Mick Mars and Keith Nelson interview: Two For The Road
GUITAR WORLD So what’s the idea behind Crüe Fest?
MICK MARS Mötley could have just toured the new album, like we always do, but we wanted to put something together that was more of an event. We’re trying to reach the next step on the ladder, you know? We wanna get up to that Aerosmith/Rolling Stones level. And Mötley built our reputation on playing live. We once did a tour that we called “Any Place There’s Electricity”: we’re happy to go anywhere and play any place, at any time. So we have plans to do Crüe Fest as an annual thing, just like any other festival: Ozzfest, Lollapalooza... And festivals are always good, because you get great bands and also great guys to hang out with, like, well, Keith!
KEITH NELSON [laughs] Mick should watch what he says. He doesn’t know this yet, but I’m actually riding on his bus for the whole tour.
GW Festivals may be a good time for the bands involved, but they also seem to have become a necessity. These days, you have to offer people as many options as possible in order to compete for their dollars.
NELSON That’s true. One thing that we noticed in Buckcherry over the past two years of being on the road is that there are festivals for everything: your metal bands, your alternative bands, your lesbian acoustic singer-songwriters… They’ve got it all covered! But there hasn’t really been a festival for rock bands; the genre is so scattered. So when the powers-that-be came to us and asked us to be a part of this tour, we jumped at it.
GW Mick, Mötley Crüe are touring behind their first new album in eight years. At this stage in the game, how does a new Mötley
record come about?
MARS We’d been going out and doing the same thing over and over again, releasing greatest-hits albums and playing all the classic
songs on tour. That gets old. And we had done [1997’s] Generation Swine and [2000’s] New Tattoo, but truthfully, those were big disappointments, not only to us but to our fans as well. So we decided, You know what? It’s time for us to sit down and concentrate. We need to do a real modern-sounding rock record but still be Mötley Crüe about it and show people how we’ve progressed as a band and as songwriters.
GW There are contributions from several outside writers on Saints of Los Angeles, including Marti Frederiksen and Nikki’s Sixx:A.M.
bandmates James Michael and DJ Ashba.
MARS They all added their own thing to the songs. Marti’s cool. He’s done a bunch of stuff with Aerosmith and these guys [Buckcherry]. DJ’s a great guitarist. He came up with some pretty cool ideas, some stuff I wouldn’t think of. And James Michael is just an all-around good songwriter. He writes really strong—let’s call them “radio-friendly”—songs.
GW You say “radio friendly” with a bit of a smirk.
MARS You know, I’ve always been about the music. I could give two fucks about radio or any of that. But I shouldn’t say that because the programmers might get wind of it and stop playing us! But I couldn’t care less about radio, TV—even money. I’m about music, not hits.
GW But speaking of hits: Keith, Buckcherry are currently enjoying some of the biggest of your career. People have likened one of them, “Crazy Bitch,” to a 21st century version of “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
NELSON They’re definitely both strip-club anthems. My first thought about “Crazy Bitch” was, Well, it’s never gonna get played on the radio! But to me, it’s so tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top, it’s hilarious. Because who the fuck, other than maybe Mötley, would write a song like that? Even women seem to like it and, more importantly, to get the joke. When we finished 15, we put the song up on our MySpace page, just as a sort of, “Hey, we’re back, for anyone who cares.” All of sudden, satellite radio picked up on it, and then next thing we knew terrestrial radio stations were going to MySpace, downloading the song and overdubbing duck quacks over all the “fucks.” We were on tour at the time, and I had to hop a plane home to do a quick edit and take out all the
f-bombs so radio could play it.
GW And now you have a Platinum album. Pretty good for a band that had more or less been completely written off just a few years back.
NELSON No one in the industry really believed in us. All of the industry people we spoke with had no interest in the band. They were all about, “You guys can go do county fairs with… Styx!”
MARS Oh, god!
NELSON Yeah, like the music wasn’t relevant anymore, that it was all just nostalgia. Without hearing a note of it. So I had pretty low expectations, but we made a very honest record that accurately represents who we are and what we’re about, and I think that came across and connected with people.
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