When you conjure up the image of what a "metal dude" looks like, one of the first people to come to mind is Vince Neil, the blonde-haired, leather-pants-clad frontman for Mötley Crüe. The band's been dominating the metal scene since 1981, but all good things must end. Now, they're approaching their last few tour dates before calling it quits and passing the devil horns on to the next big metal band to take their place — though it's doubtful anyone ever could. We talked to Neil about how it feels now that it's all coming to an end for Crüe, and what he plans to do next.
You’re gearing up to play your last show ever with Mötley Crüe on NYE. I’d imagine a lot goes into deciding that it’s time to wrap things up, but is there any one specific thing that made you resolve that this tour was the last tour?
Well, we first started talking about this five or six years ago, and the possibility of wrapping it up this year. We started doing this in 1981 and now we're coming up on 2016 and we didn't wanna just keep going on and on where then it's like somebody leaves the band, or it's ten years down the road, and you go to see Motley Crue but really there's just one guy left from the actual band in the band. We wanna go out on top, on our terms, with people remembering a big show and great songs.
You can't stay in rock and roll all the time. You can't sleep in leather pants.
So no hologram tours in the future for you guys?
No, no no. [Laughs] Not for us.
You guys have been doing this for a long time, and you’ve seen a lot of trends and fads come and go. How have you managed to stay relevant as a band without molding to whatever seemed fleetingly cool at the time?
We're not gonna do something just because it's something we think people might like. We write songs for us, because we're rock and roll fans, and that's what we do. People always ask us for advice and the advice I always give is "be true to what you are." Don't try to follow trends because you will never be successful. That was never even a second thought. We've only ever done what we do, and done it our way.
The look of early Mötley Crüe is pretty much the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what a classic “metal guy” would look like. Do you still put effort into your look in that respect or are you over it?
Well obviously you've never seen a Mötley Crüe show because if you had then you'd know we put a lot of thought into our costumes, the stage show, and things like that. That's part of being Mötley Crüe, seeing what the stage design looks like and then designing the costumes around that. Stuff like that.
Yeah. I think I was thinking more in terms of your personal life.
Oh, no, I'm never that guy. I think those kinds of guys are kind of losers. You can't stay in rock and roll all the time. You can't sleep in leather pants. I'm still a California boy. I grew up in flip flops and shorts, so that's what I wear when I'm not on stage.
Through the course of your career, how would you say that the metal scene has changed, both for the better and for the worse?
When we started getting bigger and were headlining arenas and all the other bands in the eighties were coming out and "arena rock" was kinda being born, we really took pride in putting shows together. We put a lot into the entertainment value of fans coming out to watch a show. And that was really only a handful of bands, like us, who went out of their way to give fans a great show. And there's only a handful left. It's like us, Ozzy, Alice Cooper, and Kiss. That's it. When we're all gone, I don't see anyone else carrying the torch of wanting to put together a great show with pyro and lights and fire, along with the songs. It's just kinda sad that that's all kinda disappeared. Hopefully there's someone out there right now in their garage rehearsing, lighting themselves on fire.
I read The Dirt a long time ago and it has that infamous chapter about you guys rubbing egg burritos on your crotches to hide the fact that you’d been having sex with a bunch of random girls. After reading that I always wondered, why egg burritos specifically? Why not bean or steak burritos?
There's only one place open in the middle of the night, there was this place called Naugles and that was their main thing, egg burritos. They were pretty crazy days. I can't wait for the movie to come out so I can see it.
"Hopefully there's someone out there right now in their garage rehearsing, lighting themselves on fire."
Now that you won’t have Mötley Crüe to worry about, do you plan on just relaxing? Would you say that you’re a person who has a hard time letting themselves just relax and enjoy leisure time?
I've had a solo band for the last fifteen years and when Mötley's last show is done on New Year's Eve my first show back with my solo band is January 12th. I love being on stage, I can't just sit around doing nothing. I love touring and I'm putting out another solo record with my band, and working on a Las Vegas show, there's a lot of stuff planned out that I'm looking forward to doing. Mötley Crüe takes up a lot of your time.
At what age do you think you’ll be able to go into a grocery store, or whatever else, without someone throwing up devil horns at you?
[Laughs] I don't know. I mean, hey, I go into Walgreens just like everybody else, you know?
We've only ever done what we do, and done it our way.
Now that it’s almost over, do you feel like you did everything you wanted to do as a member of Mötley Crüe? Do you get the sense that it was all a happy ending, or would you go back and change some things if you could?
I think we definitely did everything that we set out to do. I feel really good about my career with Mötley, and we had a really great run. It was a lot of fun and we got to do things that most people, in their lives, would never get to do. We were more of a fan band than a critic's band. We don't care that we never won a Grammy. All we care about is that we always had sold out concerts and everybody was out there enjoying it with us.
Motley Crue will be performing the last three concerts of their career at Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 28, 30, and 31st. You can check out the rest of the dates leading up to that via their tour page.
Photos by Kevin Mazur / WireImage