Category Archives: Sixx AM

JAMES MICHAEL OF SIXX:AM (INTERVIEW)

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When Motley Crue made the announcement early this year that they were going to cease being a band following a big farewell tour, some fans actually cheered because it meant that bass player Nikki Sixx would have more time to devote to Sixx:AM, the band he put together with vocalist James Michael and guitar player Dj Ashba in 2007. With an unmistakable hard rock vivacity and cut-to-the-bone lyrics, Sixx:AM stood out amongst their peers. Sixx had lived what they were actually singing about and the fans gravitated to songs such as “Life Is Beautiful,” “Pray For Me,” “Accidents Can Happen” and “Skin,” the music touching that raw nerve everyone has within them. But Sixx had Crue and Ashba has Guns N Roses so finding time to delve into another full-blown project wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to accomplish.

But they did it. On October 7th Sixx:AM will drop Modern Vintage, their new opus born from their youthful admirations of the music that originally ignited their rock & roll fires. With the first single, “Gotta Get It Right,” a Queen/ELO-ish popper that catches on immediately, they are back with a sparkling vengeance. “It’s a very, very busy time,” Michael said with a smile. “But what a great thing to be busy with.” In Los Angeles rehearsing for a show they will play the day of the album’s release, the producer turned singer has found his vocal cords doing double duty. “Now that we’re in rehearsals and I’m having to sing a lot every day, the new songs are pretty demanding, what I’m noticing is that it’s actually the talking, the interviews, that are putting a big strain on my voice,” Michael explained with a laugh. Glide talked with the always bubbly James Michael a few days ago about the new album, songwriting, moving back to LA after five years in Nashville, and why he is and always will be a producer first.

The last time I talked to you a few years ago, you were in Nashville. But now you’ve moved back to Los Angeles?

Yes, I did actually. For the last five years I have been kind of bi-coastal. I’ve had a place in Nashville and a place out here in LA. I was spending most of my time in Nashville but I was really just missing the west coast a lot so at the beginning of this year, I decided to just move back here. I love Los Angeles. It’s always just felt like home to me. It’s a very soulful place.

I also heard it was your birthday last week so happy birthday.

(laughs) Thank you very much. It’s funny, I had completely forgotten and then I was doing a radio interview on the phone and the DJ actually wished me happy birthday. It was like so strange cause it’s the first time that I ever just completely forgot till about midway through the day. But I ended up having a great birthday. It was actually the first day of rehearsals for Sixx:AM so it was a perfect way to celebrate.

Did they get you something special or did they just make you sing all day?

(laughs) Yeah, I sang all day

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This is your third time creating a body of music with these two guys, Nikki and Dj. How has the writing process evolved for the three of you?

Well, it’s interesting because evolve is a great word. It definitely happens in any type of creative situation is that you transition through things and you find what I call the sweet spot and I feel like the three of us as songwriters have really found our sweet spot where we just communicate so well, not only as friends but also as musicians and songwriters. So the process has grown over the years but the one thing that stays consistent, that is very important to us, is that the three of us actually physically are together in one room writing songs for Sixx:AM. It’s always been very important to us because, number one, we just love spending time with each other, we love hanging out and just being pals. But also, the chemistry really comes through when the three of us are in a room together. That has stayed consistent through all three records.

But the process was different on this record because first and foremost, we intentionally did not have a peripheral thing like a book or a photography book to attach this record to. We wanted this one to kind of stand on its own and as a result we knew that what it would do is it would really not only reveal to our fans who we’ve turned into as a band but it revealed to us who we’ve become as a band after three records. So on this one what we tried to do was really look back at the music and the bands and the albums that had influenced us ever since we were kids. So what we did was we went back and looked at the albums of the late sixties and seventies, at bands like Queen and Elton John and ELO and David Bowie and T. Rex and all those incredible records that really took you on a journey and captured your imagination. That’s the type of record that we wanted to make with Modern Vintage. So it differs in the sense that rather than reacting to, for instance, Nikki’s diaries or photography or that type of stuff, we went back and kind of looked at the entire lineage of rock music and what made us love rock music in the first place. This album is really a reflection and celebration of that.

It doesn’t seem as dark.

Yeah, I think that at first listen that would definitely be a reaction and I think that there are a number of reasons for that. When you go back and listen to some of those bands that I was mentioning, there was a lot of, I guess, seventies pop influences in those records. People were writing hooks in songs that felt very uplifting and I think that the thing that Sixx:AM has always done, and I think we do it on this record, is we’ve always found that balance, that fine line between darkness and beauty. We even did it with songs like “Life Is Beautiful.” In fact, every song on all of our records has always kind of walked that fine line. Musically, there are a lot of, I would say, kind of seventies-type of pop rock influences that show through that may end up having a bit of a lighter feel to it but in actuality when you really dig in and look at the lyrics on Modern Vintage, it’s still that very kind of troubling, dark angle lyrically to things. And we’ve always loved that. When you listen to a song, for instance like “Gotta Get It Right,” which is our first single, at first listen it’s very pop-y, it has a real bounce to it and it feels very uplifting. But again in typical Sixx:AM fashion when you actually dig in and look at the lyrics, the message itself is a bit on the darker side. And I think we’ve always just naturally done that. And I think on this record there are definitely moments that feel maybe a little more hopeful than on our previous records, even though we’ve always tried to have a good strong sense of hope in all of our songs and maybe that just shows through a little bit more on this record.

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I don’t think you guys could write a fluffy pop song. There is always meaning in the songs.

Yeah, and we love that and sometimes the feel of the music doesn’t necessarily reflect the sentiment of the lyric and I think that is something we really love. We love that contrast.

Tell us about “Drive.” You overhauled and almost restructured that song to where it almost changes the whole context of it from the way the Cars did it.

That was a really exciting thing for us to do. Number one, we’ve never done a cover song before. When we chose that song, we chose it for a number of reasons but one of the real main focuses was the lyrics, cause when you listen to that lyric, even on the original version, it’s such a heavy, very isolating, very lonely lyric. It’s a very sad song when you really analyze what they’re talking about. Even the video that the Cars made originally was so sad and yet they had this kind of feel to the track which didn’t allow you to get too mired down in the sadness of the lyric. In the end, it just had this beautiful kind of hopeful feeling to it. You got the sense that this person was going to overcome this struggle that she was having.

