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  • Interview: Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe

    Fri, 01 Aug 2008 16:41:26

    Interview: Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe - Mick Mars dishes the dirt

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    Ask Mick Mars what it is about the bands on this summer's Crüe Fest that excites him the most, and he doesn't pull any punches: "Yeah, there are a lot of younger bands that are leaning back towards rock and roll. But you know the best thing? All the bands know how to play their own instruments!"

    If anyone has a right to be cynical about the state of hard rock, it's Mars, who along with bassist Nikki Sixx has formed Mötley Crüe's backbone for more than 25 years. In that time, he's also been one of rock's unsung guitar heroes, his unheralded style of playing and electrifying riffs laying the groundwork for Mötley Crüe's bevy of hits, while his flashier bandmates stole tabloid headlines. Mick Mars never quit the band, never had a porno leaked to the public, and left his love life behind the scenes, his only offstage spotlight coming in the form of his ongoing battles with Ankylosing Spondylitis [commonly referred to as AS], a crippling and degenerative arthritic condition that he was diagnosed with nearly a decade before joining Motley. In the years since, the condition has increasingly (and exponentially) constricted and fused the guitarists skeletal system, shrinking him in stature and making it nearly impossible to even turn his head, let alone attack the stage with the same menacing prowl of Motley's breakthrough years, even bringing into question his ability to tour when the band reunited earlier this millennium.

    Mars not only toured—relentlessly—on the band's reunion run, but he is also back with a vengeance on Mötley Crüe's new release Saints of Los Angeles, where he shatters any lingering misconceptions that he might only be a shell of his former self. If anything, he's broken out of his shell, delivering an album's worth of performances that deserve most of the credit in making Saints Mötley's best album since the release of Dr. Feelgood nearly two decades ago. On the eve of the inaugural Crüe Fest–where Mars, Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and frontman Vince Neil will be joined on the road by Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Sixx AM—the Mötley guitarist sat down with ARTISTdirect for this exclusive interview…

    Crüe Fest kicks off in a few days. Are you looking forward to getting back out on the road?

    I always look forward to touring—It's either sit around the house and do nothing, or tour and do something! I'm here in Florida getting used to the humidity so that when I get onstage on the first night I'll be somewhat prepared! Take the California heat we had last week [temps topped the 100 degree mark] and put it here, then add 100% humidity. Everything's wet, your poor guitar neck… Also, the sound coming off your cabinets sounds different because the air is so thick.

    You always hear about the impact cold has on equipment when bands tour in the winter, but rarely do you hear about the humidity. That's interesting.

    When you go to where it's cold your speakers tend to not move as much, then down here they're muddy because it's damp.

    Conditions like those are when you really appreciate your techs, and all the behind-the-scenes work that gets done before you get onstage.

    Oh yeah, they're heavy duty. I've had my guitar tech, Bobby O, for at least 15 years now. He'll ask for my permission if something else comes up, and of course it's alright for him to do anything else, but he's always with me and he knows me. Like when it's more humid down here you need more top end to project and cut through, so he'll get everything tweaked in and dialed in before I get to the stage.

    Rarely do fans want to hear new material instead of the hits, but I have to admit, I'd be disappointed if I didn't hear a few songs of Saints of Los Angeles. How are you structuring the set?

    With all the bands and the time curfews, we're doing 90 minutes. I think we're playing three songs from the new album, "Saints," "MF of the Year" and "Welcome to the Machine."

    Can I complain about the set before the tour starts? Is it too late to add "White Trash Circus" from the new album? That's already one of my all-time favorite Motley songs. It's very modern-sounding, as if you guys are showing all the younger bands that have borrowed and stolen from you over the years exactly how it should be done…

    Wow, thanks. That song just came to me. I wanted to do something like Sweet back in the ‘70s, that feel and vibe. I didn't introduce the song to them like it's played right now, because it was changed up a bit, but it had that feel. I needed to hear a Sweet song! James and Nikki and DJ put their contributions and collaborations in to make it come out the way it did, and I'm really happy with it because I got to do a really sleazy solo on it. Another song that has that feel is "MF of the Year."

    Was the intention heading into this album to really get back to the sleaze that's been missing in music in recent years?

    Instead of us doing just another Mötley album, we wanted to have some conceptual thing to it, so we tied it in loosely to The Dirt [the band's best-selling autobiography] and it is loosely based on what we did starting in 1981, getting in fights, waking up messed up and drunk in strange women's beds, landing our first record deal, heroin addiction, alcoholism… You know, all the stuff that you do [laughing]… If you're a real rock band, anyways!

    You mean it's all the stuff you used to do!

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