kinda stayed in 1985. So I may not have anticipated it at the time, but Feelgood set a certain standard for the day and, actually, for what was to come as well.
GW In what sense?
MARS Well, I remember shortly after the album was released, the Metallica guys went to see Bob Rock about working together [for 1991’s “Black Album”]. And when you first meet with Bob, he always goes, “So, what do you want?” And they threw down Feelgood and said, “We want that.” I think their album wound up doing okay too.
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