On February 2nd 2001, Chronological Crue received an email from Neil
Strauss, the author of Mötley Crüe’s autobiography The Dirt, asking if I had any interest in
proof reading it in its final stages and to offer any suggestions. The
Fed-Ex man soon delivered a 500 plus page A4 rough draft hardcopy,
which Neil said had only been read by the band and the publisher to
Soon after, I returned a
sixx-thousand-word analysis of my proof reading outcomes and issues, to
which Neil said was amazing. Nikki Sixx said
of the document, “THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEEDBACK.....I THINK WE HAVE A
FANTASIC,TRUE..AND COCKY LITTLE MASTERPIECE HERE..I HOPE IT UNSETTLES
THE CONSUMER ENUFF TO CAUSE THE WORD OF MOUTH THAT I BELIEVE BOOKS WITH
LEGS((STAYING POWER)) HAVE... THANKS PAUL...AND OF COURSE ..MR
STRAUSS((YOU LIL NAZI))” while Tommy Lee said, “WOW!.......YOU PUT SOME
HUGE AMOUNTS OF TIME AND WORK INTO THIS!!! THANKS SOOOOOOO MUCH
I asked Neil Strauss
if I could interview him and he replied, “I'd feel honored and
flattered to be interviewed for the site.” I made the call from
Melbourne Australia on the 11/5/01 at 7am to Manhattan USA on 10/5/01
at 4pm. So now… on May 22nd 2001, the day The Dirt is finally released to the fans
and public alike, I present the Neil Strauss view - Digging Up The Dirt.
Chronological Crue: As
you are aware, this site traces the complete history of Mötley Crüe and
that’s pretty much what The Dirt has done as well in many
Neil Strauss: Right.
CC: If we could just step
back a bit, with a bit of your history... Can you tell me how you began
your writing career? Did you write a lot as a child?
NS: I guess like all good
things, they begin as accident. I think anything you are doing now, you
can look back and find some reasons for it in your childhood. If I was
a fireman, I’d find that I played with fire trucks. But yeh, I wrote as
a kid through school all the time.
NS: I took out an
internship at a strange… sort of, avant guard music magazine… [as an]
intern in college, like maybe freshman year of college or something… in
New York. It was just so small, but I started writing for them, and
once they let me write for them I could write for some place bigger,
and then I could write for some place bigger, and soon it just kind of
kept going and going, until I had a little column in Rolling Stone.
Then after that… I’m on the staff at the New York Times now, so it just
took a long amount of baby steps.
CC: Excellent. What would
be your first memory of Mötley Crüe?
NS: As far as my own
CC: Yeh, as far as
growing up. I’m not sure how old you are Neil, and how old you would
have been when Mötley were just beginning back in ’81…
NS: Right. Yeh, I mean
’82 was probably like exactly when Mötley were coming out, [and that]
was exactly when I was first awakened and finding pop music by myself.
CC: OK, yep.
NS: And to me, at that
age, I don’t think I differentiated between genres, and I still don’t –
I still listen to everything. So to me, I was listening to Mötley Crüe,
at the same time I was listening to The Ramones, at the same time
listening to … It’s almost like Nikki Sixx really wanted… punk rock was
so important to him... the New York Dolls… he loved Johnny Thunders and
those kind of bands. To me, it wasn’t like Mötley Crüe are pop and The
Ramones are cool, like… I never made that distinction; it was just good
rock music to me. Then like, most everybody, you come in and out with
bands over the course of their career and over your lifetime.
You worked with Marilyn Manson on his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell.
CC: Could you tell us a
little bit about that experience? What that was like, and perhaps how
your opinion on him may be different now, than before that project
NS: The project began
with Rolling Stone wanting me to do a story on Marilyn Manson and I
kind of did because I like the music, but obviously his persona is
always upsetting to people, and I thought, 'Well this guy’s a bit of a
hoax and I’m going to do this story and unmask him for the hoax he
really is.' So I went down to do the story in Florida, and it turned
out… like, if you’re a journalist, you might have preconceptions, but
you’ve got to be prepared to throw them out and take the facts as they
are, and it turned out he was a smart guy and I liked him a lot. It
turned out to be a totally positive story because he was intelligent
and smart and wasn’t this kind of brain-dead impostor that I had
thought he was. They liked the story so when it became time for them to
do a book they gave me a call. I’d done some books before, but that was
my first kind of book.
CC: So who gave you a
call – the band themselves? Or are you saying the Rolling Stone people?
NS: No, Marilyn Manson’s
manager gave me the call about it, so we met. I only wanted to do a
book with someone who’s really going to come on the line and show
themselves as they really are, warts and all, and not try and cover
things up, or try and re-write the past. So when I saw he was doing
that and his stories were great, I kind of signed on to do it and it
became this… a lot different from Mötley Crüe… but just as a bizarre
and intense experience.
CC: Certainly. Well, that
project actually led to the Mötley Crüe project for you.
CC: Can you explain the
link between the two?
NS: Sure. What happened
was, as I was proofing the pages of the Manson book, I happened to get
a call from Spin magazine who wanted me to do a piece on Mötley Crüe,
and I was totally… when someone says, “Do you want to go on the road
with Mötley Crüe?” You’re going to jump at the chance of course. I went
and did that… and we were sitting on a plane flying to Phoenix… or from
Phoenix, and I was reading the Marilyn Manson book and started passing
around chapters. There’s a part called The Rules, which are basically
rules… kind of half-sarcastic rules for how you know if you’re a drug
addict or not… rules for how to tell whether you’re cheating or not.
CC: Ah OK.
