Motley Crue’s Big, Badass Influence on Today’s Country

Motley Crue (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

Motley Crue (Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

If there was ever any doubt as to how Eighties hard rock influenced contemporary country music, press play on Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe. Released today, the album assembles a cadre of modern country artists to interpret some of the Crüe’s biggest songs, along with a smattering of more obscure, deeper cuts from albums like 1997’s Generation Swine and 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles.

Rascal Flatts handle “Kickstart My Heart,” Brantley Gilbert does “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Eli Young Band tackle “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” while Florida Georgia Line cover the Red, White & Crüe compilation’s “If I Die Tomorrow” and Cassadee Pope (with an assist from Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander) takes on Saints‘ The Animal in Me.” The project’s first single, currently at radio, is a duet between Justin Moore and Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil on the epic power ballad “Home Sweet Home.”

“If that song came out now, even how they recorded it back in the day, it’d probably be on country radio,” says Moore, “and one of the more country things on country radio.”

Neil, however, says he initially wasn’t sure if there was a home for his notoriously wild band in country music. When Big Machine Label Group, who is releasing Nashville Outlaws, first approached the high-voiced singer, he hesitated.

“Because I’m a diehard rock & roll guy, who listens to classic rock radio in my car,” Neil tells Rolling Stone Country. “What I remember of country, 30, 40 years ago, isn’t what it is today. Today, it’s rock & roll. It’s more rock than a lot of the rock & roll out there is.”

Nikki Sixx, Mötley Crüe’s bassist and chief songwriter — who along with drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars round out the group — shared Neil’s wariness.

“We started talking about it and, at first, like Vince said, well…I’m not sure,” Sixx recalls. But then he realized the genius of what modern country artists were doing, both on radio and especially onstage: furthering the “party never ends” attitude that the Crüe and their peers depicted on MTV. If Nirvana and the grunge revolution doused that decadent fire, then young country artists raised on Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard rekindled it.

“It’s very smart of the new country music artists to look at that whole thing in rock where it just became a downer. Bands like us weren’t around…there weren’t new versions of us. So those fans started going somewhere else,” says Sixx of the rock-to-country migration. “I remember watching some country awards show, and I was going, ‘Jesus, they have pyro, girls, production, lasers, smoke and shredding guitar players.’ I was like, ‘This looks familiar.'”

The lyrics and rock-based sound also caught Sixx’s ear. “I was really impressed by their songwriting skills, the ability to take that lyric and thread it all the way through and build it,” he says. “And Vince said to me that it was like Seventies rock at its peak. You can almost hear songs like ‘Free Ride’ in it.”

Jaren Johnston of dirty country outfit the Cadillac Three, who turn in a greasy, slide-heavy version of “Live Wire,” sees obvious similarities between the lyrics coming out of Music Row and those that originated from the Sunset Strip in the Eighties.

“They were talking about convertibles and hot legs. I get that. Now, you take the convertible and replace it with a truck,” says Johnston. Himself a hit songwriter, Johnston has had his songs cut by Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. “[Bands like Mötley Crüe] were singing about cocaine and shit too! At least that hasn’t hit country yet. Not since Hank and Waylon back in the day anyway,” he says laughing.

The Cadillac Three are perhaps the Nashville Outlaws act closest in style to the band they’re honoring, a point that isn’t lost on the group’s singer. “I love the mentality of Mötley Crüe because they were badass, they didn’t take no shit from nobody and that’s kind of the way we look at ourselves,” Johnston says.

“Mötley Crüe were the band that would come to town and steal your girlfriend,” says Raul Malo, lead singer of the Latin-flavored country group the Mavericks. “I love that about them honestly.” Malo and the Mavericks provide, if not the high point of the tribute, then certainly the most musically adventurous: a flamenco-like reinvention of “Dr. Feelgood,” that 1989 tale of doomed drug dealer “Rat-Tailed Jimmy.”

“It’s definitely an East L.A. meets Miami kind of [sound]. It’s really what the Mavericks do anyways. We don’t really worry about what genre or where it comes from. We just kind of go with the vibe,” Malo says. “That’s why we chose that song; because I thought we could step out of ourselves and have some fun with it.”

While the album has its share of musical surprises like the Mavericks’ “Dr. Feelgood” or LeAnn Rimes’ sultry “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room,” the 1973 Brownsville Station jam that Mötley Crüe cut for their Theatre of Pain album, the song choices themselves are equally daring. The group’s last studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, was a moderate success, yet even the most devout metalheads likely aren’t cueing up non-singles like “The Animal in Me.”

“You feel the artists were going to pick the hits, and a lot did,” says Sixx, surprised by Cassadee Pope’s selection of “The Animal in Me.” “That was a deep track on Saints of Los Angeles, and it was always one of our favorites.”

“I didn’t really want to do a more well-known song. I wanted to dig a little deeper and I think ‘Animal in Me’ is pretty different from what I do, different from my album,” says Pope, one of the few female artists carving out her spot on male-dominated country radio. “I think the lyrics are pretty risqué. It’s definitely an interesting take on a love song.”