When we did our version of it, we really wanted to shine a light on just how intense that lyric is and that’s why on our version we start off almost as a piano ballad. It’s very intimate, it’s very lonely sounding at the beginning and as the song progresses these moments of technology start to kind of trickle in and by the end it’s turned into this very elaborate, very beautiful vast sounding track. We wanted the listener to be reminded of what a beautiful lyric that was and what a beautiful story it was while at the same time celebrating the original version.

What about “Let It Haunt You.”

It’s a really cool song and what we ended up doing was we ended up putting that on the deluxe version of the record. It was not like we chose to leave it off of our record for any particular reason. We love the song. It’s almost a funk-type of song. It feels kind of like a seventies funk, almost disco type of feel, but it’s a very, very Sixx:AM type of song. The lyric is kind of like what we were talking about before. It has this beautiful contrast between pain and joy, and yet when you listen to the track it almost has, I would say, a Bee Gees or an ABBA type of funk/disco feel to it. As we were celebrating all these different genres of rock music that we all love so much, we couldn’t leave out that style, you know. I was a huge fan of bands like the Bee Gees and just those vocal arrangements and the backbeat and the danceability of those songs. It was pretty amazing when we went into the recording studio to record that one just how natural it came out. I was really amazed by just the soul which Dj and Nikki played the track. It’s a fun one and, like I said, the only reason that it didn’t end up on the record is just because we felt like with the main record we had told the story that we wanted to, and yet this was such an important track that we included it in the deluxe edition.

What was the so-called surprise song on this record, the one that almost didn’t make it on or turned out completely different from it’s original version?

It’s probably a tossup between two of them. There’s a song on the record called “Miracle,” which as we were just talking about, has this kind of funk, almost disco-type of seventies vibe to it which is really cool. I think that a lot of our fans will be pleasantly surprised by that one because it really kind of comes out of left field and yet it’s such a part of the music that we’ve always loved. So I think it will be a real surprise on the record for people.

Then the last song on the record, called “Before It’s Over,” is a really just beautiful song. It almost has a ragtime/vaudeville type feel to it which will be another real exciting and kind of shocking journey for the listener. But it’s another one of those songs where if you listen to the lyrics of it, the lyric of “Before It’s Over” is about this person who has lost somebody and has just not been able to let go, has not been able to move on with their life. Typically when somebody loses a loved one you go through this mourning or grieving period and then you eventually learn how to pick up the pieces and make sense of it all and move on. Yet the character in this song is unable to do that. He is unable to move on. He’s very lonely and isolated and he knows that he should be moving on but he can’t. So what we did was we took that character and we put him in this almost ragtime setting so there is this incredible contrast between the two. So it feels like it’s just a really uplifting, happy song and then as you listen to the lyric you realize that he wishes he could feel the way that the music sounds but he just can’t. It’s a real beautiful moment in the record.

Have you ever written a song that you felt like you opened up yourself too much? That maybe you shouldn’t put these feelings or truths into a song?

That’s a great question. I think that I probably have written that type of a song that maybe revealed a bit too much or exposed a bit too much but I think that when that has happened in my career, I typically have held on to it and maybe just kept it private or shared it with maybe the person I intended it to be heard by. I really have always used music as a form of communication and in a way it’s a safety net. It does allow me to say things and reveal things that typically in a normal conversation I might not be comfortable doing. But that’s one of the beautiful things about writing songs and about music in general. But I think that those would be very rare cases because to me having the opportunity to write a song and to share it with the world is, like I said, an opportunity to reveal something about you.

And I think if you have the courage to do that, it can reach a lot of people and I think that’s what’s been so special about Sixx:AM’s music is that we haven’t held back. We have always overcome that fear of being judged or being criticized and we’ve just shared what we felt was important to share and as a result our fans have been incredibly brave and come back to us and shared their stories about how their life has felt damaged or broken and is in need of repair and somehow our music has found it’s way into their lives and become a soundtrack of sorts to their struggles. So I think that while, yes, you can cross that line and maybe reveal a bit too much, I think that that’s part of the skill of being a songwriter is to know where that line is so that you can go right up to it and share as much as you possibly can without making yourself uncomfortable. A lot of times if you’re going to make yourself uncomfortable, you’re also going to make the listener uncomfortable and it becomes an unproductive experience and it tends to cross over into just maybe being a little bit too full of self-pities. So I think there is a fine line to walk and I think that Sixx:AM has found a natural way to do that.

What was the hardest part about getting this album done? Was it getting the three of you in a room together?

It was absolutely, yes, logistically getting it done. We started writing this record about two years ago. Then once the songs were done, the task of producing it and getting it recorded came to hand and that’s what took the longest. Because I was the producer on the record, it meant that I was having to do a lot of traveling. I would travel to Dj’s house in Las Vegas. I’d record him for a few days. Then I’d travel down to Los Angeles and record Nikki at his house. Then I’d fly back to Nashville to my recording studio there and I’d put things together. There was a better part of a year where I was traveling back and forth across the country, maybe two or three times a week. It was a pretty intense time but it just flew by because we were so focused on what we wanted to accomplish with this record that in a way, even though it sounds pretty grueling, it felt effortless because we were just so passionate about it.

The last time we talked you told me that you were kind of a perfectionist in the studio. What drives you crazy the most in a studio environment?

(laughs) You know what, it’s funny because I am a perfectionist by nature so nothing drives me crazy. I love being in the studio and I love being a perfectionist and I will literally work on something until it’s perfect in my mind and that’s just natural to me. What drives me absolutely crazy is the fact that in a live setting you throw perfection out the window and that’s the part that has really been a struggle for me. I remember when we first went out and did Crue Fest several years ago. We were doing all of these shows and “Life Is Beautiful” was a hit at the time and it was just such an electric and vibrant time and such a great tour. But I was struggling so much as a singer because I wanted every note to be perfect. Always.

