Interview: Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and Sixx:A.M. — "Why would I charge someone to play bass?"
Fri, 23 Jul 2010 11:25:48
There aren't that many old buildings in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Tower is one of very few. It's been around since 1929, and God knows what those walls have seen. There's an eerie sense of dark history that's perfectly befitting of legendary Mötley Crüe and Sixx:A.M. bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx. Just like this Twilight Zone—inspiring structure, Nikki Sixx has got all kinds of bizarre, brilliant and brutally beautiful stories.
So, they're couldn't be a more perfect place for Sixx to celebrate the launch of his brand new 98-7fm weekend show, "The Side Show with Nikki Sixx." Last night, he and Kat Von D officially launched the show with a raucous party in the Hollywood Tower, and Sixx gave fans a look into his past, present and future.
"The Side Show with Nikki Sixx" will air on Saturdays from 8am-10am, and it's syndicated nationally via Premiere Radio. It's the place where Sixx gets to highlight emerging artists, interview a myriad of guests and shine some light on his current personal favorites. The radio host and tastemaker's also got "Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx," which has been burning up airwaves since it's February debut. Oh, if that's not enough, Sixx has a new Sixx:A.M. record on the way and Mötley Crüe will be sharing the main stage of OZZfest with Ozzy Osbourne, Devildriver, Halford and Nonpoint…he may very well be the hardest man in show biz!
While relaxing in a Penthouse suite of the Hollywood Tower, Nikki Sixx sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about "The Side Show," shouting at the devil with Hollywood Undead, Murderdolls, new Sixx:A.M. and so much more.
What do you look for in artists that you play on "Side Show"?
I love finding unique and different bands. That's what will typically resonate with me. They don't fit in with formula. Formula's fine, by the way. You can use formula too. But, it's just how do you do it so you're unique? That's what I'm looking for—something that just jumps out at me. A lot of times, it could possibly be stuff that makes people ask, "Why the fuck would Nikki listen to that?" However, if it's good and the artist is honest, it may not be something that I might listen to but it might be something that jumps out at me and I think needs to be exposed.
Are there any new artists that have really grabbed your attention recently?
There are many bands coming out that draw from a lot of different cores, so to speak. As the years tick on, it seems like we have more opportunities to draw from different eras. You can draw from the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, etc. You can really be influenced by a lot of music. When I was growing up, I didn't find as much music because it rock really started in the '50s, so there was a limited amount of years to pull from. I think bands of today have a greater opportunity to do more creative stuff.
Where are you at with the new Sixx A.M. record?
The record's just about finished. It's pretty magical! The thing about Sixx A.M. is we've set ourselves up for failure by saying that we don't tour. We had never even intended to do videos. We've been pushed into things like touring out of demand, which is a nice feeling. It's not like, "We're going to write songs. We're going to form a band. We're going to get a logo. We're going to go on tour. We're going to release a record." I do that in Mötley Crüe, and I love that. I've done it in other bands. To do a project that's set up to not do any of that stuff is really exciting. We write some music, and we don't even know if we'll record it. We record it, but we don't know if we're going to release it. Now, we know we're going to release the music, but we don't know anything more than that. I know there's a band, an album and I don't know what'll come after that [Laughs]. It's kind of exciting! It seems like uncharted territory.
The first album had a real cinematic side to it.
There's a lot of that organically inside the band, so the new record has those elements as well.
If you were to compare this new Sixx:A.M. record to a movie or combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It's very positive—but from a serial killer's point of view [Laughs]. That's really all I can say. That probably won't even make sense to anybody, and that's okay too [Laughs].
So it's kind of like Se7en?
Yes, it'd be like Se7en with a happy ending.
Did you have a blast hanging with Murderdolls on "Sixx Sense"?
