Worth the Trip: Mötley Crüe invades Cincinnati
By Alan Sculley
The guys in Mötley Crüe admit that for a long time, doing a tour with a band like Poison would have been unthinkable.
But that’s what’s happening this summer as Mötley Crüe heads up a triple bill that also includes Poison and opening act, the New York Dolls — the latter of which being a group whose punky glam rock sound was a major influence on Mötley Crüe.
“Typically we always tried to avoid touring with any bands from the ‘80s,” Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee said, speaking directly to the pairing of his band and Poison. “We feel like we made a really big impact and mark at that time, and why would we drag around some bands that are doing the same kind of thing on a tour with us?
“We’re friends. We don’t dislike them or their music,” Lee said of Poison. “We just always tried to keep ourselves somewhat separated, only for that reason because we feel like we kind of started it.”
To many people, there are strong connections between Mötley Crüe and Poison. The two bands both launched highly successful careers from Los Angeles and came to epitomize the “hair metal” look and sound of the 1980s with their boisterous and catchy hard rocking songs. They also led wild lifestyles filled with alcohol, drugs, women and various other hedonistic activities, and had plenty of internal tensions that resulted in various band members (Lee and singer Vince Neil in Mötley Crüe and guitarist C.C. DeVille of Poison) departing temporarily before rejoining the current lineups. In any event, the successes of the two bands helped provide a stylistic blueprint for dozens of bands that came along in the ‘80s and helped breathe new life into the Los Angeles music scene.
In a separate interview, bassist Nikki Sixx further elaborated on the connections between Mötley Crüe and Poison and explained why he feels Crüe holds a different place among bands identified with the Sunset Boulevard hard rock scene.
“We came out in ’81,” he said. “By late ’82 or ’83, we were gone (from L.A.). So there’s this thing with like the Sunset Boulevard music scene, which a lot of people credit us as the band that sort of kicked it off. We don’t really feel that. We were gone (on world-wide tours) when the whole thing happened.”
Now both groups are on tour together, with each celebrating a milestone. For Mötley Crüe (which also includes guitarist Mick Mars), this is the band’s 30th year, while Poison celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first album this summer.
Lee has a hard time grasping the fact that Mötley Crüe has hit the big 3-0.
“It’s the craziest thing,” he said. “I was telling somebody the other day, my oldest son just turned 15 the other day, and I can’t even tell you where the hell those 15 years went. Sometimes it absolutely blows my mind…I mean, I’m 48 years and I still feel like a 14-year-old. So I don’t know how really to explain that. For me, it’s a pretty big blur. I really can’t explain it. I just know it’s been a pretty amazing run, and I feel like we’re still going strong and we’re doing what we do.”
Mötley Crüe and its fans are celebrating the occasion in style on this summer’s tour. Many of the key decisions for the tour were fan-driven, including the choice of Poison as direct support for the tour and the selection of songs the band is performing.
“We’re playing some songs for them that we typically would not play,” Lee said. “As far as other elements of the show, in typical Crüe fashion, it’s like the fourth of July on steroids up there. And there’s a humongous video presentation. We’ve got some beautiful singer/dancer girls that are part of the show. There’s just a lot going on. It’s almost a little overwhelming to take in all in 90 minutes, but it’s definitely action packed, that’s for sure.”
One of the main features of the show is Lee’s brainchild. His drum kit is bolted to a circular 360-degree track, and for his drum solo, his kit begins moving on the track, which he has dubbed the rollercoaster. And as he continues his solo, it takes him on a complete circle, complete with a portion in which Lee is playing drums upside down.
The kicker is that at each show, one fan gets to strap himself onto a passenger seat on the kit and enjoy – or, at least experience – the thrill ride alongside Lee. The drummer is encountering a variety of fan reactions as they come aboard for the occasion.
“The first night (of the tour), the guy was really hesitant,” Lee said. “I’m going ‘Come on, let’s do this.’ For a minute there, he just looked at me like ‘I don’t know about this.’”
For Lee, the fan involvement is all good.
“Any time the audience can be a part of the show, that’s when it gets really good for me because you can’t do that anywhere else in the world,” he said.
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writer Alan Sculley at