Likewise, Aaron Lewis, the singer of grunge-rock group Staind, who has gained a foothold in country with his traditional-sounding album The Road, looked past the hits. He chose “Afraid,” from Generation Swine, Neil’s reunion album with the band after quitting the group (or being fired, depending on whom you ask) in 1992. In Lewis’ hands, it’s a Haggard barroom weeper.

“That song is more country than any other song on the album. It’s that old school,” says Neil.

“From the only guy who is the actual rock guy on the record,” adds Sixx.

“A lot of times, listening to today’s country radio, I tend to have a hard time finding the country in it,” says Lewis, explaining his unexpected approach to “Afraid.” “If I’m going to make country music, I’m going to make country music.”

Like Johnston, he too sees the similarities between the Crüe’s onstage rock-god production and today’s country stars. “There are artists out there who have borrowed their shows as if they stood side stage and took notes from Nickelback. And Nickelback did the exact same thing, probably looking at bands like Mötley Crüe,” says Lewis. “That time frame of music, and that genre of music, it brought such a larger than life spectacle of a show to the table that really hadn’t been done. Now it’s bounced from rock to pop to country.”

Johnston and Lewis aside, you needn’t have been a bad boy rocker to have been influenced by Mötley, a band for whom drug and alcohol addiction, car crashes and jail time became the norm. Darius Rucker, country’s approachable everydude, counts himself a fan.

“Oh God, of course. They were so big, how could you not have been a Crüe fan?” he asks. Rucker contributes the socially conscious ballad “Time for Change,” from Mötley’s six-times platinum Dr. Feelgood album, to Nashville Outlaws.

“I always thought it was such a cool tune. It wasn’t a power ballad like they used to do, or one of those big metal songs. We thought it could be a song that came out today [in country],” Rucker says. “That’s what I love about popular music. It always borrows from other stuff that came before. You can hear the influences and I think that’s a good thing.”

Ironically, country music is the one genre that didn’t influence Mötley Crüe, who are currently in the midst of their, they promise, final tour. The farewell trek stops in Nashville on October 15th. While traces of country may have crept their way into songs like “Home Sweet Home” and “Don’t Go Away Mad,” the merging of sounds was never a conscious decision for the band.

“It was never for me. I never really sat down and had country music as my mainstay,” says Sixx. “But it was in the background. When I lived in Idaho as a kid with my grandparents, that’s what was on the radio.”

Neil cites the songs of Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers as his country music memories, although the latter is decidedly more rock & roll.

Perhaps that’s why the guys are adamant about what the Nashville Outlaws project is and is not.

“We think this is for country fans, by great country artists who happen to be rock fans as well,” says Sixx. “Mötley Crüe is not making a country record.”

Laughs Neil: “That’d be bad.”

(Additional reporting by Carson Meyer)

Hear Motley Crue’s Final Tour Anthem ‘All Bad Things Must End’

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The group’s first song in two years also soundtracks two-minute video of farewell tour

“This ain’t farewell,it’s goodbye,”MötleyCrüe frontman Vince Neil sings in the group’s first song in two years, “All Bad Things Must End.” The group is currently playing the tune as the centerpiece of the set list for its “Final Tour,” video from whichwas captured at the group’s July 4thSummerfest gig below. The video also features a guitar solo, a bit of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” and their cover of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”

Motley Crue 2014-07-04 “All Bad Things”

Regarding the content of the song, drummer Tommy Lee told Billboard in May that the song is “definitely about this time right now with the band and what the feeling is and kind of all that wrapped into a song. I hate to say it’s like a goodbye, but it definitely references our time here.”

While the group has yet to release a recorded version of the song, Neil told the audience that the group would release the track to radio. The group did, however, release a two-minute snippet of the studio version on Monday as the soundtrack to its tour sizzle reel.

 Dodge presents “Motley Crue: The Final Tour” Sizzle Reel

Last week, the infamously debauched metallers kicked off their farewell tour, which features opener Alice Cooper on dates ending in late November. Neil told Rolling Stone that the group had been planning its final run for the past three or four years. To ensure that this will be the group’s last time out on the road, each band member has signed a “cessation of touring agreement,” preventing them from playing live together again after this tour. “There’s no backing out now,” bassist Nikki Sixx said at the time. “It’s been, like, this fuckin’ blur, maybe because we’re going so fast. Perhaps when it’s done, things will come into focus. At that point, everyone in the band will be doing their own creative stuff, but there will be moments where we’ll miss this. But we’re not there – no tears yet!”

The tour features a new drum rig for Lee that he has dubbed the “Crüecifly.” The kit runs along and spins on a track akin to a roller coaster, even hovering over the audience a la the Spider-Man musical. It’s proven so dangerous that Lee had to issue a disclaimer on Twitter about why it has not been featured at some concert stops. “Want you to know certain venues cannot handle the Crüecifly!” he wrote. “It’s not our fault their roof cannot hang the rig! It’s massive!”