I'm so excited to hang out with artists. That's the thing with me. We do the show, and we're syndicated all across the country. We have the Side Show Countdown for Active, and we have the Side Show Countdown for Alternative. There are countless opportunities for me to listen to so much music and interview bands. I go, "This band is perfect for Sixx Sense or this band is perfect for the Alternative Sideshow Countdown for an interview." I get to meet a lot of different people and meet them in a way where it can be more conversational. The Murderdolls episode was neat because I followed the band, I've known band members and I've seen that there's been a long hiatus. Now, they're re-energized and coming back with this new music. I really wanted to give them a forum and an opportunity to be heard because people haven't heard the name in awhile. It's also a limited audience so I have the ability with millions of people to turn them on to something that I've been watching.
What was it like to re-approach "Shout at the Devil" with Hollywood Undead?
It was cool! Danny Lohner was producing Hollywood Undead, and he told me the guys were going to do a version of "Shout at the Devil." I said, "Cool, when do you want me to show up and play bass?" And, he said, "Really?" I was like, "Yeah!" It's funny because they didn't think that they could "afford" me, and I go, "Why would I charge someone to play bass?" He started laughing! I just said, "Listen, I'll be there at 4 pm and I'll be gone at 4:04 pm. Just be sure the bass is tuned. That's how long the song is. I'm going to do one take and be in-and-out." I drove up the street, pulled into his driveway, walked in the house, the bass was plugged in, I played the song one time and left [Laughs]. He just said, "Do what you do!" I've never even heard it, but I loved that they were doing the song and I like the band so I just went for it.
I know all the guys wanted to meet you but they were asleep!
That's funny! I run on a clock [Laughs].
Is there any chance we'll see another book from you?
I'm working on a book right now. It's 99 percent finished. The Heroin Diaries was really a year in my life, and it showed my addiction and recovery. If you to peel the onion and go deeper to the core, you've got to go back to when I was six- or seven-years-old. You have to go back to what happened to me as a child and how I got from that point to being a teenager, then from being a teen to starting Mötley Crüe and becoming an addict. Then recovery…we know that story, but what we don't know is what happened when I was so young and how that, going through my brain, was filtered out into all of these different artistic things I do. I'm a photographer. All of my photography is based around a lot of what happened when I was much younger. A lot of what I do in Motley Crue is based around that too, but people don't know what that is. By reading the book, you're going to start when I was a kid. It's exciting for me because the book has about 150 of my photographs in it as well, so you start to see the tie-in between who I was as a kid, who I am as an adult and then what happened in that journey and how this fucked-up brain of mine works. You see why it works the way it does, why I'm so positive in my life and why all of that positivity turns into successful things that I do. Everyone I'm around is successful because I don't lose at anything I do, and it all goes back to the beginning.
Do you have a favorite memory of when you toured with OZZY back in the day?
I think it'd have to be OZZY going on stage, pulling up his dress with just white underwear on, grabbing the mic, looking at the crowd and saying, "Stop, stop, stop…I'm not an animal." The audience lost their mind, and the band broke into some song. It wasn't an act. He'd been up for days, and he was losing his mind. Seeing that happen, I was like, "Fuck, this guy's taken it farther than I ever want to take it." OZZY's done so much in his life, and he also comes from a place of being positive all the time. Everything he touches is also successful because of that. It's a journey to get to this place that's made us who we are. I'm excited we're going out with OZZY. He's my neighbor; it's kind of bizarre! He lives a few doors down from me, and it's just a weird place we've ended up in our lives.
Your neighborhood summer vacation is OZZfest!
That's basically what it's going to be—barbeque at my house, OZZY's house or in Chicago [Laughs]. It's a little bit crazy.
You've embraced the dark side, but turned it into something uplifting. Was inspiring people always one of your goals?
My goal was to basically crash and burn. That was my recipe to stop the pain. When it didn't work through anger, which came out in music, then it didn't work with addiction and I was left to deal with my demons. When I dealt with my demons, all of a sudden I realized I have more opportunity to do something with my life that will affect people than I could affect them with anger. I can infect you with positivity and change your life, if we've never even met. To me, that's one of the gifts I've been given, and I love it. If I can work with a young band and watch that band blow up and be one of the biggest bands in the world, nothing will get me higher than that. That's where I'm at.
What's your favorite Nikki Sixx song?
Video of this interview coming soon!
Photo: Kevin Estrada