NS: You know, Marilyn
Manson’s rule is that oral sex doesn’t count, it’s like handshakes and
autographs, you know. Or, another one of his rules is if you’re in a
different time zone than where your girlfriend is and you have sex and
the time is before… if you call your girlfriend before where she is
catches up to the time, of where you were [when you had sex] and you
talk to her, it doesn’t count ‘cause it hasn’t happened yet.
NS: [laughing] Yeh, so
all different rationalisations like that. So anyway, they [Mötley Crüe]
dug those when they looked it over… and I think it was kind of
ridiculous they hadn’t done a book yet for themselves. So I think it
planted a seed in their minds. Much later when Manson’s [book] came
out, it was a best seller and the book agent said, “Who do you want to
do a book with now?” and I was like, “It’s got to be Mötley Crüe.”
NS: So it was on.
CC: There’s a tremendous
amount of information in the book of course. Where did you begin with
it all? Once you did get the hook up with Mötley, what kind of plan was
formulated in those early initial stages?
NS: The first discussions
we had… like my kind of philophosy is you begin with the most
interesting point, so we kind of talked about what the most interesting
CC: Wow, what was that?
NS: [laughs] Yeh.
CC: [laughing] There’s so
many of them with Mötley Crüe!
NS: I know, I know. I
think we all agreed it was that period when… and it’s always the same
with so many bands, but especially for them, when… the Mötley House
period, when they weren’t signed to a label and they were working on
their own little independent record and they became kings of the Sunset
Strip but no-one outside this 30 mile radius really knew about them,
and just total… with nobody watching them they could just get away with
things… I guess they got away with things anyway, but it was just at
that time they were in a weird bubble that could never be re-created
NS: And also I think at
the same time, there’s no… there is that Waiting For The Sun book, about Los Angeles
rock, but it kind of skirts over the 80s Sunset Strip scene and there’s
nothing… you can correct me if I’m wrong… there’s nothing out there
that captures the strip of the 80s.
CC: Certainly not that
I’ve come across, no.
NS: So one of the
ulterior motives of the book, or at least part of the book, is to
capture that scene and that vibe and that’s why we spent some time
really describing the Strip, and other bands, and the circuit… the
Rainbow, the Whisky [A Go-Go].
CC: Yeh it was a huge
scene back then, that’s for sure.
NS: Yeh. Exactly, and I
guess maybe I always wished I could have been around in Los Angeles at
that time, so I got to experience it in this way.
CC: I think you’re not
alone in that wish.
CC: You first met the
guys out on the road and I recently read in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that they were
arrested that same concert… which is typical Mötley.
NS: [laughing] Yeh, yeh,
CC: [laughing] What do
you recall from that night?
NS: I remember people
always said they staged it for my benefit. I don’t really believe that
and now I’ve had more experience with them, I just know that trouble
follows them around everywhere. I can’t wait to see like when they’re…
you know; when they’re in their 70s… it’s just not going to stop. So I
just kind of briefly met the band, then they went on stage… you know
better than me, was it Phoenix?
CC: Well it was on the
NS: Denver, maybe Denver?
CC: No I think it was
Phoenix… there was trouble down there, and they also had some in
Greensboro as well. That was the racial incident.
NS: Oh yeah, yeah. So I
guess it was Phoenix and during the show…
CC: Yeh it was America
West. [11/12/97 America West Arena, Phoenix, Arizona]
NS: Yeh that’s exactly
what it was! During the show Nikki had gotten upset at a bouncer and as
I remember, was kind of chewing him out from the stage and I think
kicked him in the head or something like that.
CC: Yeh that’s right.
NS: And afterward… the
show was over and I was going around to meet the band and I saw the
security guard talking with two cops describing Nikki and Tommy so they
could arrest those guys. So I run back and I’m like a little squirt
just... “the cops are coming, you’d better run and get all your stuff.”
They’re just sitting there staring at me, trying to figure out who put
me up to doing this!
NS: [laughing] They’re
like trying to figure out, was it our manager, who’s pulling this prank
on us? About 2 minutes later the cops came in… Tommy’s at the makeup
mirror, Nikki in there. They handcuff them both. Tommy’s just got his
leather shorts on, nothing else. They’re both pouring sweat. They walk
out and there’s the big usual crowd of kids outside the dressing room,
and I just could not believe it when a kid had like, I think Theatre of
Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls on vinyl and was trying to get Tommy to
autograph it for him.
CC: In his handcuffs?
NS: Yeh! Tommy just kind
of nodded his head at his hands behind his back.
NS: And I remember too at
that time they got out of jail really quickly because when their road
manager was going to get… maybe talking to the Deputy or maybe whoever
deals with the bail bonds, she said, “My husband always has imagined
that I’m Pamela Anderson when we are having sex,” or something like
that and their road manager, Nick Cua, said, “Well, I’ll tell you what.
I’ll get him some autographed photos of Pamela Anderson if you take
care of this pretty quickly for us.”
NS: Yeh… so that was my
first real life Mötley Crüe experience.
CC: So there was no
actual work done on the book at that stage… that was the initial
meeting. How did the initial sessions with the band members, to start
writing the book, come about? Can you tell me some of your
recollections of those very first meetings with the members?
NS: It was interesting. I
think again, I first met them on the road, and I want to say… I’m
trying to remember if that was still the Generation Swine tour, or…
CC: Greatest Hits in ’98?
NS: Right, but the
Greatest Hits was right after Tommy was out of jail right?