And I remember we were doing a show in Los Angeles actually and I had gotten off the stage and it was an incredible show. There were like 15,000 people there. The crowd was electric. We got off stage and I know that both Nikki and Dj noticed that I just wasn’t myself and I went back to my dressing room and I was just kind of sitting there on the couch in a funk. And Dj came in and he said, “What’s wrong?” and I was like, “Man, my voice cracked.” I was so bummed because my voice had cracked ONCE through the entire set (laughs). And he just sat down next to me, and I’ll never forget this, he said, “Dude, it’s time you take your producer’s hat off. These people don’t want perfection. They want passion and that’s what you’re giving them.” From that moment on, it was a real eye-opener for me and I’m just grateful for both Nikki and Dj and all their touring experience because they really helped shed a light on the fact that the two things are very, very different. Being that perfectionist in the studio is very different than being that passionate person on stage. Once I learned that, it was so exhilarating. But it was a struggle for me at first.http://www.glidemagazine.com/glide/wp-admin/post-new.php#edit_timestamp

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So how do you separate yourself when you’re producing yourself? How easy is it for you to one minute be the singer and then the next minute to hop over to the other side of the glass and be the producer of yourself? Can you step back and make yourself a separate entity?

That’s a good question and you can and I will tell you how. I think it could be difficult for a lot of people. I’ve always been able to separate that and I think here’s why. I’ve never really thought of myself as a singer. At the very most, I would say that I’m a vocalist and I have a knack for telling a story vocally. But I’ve never thought of myself technically as a singer so what that does is it enables me to stay objective as a producer. I’m able to kind of step back and assess whether this song is being honored and whether the performance is telling the story properly. Because I really don’t have an ego when it comes to singing, I don’t even really like the way I sing, so I’m able to just kind of get past that, separate myself from any ego, and just stay focused on whether or not the message is coming across, whether or not I’ve done justice to the song. So I think that has helped me draw a separation between the two. I think that if I really took a lot of pride in my singing and felt like I was a good singer, I’d probably be way more critical of myself. I just kind of get through it and make sure that the lyric is being honored and that the passion and the emotion of the song is proper; and everything else, I just have to kind of tune out because, like I said, I’m not a real fan of my voice.

Who was the first real rock star you ever met?

Ooh, I love that question. Let me think about that. You know, I think I would have to say, probably Nikki was one of the first that I actually met in the true sense of meeting somebody. I just thought about that right now. It’s kind of interesting that that friendship we forged has lasted this long and has bared so many amazing things. I remember meeting him when I signed my very first record deal. Motley Crue was in partnership with the label that I signed with and we just met in the halls of the label one day and we’d keep on meeting each other and he was just so larger than life but also so human and so kind and we just instantly became friends. I’ve met a lot of rock stars since then but when I really think about it, he was probably the first. It’s kind of neat to think of the fact that we’re such good friends to this day.

So do you believe that the friendship you have with both Nikki and Dj makes it easier to create songs together?

Yes, absolutely. The friendship plays a huge part in that and it’s because we trust each other and we make each other feel safe. So there is no judgment, there’s nothing that any of us can say that would be stupid or that would be held against the other person. So we dare to say anything, try anything, and we know we’re not going to be made fun of and I think that sometime in those moments of vulnerability and exposing something about yourself that you just wouldn’t dare to expose to anyone else, I think in those moments are where some of the most magical Sixx:AM things happen.

When all of this is done with Sixx:AM, are you going to do anything on your own again?

You know, I’m always producing other bands and writing for other bands, so I have a really, really wonderful career and Sixx:AM has absolutely been the icing on the cake for me. I’m a very, very lucky person in this music business. So yeah, I will. I’m always doing different projects and if you’re referring to any type of solo stuff, I would say that it just depends on how much time I have. I’m always writing songs, I’m always working with people, and if I come across something that feels like it’s just not right for any other project or maybe it would only be suitable for me, then I’ll get back in the studio and do some more stuff on my own. But right now I’m just loving where Sixx:AM has come to and the fact that as Motley Crue is beginning to wind down their incredible career there is going to actually be more time for all of us to actually bring Sixx:AM more to the forefront of our lives. So it’s a very, very exciting time. We’ve all, the three of us, have actually already started talking about a fourth record and stuff like that so in some respects even though we’re three albums in and we just built this beautiful thing that is Sixx:AM, we also feel like we’re just at the very beginning, just scratching the surface of what Sixx:AM is going to accomplish.

SIXX: A.M. To Enter Studio Next Month

SIXX: A.M. To Enter Studio Next Month

According to MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx, his SIXX: A.M. band — which also features guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist James Michael — will enter the studio in late June to begin work on its fourth album, tentatively due in 2016.

SIXX: A.M.‘s recently completed “Modern Vintage” tour included a limited number of dates all across North America. While on the road, the prolific band was in the process of writing music for its upcoming CD.

To round out its live lineup, SIXX: A.M. added drummer Dustin Steinke of BLEEKER RIDGE into the mix for the tour, as well as backup singers Melissa Harding and Amber VanBuskirk.

Michael told Lithium Magazine about “Modern Vintage”: “We think it’s our best record so far, and the feedback has been really incredible, to be honest with you.”

He continued: “When we put out the first single, ‘Gotta Get It Right’, it was a daring choice for us, because we had other songs on the album that were so much more what SIXX: A.M. fans are expecting. But because of how different this record is and how important it is to us, we wanted to put out a single that kind of set the stage for what is to come.”

Michael added: “DJ and I got back from Europe [where] we were doing a bunch of press, and I was kind of blown away with how positive the reaction has been, because when you take risks like this, you fully expect to get some pushback. But it has been wonderful so far.”
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/sixx-a-m-to-enter-studio-next-month/#Qbg5u5f2g6vvsqH0.99

SIXX: A.M. AT THE VIC THEATRE IN CHICAGO, IL ON 04-APR-2015

Sixx: A.M. at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL on 04-Apr-2015

Sixx:A.M. in Chicago with Apocalyptica and the VAMPS.

2009 was the last time Sixx:AM has been on tour. In the music business, this could be the end for many bands, but when you have bassist Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, featuring one of the top guitarist’s in rock, DJ Ashba, along with producer extraordinaire/singer James Michael, you can do this. Since that time, they have released three studio albums, their latest Modern Vintage which debuted #1 on rock charts.

