After numerous near-death experiences, substance abuse disasters, and personal and professional collapses, Mötley Crüe has somehow managed to keep touring 30 years after it was formed in Los Angeles. The band returns to San Francisco this week for an all-star 80s revival show with Poison and New York Dolls.
We spoke with 60-year-old lead guitarist Mick Mars in a phone interview from Dallas, where the band was preparing for the tour. “I don’t want to give a lot away, but it’s going to be pretty over the top,” he said.
Who dreamed the idea to tour with Poison and New York Dolls?
It’s the 40th anniversary for New York Dolls, the 25th anniversary for Poison, and it’s our 30th anniversary. We thought it would be a cool thing to have all of these anniversary bands on this tour.
How do you prepare for a big tour like the one you are about to start?
We’ll do pre-production for four or five days, and then rehearsal production for a few days to make sure everything is working right.
Physically, I’m sure there is some preparation, as well.
Yeah, sometimes it gets a little weird for me because I have ankylosing spondylitis. But so what, I do what I need to keep going, and so does the band. I’m seven years older than Nikki, so he’s next in line.
What’s the difference between a Mötley Crüe show today and, say, a show back in 1984?
Everybody gets more mature about things and the consequences you could suffer, but other than that, I think it’s just as over the top as ever. I’m a lot slower with the AS crap that I have, but I love to do it. The guys are still crazy on stage.
Do you still meditate before you perform?
Always. It helps a lot for me to center myself before the show, and to take all the stuff from the day and let it out so I’m completely focused on getting out there and performing. Sometimes there are good nights and sometimes there are bad nights, you know how it goes.
What’s the perfect Mötley Crüe show?
The perfect show is when everything fires right, as far as pyro; things always work right and we’re tight and together. Sometimes things can go wrong, like lighting or a concussion blast might go off early. You have to expect the unexpected.
After 30 years, does anything really surprise you?
Other than me usually falling off the stage when I used to drink? No. The last time something really strange happened was in the early 90s was when Tommy had that drum kit that went over the crowd. The rope got snagged and he fell about 30 feet to the floor. That’s the most radical thing that has happened. Since then, we’ve figured that one out.
He has some kind of roller coaster setup for his drums this tour, right?
I’m not going to confirm or deny.
When do we get to see the guitar player do some tricks?
Dude, you’ll never see me do that. I hate to keep bringing it up, but with AS, I could crack like an egg. Otherwise, I would be flying.
What keeps you going after all of these years while dealing with that?
Touring and making music. Whether it’s a small club or a large outdoor event, I just love to play my songs. I’ll probably be 80, and the other guys will be gone, and I’ll still be playing.
And how should fans prepare for your gig coming out in SF?
I think they already know how a Mötley Crüe show goes. They can prepare to be as over-the-top crazy as they want to be.
Mötley Crüe performs at Bill Graham Civic Center on June 15th with Poison and New York Dolls. Tickets are $69 and the show starts at 7pm.