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| 10 September 2014 | Reply

What is hotter than Mötley Crüe being performed in a packed club on a Friday night?  There is only one thing – Mötley Crüe music being performed by New York City’s Girls Girls Girls – the World’s First and Best All-Girl Tribute to Mötley Crüe.  As the band prepares for the trek to Ferndale, MI for what promises to be a killer show at The Magic Bag this Friday, we were able to get some time with the members via email – have you ever tried to pin down multiple members of a band for a conference call interview – to discuss the show, Mötley Crüe, and what makes each of them tick…  Having just been plastered on the cover of esteemed NYC magazine, The Village Voice, this group of rockers is sure to be in high demand quickly! What an honor and blast to run questions by guitarist Mercedes Mars, drummer Tawny Lee, bass player Lucky Sixx, and lead signer Vixen Neil.


photo: Jesse Dittmar

Toddstar: First of all, let me say, it’s truly an honor and a pleasure and I really appreciate all of you taking time out of your busy schedules for us today. This has been an interview I have been looking forward to, so I really appreciate you taking time. Let’s get right down to business – you have a show coming up on September 12 at The Magic Bag in Ferndale just outside of Detroit.  What is it about this venue and/or city that has you coming back through for a second time this year?

MERCEDES MARS:  It seems like they liked us quite a bit the 1st time the band played the Magic Bag!  Props to your local rocker gals in Broadzilla for making the entire night great. Detroit is one of the key birthing centers of important and influential music in America with such an interesting, rich history.  The area that could produce an Iggy Pop, Eminem, and the timeless soul of Motown — I’m thrilled to visit and be asked to perform in.

LUCKY SIXX: One of the biggest things I remember about playing at The Magic Bag was the amazing venue and the crowd. Being onstage you definitely feed off their energy and they were with us the whole way. It was awesome.

TAWNY LEE: We had such an amazing time the last time we played The Magic Bag! The energy of the city itself while driving into Detroit was cool enough, but then we got to this awesome, unique venue with a great crew, and met Broadzilla, a group of super cool, badass…broads… who just rock the crap out that place, and the crowd was fantastic. The audience felt unique somehow, though I can’t place my finger on it. Maybe it’s just because of Detroit’s reputation for being such a music capital that they just felt more in the know or something. It was definitely one of my favorite shows we’ve played this year.

VIXEN NEIL: I loved Detroit!  The people are totally cool.  The Magic Bag is totally cool.  It was a really fun show!  One of the best shows ever!  The city itself is really cool too, loved that mid-century architecture and the patriotic vibe.  I can’t wait to come back!

Toddstar: Tribute bands seem to be finally catching on in the music industry.  What is it about Mötley Crüe, their legacy, and music that made forming or becoming a member of Girls, Girls, Girls a natural progression for each of you as musicians?

LUCKY SIXX: At the start of joining the band I was already dabbling in various cover projects, but stepping into the Crüe’s shoes really forced me to flex my theatrical antics and performing muscles. With each show I’ve tried to push myself a little more.

TAWNY LEE: Mötley Crüe to me is an iconic 80s rock band that wrote awesome tunes that spoke to a lot of people, and were just as famous for their crazy antics as they were for their music. for a tribute band, it’s the ultimate combo, especially for a girl band: iconic songs that people remember and love and bring them back to the glory days of their youth, notorious bad boys who were known for filthy rock star behavior yet were still idolized by dudes and lusted over by chicks, and they are still around, over 30 years later, i.e. still relevant and popular and making news and kicking ass. There aren’t a lot of bands like that left!

VIXEN NEIL: Mötley Crüe’s legacy and music is so kickass it’s pretty thrilling to perform their songs live to a crowd of pumped up fans.  We’ve got one of the best built in audiences on the planet.

