Nikki Sixx Discusses Mötley Crüe's Future and Past, When "Debauchery was King — and We Embraced It"

This is an excerpt from the June 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus features on Mick Mars, Pantera, Carlos Santana, the history of MXR pedals, Nergal, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from EVH Gear, Dunlop, Randall, Taylor Guitars and more, check out the June 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

Crüe Cüt: After more than 30 years together, Mötley Crüe are calling it quits. Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx talk about their past excesses and achievements—and what the future holds for them all.

“After this, Mötley’s done!” proclaims Mick Mars. He’s talking about Mötley Crüe’s recently announced Final Tour, which will see the band crisscross the globe—with Alice Cooper in tow for the North American leg—for one last hurrah. It’s a farewell celebration of the highest order, and one that is, Mars assures, truly a farewell.

Indeed, lest anyone think the guitarist and his Mötley mates—singer Vince Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee—are, like too many bands before them, merely setting the stage for their next reunion, think again. This past January, the Hollywood-bred foursome staged a press conference under the banner “All Bad Things Must Come to an End,” at which they signed a legally binding “cessation of touring agreement.”

The document prohibits the band members from hitting the road, individually or in any configuration collectively, as Mötley Crüe after 2015, effectively putting a cap on what has amounted to more than three decades of onstage decadence.

Why now? According to Sixx, the idea is to end it the way it began, all the way back in 1981. “We want it to be the same four guys,” he says. “We want it to be while we’re still at the top of our game. We want to go out with dignity.”

Below is an excerpt of the Nikki Sixx portion of the interview. The entire interview — including the Mick Mars portion — can be found in the new June 2014 issue of Guitar World.

EXCERPT: With the Final Tour, Mötley Crüe will be bringing down the curtain on performing live. But there is still a future for the band. For one thing, we can expect to hear some new Mötley music soon, correct?

Yes. Mick Mars and I just recently wrote a really cool track that we’ll probably release sometime in the near future. But it’s not like, “Hey, Mötley Crüe’s gonna quit touring and then we’re going to start releasing full-length records every two years!” That’s not what we’re looking to do. Our plan is to cease touring and then see what else is out there. One thing we’re going to do is explore different licensing opportunities.

But the only way to take advantage of those opportunities is to end things with dignity. If you crumble and you fall apart at the seams and then try to do that stuff, people are like, “Oh, look, Mötley Crüe. They were cool once.” But I want the fans to have more than that. I want them to have the pride that they have in certain bands and that I have in certain bands that left at the right time. So it’d be real easy to slap our name on anything and everything that comes our way, but we’ve always been very careful to not do that.

What would be an example of something you wouldn’t want to attach your name to?

Well, look at the bands who were involved in [the 2012 film] Rock of Ages. Their people came to us early and they showed us the movie and we said, “This is a complete farce. It’s a cheesy movie. It has nothing to do with rock. This is like Mamma Mia! with pretend guitars.” We said we didn’t want to be involved. And then you saw all these other bands line up and do it. They did it for the money. And the thing is, we don’t have to do things for the money.

Plus, with The Dirt, you have your own movie coming out.

Right. We knew we were going to make our own movie about our own story, and we knew that it was going to be a real movie. It’s going to be a cross between movies like Boogie Nights and Goodfellas. It’s going to have a lot of bite to it, like Sid and Nancy. It’s going have the same kind of credibility as Walk the Line and the Doors movie. So that’s already in the works. And we’re also going to put together a very in-depth documentary about the history of the band, from the very beginning all the way to the final farewell bow. So why would we go and attach ourselves to something just for the money?

But you know, musicians mishandle their money all the time. And because they don’t usually have any kind of financial education or knowledge about how to build security, what they do is they live from album to album. Then when the steam runs out, desperate people do desperate things. And it starts to get a little bit embarrassing. Our legacy is too important to us to let that happen.

Speaking of legacy, Mötley Crüe’s was to a large extent built on your reputation for over-the-top antics. Do you feel that the band’s extracurricular activities sometimes overshadowed the music?

At times. But then again, was it also not the spoon that served the oatmeal to your mouth? So all the antics—that was not part of a master plan. We were just out of control and it was a time on Earth where, you know, debauchery was king. And we embraced it. But at the same time, music was everything to us. When we sat in the studio, we didn’t talk about how much we drank.

We talked about the great bands that came before us. We talked about great songs and great lyrics and great melodies. We talked about wanting to be the biggest band in the world, wanting to be the best band in the world, wanting to have the best songs in the world. Are there things we could have done better? Sure. But I think every artist will look at things they’ve done and say, “I think we could have done that better.” But at the time you’re doing your best.

For the rest of this story, plus features on Mick Mars, Pantera, Carlos Santana, the history of MXR pedals, Nergal, columns, tabs and reviews of new gear from EVH Gear, Dunlop, Randall, Taylor Guitars and more, check out the June 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

Photo: Jeremy Danger

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.