Q&A: Nikki Sixx

It is 2:30 in the afternoon and Mötley Crüe bass player Nikki Sixx is just getting up. He lights his first cigarette of the day. Telephones are ringing in the background.

It is 2:30 in the afternoon and Mötley Crüe bass player Nikki Sixx is just getting up. He lights his first cigarette of the day. Telephones are ringing in the background.

Sixx says that, in general, his life is loud, though he is not complaining. In fact, he is psyched that Mötley Crüe's comeback tour is proving scores of rock'n'roll naysayers wrong by grossing $19 million through the first half of the year, according to Billboard Boxscore. In addition, a new two-disc greatest-hits collection, "Red, White & Crüe" (Mötley/Beyond), has reached No. 6 on The Billboard 200, selling 425,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Though Mötley Crüe has had its share of lineup changes, drug scares and scandals in its almost 25-year career, the act is demonstrating that it has a strong business sense.

The current tour -- which features original members Sixx, vocalist Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars and drummer Tommy Lee -- was so popular in its first leg this spring that the group announced an additional 57 North American arena and amphitheater dates. That brings its number of tour stops this year domestically and abroad to more than 100.

Sixx says music fans want shows featuring more theatricality, which Mötley Crüe delivers with a circus-tent set, pyrotechnics galore, a fire-breathing midget and aerialists, on top of such hits as "Girls Girls Girls" and "Dr. Feelgood."

The shows have spawned a two-disc, high-definition DVD set, "Carnival of Sins," due Oct. 25 from Clear Channel/Ventura. It will be the band's first DVD with its original lineup.

Q: Why did the band come together for the reunion tour?

A: Over five years ago, we said, "We've been doing this for a long time. Let's just take a break." It was time to get everybody's schedules cleared and get back to the mother ship, so to speak. That was a bit difficult. With Mötley Crüe, we have a manager with [10th Street Entertainment's] Allen Kovac, but Vince had his own manager for his solo stuff, and Tommy had his own manager for his solo stuff. The core of it was, we either want to do it or we don't want to do it. Once we got to that place, it sort of took on a life of its own.

Q: Did you expect the tour to be so successful?

A: None of us had a crystal ball. We knew the band would have an insane show. When tickets went on sale, would it be 1,000 or 2,000 people, or the numbers that it ended up being? We didn't know. We were blown away. I forget what the first date was, but Madison Square Garden was one of the earlier ones. The band's never been over-the-top huge on the East Coast, and some of those first shows [sold out] in a very short amount of time.

Q: What has changed in the industry since you last toured as a band?

A: One of the first things I noticed is, all the people that were hired on as our crew or [for] the overall project said, "Oh, my God, I've been so bored for the last 10 years. I am so excited to be on a Mötley Crüe tour." We were like, "What do you mean?" They were like, "Dude, we've been out doing these safe tours."

We met with pyro companies and said, "OK, we want to blow the bass player up, we want the drummer to fly, drums to explode in the air," and everybody is like, "Thank you." We're like, "What are you talking about?" They go, "Well, you know, the last 10 years we've been doing tours and for the grand finale bands would say, 'OK, we want some sparks.' You guys in one song have more than 10 bands have in their show."

Q: Was it a challenge to get those production elements together?

A: No, for us it was hard containing [ourselves]. In other words, there was 100 things we wanted to do that financially -- and some of them physically -- were not possible. We sort of go all the way to the outside at first. Like, "OK, if we had a 36-truck tour, we'd each have to invest $4 million out of our pockets just for the first leg." So, you know, for us, it's a balance between being smart [about] business and being not smart [but] creative.

Q: When did you decide to do a DVD based on the tour?

A: We knew once we got out on the road and people said it's one of the best rock shows they've ever seen that it was something that needed to be documented.

Q: How involved were you in the creative process for the DVD?

A: We're involved in everything, all the way down to what our luggage tags look like. We drive people crazy. We are so thorough.

Q: What are some of the challenges of re-emerging in the record business today?

A: The industry needs to be run by artists, because we are the only people that care about art. We own our masters, we all own our publishing, we license our music to businesses who we think can work with us to cross-market to make it the most successful and reach the fans. But in the end, we get our music back and we get to do with it what we want to do in the future. We are so grateful that we are able to do this.

Q: What's going on with the movie based on the band bio "The Dirt"?

A: We had David Fincher to be the director, but Paramount needed him to do a very huge movie and wanted us to wait. In the meantime, we are now meeting with other directors. It will get made, and it will get made right. The project has to be gritty. It's going to be like "Goodfellas," the feeling of "Layer Cake." It's going to have an underbelly to it.

Q: What's next for the band?

A: We're here to destroy the world like we were in the beginning. February, we go back out. We're going to play small markets that rock bands don't usually go to, and then we'll make a record after that. Brand new. What it'll sound like, I don't know. I still don't have a crystal ball.

Excerpted from the Oct. 8, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.

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