CC: Yes that’s right
because they were trying to finish the Greatest Hits album just before
Tommy went in. That’s when they did the two tracks [Enslaved and Bitter
NS: See because Tommy
hadn’t been in jail yet and all that stuff hadn’t happened, so I think
it was still on the Generation Swine tour, I guess. I think it was
towards the tail end of it, or some final leg… yeh, ‘cause Tommy was
still doing that disappearing astronaut on the drums thing.
CC: Ah OK, that’s Swine’s
Mötley Crüe Vs The Earth Tour.
NS: Yeh, so they said
just come out on the road with the guys and we’ll start talking about
it… ah, I’m trying to remember. You know what? It was the Greatest Hits
tour, I’m sorry, because Spin was before he was arrested, and Greatest
Hits was after that.
NS: I just remember
feeling that Tommy was going to leave the band. Even from that first
story, I could tell. Like, inside he was trying to separate himself and
didn’t feel a part of it.
NS: Yeh, so it was lucky…
I guess I was at least glad I could start the book while Tommy was
still with them.
CC: Yeh, sure.
NS: So it started on the
road again… for some reason, as anyone that has probably toured with
the band professionally, you end up… as much as you try and get the
book done and get interviews done, a lot of it is just digging around
and kind of soaking up their personalities. So you can, kind of write
from inside Tommy’s head, or write from inside Nikki’s head, or Vince’s
or Mick’s head. So a lot of it was really just trying to spend time
with them and catch some of the phrases they’ll just use in
CC: Getting to know their
NS: Yeh. Things like the
Cog Theory that’s in the book, or downloading theory… things just come
up randomly when you’re bored sitting in the tour bus, and they usually
end up being the best parts of the book. Not just going through your
life, piece by piece.
CC: So you’d record all
these things, or… like when things came up on the tour bus you’d
remember them, and then just jot down some notes and expand upon them
NS: Yeh, either I’d take
notes or record them. Basically they’d be used to you being around with
a tape deck or recorder, so they were pretty comfortable with me
saying, “Hey I’m just going to pop this on” to record it or take notes,
or just make a note of it.
CC: So you actually went
to their homes as well, for more of the book?
CC: What are their houses
NS: I guess I met
everybody in a different context. Like, Mick’s got his place in… their
houses brought me out to neighbourhoods of Los Angeles I’ve never even
been to before… I guess Mick’s place is in Agoura or something. It’s
funny because all their houses are pretty similar. They’re all in
pretty like, remote communities of like, really nice houses… with yards
and kinds of places where kids can play and stuff. Except for Vince’s.
Vince is the only one that’s kind of in the middle of the city ‘cause
he’s got a place in Beverly Hills. The rest of them are kind of like a
little bit on the outskirts, like Malibu, Agoura… in pretty nice but
not completely opulent homes, like Nikki used to live in before.
CC: Yeh sure.
NS: So the interviews
also took place at their houses. Vince belongs to this private cigar
club called the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills and the best
way to talk with him would be to sit there and eat some food, drink
some cocktails and get the memories from him.
CC: So you got shit-faced
NS: [laughs lots] Yeh a
couple of times!
CC: [laughing] Excellent!
In the book, Vince doesn’t talk about his childhood until a fair way
into the book and I recall thinking that perhaps he wasn’t going to.
What was the thought behind structuring the band members’ early years
like that, breaking them up?
NS: I guess the idea was,
you just want the story to roll like a story, and I feel like when I
read a lot of biographies, you kind of get the four guys in the band…
you get one childhood after another and they’re already 125 pages into
the book and you just want to get it rolling to what you know. So I
thought Nikki’s childhood made a good introduction just because he went
through… he kind of just rolled into LA, he just rolled nicely into the
chronology of the band.
CC: Yeh true.
NS: Yeh, so I thought I’d
just start with Nikki’s stuff and I bring the other guys back when
you’re getting to a part… seems to me each member has a period where
they are the focus of attention. A lot happened with Vince I guess in
the late 80s and early 90s, especially as far as the early 90s and
leaving the band and what happened with Skylar. So I figured that was
really his part of the book, so it just made a nice bridge into his
childhood. I wanted to make it the story interesting and make his
childhood bridge into something else, so from going from his childhood
into what happened with Skylar was something… It was nice to have them
scattered through because it’s also a breath of fresh air. When you’re
really getting album - tour, album – tour then all of a sudden, by the
time you get to Vince’s childhood, you really want to know what makes
this guy tick too.
CC: Well Vince certainly
comes across to me as the most tragic character in the book.
NS: Vince, more than Mick
NS: In different ways?
CC: Yeh, they’re all
NS: [laughing] Yeh
exactly. That’s the other funny thing about this book, and you can tell
me if you had this impression before or not, that at the same time…
Mötley Crüe was always the band in the 80s that everybody, or even now,
and in the 90s too, everyone was like… I want to be them.
CC: Yeh they were always
NS: They’ve lived it all,
done it all, seen it all.
CC: The real deal.
NS: But then you read it,
and read about the down side of it too, and after you read it… it’s the
devil’s bargain. I think Mick says when he talks about the movie
Crossroads, the devil came to Robert Johnson and said, “you got what you
wanted, you wanted to be a bluesman” and he’s not happy now. They all
went through the devil’s bargain.
CC: You spoke in a press
release about the session with Vince covering Skylar’s passing and this
quote said, “He was crying. I was crying.”
