In 1984, a crass quartet of sleaze-driven Hollywood rockers were introduced to American audiences as the opening act for Ozzy Osbourne. From there, their legacy grew in leaps, bounds and leather-packaged legal battles. The band is Mötley Crüe, and the name alone has become the embodiment of America's hard rock and heavy metal roots. Their history is bold, their legacy is brash, and now, with their recent reunion and upcoming world tour scheduled to kick off in February, their future is wide open.
Yet, while the biggest reunion in recent memory has finally been confirmed, the true question is, can it last? On the set of their video for new single “Die Tomorrow” (from the upcoming Red, White & Crüe anthology), the mood was all but business-as-usual, though the tension was more surreal than it was uncomfortable. There was a sense of uncertainty in the air, as not only was it the first time the full band frontman Vince Neil, drummer Tommy Lee, bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars had been in a room together in years, but it was also the first time that the frontman and drummer had seen their guitarist since he's gone public with his ongoing battle with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative joint disease he's fought for more than thirty years.
Mötley Crüe are back. As is every bit of controversy and outspokenness we've come to expect.
While Sixx is quick to attribute the band's regrouping to fan demand, Mars cites “greed” as the primary reason “Not on my part, and I won't say on everyone's part, but there is greed involved,” the guitarist says.
Greed, or just really good business acumen? With ticket sales for the concert industry continuing to slump, demand is high for any act with the potential to sell-out arenas, and a reunion of the band that brought us such classic albums as Shout At The Devil, Girls, Girls, Girls and Dr. Feelgood heads an incredibly short list of acts whose appeal can bridge generations of rock fans. With the help of a hip replacement surgery in mid-October, Mars' health is improving at a pace that shocks even his doctors, helping make the February launch of their world tour one of the most anticipated events of the new millennium.
“I think the world is ready for some real rock 'n' roll. Some real-time guys that play their own instruments, write their own songs, and sing the music and have a good time doing it,” says Neil. “Right now, music is like the bubble gum '70s. It's sad to say, but it's the pre-fab crap. When you've got younger brothers and sisters of people that are doing stuff, just because they've got the money to make their brothers and sisters stars, that's sad. These people have no talent, they have nothing but money! It's a sad state right now… But when we play 'Wildside,' people get fucking wild. We've got the shit going on girls dancing on stages, the lights, the visuals, the lights and it builds you into a fucking frenzy. That's Mötley Crüe, and this will be the full-blown Mötley Crüe What you remember, and you've heard about.”
But it's been more than a decade since Mötley were at their peak in popularity, and they're that much older. Add a bevy of reality TV shows and solo projects to the mix, and the question needs to be asked. Will it be the same? Can they be as dangerous and unabashed as their fabled past?
“I think the danger is, we're an unpredictable band,” says Sixx. “It's not that someone's going to jump out of a car and shoot you, it's a danger more in line with a car race. You just don't know what's going to happen next. That's what the band is like naturally, and we just can't help that. “
For unpredictability, you don't have to look much further than the band's headlining-stealing drummer. “We'll see what happens,” says Lee, nodding his head with still a noticeable sense of uncertainty about their future. “I just think it's all real rushed. This is hard for someone like me, and I'm sure for the other guys, too, we already fucking did it, so why drag it out and wear it out? I just want to make sure that when we do it, we fuckin' kill it. But, first, my heart wants Mick to get well, then let's go fuckin' rip it it. It'll be awesome for one last time.”
Mars is confident, as are his doctors, that his health won't be a concern come February. “I'm really trying to prove a point,” he says, “that you can have something as serious as what I have, and still play and work. It's not easy, but I'm going to do whatever I can, and the best I can. I can say this. I'm the fastest recovery, so far, that my doctors have on record. That shows you how determined I am to do this.”
“This is exciting for us, and the timing is so right, it's ridiculous,” concludes Sixx of the reunion. “It's a big undertaking, there's a lot going on, and people are freaking out. We don't know what's going to happen, we've just got to let go, and let things happen. The fact that we're even doing this video today is still mind-blowing to me!”
For the full interview with all four members, check out Paul Gargano's cover story in the March 2005 issue of Metal Edge magazine, on-sale worldwide January 4, 2005.