It's kismet that People magazine's annual Most Beautiful People issue hit newsstands the same time that "Lies of the Beautiful People," the lead single from Sixx: A.M.'s new album, has burned up Billboard's rock radio charts. After all, the song was inspired by bassist Nikki Sixx's contempt for the yearly poll.
"It's not the people on the magazine [that I dislike]," Sixx says of the song that introduces "This Is Gonna Hurt," which arrived May 3 on Eleven Seven Music. "It's that [life] can be more than just one version of beauty."
Within 10 weeks "Lies" has reached No. 3 on both Active Rock and Heritage Rock and No. 16 on Rock Songs. To underline the song's impact with Sixx: A.M. fans, Tenth Street Entertainment West Coast VP of artist management Chris Nilsson points to numerous postings the song generated on Twitter and the band members' Facebook pages. The track has sold 25,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. First-day sales for the album weren't available at press time.
Sixx: A.M.'s debut album, 2007's "The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack," was a sleeper hit whose lead single, "Life Is Beautiful," hit No. 2 on both Active Rock and Heritage Rock. The album is a companion piece to Sixx's harrowing account of his heroin addiction, "The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star." The album has sold 344,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the book debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
"The success of ["Life"] has people looking at Sixx: A.M. as an important band," says Allen Kovac, chairman/CEO of Tenth Street Entertainment, Sixx's management company. He notes that Tenth Street encountered resistance when it promoted "Life" to radio, but getting airplay for "Lies" has been "a lot easier."
With Sixx: A.M. being a labor of love, the group wasn't in a hurry to record its next album. Singer James Michael is an in-demand songwriter/producer (Papa Roach, Scorpions). Guitarist DJ Ashba also produces music, writes film scores and performs in Guns 'N Roses. And Sixx juggles his time as bassist for Mötley Crüe while overseeing his Royal Underground clothing line, running his "Sixx Sense" and "The Sideshow Countdown With Nikki Sixx" radio shows and honing his photography craft.
The band didn't intend its next album to be another companion piece to a book, either. However, when Ashba and Michael saw the photos that Sixx was going to include in his book, "This Is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx" (published April 12 by HarperCollins imprint William Morrow), the creative spark was born for the new record.
Sixx had intended to publish a book strictly about his photography, but as he was writing the introduction, he realized the endeavor "was really talking about the photography and what it meant to me on the surface and underneath," Sixx says. The book and album also focus on how judgment shapes and distorts lives, with his images expressing how he sees beauty in things often deemed grotesque.
Reinforcing Sixx's desire to turn the project into a multimedia experience is the Web series "This Is Gonna Hurt: The Documentaries." The video segments showcase the band discussing what the new album means to them and introduces some of Sixx's photography subjects, like Amy Purdy, who lost her legs from viral meningitis, and Matt Fraser, who was born without forearms.
The documentary is the centerpiece of the album's marketing campaign. The first of its eight segments premiered on Hulu March 29, and new ones will continue airing on a weekly basis. Nilsson says, "We looked for partners [that] were used to working with really high-quality content. This is a global campaign, so we have a number of global partners." For example, Hulu was chosen for its multiplatform reach in the United States, and NME.com is airing the segments to gain U.K. exposure.
All of the band members are doing interviews with such mainstream outlets as the Huffington Post and In Touch. Sixx is cross-promoting the album with an 11-city book signing tour that began April 12. Kovac says Sixx will keep doing in-store signings while on the road with Mötley Crüe, which begins a summer tour with Poison June 7 in Dallas. Sixx, an avid Facebook and Twitter user, has discussed the book during his radio shows, which air on Sirius XM and are nationally syndicated on 60-plus rock stations; SixxSense.com is also streaming the documentary segments.
Although announcements about Sixx: A.M.'s activities and the documentary segments are posted on Mötley Crüe's official website (Motley.com), Sixx: A.M. stands apart from the veteran band. Kovac credits Sixx's ability to build two distinct brands to his dedication to creating quality content and a willingness "to learn how to cross-market, cross-promote and have an integrated marketing campaign instead of [just trying to have] a hit single.
"He's not having a YouTube moment," Kovac adds. "I think artists have a lot to learn from that."