CC: Was that at the Grand
NS: You bet it was! Yeh
definitely. I remember just sitting there at the table. Nikki had
always told me that it’s going to be hard to get Vince to open up on
some of this stuff, but I think there’s an avenue when he’s comfortable
and once he starts talking about it… yeh, it was uncomfortable to even
have him talk about it. I felt real bad. Like when I was sitting down
to write it too… when you try and write this thing, you really try and
go to where they are and see it through their eyes and feel like… and
write from their voice, when you write it. There were like tears
dripping down my eyes and onto the keyboard… so sad… and when I gave it
to Vince, I told him he might not want to read this again, but he did.
CC: Nikki emailed you
recently… and Joe Levy, music editor of Rolling Stone wrote in his
letter at the start [of the current issue], saying that he’d almost
CC: That sparked a bit of
concern with fans on the Internet and a few rumours that Nikki was back
to his old heroin days and stuff like that, but I believe it was
something about him spinning out in his car?
NS: You know what? I
actually don’t know. I kept meaning to email him and ask about that, so
I don’t know. If he did have a relapse, I’m sure it was only a day or
two and he realised his lesson. So I’m not sure if it was a car thing,
or one or two… ‘cause they do… I think Mike Amato, their tour manager,
have you talked to him ever?
CC: No I haven’t, but I’m
aware of Mike.
NS: Yeh, he had said that
sometimes they have a planned slip, or for a day they’d revert to the
old habits or something. If it was a planned slip, or he did actually
slip, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask him the story. I can’t believe
that I haven’t yet.
CC: Sure. The first thing
I did when I finished reading the book was put on my New Tattoo CD and
really blast the song Fake. Was that your idea to include the lyrics at
the end, as pretty much, a summary?
NS: Yeh, Nikki read me an early
version of the lyrics during one of our interviews and I just thought it served as a nice little coda to
it, especially as you read this book, it’s sort of… it is a pretty epic
rock’n’roll tale. You just can not believe that… a single one of their
stories would be enough for a huge book, so four of them together is
like 10 or 20 lifetimes and they’ve had just such an amazing career. At
the end, it’s sort of like, you need something to transition you back
into the real world and kind of wrap it up nicely. And I just thought
Fake served as a nice kind of coda… epilogue to the book.
the chapters, they have those little blurbs at the beginning kind of
copied of Dante's
Inferno or Paradise Lost – those kind of old times books
that begin with a very pretentious summary of each chapter, so I
thought I would end with [Fake as] the voice of those words. That was
kind of the idea behind that too. I guess it worked.
CC: I agree. There’s also
a little quote at the start of the book - “The story here presented
will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offense against
the laws is told in court by more than one witness.” – Wilkie Collins, “The Woman in White,” 1860 – What gave you the
idea for that? Was it just something you came across?
NS: It’s funny. I was
trying to decide whether I should tell people about these things or
not, but whenever I do a book, it’s kind of nice to look for some kind
of inspiration and originally the idea was… ‘cause I don’t think
there’s been other rock books where each takes a chapter and you see
it, sometimes it’s more like the book ‘Edie’ where there are different quotes worked
in to make a story, or like the Aerosmith book… but my model for the
book, and I would never compare, obviously this is amazing literature
but at least you have to set the bar high… there’s a William Faulkner
book called “As I Lay Dying.” Have
you ever read that?
CC: No, I’m not aware of
NS: OK. Basically it’s
American southern fiction and it’s about a family going to bury their
mother, from memory. It’s a really dark book, but each chapter is told
from a different family member’s point of view and there are different
brothers and the father and every now and then, maybe a neighbour or
someone who passes them on the way will tell their part of the story
and sometimes each chapter carries the book along and sometimes three
chapters are talking about the same thing from a different perspective.
So that was kind of my model for the structure of the book and I tried
to find other books that were told in that way, and the only other one
that… I mean there are others, but the only kind of great one was this
book ‘The Woman in White’ which is a kind of a
gothic mystery, told by different kinds of witnesses in court. I
thought the introduction to the book made a fitting introduction to
this book and at the same time prepared people for the fact that the
names at the top of each chapter say who’s telling each story.
CC: Yeh I thought it was
just very appropriate.
NS: Yeh, especially when
it calls it an offense against the laws, because this book is full of
CC: Sure. I must say
Neil, as I pointed out to you after I proof read the book, that my most
uncomfortable issue with The Dirt was the exclusion of one
band member, being Randy Castillo.
CC: He was mentioned a
couple of times earlier in the book which seemed to set up his arrival
later on, but it just never came which was disappointing and left
things incomplete for me. Perhaps you can just explain to the fans why
that was so… even what Randy’s thought were on that exclusion?
NS: I mean, I know
exactly what you mean because in the beginning my plan was to talk to
Randy and talk to Sam [Maloney] and for it to end with this new
beginning for the band, and at the same time… I knew Randy from before
he was in Mötley Crüe and he’s one of the most likable guys I’ve ever
met in my life. Like, he’s just an amazing tenderhearted guy. He’s like
a true musician ready to play with whoever, whenever. So my idea was
always kind of to end with the Randy chapters and the Sam chapters, and
especially over the long… I wasn’t on [the road] with Randy, but at
least when Sam was playing with them, I went along and she… Have you
interviewed her for the site?
CC: No not yet.
NS: You definitely
should. She’d like one. She would probably love to do that. So but
anyway, as I was writing and writing, and I think... first of all the
hardest thing about Mötley Crüe was there were just so many stories.
