Q&A: Vince Neil
The end of the road is finally coming for Mötley Crüe, and Vince Neil is both sentimental and looking forward to the future. Although the band will stay in the public eye once the film adaption of rock biography The Dirt is released (tentatively in the summer), Neil has no plans to slow down or stop playing Crüe songs on the road as a solo performer. For now he’s focused on the final chapter of the band he started playing with 34 years ago, which plays its final Vegas concert in Dec. 27 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. He spoke recently with Las Vegas Magazine's Matt Kelemen.
You are in the middle of a break right now, correct?
Yeah, we just played Rock in Rio last Saturday and we had, like, a week off. We leave again … actually we take off on Sunday then back out on tour.
You sound pretty relaxed.
Yeah, we played Saturday in Rio and spent a few days there afterwards, just kind of kicking back on Copacabana Beach. It’s nice to be home too.
Did Rock in Rio feel like a final tour milestone? How was the show?
Oh, the show was amazing! We’ve always wanted to play Rock in Rio, for years. Not the one here in Vegas; we actually wanted to go to Rio to do it.
You had never played there before?
Yeah, I’d never played Rock in Rio. It was actually our first time in Rio too, and there’s some crazy fans in Rio, man, I tell ya. There was about 100,000 people there, and everybody was singing. They’re singing louder that you’re singing. I’m just hearing the crowd.
Like the Beatles at Shea Stadium.
Do they have you in the air again with the levitating platform Transformer Stage for the final leg of the tour? I thought I had read something last year that you were relieved that you didn’t have to get airborne during the early part of the tour. I’ve seen footage of you and Nikki flying around the arenas.
Well, we change the set, you know? We do part of the tour, half of the year, with one set, and then you don’t go back through and do the exact same thing. We want to make it bigger and badder than we’ve ever done before. We have a set now where it’s almost like a giant transformer, where the stage comes alive. Yeah, me and Nikki are flying around, and there’s fire and Mick’s 20 feet in the air, Tommy’s above him. It’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and we’re going to take this whole show to Europe also, so it’s pretty exciting. They’re saying it’s the biggest show anyone’s ever brought to Europe, so we’re excited for that.
Are you starting to count down the shows toward the final concert New Year’s Eve at the Staples Center?
It’s going to be weird because we started in LA and we’re going to end it in LA. That last couple of weeks, it’ll probably really sink in that this is really it and probably get really emotional for us, I’d think.
You’re playing for audiences who know they’re seeing you for the last time.
It really hasn’t kind of sunk in yet because we have so many more shows left, but when we’re here in Vegas and Los Angeles, and like Arizona and San Diego, it’s really going to sink in that it’s over. That last note of “Home Sweet Home” New Year’s Eve, that’s it.
Back in January you told Rolling Stone that sometimes you were getting choked up while singing “Home Sweet Home.”
Yeah, sometimes it hits me. I just never know when it’s gonna come. It’s really strange, but that song … I look out into the crowds in the middle of the arena when we’re doing “Home Sweet Home” and there’s people crying. You get a little choked up yourself.
Has there been talk about when work will start on the Mötley Crüe biopic after the tour is finished?
That’s making movies. Making music and making movies is two different things. We’re involved in it, but … we just got a new script about three or four months ago, the rewrite of the old script, and it’s way, way better. It’s such a great script. This movie should be out in the summer of 2016. It does stay pretty close to The Dirt, so if you’ve read The Dirt it’s really something to look forward to.
How does it strike you that you’ll be seeing an actor playing you on screen?
That’s gonna be strange. It’s funny, I saw the table read of the last script. They have these different actors playing each person, and even just the table read of the script was weird when the Vince guy was talking (laughs). It wasn’t the guy that’s gonna play me, but it was just kind of weird hearing somebody say your words. It’s a bit of a trip.
The success of Straight Outta Compton probably has the studio looking at a Mötley Crüe biopic as a little more lucrative than they did before. Does it start with the beginning of the band?
It starts just like The Dirt. The first scene is the first pages of The Dirt, in our apartment in Hollywood. There’s a party going on. That’s where the book starts.
Why do you think you fit so easily into the role of frontman when you were starting out as a singer? I think arguably you were the next step after David Lee Roth that led to an archetype other singers emulated. Was it just natural for you to get people revved up?
Yeah, that’s what I grew up watching and listening to. I remember Dave—it’s even a part of the book—he used to come to all of our shows. We’re just playing the Troubadour or The Whisky (A Go Go), places like that. Actually, I remember they played Long Beach Arena and I was outside the arena bootlegging T-shirts. You listen to the band play and you wonder, “Ahh, what’s going on in there?”
Yeah, Dave was a huge influence on me and the frontman style of bands. There really isn’t any anymore. It’s really strange. No bands want … they don’t really have a frontman anymore that just kind of leads the band around. That arena rock mentality and giving everybody a show, it just seems that for years and years rock ‘n’ roll’s just kind of become a guy with plaid shirts on and jeans. They’re going out there playing and they look like the audience members. I just hope some band right now is in their garage trying to light each other on fire and trying to get into the theatrics, and throwing out some great music and something visual for people. That’s what I miss about music today, there’s just nothing visual anymore.
Mötley Crüe was always the band that stayed ahead of hard rock trends in ’80s. Most of the other bands of that time look dated. I’d go as far to say de-glamming for [1987 album] Girls Girls Girls was a precursor to grunge.
Look at the album covers themselves and the progression, and the years that they’re made. Back in ’83-’84 we were the devil guys. And on the next one we went to full glam, on Theatre of Pain. And then that’s when you start seeing all the other bands look like that Theatre of Pain album. In ’86 everyone was looking like us, bands like Poison and like that. Then look at our album, look at Girls, Girls, Girls. We went completely the opposite way, into, like, a biker gang. And then we changed from there. People started doing that, and we changed for Dr. Feelgood, where it was kind of … I don’t know what to say, a bunch of good-looking guys, I guess. But yeah, any time a trend started, we went the opposite way. We didn’t want to get pigeonholed. That’s why I hate it when people say “Mötley Crüe: hair band.” We were never a hair band. Hair bands have one, maybe two hits. We’re just the last of a breed of rock ‘n’ roll.
I completely remember how fresh the image for Theatre of Pain looked when it first came out, and then two years later everybody looked like that and you had moved on.
Yeah, exactly. That’s why we’re still around after 34 years.
Do you have plans to record solo after this tour?
Yeah, I’ve had several bands in the last 15 years, and I’m always touring when Mötley Crüe doesn’t tour. Even when Mötley ends New Year’s Eve, my solo tour starts January 10. I pretty much stay on the road, and yeah, I’m going to keep the focus on the solo band and hopefully put out a record next summer and tour with that. There’s a lot of exciting stuff you can plan on because now there’s no Mötley.
I know the band has a “cessation of touring” agreement, but there’s nothing stopping Mötley from playing one-off shows or parties, right?
Mötley Crüe will be done. Of course when I go out on tour I play Mötley Crüe. I play solo stuff and cover songs, and a little bit of everything. But when Mötley Crüe the band is done, yeah, we won’t make any more music.