Tour Mac DeMarco’s Brooklyn Apartment

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Photos by Sacha Lecca
Interview by Simon Vozick-Levinson

1. Canadian singer-guitarist Mac DeMarco recently invited Rolling Stone to hang out at the Brooklyn apartment where he recorded this year’s excellently laid-back Salad Days. He made the album entirely on his own in a tiny bedroom (pictured) – often with his girlfriend sleeping in a loft bed above his head. “I record pretty quietly,” DeMarco, 24, explains with an easy grin. “Usually, it’s either me doing a guitar track over and over or, like, singing very softly. She probably thought I was a fucking weirdo.”

Read on for more candid snapshots from DeMarco’s place.

2.DeMarco moved to New York last year after stints in Montreal, Vancouver, and his native Edmonton. Recording the follow-up to 2012’s super-buzzed 2, his full-length debut under his own name, came with heavy expectations. “There’s that whole stigma where people are like, ‘You’re going to fuck up on the sophomore album!'” he says. “It drove me completely insane. You just kind of have to forget about it, or you’re just going to end up making this hunk of crap.”

3. DeMarco hangs with his friend and roommate Andy Boay, who’s joining his backing band.”Everybody who lives here is in bands,” DeMarco says of the multi-room space. “I think the other guys have lived here for, like, six years or something.”

4. DeMarco moved to New York last year after stints in Montreal, Vancouver, and his native Edmonton. Recording the follow-up to 2012’s super-buzzed 2, his full-length debut under his own name, came with heavy expectations. “There’s that whole stigma where people are like, ‘You’re going to fuck up on the sophomore album!'” he says. “It drove me completely insane. You just kind of have to forget about it, or you’re just going to end up making this hunk of crap.”

5. DeMarco got into music as a kid in Edmonton, where he briefly entertained dreams of technical guitar wizardry. “My teacher was like, ‘We’re going to turn you into a Joe Satriani, Steve Vai guy,’ and I was like, ‘Uh, OK,'” he recalls. By his teens, he had given up on that and started jamming with his buddies in a series of goofy joke bands. “We were like, ‘It doesn’t matter if we’re good or bad, let’s just get as drunk as possible and go play.'”

6. By the time he turned 20, DeMarco was gigging around Canada and the U.S. to support his early releases under the stage name Makeout Videotape. In 2012, he toured tirelessly to promote his EP Rock and Roll Nightclub and, later, 2. “After we got some good reviews, the shows all of a sudden got way bigger,” he says. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”

7. By the time he turned 20, DeMarco was gigging around Canada and the U.S. to support his early releases under the stage name Makeout Videotape. In 2012, he toured tirelessly to promote his EP Rock and Roll Nightclub and, later, 2. “After we got some good reviews, the shows all of a sudden got way bigger,” he says. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”

8. “Lately we’ve been getting a lot of bras thrown on stage,” DeMarco says. “Kids just love to crowd surf all of the time. They’ll come up on stage and step all over our shit. It’s crazy, because my music is not punk music or anything. It’s not, like, hardcore. It’s not conducive to mosh pits. But they go insane!”

9. “To me, it’s flattering,” he adds of fans going wild at his shows. “As long as people are having fun. And if ‘having fun’ means starting a circle pit on a really slow, acoustic song, I’m like, ‘Hey, I don’t understand, but that’s cool.'”

10. Salad Days’ easygoing sound has earned many a classic rock comparison – and DeMarco couldn’t be happier. “One thing I hear a lot is, ‘Dude, my mom loves your record,’ or ‘I got it for my dad for Christmas,'” he says. “I’m essentially doing dad rock. Which is great, because I love Steely Dan, you know? Nothing wrong with dad rock!”

Police Release Previously Unseen Photos From Kurt Cobain’s Death Scene

Kurt Corbain

Kurt Cobain

The images include his suicide note and drug paraphernalia

 
Last week, Seattle police said they were reexamining the evidence surrounding Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Although they didn’t find anything that warranted reopening the case, they did unearth a series of bleak photos taken at the scene of the Nirvana frontman’s death that they had not previously released. A gallery of the images is located at CBS News, including shots of Cobain’s suicide note, his wallet with the ID pulled out so he could be identified and his various drug paraphernalia.

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The photos paint a sad picture of Cobain’s final days: They include the rock icon’s cigar box “heroin kit” and discarded cigarette butts littered across his home. The suicide note, left on top of a greenhouse planter, is punctured with a red pen.

Seattle Police Department/AP Photo

Seattle Police Department/AP Photo

With the 20th anniversary of Cobain’s death arriving next month, the Nirvana frontman has been in the news frequently in recent months: Earlier in the year, his hometown of Aberdeen, Washington declared February 20th “Kurt Cobain Day” (and unveiled an odd crying statue). Meanwhile, Dutch brewing company Bavaria debuted a face-palm-worthy commercial that depicts the late singer-guitarist and various music royalty (Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Tupac Shakur) tossing back fruit-flavored beer in a bizarre tropical paradise. Cobain will also soon be honored in comic-book form: Writer-illustrator Jayfri Hashim will chronicle the musician’s early career and rise to fame as part of his Blue Water Productions “Tribute” series (which has also included issues on Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jim Morrison and Keith Richards).

In more imminent news, Nirvana will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt at this year’s ceremony. It will take place on April 10th at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.