MERCEDES MARS: I didn’t exactly know what a tribute band was when I was asked to join Girls in 2006 by the band’s founder/bassist Patty, a/k/a Nikita Seis. I previously had come out of playing in a few mostly original type bands, and then did a lot of performing on the NYC punk scene in a very popular group. I was just getting back into wanting to play guitar again after a really long break from music.  I knew who the Crüe were and a couple of their songs from the radio, but wasn’t some huge fan of theirs when I answered Patty’s intriguing ad looking for a kickass guitarist.  After learning 3 songs for the audition, I genuinely liked Patty and drummer Tawny when we jammed & afterwards.  They were 100% beginners, but something clicked and I felt this would be a fun experience to be in a band with these wonderful enthusiastic ladies.  The bonus was I’d get to learn a large part of the Crüe catalogue which was now growing on me. It was a definite step forward to join Girls Girls Girls as the guitarist. I’m glad we were in really early on the scene as a tribute band, already gigging in early ’07 by the time we had our 3rd singer, the current Vixen Neil.  Tributes have become the thing to do today for many eager to play out.  It is most often viewed as a shortcut vs. writing original music.  However most successful musicians did spent years doing other people’s music in the beginning of their careers, paying their dues, learning to play well and, there are some truly gifted musicians doing this work all over the country.  In NYC, it used to be considered totally lame and dreadful to be in a ‘cover band.’  At the time we formed, it was still very unusual to be in an outfit like this … but Patty’s vision and drive as to what we might become gave Girls one hell of an awesome rock & roll ride doing the tribute/cover band project.

Toddstar: Speaking of the Mötley Crüe legacy, their road antics are well documented.  What is your favorite road/tour story as a member of Girls, Girls, Girls?  Change the names to protect the innocent… if you must!!!

TAWNY LEE: Probably my favorite was our first trip outside the east coast not long after we started the band, when we flew out to Anchorage, Alaska. It was the first time for all of us in Alaska, dark most of the day, there was snow everywhere, and we ate lots of crab legs and saw lots of wild animals. Not the kind of antics you were looking for? Those happened too, but a lady never tells.

VIXEN NEIL: Every time we go anywhere it’s some sort of Spinal Tap moment… I always enjoy visiting new cities and meeting new people.  As far as getting really crazy on tour… I’m probably the best at being the worst!  I’m sort of a handful after shows, but at this point I think the craziest and funniest thing that has happened to me in this band is hooking up with the lead singer of a Guns ‘N Roses tribute band!  (Since historically Vince Neil and Axl Rose hate each other it’s hilarious) And yes, we’re still together.

MERCEDES MARS: Don’t be disappointed, but we really don’t live it up like the Crüe did when we tour.  The best times for me are meeting the interesting everyday people and occasional animals encountered, and mainly, the excitement of trying to put on a killer show.

LUCKY SIXX: There’s lots of little after show video gems on a few of our phones. One of my favorites is on Vixen’s phone. It entails her and I chasing and tackling this guy twice our size. We made a movie with dialogue and scene editing and everything. It makes no sense and is hilarious.

Toddstar: Which characteristic or attribute of your respective band member do you feel you best portray once you get into your outfit and/or hit the stage?

VIXEN NEIL: Vince Neil is such a great front person.  He runs around like a maniac to pump up the crowd, cursing like a sailor, er uh, cursing like a rock star (which is probably worse than a sailor).  I do what I can to encompass the audience in the same way… I like to try to make eye contact with every single person in the crowd.  I talk to them like they’re my buddies and we’re partying together.  And then sing and sweat and scream my heart out.

MERCEDES MARS: People always initially think I’m the Nikki Sixx of this band.  I have that spiky shaggy hair and a lot of wild stage clothes, many of which I create to keep my own Mercedes persona very distinct and visible in the mix of things.  But my stage heart lies with Mick Mars.


photo: Rachel Rampleman

TAWNY LEE: Definitely the titty cam and his giant…… just kidding. I don’t know how well I actually portray Tommy Lee… I hope I at least do the drumming some justice!

LUCKY SIXX: Nikki Sixx is an iconic performer. Most Crüe fans aren’t impressed if you’ve got good bass chops, but just stand there. They want to see the moves. They want to see you sweat. They want to see you bring it. It’s an amazing feeling if you can deliver that for them.

