Latest release: Prayers for the Damned Pt. 1 (Eleven Seven)Website: www.sixxammusic.com
After almost a decade, LA all-star hard rock unit Sixx:A.M. can at last call itself a legitimate full-time band. Prayers for the Damned, the first half of which is due for release in late April, will mark the first recording for Nikki Sixx since bringing down the curtain on Mötley Crüe at the end of last year, and Loud jumped at the opportunity to grab a few minutes on the phone with singer and producer James Michael about the search for spirituality and healing the world with music.
Congratulations on the new release James. Now that it’s in the can, what are your thoughts on Prayers for the Damned?
Well this is an exciting record – well this is only Part 1 and there’s a second part coming out later this year… but they kind of mark a turning point for Sixx:A.M. because as you know at the end of last year, Nikki wound down 35 years of Mötley Crüe and DJ left Guns N Roses, and we have basically been together ten years. It’s been ten years since the Heroin Diaries soundtrack. So what these new records represent for us is a new starting point for us as a full-time working band. We’re extremely excited about how the records turned out. The message and the music is exactly what we were really needed to do with this band.
Now that Nikki’s not doing Mötley anymore, it must have been something of a relief to know that he was going to have so much more time to commit to Sixx:A.M.
Yeah and you know the exciting thing about that was that this was the first time that we went in to make a record knowing that we could invest several months without interruption. That’s a big thing for a band. Your expectations are different knowing that you are now a fully-fledged band.
Was there a spiritual focus on this record? There seems to be a lot of spiritual language running through this album.
That’s a good question. Here’s the thing: there are a few references to God on this record – on songs like ‘Prayers for the Damned’. The answer to that is, that this is what Sixx:A.M. has always done. We have always written songs that deal with really heavy, personal subject matter, typically dealing with things where a person is pushed to a point where it almost feels like a breaking point. And when we as people get pushed to a point of desparation, even if you’re not religious, how many times do we feel like throwing our hands up in the air and handing it over to somebody else, whether that be God or whomever. So the references that we make, while they seem religious, are more about that spiritual search. A lot of these songs are about that internal battle between good and evil. Sometimes it’s very personal, and sometimes it’s very global, like songs like ‘Rise’ that are dealing with real global issues. And I think that all people, when they are pushed to that breaking point, even those people who are not religious – they wish that they were! This is not something new for Sixx:AM. We’ve always kind of introduced that into our songs at certain points.
The one that really brought that home for me was ‘Belly of the Beast’.
That’s a very very unusual song. That’s the first song that we wrote for these two records. It’s probably the most unusual song for Sixx:A.M. It’s very raw, very gutteral, almost bluesy in a sense. There’s a Gospel element to it and yeah, there does tend to be some religious overtones to that song, as well as some others.
Just the title Prayers for the Damned seems to bear that out.
Well, it really does. There’s a reason for that. When we sat down to start writing and recording these songs last year, there was a lot of stuff going on in the world and I think it would be hard to argue the fact that the world as a whole is wounded, and is in need of healing and is in need of some repair. You just have to look at what’s going in here in the United States right now – some of the most vicious, awful election cycle we have ever witnessed. It is truly scary when you look at what is going on. And while we’re not a political band at all – never have been, never will be – we cannot help but react to what’s going on. There’s a general sense of anger and fear, and that is why things are so tense right now. That’s why people like Donald Trump are being given so much traction. It’s not necessarily that people believe in what they say, it’s just that they give the impression that they’re not doing what everyone else is doing, [they’re] being loud and being boisterous. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in him or in Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. That’s a reason people like that are being given traction. [People] are fed up with how things have been and believing that their leaders have been lying to them, and I think that we’re at a very reactive phase in this country. It’s very scary, I’ll be honest with you. Very scary, and I think the general consensus is that at some point we’re going to have to stop being so vicious with one another and we’re going to have to start finding some common ground whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, and start making some progress here. So that’s what a lot of these songs are about – the struggle between good and evil.
So do you think that as musicians Sixx:A.M. can help bring people together in a way that will make a difference?
I think that music in general does have some healing properties to it. I hope it does. We’ve seen that over the years. We’ve had fans come up to us ever since the Heroin Diaries soundtrack and say that “This song has made a profound impact on my life”. So I think that music does have that healing influences. I don’t ever think that we are influencers. I don’t think that’s our role. Our role is to react to what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in our lives and express that in a way that’s universally understood and hopefully universally embraced. So I hope with all of our records that people allow those songs to become part of the soundtrack to their lives and in some way inspire them or motivate them or empower them.
Prayers for the Damned Pt. 1 is released on April 29.