Opening the show was VAMPS from Japan. Just as Sixx:A.M. stopped touring, VAMPS released their first album, VAMPS, in 2009 and last year released BloodSuckers in October. Opening with “World’s End,” off their new album, they set a high standard, which got raised with each band on the bill. The charismatic singer, Hyde and guitarist K.A.Z., gave American fans a 30-minute taste of what has been driving fans in Japan crazy for years.

Apocalyptica have been producing cello metal since 1996 and have, just as of this review, dropped their eighth album, Shadowmaker. As the intro began, the crowd packed in tighter to see this curious band from Finland, which many have heard on the radio but not many have seen live. Apocalyptica’s past albums featured guest vocalists, but with Shadowmakerthey relied on Cuban-American Franky Perez to sing tracks on the whole album as well as join them on this tour. Adding Perez to the touring lineup has completed a missing piece to an otherwise great live band.

As the lights dimmed, the intro to “X-Mas in Hell” signaled to the sold-out crowd it was time. Fans waited six long years to sing-along to Sixx:A.M. Opening with “Let’s Go” from the new album, Modern Vintage; throughout the set they played seven songs from the new album. The interaction between DJ Ashba and Nikki Sixx was refreshing to see for artists of their stature to be playing with each other and the sheer joy of sharing the stage together.

James Michael’s voice was in fine form and when paired with two backup singers, created a perfect blend unseen on many rock stages.

Nikki Sixx let the crowd and Yahoo audience know that Sixx:A.M. will be touring heavily in 2016, along with recording a new album. Contemplating retiring after Motely Crue wrap up touring this year, the fan response to Sixx:A.M. has rejuvenated him to continue touring and making music.

Michael sat down to play the ivory on a grand piano as he sang “Skin.” DJ Ashba was sitting on the piano as lounge singer playing his solo; showcasing each other’s talent in perfect unison.

The night ended with “Life is Beautiful” … a track that propelled Sixx:A.M. from three guys as friends not looking to form a band, to now selling out venues and playing with a fearlessness unseen in today’s music.

Review: Sixx:A.M. rocks at the Royal Oak


Nikki Sixx and James Michael perform Tuesday, April 21, 2015, with their band, Sixx:A.M., at Royal Oak Music Theater. Photo by Ken Settle

ROYAL OAK >> We can now be assured that Nikki Sixx has something to fall back on after Motley Crue says its final farewell at the end of the year.

As if we really needed to worry about that.

In the midst of the Crue’s Final Tour — which plays a third Detroit-area date on Aug. 9 at The Palace of Auburn Hills — the bassist brought his other band, Sixx:A.M., to town Tuesday night (April 21) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre as part of its first-ever headlining tour. The group, formed to provide a companion album to Sixx’s 2007 memoir “The Heroin Diaries,” has hit the road before, as part of the 2008 Cruefest tour, but with three albums behind it now, and a couple of hits in “Life Is Beautiful” and “Stars,” Sixx:A.M. showed itself to be tight and polished, bolstered in particular by the experience of Sixx and Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba.

And with Michigan-born frontman James Michael, in Billy Idol-style peroxide blonde, Sixx:A.M. displayed an arena-worthy swagger during its 17-song, 90-minute show, which gave Tuesday’s intimate setting a considerable dynamic wallop.

The show’s focus was, not surprisingly, on Sixx A.M.’s latest album, “Modern Vintage,” although it drew just as many tracks from 2011’s “This is Gonna Hurt.” Hitting the stage after opening sets from Japan’s Vamp and the Swedish cello act Apocalyptica, Sixx:A.M. charged right into the big-beat glam of “Let’s Go,” the urgent rock of “Give Me a Love” and big-melody punch of “Relief” — a wham-bam opening that was certainly steeped in Motley Crue’s blend of catch pop and heavy rock, but with less punk and more pomp — the latter especially evident in the dramatic arrangements of “Dead Man`s Ballet,” “Gotta Get It Right,” “Goodbye My Friends” and the power ballad “Accidents Can Happen.”

LABOR OF LOVE GETS REAL FOR SIX:A.M.

The night’s only miscues were the “Modern Vintage” disco-funk track “Miracle,” which was too far out of step with the rest of the show’s offerings, and a cover of the Cars’ “Drive” which didn’t quite work in Sixx:A.M.’s adrenalized treatment.

Backed by a touring drummer and two female backing vocalists, Sixx and company were clearly stoked to finally be out on tour — and each of them made sure to tell the Royal Oak crowd that during the course of the show. Sixx in particular seemed energized and excited as he offered a discourse about Sixx:A.M.’s accidental birth and promised more in the future — including another album and world tour in 2016. “We’re gonna stick around,” he said, and on Tuesday he certainly had a theater full of fans who were happy to hear it.

 

SIXX:AM and Apocalyptica rock The Bomb Factory

The Deep Ellum Arts District in downtown Dallas is known for it’s music scene, and has had many amazing music venues over the years. Recently one of those historic venues, The Bomb Factory, reopened and what could be a better way to show they intend to inject some major energy into the Dallas music scene then by bringing in SIXX:AM and Apocalyptica.

VAMPS
Kelly Hitt
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Nikki Sixx rocking The Bomb Factory

Kelly Hitt

Despite the threat of major storms on Friday night, the line to get into The Bomb Factory wrapped around the building. Three bands were scheduled to hit the stage – VAMPS (a Japanese rock duo formed in 2008), the Finnish cello gods,Apocalyptica, and SIXX:AM, the side project of Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx. While last two bands I knew well, I had never heard of VAMPS and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. These guys knew how to rock and really got the ever growing crowd energized. It’s no secret I love bands with a bit of a goth rock vibe, and VAMPS delivered on that score. Getting a little “Sex Blood Rock n’ Roll”- to start the night off was the perfect way to go and I know the band had many more fans by the time they left the stage.

Apocalyptica has been around for twenty years, and though they are from Finland they have a strong fan base here in the States. And those fans were out in force Friday night to welcome the Finns back to Dallas. For the few in attendance who had never seen Apocalyptica, it was a surprise. It’s not often you see a rock band with nothing but three cellists, a drummer, and a guest vocalist but that’s what you get with these guys. And they proved once again that they can rival any rock band out there. Think you can’t head bang while playing a cello? Apocalyptica will prove you wrong. This time around they did things a little different. On previous albums the band has brought in several well known guest vocalists to contribute and then hired someone to do vocals on tour, but with their new album, Shadowmaker, they hired Franky Perez to not only do vocals for the entire album but to go on tour as well. His sound compliments the band perfectly and with Franky working closely with Eicca, Perttu, and Paavo even before recording began, Shadowmaker is perhaps the tightest album I’ve heard from this band. They killed it on stage as well, working the fans up and doing things on cellos you’ve only ever seen with guitars. They were quick to point out that they will be back later in the year when they do their headlining tour for Shadowmaker and it’s a show you won’t want to miss.