They could just sit around and they could spin them off one after the
other, and you want to put it all together and as I was getting into
all these and trying to give them the proper time to tie everything
together, I just noticed that the book was getting immense. I’d already
written so many pages and I wasn’t even into the John
Corabi years yet and it was just huge, so I thought at the end it’s
like, there’s got to be another book as there’s no way I can get into
Randy’s and Sam’s stories and if I wanted to tell their stories I’d
want to do it like I did for everybody else, which is to begin at the
beginning and get their whole life story
NS: Even when I’d work in
Tom Zutaut, or Doc [McGhee], or Doug
Thaler, I’d always try and start with their childhood and how they got
into music and not just have them appear when necessary… to deepen
their character. I mean, the book was never even supposed to be… I
think it’s over 430 pages now.
CC: Yeh I think Nikki
said 421 or something like that in a post like that yesterday.
NS: Yeh… it’s bigger than
that. Absolutely. So it was way over and I was worried the book was
going to get cut so I was like, I’ve gotta stop and start tying up all
the threads that are in the book instead of introducing the new ones.
Nikki wanted me to call it ‘The Dirt Part 1’ because the idea all along
was that there’s going to be ‘The Dirt Part 2,’ so I figured that’s a
good place to start again with… I kind have tied Randy in here on
purpose, back to when he first hung out with Vince, I guess back in the
Theatre of Pain days or something.
CC: That’s right.
NS: To him on the plane
with them when they’re going to the Moscow Music Peace Festival, to him
joining the band for New Tattoo… I thought it would set it up right to
start the next book that way.
CC: Do you think there
will be a next book?
NS: Man… I guess my two
thoughts on that are between the time… not just Randy and Sam,
obviously there’s just so much that’s happened to these guys since when
this book ends, you know what I mean?
CC: And the proof of that
is what you were saying earlier, that when you started this book, Tommy
hadn’t even left the band. It just never ends.
NS: Exactly, and now
there’s like the Nikki and Donna [separating] stuff and Nikki was… he’s
always going, “I got into trouble with the police” for whatever, so…
even just the stories behind, a lot of the stuff that went on with the
making of the book and stuff, there’s already so much, I’m sure there’s
going to be a book 2.
CC: You’re storing that?
NS: I’m storing it?
CC: Yeh, for the sequel.
NS: [laughs] Yeh I’ve got
my copious notes.
CC: Excellent. Excellent.
Who came up with the title? Was that Nikki was it?
NS: Yeh the title was
from the beginning so it must have been Nikki, and all along each guy
in the band would remind the other that this is called The Dirt, so it’s time to come
clean. Don’t hold back if we’re going to call it The Dirt. You have to deliver the
dirt. I think it is a good title. The Dirt by Mötley Crüe kind of says
Can you tell me a bit about the cover of The Dirt, Neil? Were you across any
of the creative briefings for that, or did you have any input into that?
NS: Yeh, there were so
many different covers and I totally had to give it up to Paul Brown [who
designed The Dirt] and to Nikki who really had a lot of input on
it. The original covers were all kind of Theatre and Girls kind of glam
shots of the band and Nikki didn’t want the cover to be… they looked
Brown, who designed the [Marilyn] Manson [book cover] did a
great job of those. Did you ever see those?
NS: They were great, but
Nikki didn’t want the band captured at a certain time, even though it
made a great image, he didn’t want it to be just Mötley Crüe in a
moment of time or something. So I mean, I loved those images so much
and they were so great, I kind of didn’t really see his vision then,
but eventually when Paul came up with it… Nikki’s vision was actually
to do a mirror with a reflection of the band, and on top of that mirror
was like a razor blade, a line of coke, and a syringe.
NS: Oh yeah… then Nikki
goes… he was telling Paul
Brown he wanted car keys, and he goes to Paul, “Make sure
they’re Pantera car keys.”
NS: [laughs] Oh yeh, I’m
like, “Oh dude, that’s too dark!” That’s too dark… and girls panties
and stuff… this mirror with all these items of decadence on it. But
once we looked at it, it was almost… there was no subtlety to it.
CC: Too clichéd?
NS: Yeh, so Paul kind of
came up with the whiskey… the Jack [Daniel’s] bottle design. I guess
they made enough changes to it so it’s just a kind of generic whiskey
bottle. It’s a really striking classic image and Nikki came up with the
fire… there’s kind of fire in the bottom.
CC: That’s right.
NS: Which looks
beautiful. That was Nikki’s idea. Then there’s a girl subtlety in the
CC: Very subtly. A lot of
people don’t see that for a while.
NS: She was originally
naked, but Walmart said they wouldn’t carry it, so a bikini was added
at the last minute unfortunately. Without the bikini it almost looked
like a foetus in the bottle or something… looked amazing, but I guess
Walmart has amazing control over the book covers.
CC: In the book it
mentions where Gene Simmons contacted Nikki about…
NS: [laughing] Oh yeh.
CC: … the movie rights to
The Dirt. I remember laughing when I
read that and thought, “Typical.”
CC: But at the same time,
it has been a topic discussed by fans over the years, in terms of if
there ever was a movie made, who would play their characters and that
type of thing. Do you think that might eventuate one day?
NS: Yeh. I know that… by
the way, I remember when that phone call with Gene Simmons took place.
I think it was in Miami or somewhere and he just called on the cell
phone and it was just so funny. I was thinking of getting him to write
an introduction for the book, but it was already so huge, plus who
knows how much he’d try and charge right?
NS: So, I think everybody
wants to do a movie. I know Left Bank, Mötley’s management company, has
had a bunch of people wanting to do movies and Judith Regan… it’s
amazing. Judith Regan is a publisher who’s done all these amazing
books… you know, Howard Stern and all that, she has an amazing
catalogue and just loves this book [The Dirt] and says it’s one of the
best things she’s ever… while it was coming out, it was just so long in
the making, there was just so many days where it was like, “Get this
book in or we’re going to kill it.”
