Mötley Crüe's 2001 autobiography, "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band," was something of an idiot's guide to debauchery. The book was an honest, riveting chronicle of the history of the band — the tours, the friendships, the alcohol and drug-abuse problems, the music, the influences and, above all, the scores of Aqua Net-endorsing girls that loved them.
But with "The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star," which hits stores on September 18, Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx tells even more, offering up an unflinching and rather disturbing look at his struggles with drug addiction. The tome — being issued through MTV/VH1 Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster — comes straight from the pages of the personal journal he kept between 1986-'87, at the height of the Crüe's commercial success.
"It's given me some closure on a lot of different issues, to be able to discover, through the book, what was driving me, which was my teenage years," Sixx explained. "[I wanted] to be able to put closure on that — my going in, digging in the dirt so to speak and finding all the demons, and then having clarity on that to be able to sit down and just make music based on that clarity."
Tied in with Sixx's autobiography is The Heroin Diaries, the debut LP from his latest side project, Sixx: A.M. The album, due August 21, serves as something of a precursor to the memoir, with each of the disc's 13 tracks coinciding with one of the graphic book's chapters — making the record a soundtrack, of sorts, to Sixx's troubled, drug-addled past.
"This music was written with no intention of ever being played live, so a lot of the stuff was just based on being creative," he said. "The only limit we had was that we had to cut it from a double album to a single album. Honestly, it got to the point where it was a bit ridiculous, where one of us would come in every single day with a new idea and at some point it was like, 'We've got to stop — we have 35 songs.' "
The "we" Sixx refers to is guitarist/singer James Michael and guitarist DJ Ashba, who, with Nikki, are Sixx: A.M. According to Sixx, his bandmates read his book, and afterward, the trio settled down to craft music around its chapters. For example, the cut "Permission" corresponds with one of the book's final chapters, in which Sixx makes amends for the things he'd said and done to those he cares for during his struggles with dope. "Accidents Can Happen" deals with one of Sixx's numerous relapses during that hazy period of his life. Sixx said that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be earmarked for Covenant House California, a charity that aims to keep youth off the streets and provides them with shelter and counseling.
Of course, Sixx doesn't front Sixx: A.M. — Michael handles vocal duties for the group. He said he tries to model himself after Nikki as he was back in '87 when he steps up to the mic.
"It's harder than hell [to do]," Michael said. "In fact, when we first got together, you know our whole thing was we're not a band — we're not a band, and that's what gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted — and all of a sudden, they're like, 'We've got to make a video,' and all of sudden it was like, 'Oh, we are a band.' So in the creative process, it was wonderful because there were just absolutely no rules."
"I think it's important to know that nobody is channeling me," Sixx interjected. "We were inspired by a book that everybody can relate to personally, and James, as a vocalist, a lyricist, and songwriter and producer, was able to dig into his issues and go, 'This relates. This is relatable to what I've been through.' Whether it was a lyrical inspiration, a musical inspiration, we worked together diligently to create something that was for us — to be honest with you, it was a bit of all of us doing an exorcism."
Sixx isn't sure yet when Sixx: A.M. will tour, saying that they're just taking things as they come. "We didn't think we'd ever play live together a few months ago," he said. "Radio is freaking out over the song, and we didn't even expect that. Somebody had to tell us that we had the most added song [to rock radio] and we didn't even know because we're sort of just not paying attention to that aspect of it. We're just doing it for us, inspired by the book, and now we're playing live and now people are saying, 'Well, when are you guys touring?' Well, that's news to us."
As for the Crüe's upcoming plans, Sixx said they should begin working on the album, in earnest, toward the latter part of this year.
"We're always writing, but it will take its time," he explained. "Mötley Crüe is a big machine. It's like a barge. It takes a lot to turn it around and like with us, we just kind of do it and go, and with Mötley, it's a slower move, but it's something I'm really proud of and something I plan on doing for a very long time."