- Posts: 3219
- Kudos received: 0
- Points: 0.00
REVIEW: NIKKI SIXX’S HEROIN DIARIES IS A DELICIOUS TASTE OF EXCESS
August 21st, 2007 by Vince Neilstein
Sixx A.M. - The Heroin DiariesIt’s no secret that Nikki Sixx was always the songwriting brains behind the Motley Crue brawn. But it’s not the party anthems that the Crue bassist is known for that make his new album The Heroin Diaries — the soundtrack companion to the soon-to-be-released autobiographical book of the same name — one of the best releases so far in 2007. Nay, The Heroin Diaries is a full on concept record. Crue fans looking for shout along, fist-in-the-air anthems will throw this album back up on eBay, but forward thinking intellectual-minded music fans will revel in the complexity and cohesiveness of this piece.
Where it would have been easy to release a mediocre CD to accompany the book as a quick cash-grab, Sixx has gone above and beyond and created one of the best concept records written in the past several years. The album is actually released under the band name Sixx A.M.; producer/writer extraordinaire James Michael, with whom Nikki has worked in the past, lends his dynamic voice to the album in addition to his work behind the boards, and guitarist DJ Ashba (ex-Beautiful Creatures) is the perfect choice for guitar. The Heroin Diaries comes off as a full-on conceptual piece, one that would certainly stand on its own without the accompanying literature. The songs are both intricately arranged and hooky, a tough balance to strike; the production is grandiose but not overambitious; and the story is, of course, riveting. Even if we already know the beginning, middle, and end from countless VH1 Behind the Music reruns, Sixx and Michael have crafted the story and the words and intertwined them with the ebb and flow of the music, and the resulting record serves as a modern reminder of what the word “album” actually means.
The songwriting team of Sixx, Michael and Ashba is a slam dunk both on paper and in practice. Sixx and Michael are no strangers to each other, having worked together on several other collaborations including Saliva’s radio ballad “Rest in Pieces.” Both Michael and Ashba are credited generously in the liner notes as co-writers, suggesting Sixx A.M. is in fact a working, collaborative effort rather than just a vehicle through which Nikki Sixx can express his ideas. These are all men who know the definition of a song; they fully understand what makes a good one, and nearly every effort here is stellar. What’s surprising, though, is how well everything comes together to form a cohesive album. I can only assume James Michael had a lot to do with this, bringing the pieces together and creating a single work of art, much like Bob Ezrin did with Roger Waters’ good but slightly disjointed demos for Pink Floyd’s magnum opus The Wall (a work Michael may or may not have openly referenced with the helicopter sound effect on “Heart Failure” and phone-off-the-hook drone of “Courtesy Call”).
The structure of The Heroin Diaries is true to concept record form. The record is like a Broadway show that plays out before the listeners ears. There is an intro — “X-Mas in Hell” — a chilling spoken-word piece of heroin-addled desperation; a middle — “Intermission” — a fully orchestrated manic realization in which the string section and piano convey the realization of addicted helplessness; and an ending — “Girl With Golden Eyes” — the music and spoken word vividly capturing Sixx’s day by day withdrawal and addiction recovery, building to an epic crescendo. The obligatory final relapse of “Courtesy Call,” brilliantly summed up by the inevitable line “This is just a courtesy call” leads to the triumphant 12-steps style apology “Permission” and the time-to-start-life-fresh look forward, “Life After Death.”
Fittingly, each and every song plays a role in the story, and the music always seems to echo the sentiment. “Heart Failure” is a brooding, heavy, guitar-driven track chronicaling Nikki at his lowest of lows, while “Life is Beautiful” is an upbeat, optimistic, riff-based rocker looking back at life through the eyes of someone who has learned a thing or two from their journeys. The drugged out, Robert Smith-esque “Pray For Me” perfectly captures the “strung out but don’t give a shit” attitude of a younger Sixx, while the melancholy, acoustic guitar-driven tale of relapse “Accidents Can Happen” recalls failed efforts of sobriety.
