SIXX:A.M. – James Michael

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SIXX:A.M. – Music through Diaries

This interview originates from my desire to learn more about a name that’s been going around way less than its objective value would deserve. The three original members (with Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx inevitably standing out) are the core of Sixx:A.M.’s style – but this project is all about something specific: serving as a soundtrack to the former Crüe’s tormented life, who recently had two books out where he opens up and tells his own weaknesses, his own mistakes, his own demons. Many of us must face the same problems told by Sixx:A.M., every day, bus self-analysis can grow stronger through music. This project is not only an apology: it forces us to reflect about our own lives, our own issues. Music is a very strong weapon, sometimes the ideal one to be a back-up to words, the right words for self-examination. And that’s why Sixx:A.M. (as well as many others, of course) can be an awfully strong drug! Here is the interview, along all my questions, to James Michael, spokesman of the project!

IT  cliccate sulla bandiera per andare alla versione in Italiano

Let’s start from this brand new album called HITS, a real collection of many of your best tracks although not all of your singles. So, how did you select the songs?

We wanted HITS to be a collection of songs reflecting what Sixx:A.M. has become over the years. Not only radio hits, but songs that have resonated with our fans. Some of the songs on the HITS album were never radio singles but have found their way into people’s hearts. Sometimes those songs are the ones that have the deepest impact and we are proud to be defined by them.

You made different versions of some songs, such as “Talk To Me”, “Skin”, and the amazing piano version of “Life Is Beautiful”. How important can it be to re-create some of your masterpieces into new versions, like you did?

I think that, if you are an artist, it is important to have a clear idea about who you are and what you are able to do for your fan base. In our case, I think we are lucky to be good musicians and to have an excellent team behind us. The idea to give a new life to part of our songs was an excellent method to be trained in terms of songwriting.

You decided for the original version of “Maybe It’s Time”, even if you had an amazing version with other artists on it. Why did you choose that particular version, and how did you come up with the version with different singers on it?

It’s just because the new version is part of a charity campaign called Artists For Recovery, and for this reason without the opportunity to have the new version for our Greatest Hits. About the idea to have different guests on the song, it was because it’s always a pleasure to work with friends and incredible artists… We are extremely proud of this experience.

The new tracks “The First 21” and “Penetrate” still have the trademark of Sixx:A.M. What should we expect from the new album and when will it see the light of day?

When we got off of the road in 2016, we immediately went into the studio and began writing and recording new songs. At that time, we knew that we ultimately wanted to put together the HITS album and we wanted to include new material on it. So the writing process for the new songs began in late 2016/early 2017. At that point, we wrote “Waiting All My Life” and “Penetrate”. After those were written, we decided to take an extended break because we were all still pretty exhausted from the previous few years of recording and touring. Of course, once corona-virus hit, everything came to a screeching halt and we didn’t do any writing for quite some time. Then, about three months ago, Nikki was getting close to completing his new book and we decided to write the title track “The First 21” as a companion to his book. We had a lot of fun getting back together after such a long break. We were all feeling very creative and inspired.

Which is your favourite song musically and which one lyrically, and why?

I feel Sixx:A.M.’s style is unique not only because of our musicianship, but also because of our shared appreciation for music of all styles and genres. I also feel we benefited greatly in the beginning by not trying to be a “band.” We were simply just three friends who enjoyed getting together and making up songs. We had no objectives at first other than to create music that excited us. So we didn’t feel obliged to adhere to the “rules”. We’ve carried that mentality with us throughout our entire career and it’s given us the freedom to follow our hearts and our instincts wherever that may lead. I’d say that is the biggest contributing factor to our “style”. Honestly, I don’t have an idea about best track or text, it’s just a pleasure to have the opportunity to be part of the band.

The book “The First 21” should be about the sobriety years of Nikki. How different is this from The Heroine Diaries and how does this reflect into your music?

The new book is a sort of recap of how Nikki became a rockstar. From when he was child to the era before “The Heroine Diaries”.  I’ve always enjoyed having a book or a story as an inspiration for writing music and lyrics. When we set out to write The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, we were literally scoring a movie in our minds. It made for a very exciting and inspiring writing process, that felt a little bit different than normal songwriting. When you have a book as the guiding inspiration, it helps focus the creativity and gives you goals to reach for. So to be able to tap into that same mindset [we had] when writing the “The First 21” was a lot of fun!

You started out as a trio and then in 2015 you officially added Dustine on drums, and Amber and Melissa on backing vocals. Can we call describe Sixx:A.M. as a real band or still as a project?

Sixx:A.M. is a band of brothers, I think it’s the best way to describe us.

Let’s go back to the very beginning. It’s 2007 and you just moved your first steps as Sixx:A.M. How did the band really get to something more creative and more concrete, and why?

As explained before, the first important thing if you are part of a band you need to have two important things: friends as band members and a professional team in support. As you know, our line-up has been incredible since the beginning. For this reason it was not a problem to have killing tracks and a solid roll-out plan after few months!

How do you relate to your fans on social media, or in person, and how hard can it be to live a rock-star life?

I’m totally grateful to our fans, they’ve been the first member of Sixx:A.M. since the beginning. I love to speak with them, to have an idea about their approach to our music and our idea of “life”. About social media, I think I’m not the right person about it, I prefer the real life and my family.

Can you describe who Nikki, Daren, and James really are as real people, both inside and outside Sixx:A.M.?

The best words to describe them are “FRIENDS” and “HARD WORKERS”, both inside and outside the band.

How important has music been in your life and why?

Music is one of the most important things for my life, no doubt about it.

Feel free to close the interview by thanking someone really important for your success, and please can you send few words to your Italian supporters, who are waiting to hear from you guys?

Thank you so much! We are truly grateful for all of the support that you’ve shown over the years. We feel very lucky and honoured to be able to share our HITS album with all of you. It’s been an amazing journey!

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