Nikki Sixx Defends Motley Crue’s Use of Backing Tapes
Nikki Sixx is arguing for Motley Crue's use of backing tracks during live concerts. He also revealed that they started doing it well before the band's final tour.
"We've used technology since '87," Sixx said on Twitter, adding a list of specifics. He said the group employed "sequencers, sub tones, background vox tracks, plus background singers and us. [Motley Crue also taped] stuff we can't tour with, like cello parts in ballads, etc. ... We love it and don't hide it. It's a great tool to fill out the sound."
Sixx's bandmate Mick Mars previously admitted Motley Crue sweetened their onstage presence, though he initially seemed more conflicted. "I don't like it," Mars said in 2014. "I could put on a Motley CD and play along with it all day. I don't wanna do that."
Later, however, Mars seemed to soften his stance. "I'd rather hear on-key vocals than not," Mars subsequently told Rolling Stone. "I think that background vocals strengthen the band in some ways. I mean, it is what it is."
Former Motley Crue singer John Corabi has said he's often confronted by fans on the issue. "I just ask them, 'At the end of the day, did you have a good time?' That's it," he told Rock Music Star in 2016. "'If you had a good time, was it worth the money you paid? Did you get your money's worth?' If they say, 'Yes,' then whatever. If they say, 'No,' I've got nothing for them. Whatever."
Over the years, rockers like Gene Simmons and Dave Grohl have made targets of acts that won't simply plug in and perform. In fact, the Foo Fighters frontman took a direct shot at Motley Crue: "We don't use backing tracks," Grohl said in 2014. "I'd rather sound awful and have the chance to change things at a whim than sound like Linkin Park or Motley Crue because of today's technology. They feel naked when it comes to playing live."
Simmons suggested that details about pre-recorded elements should be prominently displayed at shows, linking it to the idea of truth in advertising. "I have a problem when you charge $100 to see a live show and the artist uses backing tracks," Simmons told news.com.au in 2015. "It should be on every ticket: You're paying $100, 30 to 50 percent of the show is [on] backing tracks and they'll sing sometimes, sometimes they'll lip sync. At least be honest. It's not about backing tracks; it's about dishonesty."
Sixx seems to agree. For him, the issue isn't really the use of backing tracks, so much as those who are hypocritical about it.
Corabi earlier confirmed the use of tapes during live renditions of Motley Crue songs like "Misunderstood," which he said originally featured a 53-piece orchestra. But he said 94 Live, a live solo project featuring a performance of Motley Crue's entire self-titled 1994 album, was recorded without additional tracks.
"At the end of the day, I was, like, 'I don't want to do that. I just want to play the songs as a five-piece band, as it would have been without any of the backing tracks,'" Corabi said in 2016. "So, there's not a shit-ton of backing vocals, there's no orchestra parts, there's no backward-guitar thing. It's just a five-piece band playing the songs in the most stripped-down, direct format possible."
That's the kind of throwback mentality that speaks to Mars. "I have to say '60s bands were my favorite — '60s and '70s bands — because they were real, like, three-piece bands or four-piece bands, and they just got up there and kicked it up," Mars lamented in 2014. "Made a mistake? So what? Sounded a little bit empty here or there? So what?"
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