Having all been members of other bands, rockers James Michael, Nikki Sixx and Dj Ashba are now concentrating solely on Sixx:A.M. The trio talk about their former side project-turned-main concern, and their new album
Releasing records is a complicated business, we’re led to believe. Information has to be drip-fed and titles announced at key moments.
Unfortunately for the people who spent months strategising the release of Sixx:A.M.’s new album, that all went out of the window when the band went on Planet Rock radio to talk about what they’d been up to. Within moments, Nikki Sixx announced the title of the album, and the second of the two-part release due later this year. He also swore live on-air. Perfect for a band interested in maintaining their rock & roll credibility; a head-in-the-hands moment for the presenter of the show and the band’s publicist.
“Well, it’s our record and I can talk about it if I want,” Sixx says, defiantly. And he’s right. If anything, announcing the band’s album, Vol. 1 Prayers For The Damned and its logically titled follow-up - you’ve guessed it, Vol. 2 Prayers For The Damned - got fans more excited.
The band has been releasing music since recording the soundtrack to Sixx’s autobiography The Heroin Diaries in 2007. Their second album, This Is Gonna Hurt, wasn’t released until 2011, while their third, Modern Vintage arrived in 2014.
“We’ve made two records in the time it normally takes Sixx:AM to make one. But it’s because we were hyper-focused,” says singer James Michael.
It’s easy now all three members are no longer involved with other bands. Sixx was bassist with Motley Crue until the pioneering hard rock band’s final-ever show last year. He had founded the band with Mick Mars and Tommy Lee in the early Eighties, but they decided to finally call it quits after several hiatuses and reformations.
“We were ready,” says Sixx. “We talked four or five years ago and set an exit date. We said what we needed to, and decided to take it round the world one more time. Plus, I was getting all these offers of tours and festivals with Sixx:AM, so I knew it was time to go for it.”
Sixx:A.M.’s guitarist Dj Ashba was a member of Guns N’ Roses between 2009 and 2015, but decided to drop out prior to the band reforming with old members.
“We did a 19-date tour, and at the end of each show fans would be crying, and every hair on my body would be standing on end,” he says. “But I realised in my heart that I’d been doing the wrong thing. I couldn’t be more happy to be true to my heart, and that’s playing songs I’ve written. There’s a big difference when you’re playing songs that someone else wrote. The pay’s great, of course, but it’s not about the money, that’s not why any of us go into this.”
Michael himself had been producing, mixing and co-writing for a number of artists, including Motley Crue, James Durbin, Papa Roach, Kelly Clarkson and Hinder, and also singing with alt-rock band Halestorm.
“It’s about having more time to focus,” says Ashba, “but I credit a lot of these albums to Monster energy drinks. They kept me going.”
They agree Prayers For The Damned is the first time the trio have made a Sixx:A.M. record knowing the band had a future.
“We never knew what it was prior to this,” says Michael. “It wasn’t until we toured the Modern Vintage album in 2014 that we realised the band is a must for us, it’s something we need to see through. At that point, our mentalities shifted and it’s no side-project any more.”
Not only have the band got two albums due for release this year, they’re also talking about the album that will follow.
“We feel like a new band again,” continues Michael. “We have played for some time, but we feel we have to pay our dues all over again, and we really want to conquer the world. We do have the luxury of having three records out already and a handful of hit songs with a big fan base.”
Ashba says the band’s newest music is their best, due to the fact the trio have been able to spend more time together working on it. “It’s 10 years next year since we released our first record,” says Sixx. “Here’s to 10 more.”