SIXX:AM started out with Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael writing a soundtrack of sorts to Nikki’s book The Heroin Diaries. From there the fans took over, demanding songs like Life Is Beautiful be played on the radio and clamoring for more music. As Nikki said Friday night, SIXX:AM is here because the fans made it so and while he thought he was about to retire (from Mötley Crüe), SIXX:AM is just getting started. And rightly so. This was their first ever headlining tour (promoting the album Modern Vintage) and with seasoned performers like this you know you’re getting something amazing right out of the gate. They owned the stage and brought the house down in what was truly a special night for both the fans who had been waiting for this for a long time and the band that still seemed to be happily amazed it was happening.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a show where I truly enjoyed every band on stage and was greatly pleased with the venue (lights, sound, staff) as well. That these bands were great and that the venue let them truly shine just made the night as a whole one I’ll definitely remember. If you get a chance to see this show in another city, don’t miss it.

SIXX: A.M.: ‘Get Ya Some’ Lyric Video Released

April 8, 2015

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SIXX: A.M.: 'Get Ya Some' Lyric Video Released

SIXX: A.M., the band featuring MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx alongside guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist James Michael, has released the official lyric video for its song “Get Ya Some”. The track is taken from SIXX: A.M.‘s third album, “Modern Vintage”, which was released on October 7, 2014 via Eleven Seven Music.

In an interview with Soundcheck 411, Michael stated about “Get Ya Some”: “That’s one of my favorite songs on the record; I really love that song. It’s a fantastic song to sing and because it’s so over the top, the lyric is just so abstract and kinda obscured and that’s what I love about it. It’s a very fun song to sing, those verses are… I’ve kinda described them as kinda this low, creepy Tom Waits type of vibe in the verses and then, to me, that chorus explodes into that very Freddie Mercury-esque type of falsetto all over the top, and there’s horn sections going on and it’s just such a flamboyant song and I love it. It’s a fun one to sing and it was a fun one to record.”

SIXX: A.M. has hired drummer Dustin Steinke of the Canadian rock band BLEEKER RIDGE to sit behind the kit for its upcoming U.S. tour, which is scheduled to kick off in tonight (Wednesday, April 8) in San Francisco, California.

Based in Orillia, Ontario, BLEEKER RIDGE was previously signed to the Canadian branch of Roadrunner Records and recently completed work on a new album with Michael at the production helm, due later in the year via the Eleven Seven label.

Steinke made his live debut with SIXX: A.M. on February 19 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan as part of Vampark Fest hosted by the rock band VAMPS.

Support on SIXX: A.M.‘s first-ever headline tour will come from Finnish cello rockers APOCALYPTICA and Japan’s VAMPS.

“Get Ya Some” lyric video:

DJ Ashba talking about “Drive”:

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sixxammodernvintagecdnew

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SIXX: AM and Apocalyptica rock The Bomb Factory

The Deep Ellum Arts District in downtown Dallas is known for it’s music scene, and has had many amazing music venues over the years. Recently one of those historic venues, The Bomb Factory, reopened and what could be a better way to show they intend to inject some major energy into the Dallas music scene then by bringing in SIXX:AM and Apocalyptica.

VAMPS
Kelly Hitt

 

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Nikki Sixx rocking The Bomb Factory

 

Kelly Hitt

 

Despite the threat of major storms on Friday night, the line to get into The Bomb Factory wrapped around the building. Three bands were scheduled to hit the stage – VAMPS (a Japanese rock duo formed in 2008), the Finnish cello gods,Apocalyptica, and SIXX:AM, the side project of Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx. While last two bands I knew well, I had never heard of VAMPS and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. These guys knew how to rock and really got the ever growing crowd energized. It’s no secret I love bands with a bit of a goth rock vibe, and VAMPS delivered on that score. Getting a little “Sex Blood Rock n’ Roll”- to start the night off was the perfect way to go and I know the band had many more fans by the time they left the stage.

Apocalyptica has been around for twenty years, and though they are from Finland they have a strong fan base here in the States. And those fans were out in force Friday night to welcome the Finns back to Dallas. For the few in attendance who had never seen Apocalyptica, it was a surprise. It’s not often you see a rock band with nothing but three cellists, a drummer, and a guest vocalist but that’s what you get with these guys. And they proved once again that they can rival any rock band out there. Think you can’t head bang while playing a cello? Apocalyptica will prove you wrong. This time around they did things a little different. On previous albums the band has brought in several well known guest vocalists to contribute and then hired someone to do vocals on tour, but with their new album, Shadowmaker, they hired Franky Perez to not only do vocals for the entire album but to go on tour as well. His sound compliments the band perfectly and with Franky working closely with Eicca, Perttu, and Paavo even before recording began, Shadowmaker is perhaps the tightest album I’ve heard from this band. They killed it on stage as well, working the fans up and doing things on cellos you’ve only ever seen with guitars. They were quick to point out that they will be back later in the year when they do their headlining tour for Shadowmaker and it’s a show you won’t want to miss.

SIXX:AM started out with Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and James Michael writing a soundtrack of sorts to Nikki’s book The Heroin Diaries. From there the fans took over, demanding songs like Life Is Beautiful be played on the radio and clamoring for more music. As Nikki said Friday night, SIXX:AM is here because the fans made it so and while he thought he was about to retire (from Mötley Crüe), SIXX:AM is just getting started. And rightly so. This was their first ever headlining tour (promoting the album Modern Vintage) and with seasoned performers like this you know you’re getting something amazing right out of the gate. They owned the stage and brought the house down in what was truly a special night for both the fans who had been waiting for this for a long time and the band that still seemed to be happily amazed it was happening.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a show where I truly enjoyed every band on stage and was greatly pleased with the venue (lights, sound, staff) as well. That these bands were great and that the venue let them truly shine just made the night as a whole one I’ll definitely remember. If you get a chance to see this show in another city, don’t miss it.