Toddstar: When it comes to the Mötley catalog, are there any obscure songs you have been dying to get into your live show?  Conversely, are there any songs that you have had just about enough of?  The fans want to hear the hits, but what song(s) would you drop from the set list in favor of something less often played?

LUCKY SIXX: I’ve really wanted to play “Use It or Lose It”, but I’ve been sorely outnumbered on that one. I’m not that crazy about the ballads, but I know they’re fan favorites.

MERCEDES MARS: The band currently has 30 tunes in the set, but there were several others we did before as well. I miss including “Sick Love Song” but have to work with what some in this band can comfortably do. Happy to be adding in the super-punkified “Going Out Swinging” with Tawny and original member Nikita back on bass along with a guest singer, for a special party taking place in October.  Thus far Girls not only perform the required hits, which are terrific, but also real great groovers like “Primal Scream” and “Piece of Your Action.”  I love the 2-hour sweaty sets when I get to play everything loud!!!

TAWNY LEE: I think we still have room in our set list without dropping anything. I really love “Public Enemy #1.” It from their first album and is so raw and simple and it’s a sing-along (“oh yeah!”). We try to squeeze that in whenever we can. What about a hit we never play? “Without You!” Why don’t we play that?? I need to investigate this.

VIXEN NEIL: Vixen:  As a tribute band, it’s important to give the fans what they want.  But as a band we put on the best shows when we do the material WE love.  We pretty much play all the songs we love.  We have adopted a few fan favorites that we really weren’t planning on doing originally because we weren’t sure how they would go over live, like “Smokin In The Boys Room” and “Merry Go Round,” but the crowd loves those tunes… (and subsequently we fell in love with “Merry Go Round”) But there have also been a few songs we’ve learned and dropped just because they are slower and weigh down the momentum of a high powered set… like “Don’t Go Away Mad” and “On With the Show”… We used to even do “Without You” and “Afraid”… they just don’t go over well with a fist pumping, lubed up crowd of people ready to rock. 

Toddstar: Has you ever put any thought into recording your live show or your own recorded version of Mötley Crüe out on CD or download for your fans?

TAWNY LEE: I think if people want to hear Crüe on their way to work, they want to hear Mötley Crüe. I prefer to focus on the live shows, where we offer something a little (well, a lot) different while still giving them their favorites to rock along to.

LUCKY SIXX: There are some videos up of us performing, and also some old recorded tracks the girls made before I joined the band. Ultimately though I think we’re a live band at heart.

VIXEN NEIL: A lot of people have asked us that.  And if we put a different spin on Mötley Crüe’s music we might have considered that, but we pretty much play their music like the record… and who would rather listen to a tribute than the original band?  There are some recordings of us out there, just so people can hear a sample of what we sound like.  And there are tons of YouTube videos… not all are great sounding… you can’t filter what fans throw on the internet… but there’s some pretty cool vids up as well.

MERCEDES MARS: Girls has its own unique spin on the Crüe’s music. My thing is bringing in the hard punk element and dropping in some flashy shredding wherever I can make it work. However, it would be kind of a waste to spend money recording our show for sale.  If people want Mötley Crüe, listen to them.  Come to our live show for a great time celebrating that music.

Toddstar: That said, if you have had a chance to check out the recent Mötley tribute disc Nashville Outlaws, do you have any thoughts or feedback?

MERCEDES MARS: The few snippets I’ve heard off this album on YouTube sound good.  Since this music is so familiar, it still sounds like cover bands playing it countrified or not. I’d listen to the album in full if someone had it handy, but not buy it.

VIXEN NEIL: Is that a Country Tribute to Crüe?  I just plain do not like Country Music.  (I really just don’t like hearing people complain) 

LUCKY SIXX: Errrrrr…haven’t given it a listen yet.

TAWNY LEE: What’s this?! I have to look this up stat.

Toddstar: The band is saying goodbye to the world as a touring unit with “The Final Tour.”  What about Mötley Crüe will you miss the most once they retire as a touring unit?