As good as Sixx’s songwriting is throughout both this album and the entire body of Motley Crue material, I can’t help but feel like James Michael comes off as the true all-star on The Heroin Diaries. The fact that Michael lends his rich, dynamic voice to this album is a fabulous and welcome bonus, as this album could have easily suffered from vocal mediocrity, but Michael’s production is where he shines brightest. The production is deep and lush throughout, with layers upon layers of guitar parts only serving to accentuate the intended attitude rather than clutter things up. Full-on string orchestrations and piano balladeering weave their way in and out of the album in good taste, as does the occasional electronic sample, background keyboard texture and background vocal. The album is, without a doubt, Sixx’s work first and foremost, but Michael has done precisely what good producers do; taken good ideas and made them great via additional writing, arrangement tweaks, and a keen ear for appropriate production. I’m unclear on how much of a role DJ Ashba played in this capacity, but he certainly deserves at least a pay on the back as well in his first significant release since leaving the Beautiful Creatures almost 5 years ago.
It is incredibly reassuring that The Heroin Diaries is so good. All of the aforementioned perks of this album make it a great listen through and through, and the conceptual nature is testament to the fact that despite the increasingly single-oriented music market, concept records can still be relevant. Lastly, it’s great to know that at least one member of Motley Crue is doing something worthwhile and pushing the envelope. One member is busy whoring himself out to reality TV and booze cruises and constantly forgets the words to his own songs. Another puts out flavor-of-the-moment crap music of whatever happens to be popular that day, while another is too crippled to do much at all (bless his soul). Meanwhile Nikki Sixx, the survivor, the warrior, is pushing along and making truly meaningful, intricate music that is a big step forward and truly shows a sense of artistic development. I genuinely hope that this album gets the recognition it deserves beyond being the companion to a book that will no doubt be of the shock and awe variety (See: The Dirt). Congratulations to Nikki Sixx for a fine, fine work of music, that while it might not change the face of the current music scene, it certainly represents a personal accomplishment and step in the right direction
Glam-Metal94 wrote: Sorry off topic but.... I'm going to Nikki's book signing and, concert in NYC!!!!! It's gonna be awesome I can't wait!
Glam-Metal94 wrote: Sorry off topic but.... I'm going to Nikki's book signing and, concert in NYC!!!!! It's gonna be awesome I can't wait!
Oh you lucky soul... *jealous*
Glam-Metal94 wrote: Sorry off topic but.... I'm going to Nikki's book signing and, concert in NYC!!!!! It's gonna be awesome I can't wait!
Oh you lucky soul... *jealous*
Dubbel f***n jealous! Take pixx!!!! Lots of them!
Dear Superstar: Nikki Sixx
The Mötley Crüe bassist and former junkie on pharmaceutical mishaps, mother-daughter sex teams and those confounding umlauts.
By Adam Higginbotham
Blender, September 2007
It’s 11 o’clock in the morning and, not for the first time, Nikki Sixx is feeling unwell. Pulling up to his North Hollywood studio in a gleaming black Bentley Continental, he emerges into the merciless June sunshine clutching cigarettes and a packet of sliced ham: breakfast.
But, despite his present sniffles, the dope-sick mornings and hung-over afternoons of the once-most-depraved member of Mötley Crüe have long been a thing of the past: “There’s some kind of cold going around,” he says; it’s one of the perils of clean living. “It’ll do it every time. My friends that are always fucked up are never sick.”
Inside, he fetches a Diet Coke from the fridge and lights up a Marlboro Medium: “It’s my last vice. I’m going to quit — and then I’ll be a complete monk.” Now 48, Sixx is a busy man: He’s the father of five children and, since separating from his second wife (like the first, a former Playboy Playmate) last year, single again. His new book, The Heroin Diaries, adapted from the journals he kept at the peak of his addiction, between 1986 and 1987, forms a dark companion piece to the superhuman excesses catalogued in the classic 2001 Crüe memoir The Dirt and is accompanied by a soundtrack he recorded with his new band Sixx:A.M. He’s also taken up photography and has recently announced plans to write a novel.
Having experienced his own clinical death, an adrenaline-shot-induced revival and more than 25 years in Mötley Crüe, he isn’t about to let the prospect of Blender readers’ impertinent questions worry him: “Can you say anything bad about us?” he asks. “Really … honestly? That hasn’t already been said?”
