By Kris Peters
We had a chat with Nikki Sixx about the upcoming Sixx:A.M album, as well as his life without Mötley Crüe.
“The most important thing as an artist is is creating stuff. You can have hit records, but if you’re living in that moment only about that hit record, then you are going to miss all this new music that’s coming. I’m a weird dude. I don’t even have a gold or platinum record in my house, and my wife has been telling me I have to, but I just don’t really care about that stuff or the awards or anything like that. I think I’m going to put them in the garage. I just don’t really place any importance on awards. I put it on the quality of the song, and when you write a song you don’t realize how good it is. There are other times when you look back at it and think that song really wasn’t that good and the only way you can keep improving is to keep creating more songs, so you have to keep writing.”
“Someone said to me the other day now that Mötley Crüe are over, ‘what are you going to do with all your time now that you’ve achieved everything’ and I just started laughing. I was like, what does that mean? I replied, Mötley Crüe actually achieved stuff and it was really great but there’s so much more out there to do. I’m going to be creating stuff even as you’re lowering me into the grave. I love it too much. I don’t want to quit.”
This was the frank assessment given by Nikki Sixx, former bassist for Mötley Crüe and bassist for Sixx:A.M, which is no longer a side project but now his only band.
What started out as a musical supplement to his book The Heroin Diaries, Sixx:A.M has now become the sole focus of Nikki’s life with the recent finalization of Mötley Crüe. Nikki says that that despite the obvious sadness with which the music community view the end of an era, Sixx:A.M is now able to prosper as its own entity.
“Our new album, Volume 1 of Prayers for the Damned, comes out on April 29 and then Volume 2 will be out in September/October, we’re not sure exactly when. The reason that we’re releasing it at two different times is that we recorded both albums as standalone releases. Even though sonically they sit together there is some overlay. Dynamically, the artwork also fits together but we wanted to give the listener eleven songs that start out, so you can take your time and get to know them. The first single, Rise, is out, and people are getting to know that and after you get to know the record and we’ve gone out and toured it, then we will release the second one. Again you will get time to absorb that and by the end of the year we will have given you probably 24, 25 songs to absorb and it just takes time to get to know music. We have put a lot of time into this. Every song to us is very important and we want to give the listeners the same opportunity to know them and what we put into them.”
As mentioned, Sixx:A.M was never originally intended to be a band in its own right and was initially conceived to record the soundtrack to, The Heroin Diaries, but grew a life of its own which made it impossible for Nikki to ignore.
“It was meant to be a project,” he explained. “We kind of accidently turned it in to a band (he laughs) We went out and did forty-three festival dates and every night we would go on stage there would be seven or eight thousand people singing along with every single word! You have to remember that we only had the one record out, and we were taken aback by that, and we learned a lot about ourselves touring and that’s when it became apparent that we wanted to continue as a band. The thing was, we had to wait because Mötley Crüe was always working and D.J was playing with Guns N’ Roses and James was producing, so really when D.J left Guns N’ Roses and with me ending Mötley Crüe and James putting his production stuff back, we now have the ability to not only release so much more music but also to play live.”
When asked if he ever saw Sixx:A.M outliving Mötley Crüe, Nikki becomes a little more guarded.
“I don’t really put them in the same box,” he argued. “I think Mötley Crüe deserves a lot of credit in their own right. I know Tommy and Vince and Mick and how talented they are and they are going to go and do some really cool stuff, so now is the time for all of us to do something different which is exciting.”
With his focus being committed to music, Nikki is a man who plans things out. Nothing in his musical career has been by chance and he is now at the stage where he thinks and plans things through up to 24 months in advance. Rather than place extra pressure on himself, Nikki believes having this vision and ambition actually helps keep him grounded.
“I think it makes things easier for me to compartmentalize stuff,” he said.
“As an artist you’re always creating daily and you try to capture it, whatever it is. It could be a poem, a photo, a song, a lyric or a riff, but you are trying to capture it and you have to be a bit organized and strategic if you are going to figure out how to capture it then record it, then release it, and that isn’t the end of the story. You’re still writing music. You’re still doing stuff. So even though you have captured one thing and you’re releasing the song or the album, for me James and D.J we’re already creating music for the future. We’re actually going in to the studio this week, I think we have three or four ideas we are going to record and we don’t even know what they’re for! It’s just because we are always in this mode where you’re always creating.”
One of the biggest challenges of Nikki Sixx’s career came not through his music, but rather through personal addictions; addictions which were released to the public through his novel The Heroin Diaries. It was a deeply personal and revealing book that delved into the deepest recesses of Nikki’s life and painted him in a light very few people want other people to see.
It was a professional gamble, but one which ultimately proved an inspiration to people the world over and Nikki says the process of making his most private experiences public was never an issue.
“It was a pretty easy thing to do,” he stressed. “I guess I had this singular vision that some kid would read my book and it would help them. I’ve had that come true so many times but I just didn’t mind falling on my own sword so to speak, to make that information available. I’m not the first drug addict that’s recovered and I’m not the first person to write about drugs and alcohol, but the fact that I did have a diary for this time and was able to authenticate it with other people’s stories, and have them talk about the different behavior being around me as an addict and me in recovery; I think is a good story for people to read. I thought it was a gift for me as well because I got to connect to so many people that I probably would never have done. I got to speak in front of congress in the United States. I got to speak to a lot of people who were running rehab centers, a lot of people in rehab and a lot of people with drug problems that were struggling and said the book gave them hope. A lot of times there would be people who said they had never touched drugs or alcohol but they had a friend or relative that did and now they understand them a little better. So, for me, I almost feel like the gift was to myself.”
While acknowledging his already significant role in the past and now future of rock and roll, Nikki also says that without the people around him there would be no such opportunities. He is not a man who believes the hype and adulation, but rather one who lives for his art and one who believes his contribution is no more important than that of those around him. He may be an immortal to many of his fans, but in his own mind is just one of the boys. “Sixx:A.M is equal parts James, D.J and myself,” he said with conviction.
“It’s our band, we all contribute equally. With Mötley Crüe I was the main songwriter but we were a band. We were a gang and we were a team. I’m not interested in being a solo artist. I’m a band guy. I wanna be in a band and a family and a gang. That for me is what feels like home.”
New Album; Prayers For The Damned will be released on 29 April 2016 via Eleven Seven Music/Sony Music Australia.