Sixx: A.M.’s James Michael Talks Band’s Evolution, Playing Live + Future Plans
Sixx: A.M. continue to see their star rise with the band's third studio album, Modern Vintage. Vocalist James Michael recently took some time to chat with 'Loudwire Nights' host Full Metal Jackie about the band's evolution over the years, seeing their desire to be a touring band come to fruition this spring and what the future holds in store in a post-Motley Crue world. Check out the chat below.
James Michael is our guest on the show tonight. James, behind the wild history of debauchery it sometimes gets overlooked how talented Nikki Sixx is at writing songs. How have you changed as a songwriter from collaborating with him?
That’s a great question and you’re absolutely right. I think even including myself. I took for granted just how talented he was when I first met him. Because I think that we can all appreciate how great those old Motley Crue songs are. But Nikki really has an innate sense of how to communicate directly to his fans. And to speak with them on a level that they understand, that they appreciate and that they respect. I've really learned an awful lot from him over the past years of writing songs. Just how to say what you're feeling but say it in a way that everyone can wrap their head around.
Initially, Sixx: A.M. was a companion project to The Heroin Diaries. How did starting out like that prepare this band to eventually make music unrelated to a book?
Well I think it was a great way to start a band because it really took all expectations off of us as a band. And what it did, it created a great setting for three songwriters, three musicians to get together and create something you know truly just for the love of doing it. And for the excitement of trying something new with no boundaries put on it. We constantly during the making of the first record were saying, 'Well we’re not a band so there's no reason we can't try this. There is no reason we can't go in that direction on the song.' So it really set the stage for an extremely creative writing environment. As soon as we recognized how important that freedom was, we made it a point to always carry that on with us as we sat down to write more songs and create more records. So when it comes time to write records and write songs and create stuff in the studio we always have that mentality of, 'Well let’s not put any expectations on ourselves. And let's just that make sure that we are always pushing the boundaries' and it's been a great way to form things. It’s really a dream situation for any songwriter or artist.
You played CrüeFest one year and did select shows, but it didn't seem like Sixx: A.M. was conceived as a touring band. What made you rethink that and plan a headlining tour for the spring?
I think it was a process for us, Jackie. We started off really as a project, not a band, with the success of "Life is Beautiful" and The Heroin Diaries and eventually making our second record, This is Gonna Hurt. Being that the people were really attaching themselves to it and it was turning into kind of an important project, not only for us but for our fans, that really inspired us. And I can't remember exactly what it was but I know it was very early on, that we all kind of looked at ourselves and said, 'Wow, guys this has turned into something more than we thought it was going to be.' We were just getting so many rewards back with fans reaching out with telling us how much our music meant to them. It has really inspired us to keep going. And so for the last several years we've known that we ultimately want to take this music out on tour and just perform it live. And truly the fact that it took us this many years to put this together wasn’t for a lack of wanting after Crüefest, even though we just got a little taste of it. We just loved it and the connections that we were able to make with our fans were so great. So we knew ultimately that at some point do a tour and after making Modern Vintage just seem like the right time.
The acoustic EP showed that you're comfortable presenting the songs differently than the studio albums. How will you change them up on tour?
That's a good question. We've actually started just started putting together the entire set list for April. And it’s been very exciting because for a band like us that hasn't done a lot of touring, to now have three full-length studio records to choose songs from. It’s a lot of fun. And were having a great time shaping what this set is going to feel like and look like and sound like. So that has been very exciting for us. And I think that’s really a luxury that a lot of, you know, I still consider us a new band. And a lot of new bands don't get to experience having that many songs play. So that’s something that is very important to us, and the whole concept of how songs come about and how songs exist in our lives.
Our theory is that songs are always evolving. A song is really never done because even though we've written and we recorded it when a person listens to it the experience of listening to it, can be different based on what's going on in their life. For instance, a song that may not really speak to you this year, something may happen in your life and then a particular song that didn't resonate before now resonates very dramatically in your life. That's very exciting for us. And as far as how we present the songs, whether acoustically or change the arrangements, that's all part of that ever-evolving process for us. There will be some dramatic differences in some of the songs. It's just an exciting way to reinterpret them once again. I think people that come to the April show are just going to have real great musical experience.
James, what plans are there for more to happen with Sixx: A.M. once Motley Crue finishes their tour?
We've talked about that quite a bit and while it's very bittersweet to watch Motley Crue wind down, it's kind of hard to imagine the world without Motley Crue but on the same hand we've all been very excited about the fact that it's going to create a lot more open time for us to bring Sixx: A.M. to the forefront of all our lives. I think that's something that over the years that has become more important to all three of us. While it's sad to see Motley Crue winding it down, we're truly excited about making more Sixx: A.M. records and getting out and being a touring band at some point. There's been a lot of talk about that and we've got big plans.
Thanks to Sixx: A.M.'s James Michael for the interview. The band's Modern Vintage album is currently available at Amazon and iTunes. Look for the group sharing stages with Apocalyptica this spring at these locations. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie Monday through Friday at 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
Sixx A.M. Talk Modern Vintage, 'Gotta Get It Right' + More