Have you always kept a diary — and do you still keep one now?
rev_it_up, Concord, NH
The earliest diaries were ’78, ’79. I used to carry a book around and draw pictures of what the stage set would look like, ideas, band names, that kind of stuff. By the beginning of Mötley Crüe, I felt like I really had something to write down. Some of the ones from the Shout at the Devil era are really raw and barbaric — like, “Slept with four girls. Two were on their period. Can’t remember any of their names. Me and Vince got in a fistfight. Sold-out show. 100,000 people. Nikki.” And then the next one would be, “I miss my grandparents.” By the time I got to about ’85, my writing really started flowing. And that’s pretty much how I do it now — stream of consciousness.
Your mother dated Richard Pryor. What’s the thing you remember most clearly about him?
Skullz23, McPherson, KS
We used to live on Sunset Boulevard, in an apartment in the Sunset Tower. I had a very young sister, and my mom would take off and do her thing — and I would watch my sister for a couple of days at a time. I have one very clear memory of playing in the parking garage with my sister and a car pulling in and my mom and Richard getting out. They were blasted. And she said, “Oh, I love you so much,” and just went straight up to the apartment and left us in the garage. That’s the clearest memory.
As a teenager you were a drug dealer. What did you sell and were you any good at it?
rawk2live, Bullhead City, AZ
I sold a lot of pot, acid and chocolate mescaline: We would take the mescaline and mix it with Hershey’s chocolate powder; then we’d get vitamin capsules and empty them out and put the mescaline chocolate inside. Very big in Seattle in the late ’70s — they’d dump the capsules out and put it on their tongue and get a faster hit. I always dipped into my profits: I never really made money.
How did you pick the name Nikki Sixx — and is it true there used to be two of you?
Indecent_Mike, Clearwater, FL
I had a band called London and everything was about Britain, and I was Nikki London. And I was like, “I wanna change my name: I don’t want to be Nikki London of London.” I used to date this girl, Angie Saxon. I was going through her scrapbook and I saw a guy that she used to date named Niki Syxx in a band called Jon & the Nightriders. So I stole his name. I just liked it.
When Mötley Crüe started, you were no good at playing the bass. When did you learn to do it properly?
frethead, Midvale, UT
Well, it’s really funny. There’s this thing out there that I can’t play bass. Every time I jam with other musicians, they’re like, “Damn, dude! You’re a pretty good bass player!” And I’m like, yeah. I’ve toured the world 20 times, you know? Played in front of millions and millions of people. Duh! Am I interested in becoming Flea? Absolutely not. Can I sit down and do a bass solo for you? Oh, hell no. I don’t care too much.
Mötley Crüe founding member and song-writer Nikki Sixx has taken a different stroke with the pen via his first book Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star which will be released come September. Co-written by Ian Gittins (Guardian, Q Magazine) Heroin Diaries is based on Sixx's journal entries beginning Christmas 1986 where he documented the tumultuous relationship he had with heroin and his mega-selling band, Mötley Crüe.
Chronicling the highs and lows of being in one of the world's biggest rock bands while being one of the most notorious junkies to survive the excess of the 80s, Heroin Diaries also includes commentary from those closest to Sixx - then and now - who had an all-access pass to his struggle and recovery from his addictions. Accompanying the book will be a dynamic sonic diary that was written and produced by Sixx, James Michael and DJ Ashba under the moniker of Sixx: A.M. that retraces Sixx's path from destruction to salvation. On the eve of the release of both projects, Joe Matera spoke to Nikki Sixx to discuss the Heroin Diaries, the soundtrack, Mötley Crüe and cheating death.
Ultimate-Guitar: Your upcoming book is a riveting read, a no holds bar account of your descent into drug addiction and overdose. But rather than be a first person account it works on many levels for the reader. Not only do we get an intimate account of your experience, the thoughts and feelings you were going though but we also get perspectives from those around you at the time, your friends, family, musicians all of which gives a balanced view of everything.
