ALLENTOWN, Pa. - After more than 30 years as rock music's biggest bad boys, after selling more than 30 million albums, Motley Crue can see the finish line, bassist Nikki Sixx says.
"We believe that a band should bow out when they're, hopefully, at their top and when they can leave an amazing legacy of music and history," Sixx says in a call last week from Canada, where the band was two-thirds of the way through a tour.
"We don't know when it's going to be, (but) we want the last few years to be on top, and we want to go out gracefully and with a bang."
Sixx's point is that now is a good time to see Motley Crue.
"We are huge rock fans, and there are bands out there that we just are like, 'Aww, dude, why didn't you pack it in before it turned into that?'" Sixx says. "And I know I'm not alone on this. A lot of my friends, we sit around and talk about this band and that band and what that album meant to us, and it always boils down to the last few years."
Sixx says the band members, including singer Vince Neil, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars, are all in their mid-50s to 62, and are all healthy.
Motley Crue certainly meets Sixx's criteria for a band that's still viable.
After a career that started with nine straight gold or platinum albums and produced rock hits "Smokin' in the Boys Room," "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Dr. Feelgood" and "Without You," the original lineup is still intact. Neil took a five-year break in the late 1990s, but he's been back for more than 15 years.
The Crue's last album, 2008's "Saints of Los Angeles," was its highest-charting in 20 years. It hit No. 4, and had a Top 5 Mainstream Rock hit with the title cut.
Sixx says the band is working on a new album, and released a single, "Sex," in July. But he declines to put a date on the album's release.
"We're working on it," he says. "It's funny, you know, doing this for over 30 years, it's always like, 'When's the album done?' And we're like, 'Well, no disrespect, but it's done when it's done.'" He says the band plans to "take most of the summer off for writing, being creative and just enjoying our lives.
"It's hard when you tour to finish music, and so I think a big part of us being off the road is going to be the ability to, you know, be in one place and to be able to write and be able to put music together. We haven't been home in the summer for years. We always tour in the summer, so we're sort of looking forward to that."
Motley Crue has taken more time on new music in recent years. "Saints of Los Angeles" is its only disc of new material in more than a dozen years, and it was released on its own label, Motley Records.
Among the other things Motley Crue has in the works is a movie adaptation of its debauchery-and-drug-filled 2002 band autobiography, "The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band." The film is rumored to be ready for release this year.
"There's only so much I can say because we're sort of legally bound to keep our mouths shut," Sixx says. "Let's just say it's moving along quite nicely."
Before the end of the year, Motley Crue also has scheduled a 19-day residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
With all of that, Sixx says the end certainly won't come this year, and he won't even confirm that the upcoming album will be the last. But when the band does record its finale, it will schedule a farewell tour, then that will be it, Sixx says. He promises there will be no reunion tour later.
"This is something we've been talking about for five years, amongst ourselves," Sixx says. "And we didn't know if it was 25 years, 30 years, 40 years - we don't know. I think we might have spoke too soon, because a lot of people, that seems to be the thing that everyone wants to talk about. I promise you that when we know, we'll let everybody else know, too."
So then, until the band does, what's the secret that's kept the band together all these years?
"The band has a chemistry," Sixx says. "It is what it is. You know, you either love us or hate us. We do something, and we do what we do the very best we can do it.
"A friend of mine is in a band that broke up. He said to me, 'How do you guys do it?' And I said, 'Because we didn't break up, bonehead,'" Sixx says with a hearty laugh.
"The only way to do it is to stay together. You ask somebody who's been married for 40 years, you know. 'What's the secret?' And they say, 'We never got a divorce. We worked through our problems.'"
Distributed by MCT Information Services