Bob Rock: Motley Crue Sessions Were Easy, New Songs Are Amazing
He helmed the recording of three tracks, recently reported to be complete, with new guitarist John 5. In the latest episode of Talk Is Jericho, Rock said part of the sessions’ success was because Nikki Sixx took bass lessons a few years ago.
“They were sober when I did Dr. Feelgood,” Rock said of first working with Crue in 1988. “And they had burned a lot of bridges. They sent me a tape and the first song on it was ‘Dr. Feelgood,’ and my wife, Angie, just said, ‘Well, you’re doing this record!’ ... I was a fan. When I was younger I like the New York Dolls [so] I got what they were doing.”
He went on to recall an early conversation with Sixx: “He says to me, ‘I don’t think I ever played on any of the Motley Crue records*. I think somebody came in at night and replaced all my parts.’ He says, ‘I don’t really know how to play bass.’ I said, ‘Too bad – you’re playing bass on this!’’
(*Rock later clarified that Sixx wasn't being literal with his comments. "We joked around a lot and Nikki, in his very self-deprecating style would say he didn’t even remember playing on their prior records," he explained in a statement. "This was Nikki’s way of saying that for the record we were working on, he was showing up to do the best he possibly could and to make the best record of the band’s career. Which we did. At no time did I ever actually think Nikki didn’t play bass on Motley Crue’s records.")
It meant more work for Rock, who admitted it took “a lot of edits” to make sure Sixx played every note. But when he signed up to work with Crue again on the soundtrack to their biopic The Dirt, things had changed. The producer remembered visiting Sixx to start work on the demos. "He picked up the bass and started playing," Rock recalled. "I said, ‘Whoa, woah, woah – what’s going on here?’ He’s been taking bass lessons for five years. All of a sudden he’s an amazing bass player!"
Rock added that he thinks “That’s so cool: At that point in his career, he wanted to be better. I admire that. And so, on The Dirt, Nikki and Tommy [Lee] played live off the floor, both of them.” Because of this, the latest sessions were “really easy,” he noted. “The three songs that I just got with them are so amazing. It was just the best time. … I had John 5, Nikki Sixx – excellent bass player – Tommy Lee. It was easy.”