Sixx:A.M. spreads a message of hope at the Midland

There’s life beyond “Shout at the Devil.”

More than 1,500 fans attended Sixx:A.M.’s concert at the Midland theater on Tuesday, a fraction of the capacity crowd that witnessed Mötley Crüe’s farewell appearance at the Sprint Center last August.

Tuesday’s reduced turnout was nonetheless a respectable showing for the project that’s expected to eventually become the primary focus of Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx.

As a member of the notoriously depraved and enormously successful hair-metal band responsible for raucous hits including “Shout at the Devil,” Sixx was one of the most prominent rock stars of the 1980s. Mötley Crüe’s final tour resumes next month.

Initially formed to create a musical companion piece to Sixx’s 2007 autobiography, “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star,” Sixx:A.M. specializes in uplifting songs about topics including sobriety and perseverance.

Motley Crue’s music is cartoonish and colorful; Sixx:A.M.’s recordings tend to be bland and beige.

That discrepancy was rectified on Tuesday. Sixx:A.M. was refreshingly lean and hungry during its 80-minute outing. The band sounded robust and looked entirely vital.

DJ Ashba, a guitarist who moonlights in Guns N’ Roses, and vocalist James Michael are Sixx’s band mates in Sixx:A.M. The core trio was supplemented by a drummer and two background singers.

Straightforward rock songs like “Let’s Go” were balanced by the theatrical flair of “Dead Man’s Ballet” and “Miracle,” a dance track during which Sixx:A.M. resembled a muscle-bound version of the pop band Maroon 5.

Michael delivered lines like “we all fall off the wagon sometimes” on the ballad “Accidents Can Happen” with knowing compassion. “Skin,” a song of encouragement that references scripture, was even lovelier.

Even so, the evening’s most beautiful moments belonged to Apocalyptica. The best kind of novelty act — an unusual ensemble that amuses even as it impresses — Apocalyptica is a Finnish metal band with three cellists.

“Because we love you, we will punish you with classical music,” Eicca Toppinen said.

His band played a breakneck version of Edvard Grieg’s “Into the Hall of the Mountain King” and a gorgeous reading of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”

Apocalyptica’s spellbinding effort was capable of outshining many headliners. Yet the night belonged to Sixx:A.M.

Sixx spoke of using Sixx:A.M. to spread “a message of hope.” His band’s positive message was delivered with unexpected grace and undeniable power at the Midland theater.

SET LIST

Lets Go; Give Me a Love; Relief; This Is Gonna Hurt; Pray for Me; Dead Man’s Ballet; Accidents Can Happen; Miracle; Live Forever; Gotta Get It Right; Drive; Help Is On the Way; Goodbye My Friends; Lies of the Beautiful People; Stars; Skin; Life is Beautiful.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/back-to-rockville/article18559544.html#storylink=cpy

“Labor of love” gets real for all-star members of Sixx:A.M.


Life is beautiful for Sixx:A.M. fans as the group’s first headlining tour comes to Royal Oak Music Theatre. The band is Nikki Sixx (from left), James Michael and DJ Ashba. Courtesy Olympia Entertainment

Since its inception eight years ago, Sixx:A.M. has stayed a band by choosing its spots.

With members having other commitments in Motley Crue (Nikki Sixx) and Guns N’ Roses (Darren Jay “DJ” Ashba), and with Michigan-born frontman James Michael’s busy production and songwriting schedule, Sixx:A.M. has been a tough juggle and something of a secondary concern. Nevertheless, the trio managed to release three albums — including last year’s “Modern Vintage” — and a couple of EPs. This year it launched its first headlining tour, between legs of Motley Crue’s worldwide farewell trek.

“After three records, we’re finally admitting to ourselves that maybe we’re a band,” Michael says with a laugh. At 46, the Sixx:A.M. lead signer, who hails from Holland, Mich., has worked with Motley Crue, Meat Loaf, Papa Roach, Kelly Clarkson, Halestorm and “American Idol” winner Caleb Johnson, among others.

“We just keep backing into these things — ‘OK, we made a record,’ then the record label called us and said, ‘Can you make a video?’ ‘But we’re not really a band.’ Then we made another record, and another one after that, and now we’re doing a tour,” he says.

“It’s truly a labor of love for the three of us.”

Sixx and DJ Ashba use the exact same term, and both credit fans with convincing them to elevate Sixx:A.M. from project to band status.

“We’ve been hearing it for years — ‘When are you gonna make another album?’ ‘When are you gonna tour?’” says Sixx, 56 (real name Frank Feranna Jr.). “I’ve gotta tell you, my body would probably like to say, ‘OK, you’re gonna be on tour with Motley Crue pretty much nonstop. Let’s take this break and maybe even go on vacation.’ But I just love this (‘Modern Vintage’) record so much and I love this band so much, I’m gonna take advantage of this time to give the fans what they want.

“And with James and DJ, it’s so thrilling. We have so many years together and we’ve created some great music together. We’re really proud of the music we made, and we love how it’s really connected with the fans all around the world.”

Sixx:A.M. was a hit out of the box. Formed to create a “soundtrack” album for Sixx’s 2007 memoir “The Heroin Diaries,” the group’s single “Life Is Beautiful” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart and went gold. Sixx:A.M. even opened on Motley Crue’s Crue Fest tour in 2008, although Michael notes that at the time “we were still trying to figure out whether we were actually a band or not.” The success led to a second album, 2011’s “This is Gonna Hurt” — again tied to a Sixx book — and then to “Modern Vintage.”

“Y’know, we made ‘The Heroin Diaries’ and … none of us anticipated it would be played on the radio or anything,” Michael says. “It truly was just this little escape for all of us to do what was in our hearts or passionate about, without having to comply to any rules of the music business. So when ‘Life is Beautiful’ started climbing the charts and it became a hit and we’ve gotten to do more stuff, it’s the ultimate icing on the cake.”

DJ Ashba, 42, adds, “Originally we started out bringing ‘The Heroin Diaries’ to life, musically, and now we get to bring the music to life visually. That’s what’s been so fun about this. It’s been a fairy-tale dream over the years, like, ‘Yeah, one day we’re going to do this and that and put on a really cool tour and bring the stuff on stage to the people.’