If I had released these diaries as they were and just wrote my overview story or tried to show how clever I was with my writing, I would have given the message to the readers that would have been something along the lines of 'well woe me, a multi-millionaire rock star selling out arenas and who can have anything and everything he wants…oh and he has a drug problem and now he's going to say oh it was bad'…that's what it would have sounded like to them. So it needed to have a little more of a fly on the wall perspective of having been there. Though having a relationship with the pen and paper was wonderful and very important to the core of the story, I wanted to also have other people's interpretation of this story. That way you can see what happens in the extended world. You can see the perspective of the family of the person who is going through the crisis as well as with band members and musicians that I've associated with and ex-managers, ex-girlfriends, publicists and people that were living day by day with me. We also brought in my mother, my sister and my grandfather. What all this allowed me to see was that if I looked back as far I could see, there was a dysfunction for me that kind of started off on the wrong foot. And that is telling as afar as psychologically looking at the story. To do the imprint across the top of it as a writer today and actually be able to write my story from my teenage years until now, really allowed me to close the chapter on it all. And show I think, a very true and rounded story instead of it being just from one person solely.
Didn't you start the early writing sessions for the book with Neil Strauss (The Dirt)?
No, Neil and I had talked about it but what I needed was somebody - and though Neil is one of my favourite writers – I needed somebody that was going to go in there and really pull the information out of the other people. It was very difficult to try and sit down with a band member and say 'tell me about my darkest days?' Because they're going to say, 'well you weren't that bad' or 'yeah you were an asshole but you hey want go out for a burger?' So I needed somebody to go in there and disarm them and turn them around and get them to really open up to what really bothered them or didn't bother them. And Ian Gittins was phenomenal at doing just that and at filtering the information back to me as I was writing the overview of the story. The core of the thing is the diaries but there is all this other stuff that fills out the story too.
There's a line in Van Nuys, the second track on the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, which I found quite profound. The line goes, 'I just want my father to know that I finally made it'. Since you did change your name originally to Nikki Sixx as an act of rebellion against your father, do you think that has been the impetus behind everything you've done in your life and career where it has been about the need to prove to your father who and what you are?
You know that's a part of where I was at the time. I had to go back and revisit those feelings when James Michael first brought that song in and said, 'this really feels like where you were at'. We all wrote together and independently for this project, three producers, songwriters… a lot of people. I had to be able to talk with James and open up to him about was those lyrics brought up in me. There's two parts to that song the first part is 'I don't want my mom to know I've sold my soul' and 'I want my father to know that I finally made it'. Those are very adolescent feelings that I think anybody whose in that downward spiral would definitely feel and would be saying, 'God I just wish they knew'.
When you overdosed in December of 1987 and were declared dead but remarkably were revived by paramedics, do you remember anything of the experience of having come close to the other side?
I'd done a VH1 Behind The Music a few years ago which first brought up what has always sort of been in my head. You see I sort of remember things like… I remember sort of seeing the event even though I was actually lying on the ground with a sheet over my head. There was a part of me that thought, 'God did I really die? Is it real or is it fake?' It was very confusing and I kind of blurted it out those feelings on Behind The Music. Then later I was like, 'God I wish I hadn't said that', because I just didn't want people to think I was fuckin' nuts. But then when I found the diaries and read that part of it, I was fuckin' blown away. I was like 'fuck that was exactly what was in my head'. And it was scary.
Having come close to death, did it give you a new spiritual outlook on life?
Not so much from that experience but in general. I think I'm a very spiritual person. I believe there is a power greater than myself and I believe that there is something else out there. It would be pretty narcissistic to think it's all about us? Even though we have this great terminology of "rock god", I mean it's a bit of a farce though isn't it?
That whole period in the 80s with the success of Mötley Crüe and all your underlining drug addictions, looking back now, do you think that if you hadn't gone through all that debauchery and whatnot we may not have the songs you wrote that came out from all of that?
You know one will never know. I look at an album like Dr. Feelgood and I see it as one of our best albums and that was done at a time when the band all had their act together. And then I look at the other albums where we were really smashed and out of it and they were what they were. No one will ever know. In my case, drugs and alcohol don't make me more creative, they make me less creative. So I can only imagine. I mean I look at the soundtrack for the Heroin Diaries and the creativity that is happening on that record where it was all done with clear heads, it tells me right there that I'm probably a better artist when my I'm clearer.
How important do you think was your producer Tom Werman to the overall band's success during that whole '80s period?
You know I don't want to apologize for anything that we've done like that. I think that was all part of the process. I still have a very good time when I tour and the only difference is I don't snort anything. I just probably have to remove more pairs of panties to get laid.
