Nikki Sixx, bass player for Los Angeles heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, says years of touring and recording music hasn’t taken a toll on the guys: It’s made them stronger.
“We’re like soldiers, man – you can’t take us out now,” Sixx told Washington D.C.’s Fox 5. “You do it long enough and you realize that you just get stronger and you get better – you’re a better player, better singer, better performer, and you just go. You’re like a war machine, to be honest with you.
“The longer you’ve been around, the better you get. And if there’s anything that young musicians [should] take away from this, you can’t look like a roadie and be in a … band. You’ve gotta be in a band. You’ve gotta be a rock star. You’ve gotta dress like a rock star, you’ve gotta play music that’s important, you’ve gotta put a hundred percent into your lyrics, a hundred percent into your songs, a hundred percent into your show, your packaging, your marketing, and do it…”
Sixx has thrilled fist-pumping metal fans since the ’80s, but he became a champion all over again with his high-octane, modern rock band, Sixx: A.M., which formed in 2007. Add to that Mötley Crüe’s recent reunion and Sixx’s popular syndicated radio show, Sixx Sense, and it becomes obvious Sixx is a force of nature.
In the following quotes, the Thunderbird originator chats about his lengthy history playing Gibsons and why writing great songs is about being as “honest as possible.”
On why the Gibson Thunderbird is his choice guitar, as told to Guitar Center:
“I’ve played Gibson Thunderbirds for my whole career. The Thunderbird is me. It’s become such a part of me that I don’t even look right holding another bass anymore. The Blackbird is my version of the Thunderbird. It’s like a race car. Both of the pickups are wired together, and there are no tone or volume controls. The only control is a toggle switch that turns the pickups on or off. The word ‘finesse’ should never come into play when you’re talking about rock bass. It’s like sex. You’ve just got to do the job. Playing bass isn’t about making love. It’s brutal, nasty, dirty, and raw. That’s what the Blackbird is. There are other basses for other styles of music with volume and tone controls, but I just want to go. It’s not like I’m going to turn the tone control back 25 percent and the volume back 10 percent to play the bridge of ‘Home Sweet Home’ on stage.”
On his memoir of addiction, The Heroin Diaries, speaking with US Weekly:
“I’ve been doing photography for years. I have tens of thousands of images so I decided I wanted to push this idea of my photography out. I knew in my heart it wasn’t going to be successful, because most things I do are set up for failure. I like to set myself up for failure. I assumed The Heroin Diaries was going to fail…
“It was set up for failure, and it touched so many people because of the honesty in it, and it feels great. I don’t want it to fail, but I’m prepared to fail. And this book was like me trying to resurrect my sister, dealing with a lot of my issues. This is me in recovery, me as a father, me in my struggle to stay grounded as a rock star, and it’s all being captured during this real live moment. You kind of get to feel and understand what’s happening. And the band bonded together as three brothers and at the same time I was individually sort of dealing with my own demons.”
On the differences between Mötley Crüe and Sixx: A.M., as told to Guitar International:
“I love Mötley Crüe. They’re magical. Being in the band takes my breath away. I’ve only ever been in Motley and done a few side projects. Sixx: A.M. is the passion project set up for failure. We don’t tour, we don’t think we are accessible. We’re dark and off the beaten track.
“Mötley Crüe is this living, breathing monster that has trampled its way through life and really doesn’t take any prisoners. We primarily seek and destroy. This dragon should’ve been slayed a long time ago. How it’s still alive, I don’t know. I want to ride it until it drops. I won’t say it’s not fun, I would say it’s like going to war!”
On what makes Gibsons special, chatting with Gibson.com:
“The attention to wood is important. With the Thunderbird, for me, I feel like I can’t stand on a stage and not have a Thunderbird in my hand. It’s like my skin. It completely fits me like a glove. The way it fits in my hand and lays in my hand, the way it leans against my body, everything about it. It’s been amazing to have a relationship with Gibson and have Gibson work with me on certain types of pickups and wiring. These are just very little things that may not mean a lot to someone else, but are very personal to me.”
On not loving Las Vegas, as told to the Huffington Post:
“I’m looking forward to [Mötley Crüe’s February Las Vegas residency], but – to be honest – I don’t love Vegas. I’m sober so it doesn't make sense for me. It is hard for me to appreciate. There are so many people there and so many people are drunk. Still, if you get outside of the city, the place gets pretty hip. We played a show outside the city last time around and it was very different. Not everyone was drunk. It seemed a long way from all that.”
On what was important to him when crafting his signature Blackbird and Thunderbird IV, speaking with Gibson.com:
“One of the things important to me was to be a bit subtle with the signature series. I didn’t want to call it the Nikki Sixx bass. I wanted other bass players to want to play it. That’s why we came up with the name, Blackbird. Gibson Thunderbirds are what I’ve always played, but my signature is the Blackbird. I’ve seen a lot of guys in a lot of bands play the Blackbird, because it doesn’t scream my name all over it. I think musicians want to be individual. They love a certain instrument and want to play it, but they don’t want it to be too gaudy or too much about the other guy. They want to make it their own.”
On crafting memorable music, as told to Guitar Center:
“Ultimately, it’s all about the songs. It’s about making the music as honest as possible and getting a great performance. The song is the horse that pulls the cart, and when you have a great riff and great lyrics that dictates the vibe and makes our jobs a lot easier.”