While the name Nikki Sixx evokes images of the wild-haired bass player from the glory days of infamous glam-metallers Motley Crue, it's a much more relaxed 48 year old sitting across the table these days.
But a passionate spark for creating art is still in Sixx's blue eyes, as he fidgets and gestures actively like a teenager in his first band. The reason for his excitement is the main project in his busy life: the release of The Heroin Diaries (a year of his diary entries from 1987, during the height of both the Crue's popularity and Sixx's own destructive addictions) and its accompanying soundtrack album performed by his new rock band, Sixx:A.M.
This is definitely an improved Sixx that ChartAttack had the fortune of chatting with, and he's more than eager to expound upon his current endeavours and the value of keeping clean.
ChartAttack: When you were putting together the book, did you put a lot of emphasis on not glamourizing the junkie lifestyle? Like, say some young fan of yours read it and thought "Hey, Nikki did drugs, so that must be cool..."
Nikki Sixx: I worried about that. When it was all done, I sent it to a friend of mine who runs a teen rehab centre, and he said that he would have the kids read it. My friend George who works at Covenant House said absolutely, have the kids read it. I've had so many people tell me that they will never do drugs because they can see where it goes. I can't imagine anybody going, "Wow, drugs sound great. I can't wait to become a junkie!"
What do you think of some of these younger bands that are so focused on bringing sex, booze and drugs to the forefront?
Well, it's a lifestyle. People are going to make decisions. You've got door number one and you've got door number two, and I've been fortunate enough to be down both. But I've had friends who will relapse and then get their lives back together, and I've had friends who can't ever get clean and die, and I've had friends who've never done it at all. Their art, their writing and their painting becomes more important to them than their addictions.
I think the truth of it is that if you're doing this stuff because you think it's a lifestyle, you're a fucking retard. If you're using drugs because you're masking something that's really fucking painful, I can kind of understand it, but if you're doing it because you think that's just what you're supposed to do, then you're a fucking retard. There's no manual for what you're supposed to do as a band. People go, "We have to sound and look like this" and it's like, "Who said?" If I had subscribed to that, then I never would have done what I did with my life.
So how's your health these days?
I'm so healthy it's ridiculous. I don't understand it. You know, I just recently did the mandatory thing you have to do when you reach your forties â€” the full tests, the blood, the physical, the whole deal. I even went so far as to get the MRIs where they scan you and they look for everything internally, to see if there's anything going on. So then the doctor called me in, and he was laughing. He was like, "What the fuck? I know your history, and you're like a 20 year old." It must have been that deal I made with the devil or something. (laughs)
What's your biggest vice now?
Work. I'm really addicted to doing stuff. I have this thing where I always want to take nothing and make it something. So I have to watch myself and take a look at my priorities every day. I have to struggle with my priorities... no, I take that back. I don't have to struggle, I have to look at them and make sure they're not in the wrong order. As long as it's me being clean, and then it's my kids, and then it's my career, and lastly it's my personal life. When I keep it like that, everything seems to work.
Are you going to let your four kids read your book?
When it's age-appropriate. But they already know everything. We have no secrets in our family. And see, I'm just their father. I'm a dork to them. I'm not cool at all. They love me more than life itself, and I love them right back, but there's nothing cool about dad. I'm just this guy that makes them do their homework.
On a different note, I've always hopped from relationship to relationship ever since I was a kid, so I'm glad to have been able to go through a divorce, stay sober, be a good father and stay single. I have all these people going, "Wow, being a single rock star must be amazing," and I go, "No, it's actually really boring." And I like it. I've sort of set this bar of things I want to do, and there's just not enough hours in the day to share it with anybody else. It's a very selfish artistic mode, but it's also a very selfless time where I'm trying to give money back to charity and trying to raise awareness. I spoke in front of Congress recently, and that was just a fucking trip.
I wonder what must have been running through the heads of the politicians in the room.
When they called, I was like, "Are you sure you've got the right person?" Like, I got a standing ovation! I was nervous, and I'm never nervous. That told me that this is something that's important to me, being involved in these bills that are important, especially in America. There's a bill that, if it's passed, it'll make it so that health insurance companies have to include rehabilitation fees in their policy. I did the research and learned that 70 per cent of all people with addiction have jobs, and only a very small percentage of those people have jobs with insurance, so the others will end up losing their jobs and losing their houses, and then it affects the economy. So it's really interesting when you start to learn this stuff â€“ it's like, "Fuck, wow!"
It's all this stuff you didn't know when you were younger.
Yeah, I was just happy looking at New York Dolls covers for years.