Motley Crue are a love-or-hate type of deal. From their look to their music, everything about them gets a reaction. And, for 30 years now, the Crue has refused to go away, still living as loudly as they play.
Guitarist Mick Mars is known as the quiet, stoic member of the Crue -- relative, of course, to the antics of the rest of L.A.'s perpetual wild bunch. At 60, Mars (government name: Bob Deal) is a decade older than the rest of the Crue guys, making him an elder statesman not only in his own band, but in the glam metal scene as a whole.
It's a role that suits him well. After 40 years playing music, though, Mars is understandably weary of some aspects of the industry.
"I think that bands get tired of playing certain songs because they've played them for so long, year after year after year," Mars softly intones over the phone, having just returned from Mexico, where the Crue played to packed audiences before heading to the States for a 40-city summer tour with Poison and the New York Dolls.
So, for a change of pace, the Crue have decided to go as many other bands have with the tour that kicks off tomorrow night in Dallas: They've allowed their fans to choose their set lists via an online poll. Not surprisingly, the fans picked the band's major hits -- many of which the band has long removed from their set.
"Some of those songs we haven't played in 20 years, like 'Smokin' in the Boys' Room,'" Mars admits.
Sure, he may have tired of playing the same songs over and over, but Mars says he has a deep respect for the fans who have remained devoted for so many years. And, finally, he and the rest of the Crue have reached a point where they're ready for the fans to make these kinds of decisions for them -- even when it comes to who they're playing alongside.
"People have been asking us when we're going to play with Poison forever," Mars says of his band's touring partners.
It's worked out well for both parties, though: The Crue's 30th anniversary falls in the same year as Poison's 25th; in honor of these milestones, and in response to badgering by fans, the Crue and Poison are touring together for the first time in history.
But even amidst all this kowtowing, Mars is working on some new things, too. He recently jammed with legendary jazz guitarist George Benson, and the two found that they had a lot in common -- namely that they're both fans of Wes Montgomery. The session so affected Mars, he's now considering releasing a solo effort of R&B, soul, and blues songs. No rush, though -- it will happen "if and when I find the right people," he says.
"I found the right drummer, and I've asked Macy Gray if she'd like to guest on it," he says. "It's not going to be anything like Motley Crue, but a lot of different cultural beats."
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Mars pauses to search for the right words.
"I call it 'pure music,'" he says, citing the work of Carlos Santana as an example of what might come.
In the meantime, though, he's just fine celebrating a 30th year playing with the Crue.