VIXEN NEIL: Mötley has put so much out there that I don’t think I will “miss” them, because they aren’t going away… They will always be there.  Their concerts are awesome, but sometimes so grandiose it’s hard to really feel like you’re a part of it.  I think that’s why people enjoy our shows, because they can get closer and can talk to us after the show, and we can chat about how much we all love Mötley Crüe.

LUCKY SIXX: I guess the infamy and mythology behind them is just so big. They all went through so much individually and came out the other side. But there’s a natural order to things, nothing lasts forever.

MERCEDES MARS: Their retirement will have absolutely no effect on my life.  If they know their work is done, it is.  They gave the world some genuine classics: “Home Sweet Home,” “Primal Scream,” “Looks That Kill,” “Wildside,” and “Piece Of Your Action.”  Endless props to the Crüe for their legacy of leaving some truly great rock songs for fans to enjoy for years to come.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about you individually for a moment.  What or whom in your life created the want or need to get on stage and be a rock star for a living?  Was there a defining moment or influence that is to be thanked… or blamed?

TAWNY LEE: Ha, I actually probably had to be coaxed onto the stage. I’m shy! This is why sitting behind drums at the back of a stage is my favorite way to rock out. Watching my Girls, Girls, Girls rock the crowd, from the back (though I admit I am starting to appreciate the big drum risers…!).


photo: Jesse Dittmar

MERCEDES MARS: I grew up in a family that played instruments so it was always a big part of my life.  Listening to old Southern bluesmen was major for me.  In rock, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Richards really got into my bloodstream early as dazzling larger than life guitarists-personas.  To this day, every great song I hear still makes me want to pick up the guitar and feel that rush.

LUCKY SIXX: I wouldn’t call myself a “rock star”. But I’ve been playing music since I was a kid. It’s something I always go back to. The indescribably feeling you get when you’re playing alone or in a crowded room and it all clicks is motivation enough to keep at it.

VIXEN NEIL: I grew up in a musical family.  I think my first singing solo was at age 4.  As soon as I was out of the house and looking for work the first thing I wanted to do was be in a band.  I started in Omaha and joined an original ska band called Jimmy Skaffa when I was 19.  When I’m on stage, I feel like that’s what I was born to do. Skaffa was together for many years and released 2 albums.  It was great… we’d sell out local venues.  Then eventually I moved to New York City, was working on some original stuff and looking for a band and was approached by GGG to join… I never really imagined being in a tribute band would be so much fun.  And we’ve been very lucky to have played some pretty killer events.  I’m grateful for what we’ve experienced and also eager to see what happens next!

Toddstar: When it comes to leaving home for a tour, whether it is a one-off show or a multi-show run, what are the items you look around your place and decide you cannot leave home without?

MERCEDES MARS: Earplugs!! For sleeping while traveling whether by plane or van, not for stage use.  Hairspray & a teasing comb.

TAWNY LEE: Eh, just boring stuff for me. I’m really practical and travel light. I mean, I almost said earplugs, but that was too boring. (What, I’m a drummer! do you know how many deaf drummers there are out there?)

VIXEN NEIL: Hahaha… oh man, that’s a good question.  I think it used to be a lot harder to pack for tour.   And when we fly to shows we have to pay extra for the weight of our bags… each of us wears anywhere from 5 – 10 pounds of chains, metal, and leather.  One time someone picked up my bag and said, “what do you have in here??!! A chainmail dress??!!” and I said, “YES, I actually do!!”  But at this point I just have all my stage clothes in a separate area and have gotten pretty good at knowing what I need for a show.  Could not live without HAIRSPRAY!

LUCKY SIXX: Pod, blanket, and pillow (for van naps) leather jacket, dry shampoo, and bottled water (for when you’re cold, dirty, and hung over – usually all at once). Extra credit: sunscreen and bug spray for outdoor gigs (trust me)

Toddstar: If you were to leave your phone or iPod behind at a venue, like The Magic Bag where you will be playing next Friday – September 12, what musical selection(s) might a fan of the band find to be odd on your device?