CC: Right, wow.
NS: But once it came in
and she read it, she just flipped out and loved it and tried to work
it. So maybe it’ll happen, but the thing is there’s just so much in
here… there’s just so much, I wonder how you could ever… it would be a
CC: Or they’d really have
to piece it up… or leave out other band members.
NS: Or focus on a certain
area, like, I’d love to see a movie that just is the kind of ’82-’83
days… would be in itself, could be an amazing movie, with the end being
the US Festival.
CC: Right. Yep, yep.
NS: And the beginning is
being right before they all met.
CC: You’ve said that’s
your favourite part of the book and I can certainly see why.
CC: We read in the book
where Tommy finds out about Nikki shagging his ex.
CC: Which is pretty
funny… and one of my favourite moments in the book. Were there any
other memorable incidents that you can recall when band members read
each other’s contributions? What kind of reaction did the guys have to
reading each other’s parts?
NS: Yeh it was amazing
because here are these guys that have spent like two decades in each
other’s company, almost all the time and it’s amazing how when you’re
around someone that much, you take it for granted almost that you know
them and I think especially Mick… they really did not know that much
about Mick, the stuff about his childhood.
CC: I don’t think anyone
knew anything about Mick really.
NS: [laughs] Yeh, yeh
exactly. But he’s always been willing to talk about it but I guess
people don’t. You know what I mean? He’s wasn’t forthcoming about it
but… one of the most moving parts too is when Mick talks about how… you
know, live you always see him as kind of like John Entwistle of The
Who, the bassist who’s just a solid guy who stands there and... Or like
John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin or something… but you always think of
him as one of those type of characters who just purposely keeps himself
apart… who’s just a sign of a solid rock virtuoso…
NS: Yeh an anchor. And I
think you also realise that Mick is, in a lot of ways, the soul of the
band that keeps it altogether. You know what I mean? They continued
Mötley Crüe without Vince for a little while. They’re doing it without
Tommy. I almost think, could they do it without Mick?
CC: Yeh true.
NS: But to me, one of the
most interesting parts in the book, and even for some of the guys in
the band, was when Mick said something like, “I wish I could run around
the stage like Vince and Nikki, but I can’t. I’m so jealous of them. I
think of walking out onto the bass bins but I know I won’t be able to
get back up on stage” and he’s almost envious of the fact that they can
do that and he’s got this physical condition that prevents him from
CC: I think that’ll be
one of the areas of the book that the fans will really love - that they
can finally feel like they know Mick Mars.
NS: Yeh… and also
something else to add about Mick is… some of the writings of his
chapters, he did himself. I went over his house once and he had a bunch
of writings on his computer… do you know about Mars Theory?
NS: He has these writings
he calls Mars Theory and they’re kind of like his different philosophic
ideas on the world… different ideas that pop into his head, little
aphorisms, like, “To quote Andy Warhol, everybody gets their 15mins of
fame; To quote myself, I wish they didn’t.” [laughs] Or “They say time
heals all wounds. I think time is the wound.’ So a lot of those lines
were Mick’s from his own writing and I just incorporated them into the
NS: So part of Mick’s
parts were actually written by him.
CC: There was a Nikki Sixx impostor, Matthew Trippe, which
caused quite a stir back in the day.
CC: I noticed that the
book didn’t touch on that at all. Was that something that was brought
up in any of the sessions?
NS: You know what, I kind
of knew about that whole Matthew Trippe story but I thought that, other
than being a nuisance, the whole thing didn’t really add to Nikki… when
you’re telling these books you really want to show someone, besides
just telling the stories, you want to show someone’s evolution of the
character, and I think Tommy goes through a big evolution so far as
finding himself and having grown up in the band and been a
multi-millionaire as a teenager to all of a sudden… and learning very
slowly to grow up and be an adult and learning some lessons too late…
everyone kind of goes through a metamorphosis and I think the whole
Matthew Trippe was almost a side note. It wouldn’t make it a better
book or anything. Sure it was something that happened to the band, and
it was a pain, and he caused a lot of trouble and talk, but it was kind
of my own decision that I was going to leave it out. I told Nikki I was
going to do that and he said, “That’s fine.”
NS: Why? Did you think it
was an oversight, or just curious about it?
CC: No I didn’t think it
was an oversight at all. I thought it would have been a strategic thing
to leave that out and I was wondering why. It’s a topic that has a lot
of interest from fans, and fans are often very divided on that point of
whether there was actually some truth behind it or not. I know when I
interviewed Doc McGhee recently; he felt
that he was just out for his 15mins of fame, as we’ve just been talking
NS: Right. Yeh, exactly.
CC: But it’s certainly a
very interesting thing to have happened. It’s quite a bizarre
NS: Yeh, it probably
could have worked in as something just adding more stress to the band
at that time, but having not been there at that time, my impression was
always like Doc’s that there was nothing real to this… but then again
there’s always the paperback and they always want extra chapters, so… I
mean there are a couple [of chapters] that I cut out that I might try
and put back in.
CC: Yeh well you said to
me that some parts were being changed so as not to incriminate anyone,
besides the band and you had lawyers going over it.
CC: Was there a lot of
stuff cut out?
NS: No it was great.
Like, the only things I actually cut out were for space. Like, when I
read it and I thought it was boring… for example there was a chapter
where Mick goes into a lot of detail on that first Canadian disaster
tour. I kind of felt like the book was slowing down at that period and
I wanted to move it forward so I kept that chapter out with the
intention of putting it, maybe into one extra chapter for the
paperback… putting it back in then. So anything that was cut out was
because I thought it was slow or boring and as for lawyer or legal
changes, nothing too severe or dirty was taken out. It was just to
conceal or protect the identities.