Getting back to the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack it sounds very cohesive on a whole yet all the songs are capable of also standing on their own too?
Our goal for the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack was just to create what ever was right for the song and sort of follow the inspiration of the book and the writing. When we put the album together it was very important for us to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Which basically are the tracks; X-mas In Hell, Intermission and Life After Death and then we filled in what was right for the album in there. We actually had written a double album's worth of music. And it was difficult but very important to hone it down to the thirteen songs.
The soundtrack provided the impetus for the formation of your new band Sixx AM?
Well up to about a month ago we weren't even a rock band! Me, DJ and James were just making a soundtrack to the book. But people kept saying this is really, really spectacular and radio was really interested in playing it. And people were then saying 'it's got to be by somebody'. So begrudgingly for me, we kind of agreed… well James and DJ agreed to call the band Sixx AM. And so we just became a band. And as far as what's next, do they make a movie out of this do we do a tour? I just don't know as it's all speculative. At the moment, it is all coming at us one day at a time and we're really excited.
You've played Gibson Thunderbird basses for most of your career?
Yeah I first started out playing a 1976 Thunderbird and then when that fell apart, I ended up playing B. C. Rich and played that for awhile. Then I went to the Kramer Thunderbird and from there I went to Gibson and have been with them for the past 20 odd years playing the Thunderbird. And I also have my own signature model bass called the Blackbird which is kind of a customized Thunderbird.
What gear did you use for the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack?
Most of the record was played with a '59 Fender P-Bass which is kind of my favourite studio bass. And for most of the stuff I just recorded through a '64 Fender Bassman. I used no effects and no nothing. I was just one microphone in the middle of the room and that was it.
What are your views on the whole music downloading issue?
I think anything we can do to spread music around is good. I like the way that you can fire away, you know, infect a whole community so to speak. So I think that it's all good. I do believe that you can't control it and you shouldn't try to control it. It will spread beyond what it is where people will actually purchase all their music via it. Will it affect some things? Probably. Does it increase sales at the same time? Probably so…yes. I would agree with all of those arguments. And it's an argument that I've watched artists take both sides on but I tend to stand on the side of letting it all get out there.
So when can we expect another Mötley Crüe album to surface?
Well we just got done touring for quite a few years recently. Now I'm home working on the Heroin Diaries project, the soundtrack and getting the message out there. As well there is the clothing line that I'm doing with Kelly Gray called Royal Underground which is really doing well. I'm just really enjoying this creative time at home and am not so really inclined to get up and go do a Mötley Crüe at this point in time. I mean at some point, sure but right now it's like… I've never done Mötley Crüe and my projects at the same time anyway so right now it's my time to do whatever I want to do. And I'm also working on a novel which I'd like to eventually finish too.
Finally what do you think is the secret to your success and longevity?
Probably the secret to my success is simply that I just won't die! (laughs)
August 27, 2007 - Nikki Sixx is an icon. There aren't too many rock musicians who can lay claim to having sold 45 million albums, started trends, headlined the biggest festivals, written a bestseller, married a Bay-Watcher, launched a fashion line, redefined the power ballad and…oh yeah, died and come back to talk about it. Sixx is everywhere these days with a new band (Sixx: A.M.) and his upcoming literary release of The Heroin Diaries.
Enduring a troubled upbringing that saw him grow up fatherless and shuffled back and forth between various family members, Sixx's only solace throughout all the turmoil was music. His vision of the ultimate rock 'n' roll band consisted of Kiss theatrics, Van Halen swagger and the sneering bravado of the Sex Pistols. This childhood fantasy came to fruition in Motley Crue some 25-plus years ago, the band that he masterminded along with Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars. Hitting the scene about the same time as the LA-metal boom of the early '80s, The Crue was an entity unto itself. Mixing the glam theatrics and imagery of '70s-era juggernauts like KISS, The Sweet, and Alice Cooper, with dirty riffs, bubble-gum-flavored vocals, big choruses and the distinctive double-bass drum kick of Tommy Lee, the band's sound was fresh, but with a just enough of the ol' vintage to add a ragged authenticity to the proceedings. Looks-wise, the band eschewed the spandex and frosted hair of the day in favor of a scarier, dark-glam style that mixed gothic tones with heavy metal thunder. In the early days, the band's self-released records could be heard at some punk and Goth clubs in addition to the requisite rocker hangouts. After selling 20,000 copies of its independent debut Too Fast For Love, a major-deal was struck with Elektra Records.