“And it feels great that it wasn’t just talk.”

Sixx is quick to term Sixx:A.M. “kind of a baby band,” the reason it’s playing smaller venues from the arenas and amphitheaters Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses inhabit. “This is a different band, and it’ll have a different interpretation of what a rock band is,” he notes.

With Motley Crue planning to say goodbye for good in December, Sixx:A.M. will be doing more in the future. Michael says the trio has “already had lots of great conversations about our next record, and the fact that Nikki’s schedule will be more open means we can bring Sixx:A.M. to the forefront of all our lives.”

Ashba, in fact, adds “the goal is to write our fourth studio album while we’re on the road and come off the road and go immediately into the recording studio” — although Sixx is headed to Australia with Motley Crue in early May, and European and North American dates follow through spring and summer.

Nevertheless, Sixx is excited about the future as Sixx:A.M. moves onto the front burner.

“We feel like this is the kind of band where there’s no ceilings. There’s no boundaries,” Sixx says. “So if there are other projects that we could attach ourselves to or that we might create, we’re gonna be open for it. But right now, being on tour, that lets us say, ‘We’re our rock band, a rock band in the sanest of the rock bands that influenced us. It’s a really exciting time.”

http://www.macombdaily.com/…/labor-of-love-gets-real-for-al…



Gotta get it right: an interview with Sixx: A.M. and Apocalyptica

Gotta Get It Right: An Interview with Sixx:A.M. and Apocalyptica

—by , April 15, 2015

I’ve never kept it a secret in all of my columns that Mötley Crüe might be my favorite band of all time. I’ve also never kept it a secret that bassist Nikki Sixx has been my idol since childhood. That being said, when Sixx:A.M., Nikki’s side-project, released The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack back in 2007, there was a new excitement in me like a little school girl that Nikki Sixx was going to be doing this for a little while longer even after Mötley Crüe hung up their instruments for good. Well, the latter actually happens at the end of 2015 and Sixx:A.M. hits the road for the first time this month since Crue Fest in 2009, something Sixx:A.M. fans have been longing for since. Sixx:A.M. has released two studio albums since The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, which rumors are saying is being turned into a Broadway play. In 2011, they released This Is Gonna Hurt and this past October, Modern Vintage.

On April 24, Sixx:A.M. brings their sold-out show to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, then the Best Buy Theater in NYC on April 27 and the Electric Factory in Philly on April 28. They won’t be coming alone, though. Tagging along will be Apocalyptica and just added on certain dates from Japan, Vamps. Back in October, Apocalyptica was added to the Eleven Seven Music family. They are the label owned by Mötley Crüe’s manager, Allen Kovac, and houses a roster including Mötley Crüe, Sixx:A.M., Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Hellyeah, Drowning Pool…you get the idea. They’re in great company! Not bad for a former Metallica tribute band! Well, Apocalyptica’s eighth studio CD and Eleven Seven Music debut, Shadowmaker, dropped this week. To celebrate the CD’s release and their tour together, I got on a three-way call with Sixx:A.M. singer James Michael and Apocalyptica drummer Mikko Siren. Here’s how it all went down:

This is the first tour for Sixx:A.M. since Crue Fest back in 2008. We’ve been asking for it and now it’s finally here. How exciting is it for you, James?

James Michael: It is so exciting! Ever since we did Crue Fest, it was like wetting our lips and we discovered at that point that we definitely were cut out to do this. We were a band because up until that point, we really were not thinking of ourselves as a band. And Crue Fest was so much fun, and then sadly for the next several years, we just were not able to make a tour work for any of us because of our schedules. So, this is literally a dream come true for all three of us. We just couldn’t be happier. Now, to be able to put together a show with three full studio length records under our belt is a real luxury for us.

Three records worth of material for your first tour is a lot of music…

JM: It really is. It didn’t even really occur to us that that would be the case until we started putting together the setlist. We were like, “Wow, we actually do have a lot of songs for a band that is as young as we are as far as what we’ve done together.” It’s good to have that many songs to choose from, but it’s been a lot of fun shaping the show and of course, we could not be more excited to have Apocalyptica out there with us because it’s going to make for just an incredible night of music.

Mikko, how exciting is it for you and the rest of Apocalyptica to be a part of this long-awaited tour?

MIKKO SIREN: It’s really amazing! We have toured America a lot, but being a part of this tour and to be able to be support for Sixx:A.M., that’s really like a step up for us. We are just absolutely excited. I also think, as James just said, that the evening is just going to be absolutely amazing, musically. It’s really thrilling and who knows where it will take us. Maybe we will end up making music together, but it will be a fantastic tour I am sure.

Now, did you guys in Apocalyptica grow up as fans of Nikki Sixx’s work?

MS: How could you not? I don’t think it’s possible if you listen to rock music in general that you wouldn’t grow up into that thing. Of course, being in Mötley Crüe was a big thing, but when I listened to the first album of Sixx:A.M. back in 2009 for the first time, it was really something that kicked me then big time and of course, you would never think that you’d be sharing the stage with a person that you like or you look up to every night. It’s kind of like amazing for us.

Now, VAMPS have recently been added to the tour. Did you guys really bring them back from Japan with you when you were out there back in February?

JM: (Laughs) You know what? It was so fun. We went over and played Tokyo and we did a show with the VAMPS and we were just blown away by their fanbase, by their show and their production. They’re just such an incredible band. And what we really loved about this idea is just making this a real global tour, a celebration of global music. Especially with social media and everything becoming so global, it just made a lot of sense for us to combine music from all around the world. That’s what we started doing with this tour.

Mikko, have you heard of this band the VAMPS, and are you a fan of their music as well?

MS: I must admit that I did not know the band before I heard they were going to be on the same tour then of course, I went to check them out and listen to their stuff and we’ve been privileged with Japanese bands before and that’s a whole different ballgame. Just like James said, trying to combine this music from all over the world, it’s like a cultural thing. They look so different. I’ve never heard of VAMPS. I’ve never seen them live, but their music is great! Normally, Japanese bands are able to pull out amazing shows.