CC: Well there’s
certainly a lot of dirt in the book. There’s a music website called Metal Sludge.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of that site?
NS: Yeh I am.
CC: What do you think
might be one of the things that a site like Metal Sludge
would pick up on from The Dirt?
NS: Actually, Metal Sludge
came in handy when I was working on The Dirt because A) the lawyers
were worried because there’s a part where it discusses Bobbie Brown and
[the drug] speed. Luckily in their 20 Questions section they had asked Bobbie Brown
about it and she had talked about having done speed, so that got it off
the hook with the lawyers.
CC: Right OK.
NS: She also… when she
rated all the men she had been with, I think she rated Tommy a high 10
or something like that. I actually tried to contact them once because
there was a certain rock star mentioned in the book and I was trying to
confirm one of his drug habits and I thought who could I ask for help.
CC: So you’d call
yourself a Sludgeaholic would you Neil?
NS: [laughs] I’m a casual
Sludge reader. I’m a weekend Sludgeaholic… with a coffee and
cigarettes, or something.
CC: So the book’s
NS: Yeh the book’s
hardcover now, then I guess eventually… I don’t know how long it takes,
maybe a year or two… it’ll be soft cover and hopefully then we’ll
probably add some good stuff, I don’t know what.
CC: I also read where
there’s going to be some never-before-seen photos in the book.
NS: Yeh... I wish you had
the book now. I’ll have to… I should be getting my copies soon, so I’ll
send it to you.
CC: No worries.
NS: A lot of them just
came from their personal collections. There’s a colour insert and
that’s a bunch of photos, a mix of photos people have seen before and
personal snapshots. Inside, for example, we were putting the artwork
together and there’s a photo just on Nikki’s table of him with a bunch
of his kind of stoner friends in high school in Seattle.
CC: Oh wow.
NS: And then I saw that
photo. It’s just sitting there and we’re like, “Why are we looking over
all this artwork? Grab that off your desk and let’s put it in the
book.” So there’s a lot of stuff from Vince’s childhood… Vince found a
tonne of childhood photos and we went through some of Tommy’s personal
snapshots. A lot of, kind of young Nikki photos, and a lot of outtakes.
At the last minute… I think it was Ross Halfin. Is that the
CC: Ah huh… yep.
NS: He had a photo of… I
think it’s Tommy and Vince both literally in the middle of the act with
two girls, but it got there too late… and I don’t know if Walmart would
have carried the book.
CC: Maybe that’s for the
NS: [laughing] Yeh
exactly. I’ve got to tell them to put that in.
CC: There was also talk
about ‘Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Lonely,’ Mötley’s first song,
being included in the book. Did that happen?
NS: We all really wanted
them to do it, but in the end the publisher… there was a long drawn out
battle and I was hoping so bad, especially since a lot of the book… you
know, like I said, those early days were a real important part of the
book, but in the end, I think it’s going to be on their DVD.
CC: Oh OK.
NS: So they’ll include it
on that but I had hoped the first printing of the book would include
that CD on the back, but I guess it’s out of their nature or something.
I was hoping so… and Nikki was hoping, but I guess it’ll help out the
CC: Yeh sure.
NS: I think the book…
even though the book’s not even out yet, they’ve already gone into the
NS: Yeh it’s not even out
yet and they’ve already gone into a second printing. So that’s good
CC: Wow. So was there a
level of expectation set so far as sales figures?
NS: I think at first, it
went through a long drama because the guy who had signed the book left
the company and it kind of dragged on for years and years and I think
they thought they were never going to see it, and then once it came in,
they were all kind of blown away. Now it’s got pretty good
expectations. I don’t want to say anything until it comes out but…
we’ve all got our fingers crossed.
CC: Sure. In 1997, not
long after I started my site, I actually approached a couple of
publishers in England about putting out a book based on my site with
all their history, and it was quite interesting because the response I
got back from them was that there’s no market for a music book on the
history of Mötley Crüe, which is really quite amazing… so I hope it
goes through the roof mate!
NS: [laughing] Yeh
exactly. So then you can send them the figures on the best selling
list, or whatever.
NS: Yeh I looked on Amazon and it’s number 7 in Canada on their list
and like, number 100 in the US or something already, and for a book
that’s not even out. I mean, the fact that that many people are
ordering already is a good sign. The fact that Rolling Stone put the
excerpt on the cover was definitely… they said they hadn’t done that
since Bob Dylan’s autobiography in the 70’s, so the fact that Mötley
Crüe’s book excerpt was the first cover since then is, you know, is an
amazing endorsement. Especially considering that back in the day when
Rolling Stone did their first cover story… their first and then, only
cover story on Mötley Crüe, which was not a flattering story… the
writer was really sarcastic and for them to be kind of promoting the
book now is kind of funny how history changes things.
CC: Did you have an
input, or the band have an input, into what they actually presented on
the cover of Rolling Stone and the pages within?
NS: No. I think it was
all Rolling Stone’s decision. I think if the band had any input it
would have obviously been a full band photo on the cover.
CC: Yeh, because it does
focus very heavily on the Tommy and Pam relationship. Do you think
people still really care? Do you think that it’s worn out? Do you think
it’s a broken record?
NS: Yeh, you know, I
think so. I think… you mean the whole Tommy and Pam thing?