With their second album, Shout At The Devil, the band continued to ascend the charts and levels of excess, which unfortunately climaxed in the tragic death of Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley of up-and-coming Finnish glam-punk outfit Hanoi Rocks on their first visit to the US, at the hands of the drunk-driving Vince Neil. Neil paid fines and did community service, but Motley Crue's internal affairs were strained to say the least. Nevertheless, the next album Theatre of Pain was a rousing success, as was each of the band's other '80s releases--the trashier Girls Girls Girls and mega-platinum Dr. Feelgood--leading to an unprecedented contract renewal for $25 million with Elektra. Interspersed between all the ups and downs from the mid '80s onward was one constant—Sixx's increased drug usage, which culminated in an overdose and his momentary passing in late 1987, when his heart was overrun with the scary stuff.
The next decade would see the advent of a new wave of music that would all but eliminate the old guard. Grunge and so-called alternative music would become mainstream, bringing shrill 20-something angst to the masses, annihilating not just the frilly hair metal bands that littered MTV, but also many of the heavier metal and alternative bands that were in any way associated with the old school. Motley Crue soldiered on with a new singer for one album. A heavier affair, the self-titled album saw the band taking things in a more raw and volatile direction that—while still selling marginally well—alienated many fans and critics. The late '90s saw Vince Neil return to the fold to unleash the promising Generation Swine. With a thoroughly modern, industrial-lite production, the album was classic Crue with a futuristic twist. Although back in the game, most critics panned it. Nonetheless, the album debuted high on the charts and the band embarked on a full-scale headlining tour in support. Next to depart would be Tommy Lee before 2000's New Tattoo, which would be the band's first release not on a major label. A raunchy, back-to-basics affair, material-wise the album saw the band at its most vibrant-sounding in years, in spite of the absence of Lee's signature kick rhythms.
After a couple decades of unseen highs and demoralizing lows, Motley Crue is surprisingly still intact and can still be found headlining arenas as well as grabbing headlines. The band's tell-all biography, The Dirt, was a best seller a few years ago with a film rumored to be in production. Sixx is also one half of Royal Underground, an upscale fashion line incorporating a serious rock 'n' roll influence.
But Sixx is still haunted by some of his past demons and one way he's been able to come to terms with it is to bare all in The Heroin Diaries, which will be released next month through Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. A rollercoaster ride plummeting the depths of incurable drug addiction, the book is actually based around diary entries Sixx scribbled down between Christmas, 1986 and Christmas, 1987. Co-written by Ian Gittins, it also features commentaries from those who knew Sixx well during this fateful period, people like ex-Motley manager Doc McGee, Alice Cooper, Prince chanteuse Vanity and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen. In addition to the book is the audio companion from Sixx: A.M., featuring vocalist/producer James Michael and guitarist D.J. Ashba (ex-Beautiful Creatures). Epic, surreal and theatrical, The Heroin Diaries soundtrack is a bit removed from the addictive hooks and streetwise riffs we've become accustomed to over the past three decades of Motley mayhem. But, each listen brings new aspects of the complex album to the surface, making it all the more intriguing. And although it's a departure from previous work, it's got Sixx's stamp all over it, albeit this time around it's a bit blacker, rather than hot pink or blood red.
IGN freelancer Jim Kaz recently chatted with Sixx about the new direction his life has taken, and touched on a few bits from the past.
IGN Music: How's life?
Nikki Sixx: You know what, it's been really, really good.
IGN Music: So, what prompted you to write this book?