Now, James…Bravo on Modern Vintage! I am such a huge fan of everything Sixx:A.M. has put out so far. Not only because Nikki is an idol of mine, but you and Nikki together, as songwriters, has been a match made in heaven. Did these new songs on Modern Vintage just flow out of you?

JM: Well, thank you for saying that and yeah, they really did. I think that what’s exciting about this record for us is that I feel like we really found our sweet spot as songwriters together as a songwriting team, and that’s always an exciting moment in any creative chemistry to get to the point where you feel like you can just finish each other’s sentences. And as much as a cliché as that is, it’s a very important moment to reach in any songwriting team, and I feel like we really did that in Modern Vintage. So, it’s been exciting for us to reach this point of our partnership and then be able to push those boundaries back even further and then explore even further with the confidence that we now know that we’ve got each other’s backs and we can really lean heavily on each other in the songwriting world.

Now, Mikko, back in October, Apocalyptica joined the Eleven Seven Music roster and on April 21, you’ll be releasing your new CD, Shadowmaker. The band’s come a long way from being a Metallica tribute band. What can you say about joining a roster like the bands on Eleven Seven Music and putting out your seventh CD release under their label?

MS: It’s really, really amazing! The whole thing, how I feel about Eleven Seven Music, is that they’re not like a record company how I’ve seen them. It’s kind of a family thing in a way that they’re so passionate and so tied together and how they pick their bands. They really put the effort in. They wouldn’t find a band that they couldn’t believe that they can push forward and it’s really like feeling you work together with those people and it’s all about the people. It’s just an amazing personnel they have over there like Allen Kovac being the head of the team. He gives you the feeling that he trusts you and respects the artist and the music maker, which creates us to respect them for the work that they do. So far it’s just been absolutely amazing!

Now, Apocalyptica is known for their collaborations with some of the best singers in rock today. Are there any collaborations on Shadowmaker?

MS: That was the point when we changed kind of a thing. We’ve been doing, as you said, these collaborations for over 15 years now and it’s been great and we have been making amazing music when we got to meet these great singers, but we thought we need to somehow do a change. We thought that we needed to challenge ourselves to be something more and try new things and that’s when we started to think about the possibilities to having just the one singer on the album. It was quite a while for us because we are slow Finnish dudes, but we were thinking it over for a while. Then we ended up in a situation where we just have one guy [Franky Perez] singing everything and also to have that guy tour with us. So, he’s kind of like part of the band at the moment. He sings all the vocal tracks on the album and it’s great!

JM: Hey Mikko, I’ve got a bone to pick with you, man. Ever since I first heard you guys, I’ve been wondering, “What does a singer gotta do to get asked to sing on an Apocalyptica record?” (Laughs) Ever since I first heard of you guys. In fact, I was mixing a Scorpions record with Desmond Child and he’s the one who actually introduced me to you guys several years ago, and I’ve just been completely floored by everything you guys have done ever since then. I thought for sure one of these days, I’d get asked to sing. No such luck. Now, you actually got a singer, dammit! (Laughs)

MS: You need to come and sing with us when we’re on tour! Let’s make it fun!

JM: All right, man! I’m in!

With Sixx:A.M. kind of on the shelf for the past seven years, as far as touring goes, while Mötley Crüe toured and DJ Ashba was touring with Guns ‘N’ Roses, why wasn’t there any option for James Michael to do any touring of his own?

JM: You know what? It’s funny. I spend most of my time producing records and writing songs for other artists, so while Nikki and DJ are clearly out there traveling the world and making music, it’s probably really my schedule that has made it more difficult for us to do anything because I’m constantly in my cave recording things. That being said, putting together this tour and just doing the couple of shows we’ve done recently, I’ve been asking myself that too because I’ve been having so much fun getting out of the studio and actually getting some sunshine on my face and singing songs and performing again. So, I would say moving forward, I don’t know that I’d really be interested in doing solo stuff, but I would love to get out and do more performing and collaborations that are geared more towards live stuff. So, we’ll see what the future holds. I have done some recording and made videos and put stuff out there and it’s always fun. I’m always creating something. So, we’ll see what the schedule allows moving forward.

What songs from the three records can we expect to hear on this tour?

JM: Well, we went back to social media and asked our fans what they wanted to hear, and for as simple as a concept as that was, it was very exciting for us to do that. It really helped us shape the set. It was just interesting to see what songs on these records were resonating with people and there were certain ones that were just overwhelmingly consistent throughout people’s responses and other ones were a real surprise. There’s going to be some surprises on there and I think it’s going to be a great overall impression of what Sixx:A.M. music is. There’s going to a lot of songs from every single record.

MS: Can I ask what were the most requested songs?

JM: That’s a great question! Interestingly enough, I would say that one of the most requested songs is a song called “Skin,” which is just a piano ballad that was on This Is Gonna Hurt, but that song has touched a lot of people. It’s resonated with our fans in a way that surprised all of us. And also very interesting, some of the more obscure songs were the most requested, which excites us because those are also the ones that challenge us and are really what makes Sixx:A.M. what it is. Not just the radio songs, but the ones that get a little deeper into the records. When that happens it validated the blood, the sweat and the tears that you put into your records. When you’re doing it, every single moment of these records is so important to you when you’re creating them, but you never know how it’s going to touch somebody and you never know whether it’s just going to be a fleeting passing moment in their lives or if it’s going to really become the backdrop or the soundtrack to somebody’s life, and when it does become that, it’s just so rewarding. That is something that excites us about being able to go out face to face with these people that have come to us and said, “Wow, this song or that song has really affected my life.” And to just be able to make that personal connection finally and have music be the conduit, it’s just really thrilling to all of us.

One last question before I let you go. Why won’t Sixx:A.M. claim a permanent drummer already?

JM: That’s a good question. So far it’s been working for us the way we’ve been doing it. We’ve brought Dustin Steinke from Bleeker Ridge and we’ve been loving him as a drummer, so we’ll see. We’ll see what the future holds as far as a drummer goes.

 

Catch Sixx:A.M. and Apocalyptica with Bleeker Ridge at the sold-out Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on April 24, then with VAMPS at Best Buy Theater in NYC on April 27 and at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA on April 28. For more on Sixx:A.M., visit sixxammusic.com, and for more on Apocalyptica, go to apocalyptica.com.