Sixx: A.M.’s James Michael Talks ‘Modern Vintage’ Album, Band Camaraderie
Sixx: A.M. have put in the time and they're about to share their fruits of their creative labor as 'Modern Vintage,' the band's third disc, will drop on Oct. 7. Vocalist James Michael recently took some time to speak with 'Loudwire Nights' host Full Metal Jackie about the disc and the full chat can be found below.
Full Metal Jackie on Loudwire Nights. James Michael from Sixx: A.M. is our guest tonight. James, what about the way Nikki Sixx approaches music appeals most to you to your own sensibility as a songwriter?
You know I think that it's rare in a songwriter's career that they meet partners that can kind of compliment what they do so well and that is what I found with Nikki is that we both have a love for very similar music. But when it comes to writing songs I think that we both bring something kind of unique and different that compliments together to the table. Nikki has a really amazing sense of keeping his eye on the ball. In other words, he really makes sure that we stay on message once we've decided what we're going to write a song about.
While the creative process can be explorative, he really brings the ability to make sure that we achieve what we set out to achieve with songs. So, it enables us to have a very creative kind of back and forth but to make sure that we don't get distracted or get sidetracked and head off in a direction that doesn't necessarily keep the focus on what our original intent for the song was. So it's really been a great partnership for a number of reasons but that's what I always find so exciting about writing songs with Nikki.
Mötley Crüe wrapping up their career as a touring band presumably opens the door of opportunity for Sixx: A.M.. What will be your greatest strength if this becomes a regular touring band?
You know I think that we are all really excited about what could possibly happen once Mötley Crüe does wind down, because we've already established over three studio albums a sound for Sixx: A.M. that we all really love and we feel is very unique but I think also at this stage, you know almost eight years into this we've really found our sweet spot as far as a band as far as being creative so to all of a sudden to have this wide open future I think it's inspiring all of us.
I mean we just finished making our third record and we're already talking about songs for our fourth record so I think that Mötley Crüe winding down has come right at an exciting time for Sixx: A.M. and I think that we're all just really excited about the idea of finally being able to get out and tour and just continue making records.
Initially, Sixx: A.M. was formed to provide the soundtrack to 'The Heroin Diaries.' Now several albums into it, what now makes the dominant factor about this band and what it wants to say musically?
Oh that's a great question Jackie. I think that we've all been asking ourselves that each record. Obviously with 'The Heroin Diaries' soundtrack, we had these amazing words in Nikki's diary and just and incredibly inspiring story. It was very dark. It was very beautiful. It dealt with recovery and really celebrated the strength of somebody coming through all of that.
And then with 'This Is Gonna Hurt,' we tried a different approach which was to really be inspired by Nikki's photography because he's an incredible photographer and the images that he had captured told such beautiful stories about human nature and about how we tend to judge one another.
So when it came time to make this third record what we realized was it was an opportunity for us as a band to look back at what got us all into music in the first place, what really inspired us and so we went all the way back through all of our favorite music that made us want to be in the music business in the first place and what 'Modern Vintage' ended up being is a real celebration of a lot of different genres of music.
I think as you listen through the songs on this new record you're gonna hear influences from all of us. Things that you'll hear a lot of I think are Queen influences. I was a huge ELO fan and so I think that you're gonna notice themes a lot of vocal arrangements that really tend to harken back to those type of records so it was a lot of fun for us to be able to not necessarily have to follow the guidelines or the perimeters of a book or any type of outside theme. It really gave us an opportunity to sit down in a room and figure out who we are as a band and what we want to say as a band, so it was a really great experience for us.
James, the initial chemistry between the members of this band was hard to ignore. How has that connection most noticeably evolved?
In any type of collaborative situation there has to be a sense of trust. I think that trust is something that is developed over a period of time, obviously. It's not something you can look at someone and say, you can trust me and you're off to the races. Over a period of time, we have all figured out that we can trust each other with our emotions. We can share things and reveal things about ourselves or expose emotions and know that the other band members are going to use that as an inspiration, as opposed as using it as a weapon against you. I think that's the core of any positive creative relationship. It's something you can only develop over a period of time.
So, at this stage of Sixx: A.M.'s lifespan, we're finally at the point where we don't have to consider anything other than just expressing ourselves and having the other members of the band help to express ourselves in a way that's unique to this band. It's been a great journey for us and it kinda feels like we're just at the beginning of something new.
The musical connection is obvious. James, what about the non-musical one? How have the relationships with Nikki and DJ changed you personally?
It's the most important thing in my opinion about what makes up Sixx: A.M.. It is three very close friends that just happen to have music as a backdrop. It really has developed more and more into that as time has gone on. When I first met Nikki, we were both going through very painful divorces at the same time. We ended up crashing on each other's couches a lot and sharing a lot of personal turmoil and struggle. It didn't even occur to us at the time that it was what ultimately would end up being the stage that was set to start creating music as Sixx: A.M..
So, Sixx: A.M. was three friends first. We all happened to be in the music business. We all happened to know each other because of music. But that wasn't at the center of what this band and what this friendship was. I think it's remained that way over the years. We've all just felt so lucky to be able to have music in common, but that is not the driving force of what Sixx: A.M. is. Sixx: A.M. is three guys that just have an incredible respect for one another and actually enjoy being with each other.
Many thanks to Sixx: A.M.'s James Michael for the interview. As stated, Sixx: A.M.'s 'Modern Vintage' arrives in stores Oct. 7. The disc is available for pre-order at Amazon and iTunes. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
Watch Sixx: A.M.'s 'Gotta Get It Right' Video