Nikki Sixx: I've kept journals since probably 1979. To be honest they're not all flushed out, as I'll write for a few days, then not write for a while. When things started really popping in my life, I got more consistent with it. Every time I'd fill up a book or two I'd take them to my storage unit, where I have a big box of them. One day, I started digging through it, and I began reading about the inception of the band, and how I loved the Sex Pistols and the first Van Halen record, and thinking things like what if a band could look like the New York Dolls, but sound like AC/DC—teenage fantasy stuff. Next I read about the formation of the band, the creation of (first album) Too Fast For Love, the next record Shout At The Devil and how we're playing in front of 70,000 people who are singing our songs. "Home Sweet Home" is a huge success for us and I'm amazed this is all happening. As I'm reading I notice how I'm doing more and more drugs and how the writing is less playful. Then, I hit the '86 era, and I'm reading my diary entries for hours and I'm in shock. I'm thinking, "Where is the guy with all the dreams?" Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cried. The biggest conclusion I could come to was looking at my life now and realizing that my kids are not going to have the same experience I had.
IGN Music: Sounds pretty major.
Nikki Sixx: That was the point where I thought this should all be published. Addiction is an issue. It's horrible. We've seen Hendrix die, Janis Joplin die and Bon Scott die in his own vomit. In my experience, it's a band-aid for something else. I had a mother and father that weren't there for me. And now having been sober for a while I realize how important those first four or five formative years are to a kid. My father abandoned me and I was shipped back and forth between grandparents.
On top of that, when you throw in a healthy dose of hormones and teen angst you're going to get something [that's] fucked up. I eventually realized that was the core issue of why I needed the band-aid. For me to be able to get that out is an important part of the story. I don't want to be a preacher or an evangelist, I want to share my experience, draw attention to a global epidemic and raise money for a charity. It's my way of giving back, since I've been so fortunate.
IGN Music: That's a noble view.
Nikki Sixx: I'm just trying to make progress everyday as a human being.
IGN Music: How long have you been officially clean?
Nikki Sixx: I've been clean for six years. On December 23, 2007, it will be the 20th anniversary of my death. I would like to tell you that I've been clean, but relapse is the reality sometimes. Six years ago I relapsed and realized that something I was doing wasn't right. Since then it's been very easy to be sober. As human beings we tend to want to close the door on our pasts. But for me, this book and soundtrack reveal what's down the hallway, and go deeper. For me, it's a good thing.
IGN Music: The new album is very epic sounding and orchestral. It's a departure from what we've come to expect from Nikki Sixx.
Nikki Sixx: We've created something that hasn't been done before, a soundtrack to a book. James (Michael) said his interpretation was that of a rock opera, like Jesus Christ Superstar. It was very organic and thee three of us just let our ideas flow. It's very exciting to have complete freedom with no expectations from outside people.
IGN Music: On that note, are you affiliated with a major label?
Nikki Sixx: Absolutely not (laughs). We have a distribution deal, which is what the major labels do best. Now, it's all changed. You can make a record in your bedroom and cross-market it on Myspace.com, reaching millions of people in no time. We didn't need a major label.
IGN Music: And you own all the Motley master tapes?
Nikki Sixx: Yes, we own the masters and then license the music to the major labels, and market them ourselves. It's much better than having [the labels] as the banks.
IGN Music: Going back a bit, at one point during the '80s it became really trendy—especially in LA—for bands to emulate the low-down, back-alley junkie antics of people like Johnny Thunders and the New York Dolls. Although Motley Crue was known for its excessive lifestyle, on the surface it didn't seem nearly as deviant as that. Did you make a conscious effort to conceal your drug use?
Nikki Sixx: We really didn't. I didn't try to conceal anything. It's just that I was a millionaire, living in a mansion and could buy whatever drugs I wanted. Imagine being in the most pain you can be in, where your bones ache, your skin feels like it's peeling off, you're shaking uncontrollably and shit's running down your leg, and then knowing there's something in arm's reach that'll make it all go away. Look at laboratory rats; they always go back to the source of relief.
IGN Music: You've stated that your third album Theater of Pain was not your favorite. Did having been immersed in drugs at the time have anything to do with the way it came out?
Nikki Sixx: Kind of. That was a weird time. The accident Vince had that killed Razzle (drummer of Hanoi Rocks) really struck through the heart of the band. The brotherhood we had now had a stake through it. It definitely killed the party atmosphere we had going within the band because of our success. We weren't unified. But, there still were a couple wonderful songs on there.
IGN Music: Conversely, what about Dr. Feelgood, which many consider to be your best work? Was everyone clean?
Nikki Sixx: Absolutely. We made a conscious effort to all be really together on it. [Producer] Bob Rock really brought the best out in us.