LUCKY SIXX: I like a lot of old surf/rockabilly or modern music that has that as an influence.

VIXEN NEIL: When someone looks deeply into my iPod, I might get a little shy.  I have so many different genres of music.  I’m the second to youngest of 7 brothers and 3 sisters… I grew up Christian (obviously not very Christian anymore), my father is a jazz drummer and all my siblings played all sorts of different records LOUD.  I also DJ on the side, so I seriously have a diverse selection.  One super classic song on there that is makes me sooooo happy is “Me And My Arrow” by Harry Nilsson.  Hmm… I’m gonna go play it right now.

MERCEDES MARS: I’m not a huge downloader and never owned an iPod. I like to be fully aware of my surroundings front, back & sides at all times when outdoors.  With today’s technology it seems one could spend their life downloading and re-listening to songs instead of gathering one’s own thoughts and ideas. My broken phone was just replaced so the only music on it is Crüe set list I need to practice to and some Randy Rhoads at the moment.   My taste is wide, spanning centuries and eras so anything could pop up.

TAWNY LEE: I have a wide-ranging collection of Spanish music, from 1990s-era pop ballads to salsa to Mexican rock. It’s what I listen to when I need a mental music cleanse. Weird right??

Toddstar: If you were given the opportunity to go back through the history of time, what piece of music do you wish you could put your stamp on musically or just be a part of the process?

VIXEN NEIL: Every time I hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” I try to imagine what it would have been like to be in that recording studio while that was made.  I wonder if there were like, 3 Wisemen, a donkey and the Star of Bethlehem shining down upon them.

LUCKY SIXX: That’s a hard one; I’d love to have made some spooky chamber orchestra music though.

MERCEDES MARS: “Purple Haze” = introducing the world to jaw dropping and astounding modern rock guitar playing.

Toddstar: If you could use one Mötley Crüe song name to describe your life, what would it be?

MERCEDES MARS: “On With the Show” = Life changes all the time, and you occasionally have to let go of some previously significant and meaningful things to move forward.  Recognize when it is that time … do it! And… on with the show.

LUCKY SIXX: Probably “Primal Scream.” It’s definitely an underdog song with attitude.

TAWNY LEE: To describe my whole life?! That’s hard. How about for right this minute? And that is “You’re All I Need.” I’m talking to you, tequila. And I mean now.

VIXEN NEIL: “Livewire.”  It’s loud and playful and fun and then there is a real soft and beautiful part that’s alluring and mysterious that leads right in to an explosion of yelling and then abrupt peacefulness… 

Toddstar: Three of the four members of Mötley Crüe have released books, in addition to the band’s book The Dirt – if you were to write your memoirs, what would the title of your book be?

LUCKY SIXX: I just rock here man (sort of like “I just work here man”)

MERCEDES MARS: Loud Fast Rules! = the title of my punk band “The Stimulators” best known song. That title could well describe how I have lived incredible parts of my life in the trenches as a woman rocker.

VIXEN NEIL: Tampon. 

Toddstar: If it weren’t for the gig in Girls, Girls, Girls, would you still have a career in music?  If so, how do you think you would have made your mark in music?

TAWNY LEE: Honestly, I hate to say it because it’s so sad, but I probably would not, which is part of why I’m so friggin grateful for GGG! Serendipity and probably some weird astrology stuff brought me to the band at a time when I was just playing around and learning, not even thinking about getting serious about drumming. In my next life, I’ll start playing at age 3 and rule the percussion world.

