EXCLUSIVE: Motley Crue’s Mick Mars – ‘I Feel Bad for the Younger Bands’
Mick Mars says he feels sorry for younger bands who can't realistically expect to sell millions of albums like his group, Motley Crue, did in their heyday because of the impact the internet has had on the listening habits of fans.
Motley Crue have just announced 34 final North American concerts -- one for each of the 34 years they’ve been together. Their touring career will wrap up with a New Year’s Eve performance at the Staples Center in their hometown of Los Angeles.
So what's going to happen after the concert lights fade out, and what does Mars think of the changes the industry has seen since the group started? We got the answers during a recent conversation with the guitar hero, who spoke with us about the upcoming tour dates (once again featuring the incomparable Alice Cooper as their touring partner) and the band’s new single ‘All Bad Things.’ Mars also told us what he’s planning to do with his free time once he finishes the current Motley commitments:
There’s the new single, ‘All Bad Things,’ which the band played live a few times last year. Lyrically and visually, with the video, it summarizes a lot of history in three minutes. Is this the last new music that we’ll hear from Motley Crue?
Yes. I mean, I’m not comparing us with the Beatles, but when the Beatles broke up, they came out with some really cool music. You never know. Nikki [Sixx] and I could throw out a song [or something like that], but there are no plans to [do that]. If it happens, cool. If it don’t, that’s okay too.
You made the Beatles reference and we’ve certainly seen bands doing a lot of things in recent years working with older stuff that they might have in the vaults. How much stuff is there in the vaults from Motley Crue that we haven’t heard at this point?
I don’t have a clue. [Laughs.] 34 years of it. I don’t know. A lot!
How did this latest song come together?
I was just basically moving around in my studio looking for a riff to write a new song and I took eight or 10 ideas over to [producer] James Michael’s house and Nikki was there as well. We played one or two of them and he said, “Oh, that one!” So we started taking off from that one lick and the rest just kind of evolved to where it is. It was a little bit different than normal.
After years of being a band that does albums, Motley has shifted to doing one-off singles over the past few years. That seems like it would be an adjustment as a writer and as a performing unit, when you’re used to writing songs that go together as a collection.
I guess the internet changed everything, didn’t it?
There’s a whole different way of recording and everything else. And albums don’t really sell anymore. I feel bad for the younger bands. I guess they don’t really know what it feels like to have several million album sales. Instead, they’re selling a couple of hundred thousand. So I think that the ‘60s are back, with the singles. [Laughs.]
From comments that I’ve seen Nikki make in interviews, he at least seems to be frustrated with the lack of return that you get back today as a band or artist when you put out an album -- whether it’s radio play or sales. That has to be a frustrating thing. Because I know that there are a lot of folks that feel that way and then there’s other folks that just want to create music and write songs. I wouldn’t think that desire ever goes away, but certainly when you see the lack of return coming back, it’s hard to justify the time to do an entire album.
Yeah. It’s always good to have fresh stuff out and new stuff, and all of that kind of stuff. But you can download it once and then the world has it, right? It’s a difficult time.
I just read comments from Alice Cooper in an interview that he participated in with you and the rest of the members of Motley Crue about this tour, and he pointed out that in a sense, the real rock show has kind of gone away. Bands and artists like Motley and Alice are the last of a certain breed doing the big rock show. Why do you think that type of touring and that type of show has gone away?
I think that there’s a lot of music and bands and so on that kind of forget what rock and roll really is -- the show part and the raw, in-your-face kind of a thing that rock and roll is. As Alice said, guitars and drums and singers will always be part of rock and roll, but I think that the newer rock and roll kind of lacks something, and I’m sure that ‘60s rock and roll bands would say that about us. But there’s that element that’s a little bit light or lacking the heaviness, punch and vigor.
The wording on all of this has been really carefully done and the press release notes that the touring career for Motley Crue will come to an end on New Year’s Eve. Is there still the possibility that the band might do a residency somewhere? Is that kind of stuff still on the table?
I hope not. [Laughs.] No, not as far as I know. That would be, of course, before December 31st. But no, I haven’t seen anything like that on the table yet. Hopefully for me, not.
Do you still want to continue to play shows in any form? I know you want to continue to make music.
Oh, yeah. I plan on doing my own stuff, of course, like everyone else in the band and just seeing where it goes. Writing music maybe for movies and commercials or for other bands -- like, here’s a real rock song for you. [Laughs.] Things like that is what I’d like to do, or it’s what I am willing to do. For right now, I’m really concentrating on the Motley Crue thing and finishing it out and putting my full concentration and energy on Motley Crue.
Is there a song in the catalog that you haven’t gotten to play that you’d like to play with Motley Crue before things wrap up?
There’s several. Some of the songs that we recorded on the ‘Motley Crue’ album with John Corabi, I would like to have done. When Tommy [Lee] wasn’t in the band on ‘New Tattoo,’ there’s a couple on there that I thought were pretty good that we should have been doing too. But yeah, there was a couple on each of those that I thought were really, really good.
Do you think the current lineup -- would they take a shot at any of that material during these final tour dates? Would they be open to playing it?
I seriously doubt it.
I had the chance to see John play a show recently playing that entire ‘Motley Crue’ album and as you’re probably aware, fans have a lot of love for that record.
Definitely. I think it’s a really, really great album.
There’s been word that you might do a solo record at some point. The material had been described as being in the vein of R&B, soul and blues. Is that still where your head’s at?
Well, some of the stuff that I’ve written has kind of got a blues base, but it’s not the typical three chord kind of blues. It’s much heavier. I’ve got a few of those. But most of it is full on heavy rock and roll. The few songs that I wrote that are more bluesy, it’s more like Johnny Winter or Gary Moore or Edgar Winter and that kind of vein.
How involved do you plan to be with the movie version of ‘The Dirt?’
You know, I don’t know how far along it is right now. But I’m sure when it starts getting really involved with the characters, they’ll go, “Hey Mick, get in here.” You know how it is when actors go, “Hey, I want to see what the guy is like,” and pick my brain on that stuff and everything else.
What else do you want to do with Motley before the touring comes to a close?
You know, we’re doing this final tour all over the world and it takes a while, so I think that’s kind of how I’d like to be able to call it a day is being able to tour this final tour all over the world with what we have as far as a production -- because we haven’t been able to. Venues in Europe are smaller or outside and stuff like that. But we’re going to take some of that stuff anyway like the Cruecifly [Tommy Lee’s “drum coaster”] and stuff like that and bring a bigger and better show.