By Carol Anne Szel
They performed across five continents in a two-year, 164-show concert trek, made over $100 million dollars from it, and then said goodbye to 35 years of music. Then they filmed their final show just miles from where their career started on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the '80s, ending up at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Yes, Mötley Crüe has said it all, did it all, lived a life of musical fame and acclaim with their often death-defying bouts of debauchery and wickedness. And on New Year’s Eve 2015 the group, whose band life can be read in their best selling book ‘The Dirt,’ called it a night and drew the stage curtain for the last time.
This night is documented in “Mötley Crüe: The End,” a film that chronicled this finale with not only concert footage but a peek backstage at some of the pre-concert prep, as well as intimate interviews with each of the band members.
Mötley Crüe, with Vince Neil on vocals, Mick Mars on guitar, Nikki Sixx on bass, and Tommy Lee on drums, take us on a ride (in Tommy’s case quite literally with his rollercoaster-rigged drum set solo) backstage for a tiny glimpse into their world.
“The hardest thing about being in Mötley Crüe is being in Mötley Crüe,” Vince tells segment director Jeff Tremaine in one part of the film, about his band that often stay at different hotels, travel in different tour buses, and always live very separate lives. “We’re not enemies but we’re not friends,” says Nikki Sixx, in a matter-of-fact way.
But onstage they perform like no other. With their songs like “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Don’t Go Away Mad,” and “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” capturing the audiences frenzied attention, the movie shows quick clips of the band’s first show in 1981 at The Starwood in Hollywood, then cuts to Vince introducing Nikki Sixx center stage while the bassist kneels down to talk ‘intimately’ with this crowd numbering 20,000 people; where this once overdosed rocker says he is now grateful to be alive and glad to be up there with Mick and Vince and Tommy. He said, “It’s been one hell of a ride.”
I had a chance to sit down with one of the directors of the concert film, Jeff Tremaine, on the cusp of the movies June 14 limited engagement release to talk about his part in the making of this mind-blowing, must-see flick. (For a complete list of theater locations visit http://www.fathomevents.com/event/motley-crue-the-end )
GOLDMINE: How did you meet up with Mötley Crüe? I know you’re working with the band on the hopefully-one-day-completed film of their book, ‘The Dirt.’
Jeff Tremaine: Yes. (The idea) has been around really since right after the book came out and they got the idea of making it into a movie. That was back in 2001. It had a lot of heat behind it and then it sort of got stalled out at Paramount for a long time. And then it got liberated from Paramount and they went out trying to make it again and they were looking for a director. This was about five years ago. And that’s when I came in and made my pitch for it. And somehow they liked my pitch and I got it.
GM: When you met the band, how did that work out?
JT: Basically, first I had to win over the producers who had the rights to the project. But after I won them over I had to go and win over all the band members to get their approval to direct the movie. And so I had to meet them individually one-by-one. And it was fun, it was sort of intimidating. My first meeting was with Nikki and he was actually… I was thinking he was going to be the hardest one to win over but we had a great conversation and I just connected really well with him. And the one that I thought was going to be the easiest would be Tommy, just because I’ve worked with a lot of guys that are a similar mentality as far as I could tell with Tommy. So Tommy gave me the ... he really scrutinized me! And in a good way! He just caught me off guard to how much he was going to grill me about it though. So that was interesting, right. Then Mick was awesome. And Vince was cool, too.
GM: In the new movie, Vince said “The hardest thing about being in Mötley Crüe is being in Mötley Crüe.”
JT: You know it’s a miracle that they made it past their first album to be honest. Because, well you read ‘The Dirt’... The level at which they were living. (laughs) And then to make it past the first 10 years, that was just a miracle. To make it to 20 years, holy shit. It’s a miracle, that’s all I can say. And it’s them, they’ve just lived extraordinarily crazy lives! They’re very different, their personalities are very different from each other.
GM: In the new movie, I love the way you cut between the live and the interview portions.
JT: Just to be clear, I did the band interviews and filmed just a lot of stuff you see with the band itself backstage. That was my role in it. Christian (Lamb) did all the other stuff. So I did the interviews just with the band members and documenting all the little footage of them like walking down the corridor and Nikki putting his makeup on, that kind of stuff. Tommy on his little hover board. (laughs) He’s awesome, man.
GM: Did they seem remorseful that they were breaking up?
JT: I think there was a lot going through their heads, yeah. I think, I don’t know if they had a lot of time to really process… Because they’ve been on the road two years with this final tour. And so the Staples Center show was the last show. But they had been doing shows practically every night for two years, so I don’t know if they had time to process what it really meant. I do know that they’re introspective, but I don’t know… I think that it has been so hectic getting to that night that I don’t know. It would be interesting to interview them now that they’ve had a little down time!
GM: Tell me how you started out.
JT: So I started… I was actually working for a Skateboarding magazine. And I couldn’t have been happier doing that! Our magazine was more about personalities in skateboarding than it was about skateboarding. And we started making these videos, and the videos really were the beginning of ‘Jackass.’ After the second video I had Knoxville, Steve-O, and the others all participating in the videos. So I just went to Spike Jones, who I grew up with, and I said ‘I think I can make a TV show out of this!’ And he liked that idea and so I partnered up with Spike and Knoxville. We went out and shopped it and somehow we got a deal with MTV and the rest is history! So with television and movies, I just snuck in the back door. It’s crazy, I mean it’s a crazy story!
You know, my passion for doing ‘The Dirt’ is not so much that I was the biggestMötley Crüe fan in the world, I like Mötley Crüe just fine. But when I read ‘The Dirt’ we were right in the midst of doing ‘Jackass,’ it was the first ‘Jackass’ movie, and our stories were so similar. Like just the debauchery. And sort of what it means, over time, when you’re expected and encouraged to be as awful as you can be. Like the ‘Jackass’ guys and Mötley Crüe were expected to do the most outrageous stuff. They were letting their fans down if they didn’t, you know? And the toll that takes on them. So it’s just interesting. A normal actor will not act in public the way a ‘Jackass’ guy acts in public, right? Like, the more wrong they do the better it is! And Mötley Crüe’s the same thing. I just felt like I was reading something so similar when I was reading ‘The Dirt’ as to what we were going through at the time. So when it came around I felt like I could tell their story right. They’re gonna destroy every hotel room and they’re not doing it right if they don’t!
GM: The band interviews you did in this movie were very intimate. You can tell that they trusted and liked you.
JT: Yeah, I have a bit of a rapport with them. It’s funny, like when I met with Nikki we had a good connection. He ‘got’ me.
GM: Sum up your experience with this movie?
JT: It was cool to be a part of, it was cool to see what it means for this epic band to perform on their last night. And to get a little bit of access to them and what they do as to their pre-show ritual. But in particular their last pre-show ritual. I don’t know, I thought it was really fascinating to watch them. They’ve learned to survive in a band that long. It was very interesting to be a fly on the wall and watch that whole thing go down.