VIXEN NEIL: Who’s to say?  Ya never know what could have been… I certainly do think I would be doing something with music.  It’s in me, it’s in my blood.  And ya never know what the future holds either.  I hope I’m never too far away from being able to create music.


photo: Bryan Nilsen

MERCEDES MARS: It has been by sheer luck – despite the team work of the 6-7 people involved – to have made some kind of a ‘name’ as a tribute band!  The irony of it still blows me away sometimes. In 2014 HAGSTROM GUITARS of SWEDEN endorsed me as an Artist, a privilege they awarded me at the NAMM Convention in Anaheim, CA.  The pre-endorsement featured artist bio on Hagstrom can be read by clicking here.  Winter 2015 plans for me are to begin recording original music again, which I have already begun writing/working on with other musicians as time permits. I had a vivid & colorful career/experience as a guitarist long before Girls Girls Girls as the founder/guitarist & co-songwriter of the influential NYC underground punk group The Stimulators. Our distinctive style of speeded up yet melodic punk rock became the building block or proto-type of the hardcore/thrash metal movement in NYC that exploded in the early 80’s. We played every major venue around to packed houses. The Stimulators are exemplified by their best- known work: Loud Fast Rules!  “Loud Fast Rules!”   “Loud Fast Rules!” on the ROIR label The Stimulators also appeared on the compilation album “New York Thrash” alongside Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, and other friends and contemporaries off that scene.  I was included in an interview appearance in the legendary Bad Brains 2012 documentary film alongside rockers Dave Grohl, Ric Ocasek, Henry Rollins, Beastie Boys, and other musicians relevant to that early punk-to-hardcore/thrash-metal time.  With numerous gigs and some touring, we performed with notable bands: Bad Brains, Black Flag, Cramps, Stiff Little Fingers, Madness, amongst others.  The Stimulators were also the 1st American punk band to tour Ireland, both north and south, causing a sensation everywhere we went.

LUCKY SIXX: I don’t consider myself a “career musician” as to say I don’t make my living by playing music. That being said, I’ve been in bands before this one, and I’ll be in bands after. Notoriety is nice, but by no means a necessity. As long as I get to play I’m happy.

Toddstar: What was the first disc, LP, cassette, 8-track (or whatever mode of music you were into at the time) that you remember owning or purchasing for yourself?

VIXEN NEIL: INXS – Kick.  On Cassette.  I was in love with Michael Hutchence.  

MERCEDES MARS: a Beatles album

LUCKY SIXX: It was a cassette, the earliest ones I remember buying myself were Smashing Pumpkins and The Cranberries. Though I can’t remember which one was first.

Toddstar: A final thought from you personally, at this point in your career and life, with everything going on, what is the meaning of life for you?

LUCKY SIXX: Between two jobs and two bands I’m just trying to not fall asleep on the train and wake up at the end of the line somewhere. But that could totally be metaphorical too.

MERCEDES MARS: Life and time are precious, so use these sacred gifts very well… and realize it’s the ‘little things’ that are actually the ‘big things.’ Set priorities straight: family concerns must mesh with personal goals. Do what you can to make the world a better place while you are here. For me, it’s the struggle of trying to help with the never ending animal rights issues and wildlife/nature being saved from human annihilation in this perilous age.  Finally, don’t squander energy on negative, time-wasting people and situations that hold you back.

TAWNY LEE: Man, wha?? Sheez, I don’t know. Still trying to figure that out but having a good ol’ time trying. Wooh!

VIXEN NEIL: Robin (Vixen’s real name): I think the meaning of life is to find love.  As much love as you can.  And find the balance between HEART MIND BODY AND SOUL.  Heart is kind and forgiving and loving and calm.  Mind is ego, crazy and sharp and wants answers and solutions reasons and THINGS. Body is selfish and demanding and consuming and intricate and amazing.  It wants food and drink and sex and drugs and touch and feel.  Soul is wise and patient and still and present.  It’s tough but if you can find a way to pack all that into one ship and not sink you have won.  This life on this Earth can be as beautiful or as ugly as you choose to see it.  It’s all about your connection.  It’s all about love.  Now let’s go ROCK!

Toddstar: Again, thank you for taking time for us – we know you are busy with everything else you have going and we appreciate you giving us a bit of your time.  We can’t wait to say hello, rock the hell out, and enjoy a night of Mötley music with Girls, Girls, Girls at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, MI on September 12, 2014.

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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