NS: You know what, I
really don’t think people care. I think that’s all sort of died down,
which is proven by the fact that Rolling Stone put it on the cover… and
obviously it got great feedback and people loved the stories but it
wasn’t like the tabloids and the gossip columns went crazy with it. I
think, kind of… Pamela was the 90s sex symbol… now its Jennifer Lopez,
so… I’m sure it’s only going to be another couple of years before
they’ve got themselves into some other trouble that’s going to eclipse
even this Pamela Anderson thing, right?
CC: [laughing] Well if
you work on a law of averages I guess you’re right, yeh.
CC: Neil, you asked me as
I proof read the book, after reading it, how my impression of each
member had changed perhaps for the better or worse, and I gave you some
responses on that. How ‘bout with yourself? After you’ve finished the
book now, how does your impression of each of the band members… how has
that changed over the course of it?
NS: I think it’s just
changed with everyone.
Vince, for example,
took a long time to get to know, but after a while, I really started to like
spending time with him. I even ended having Thanksgiving at his and Heidi’s house You know,
people always see them a certain way and I really… with all of them...
every great band has four individual personalities and you can’t
believe they could be locked in a room together and survive, and Mötley Crüe is one of those
bands. Every reason I like each person is just completely different;
whether it’s Nikki’s drive, Tommy’s positive energy, Mick’s strange,
quiet intelligence and complete lack of pretension and total dedication
CC: Your next project, or
the project you’re currently working on, or another one of your
projects, is a book with former Janes Addiction and Red Hot Chilli
Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro. How’s that coming along?
NS: It’s cool. It’s
actually going to come out a month after the Mötley book. [June 5th,
CC: Right, OK.
NS: Basically, it’s not
like a beginning to end story, or a beginning to middle story. It’s not
a chronological story like Mötley Crüe. I basically… he got a photo
booth in his house, and it’s funny because the Dave Navarro book ends with him going to the
studio to do some recordings for Methods of Mayhem and Tommy’s in the
studio. Tommy tells Dave about… Dave’s just gotten out of rehab and
Tommy tells Dave about his and Nikki’s crazy days when they were
shooting up out of a Jack Daniel’s cap. There’s so many little stories
that didn’t make it into the book, that’s it’s almost like I had to
squeeze them… they all ended up being squeezed in everywhere. So that
story ends up in the Dave Navarro book and when you get the book you’ll
see other little stories end up as photo captions… like there were just
so many stories they just kind of ended up spilling over with it. It’s
funny that with this band after a 430-page book, that there’s still so
many unspeakable acts still to be spoken about.
NS: But the Dave Navarro book was… he got a photo booth in
his house and he had a theory that the only people that stay in your
life are the people who you pay, which means your family and friends
will desert you but your cleaning lady, your drug dealer and the pizza
delivery man are with you forever. So we decided to prove or disprove
that theory with the photo booth and for a year we decided that whoever
walked into his house had to get into the photo booth, no matter who it
was, and sign a release form… from rock stars to prostitutes to…
CC: Pizza delivery guys.
NS: [laughs] Exactly. So
as this went on, I kind of documented his life and eventually we
disproved that theory, but it was a really, really intense year. Each
chapter’s a month and it goes from Dave’s house being a great big party
house to six months into it when the drugs had just taken over and his
hair was falling out and he’s got scabs everywhere, and kind of
paranoid, to like, a happy ending where we… in that very last month I
was like… there were some times where you didn’t think he would survive
in the very last month… he kind of pulled through.
NS: And it ended up
having a happy ending. One year after the book ended, we meet again to
talk about some of the theories in the book, so it’s really a kind of
voyeuristic peek into this dark centred world of this really smart rock
star. It’s really a kind of brave book… and at the same time, even the
Mötley book… there was a rule with the Mötley book that nobody could
change what was in somebody else’s chapter.
NS: You know you
mentioned before about everyone sleeping with each other’s girlfriends
but them not knowing it at the time… so there was a rule that if you
found out something you didn’t like, you had to let go of it if it was
in someone else’s chapters… so that was a brave thing. I think the book
really shows a lot of parts of Mötley’s personality and leaving it as
they are is probably a brave thing in a lot of ways, because it’s not
CC: Mötley are on hiatus
as such at the moment having a break, or pursuing their own individual
projects, etc. Where do you think Mötley are going to go to from here?
NS: Yeah, I don’t know…
it’s only a matter of time and it could even… and I hope it’s this
book, but who knows what it’ll be. I think this book will go a long way
to getting people really excited about seeing Mötley again. Like I know
with kind of the advance hype, people have been emailing me saying,
“How can I get in touch with their management? I want them to play this
festival with Tool… you know, Papa Roach” and all these kind of… and
plus this music’s coming back again so hard, nobody denies it... I hope
they’re publicising the book and something gets them excited again. You
know what I mean? I think it takes a little spark to get the fire going
again, so they’re probably just waiting for that… that little spark.
That’s what I hope at least.
CC: Well let’s hope so
too. Neil, thank you very much for your time. It’s been great getting
some insight into how you actually dug up the dirt.
NS: [laughs] Yeh.
CC: The fans will
appreciate that, and on behalf of the fans, thanks for your
contribution to another piece of Mötley history.
NS: Cool man. Thanks again for all the
help and comments. They were so essential and helpful, and your
thoughts on everything were great! I gave you a big fat thank you in
CC: Thanks Neil.
NS: Thank you Paul.
Next time Neil is in LA, he will
pick up some photos of himself with The Crüe and send them over for
inclusion here, so check back from time to time!
to Shawn 'Moon' Thornton for the B&W scans.
more ?? Click to see the complete
listing of Chronological Crue interviews.
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