Mötley Crüe Unveil First Songs Without Tommy Lee

Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll remain the band's core topics.

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 20 years into their career, it’s still girls, girls, girls for Mötley Crüe.

The hard-rock veterans say their new album, New Tattoo (July 11) — their first without founding drummer Tommy Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass) — sticks with the same fast-living themes that made them notorious in the early ’80s.

“It’s sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” bassist/songwriter Nikki Sixx (born Frank Carlton Serafino Ferranno) said on Thursday. “It’s not brain surgery. It’s simple. We’re not here to save the world.”

The Crüe hosted a party Thursday night at the Wyndam Bel-Age Hotel on the Sunset Strip to preview two songs off the LP to press and radio representatives — “She Needs Rock ’n’ Roll” and the single “Hell on High Heels.”

While business was at hand, it was still a Mötley Crüe party, with an open bar and several scantily clad hired dancers. “[The parties] haven’t changed,” singer Vince Neil (born Vince Neil Wharton) said. “They’re all the same — girls, booze and rock ’n’ roll.”

Songs Fresh From The Studio

The band, whose hits include “Girls, Girls, Girls” (RealAudio excerpt) and a remake of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” is working overtime to wrap up their hard-rocking, L.A.-themed LP, with vocal and guitar work still left to complete. In fact, the Crüe finished “Hell on High Heels” and “She Needs Rock ’n’ Roll” just hours before the party.

Produced by Mike Clink (Guns N’ Roses), New Tattoo is the follow-up to 1997’s Generation Swine, which was Lee’s last record with the band. Lee left last year to focus on his rap-metal act Methods of Mayhem and was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo.

Recording without Lee has been “easy,” Neil said. “There’s no drama, no outside influences coming into the band. We just focus on the music now so there’s no headaches. The fans love Randy; they respect him for being a great drummer.”

Castillo said taking the place of one of the most prominent drummers in hair-metal history hasn’t fazed him. “They say, ’Well, you’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill,’ and my answer to that is, ’Well, I’ve got some pretty damn big feet,’ ” said Castillo, who backed Neil on a solo tour prior to joining the Crüe. “I bring my own thing to the table. I’m not Tommy Lee Jr. I’m Randy Castillo, and it fits like a glove. … I’m happy that he left.”

New Tattoo, which will include four songs to be featured in an upcoming video game called “TRIBES 2,” also marks a return to their roots sonically, Neil said. “The record we wanted to make is basically a Mötley Crüe record,” he said. “So we said, ’What is a Mötley Crüe record; what is it that made us Mötley Crüe?’ So we went back to our roots. We’re done experimenting — it’s all about guitars and big choruses and singing about having sex and drinking and just having fun.”

The straight-ahead rocker “Hell on High Hells” is about a hooker, according to Sixx, who said the tune recalls the band’s Dr. Feelgood (1989) era. Another track is “I’m in Love With a Porn Star,” which guitarist Mick Mars (born Bob Deal) was working on in the studio while his bandmates hobnobbed with dancers and radio reps at the party.

Nothin’ But A Good Time

Castillo said the world is due for some straight-up rock about good times in the fast lane.

“There’s a lot of anger out there, and people are just getting tired of being angry, man,” he said. “You could see on last year’s tour that people were having fun, they were having a great time with each other and not beatin’ the s— out of each other.”

Sixx, who will release the debut album from his side-band 58, Diet for a New America, on June 20, said the Crüe’s time in the studio has been marked by an easy vibe filled with “positive energy.”

“We pick up our guitars, and whatever we play sounds like Mötley Crüe,” he said. “I really enjoy that. That’s a magical thing for me.”

Castillo said the Crüe can’t take all the credit, saying that Clink brought out their best performances and contributed his own special touch. The veteran producer is best known for his work on Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction (1987).

“A lot of Appetite for Destruction, I believe, was him,” Castillo said. “No doubt those were incredibly great songs and an incredibly great band, but Mike had a lot to do with the success of that record. He sprinkles his magic all over everything. He helped to make it happen. And he’s doing it for us.”

Mötley Crüe will kick off a yearlong world tour June 24 in Sacramento, Calif., featuring a stage set inspired by their hometown. “We have a strip club and a tattoo parlor and a rock club called Dirty Dicks,” Neil said. “And we’re bringing the streets of Hollywood to a theater near you.”