IGN Music: A few years later during the mid '90s, how did it feel to be out of step with pop culture, with the rise of grunge and alternative music? Motley was suddenly public enemy number one, with the media and music world against it…
Nikki Sixx: I was so happy about it. There needed to be a change. You could lump us in with all the rest, but only the shit went down the toilet, the imitators. Bad imitations. The same thing has happened with rap-rock. It's just the industry, it happens every decade. But the great ones will stick around.
IGN Music: Was it discouraging? What made you not slip back into depression and drugs, knowing that your band was not exactly in vogue?
Nikki Sixx: Well, you know I'm not a guy that really cares about being in vogue, and that's probably a blessing for me. I'll never forget sitting in the studio working on Generation Swine and Pamela (Anderson) saying to me "Nikki, you should shave your head, you'd look really current." I chuckled and told her "I'm as current as it's gonna get (laughs). I've been in and out of style so many times, bro. I'll walk down the street and teenagers will approach me and say my hair's cool and my band rocks, but in a couple years they'll go (scowl) "My god." (Laughs).
IGN Music: So what's going on with Motley Crue, are you going to do another record?
Nikki Sixx: Sure, but it's gonna take some time. I've been very respectful of Motley Crue and don't do my projects on top of it. But, yeah Mick and I are gonna get together soon and work on some riffs and we'll see where it goes. Right now, I'm just focusing on The Heroin Diaries book and soundtrack, plus the clothing line I've got with Kelly Gray called Royal Underground that's doing really well.
IGN Music: I've heard that it's in several high-end stores and boutiques.
Nikki Sixx: We're getting ready to launch the women's and jewelry lines. We're getting lots of requests from buyers at certain retail stores. It's great to see it next to brands like Diesel and Juicy.
IGN Music: You must be excited.
Sixx. I am. To be able to be a creative person and write this book and music, design a fashion line and write and play in Motley Crue tells me I've picked the right path.
IGN Music: And you've got a charity cause you're working on.
Nikki Sixx: Yes. It's called Covenant House and they've been around for a very long time. When I first met with them I was blown away by their infrastructure and how they work. They have an outreach program for kids on the street. They talk to [the kids] and sometimes it may take up to 20 times before they get them to come in and get help. They'll give them a place to sleep, medical attention, psychological help and can help in all different situations like addiction, alcoholism and sexual abuse. They get them into a program of recovery and education and eventually, back into the system. One of the things I wanted to be involved in was creating a music program to give them another reason to stick with it. It's called "Running Wild in the Night," and we have different people helping us out with it at the various locations. If there's a kid who comes in with raw musical talent, he'll get to refine it and maybe he'll go on to do something and change his life in the process.
IGN Music: You have your hands in so many different projects. What was it that bolstered your spirits after the all the chaos you've been through? Did the success of The Dirt play into this strong sense of motivation?
Nikki Sixx: I've always been driven, but I just haven't known where I was going. I have a very entrepreneurial brain, and sometimes I have to stop myself. I literally could have up to 20 projects going at once, but my quality of life would go to hell if I did that. First and foremost, the most important job in my life is raising my children. After that comes my career. Motley Crue is something I'll do for a very long time. With all the things I'm doing, I have a pretty full life. It's hard work but it's exciting, and enjoyable.
IGN Music: And what about The Dirt movie?
Nikki Sixx: We're in no rush to make a bad movie. We had a few directors that didn't see eye to eye, so MTV and Paramount are working to find the right situation to make the right movie. It'll happen, I know that much. Whether it's the other musicians I work with, my management or Simon & Schuster, I know these things will happen 'cuz I only surround myself with the best people.
IGN Music: Lastly, any thoughts on Rock Star Supernova?
Nikki Sixx: You know what, I saw a couple of [the episodes]. I don't watch too much TV, but I heard some of the songs and there was some pretty cool stuff there. You always have to give thumbs up to any musician who's making music outside of what they normally do.
These days, Nikki Sixx has no shortage of good things to keep his life fulfilled and the demons away. And that's important, 'cuz rock 'n' roll needs him…who else is going to make infectious rock music and keep the kids off the street? That's pretty iconic.
The Heroin Diaries will be released on September 18, 2007 through Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster.