Music News

Cre Cuts

A mid-July teleconference with Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Vince Neil of Mtley Cre provided plenty of answers to the question "Why does mainstream rock journalism suck so hard?" Granted, the chat's organizers tried to limit inquiries to the most predictable, least entertaining subjects: the band's Live 8 performance in Canada, its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the impending release of a concert DVD, and the current Carnival of Sins tour. But most of the nearly fifty scribes from around the country showed no interest in pushing at these restrictions, and as a result, the boys in the band (minus an absent Tommy Lee) seemed content to speak in stereotypes, turning the session into a ninety-minute exercise in tedium. Exceptions to this rule were generally accidental. One of the interviewees misheard Rocky Mountain News staffer Mark Brown's name as "Mark Sperm," while a brief technical breakdown spurred this telling exchange:

Sixx: My ear's burning.

Neil: Mine's numb.

Mars: I can't hear anymore.

Sixx: What'd you say?

Neil: I've got to pee. Can I pee in my garbage can here?

Mars: Dude, you always do.

Along the way, Mars said the band's previous jaunt had taken them to A-list markets, and this time around they were hitting the Bs -- a comment that reveals where Denver stands in Mtley minds. Later, Sixx chatted about how a scarf he was wearing at a recent gig began burning, prompting his rescue by a fire-extinguisher-toting roadie dressed as a "demented clown," and Neil recounted the moment when a minibike-riding midget in the Carnival cast "pulled an Evel Knievel off the front of the stage. It was pretty crazy."

"We thought he killed himself," Sixx added.

"Yeah," Neil said, "because a six-foot stage to him is like jumping off a thirty-story building for us."

Still, the most interesting revelation came when the threesome began riffing on an unapproved topic that no journalist had mentioned -- the hip-replacement surgery the increasingly fragile Mars underwent last year:

Neil: I'm still pissed at Mick.

Mars: Why?

Neil: Because I asked to get your hip so I could carve up some skeletons out of it and make bracelets.

Mars: They didn't give it to me!

Neil: You could've got it for me . . .

Mars: I tried and tried and tried. I even said I was an Orthodox Jew and I needed all my parts to be buried with. They sent the shit off to the morgue.

Neil: That's fucked up, man.

Sixx: Did they bury your hip?

Mars: No, I think they burned it.

Neil: No, I think I just saw my dog running by with it.

If Mtley Cre doesn't seem as hip as it once did, now you know why.


iPod, you pod, or why does it sting when iP?

I've always thought of my iPod Otis as a beacon of perfect health. Like a show dog, bred from a long line of AKC-registered ancestors, Otis just looks like a champion, a virile stud. And why shouldn't he be? He's only a year old, he's got 40 GB of street cred to his name, and I don't jog with him like those Ultimate Frisbee-playing assholes, so he's barely dinged up at all. Looking at Otis, you would have no reason to suspect that he was anything other than the finest of gentlemen.

But like so many of those boarding-school boys with all the credentials -- class president, lacrosse team captain, reads to retarded children on Saturdays -- who are found naked in the woods, hopped up on crystal meth two weeks before graduation, it would appear that my boy Otis has secrets, too.

There I was the other day, shuffling through my playlist, enjoying an incredible streak of songs for which I was patting myself on the back: "Cause Time," by the Broken Social Scene, was followed by Ray Charles's "I've Got a Woman." Then Postal Service was all "I'll see your Ray Charles and raise you 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight." Of course, this led to the Smashing Pumpkins' chiming in with "Match that and raise you one ';Disarm,' bitches," and I was like, "Goddamn, Billy Corgan was talented before he started writing all that shitty poetry!"

Then what should pop up, like a festering, puss-filled sore, but "Ode to My Family," by the Cranberries! You know the one -- "Do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do," whines the singer. It might as well be called "Song to Listen to During Your Period." I was shocked, but I didn't want to be rash. As with any infection scare, you have to be logical. Maybe he was inflamed because I'd been using him a lot lately. I was probably over-reacting. This stuff happens all the time, right?

A few hours later I gave Otis another go. Things were all gravy, when suddenly, "Everything," by Fefe Dobson, crept up. Fefe-fucking-Dobson! Homegirl makes Hilary Duff look gifted! My head was swimming. And you're not going to believe what happened next: Hilary Duff, "Come Clean." "Let the rain fall down" -- you know, like the opening credits of Laguna Beach? Otis, how could you? All those nights that I thought he was out trading tunes with tasteful music connoisseurs, tapping into the laptops of like-minded individuals, he was banging cheap whores -- without protection! By the time I heard Sugar Ray's "Fly," it was obvious: Otis had a full-blown STD.

Was I mad? Sure. He'd behaved like a hooker. But truthfully, I was just as much to blame. I'd allowed him to waltz his 40 GB all over town, hanging out with anyone who offered to hook him up with a few songs. So I did the only thing you can do in those situations. I took him down to the clinic, got him cleaned up and back to working order and never spoke about it again. That's not the kind of thing you dwell on. The experience was lesson enough. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Critical Fatwa

All hail Lester Bangs! Bow down to the chosen critical few who light our way through the caverns of music. For there is an upstart we have let slide for far too long, who we will indulge no longer. Source, here is your critical fatwa!

Source, you have been called "the Bible of hip-hop." Well, there was plenty of sex and violence in the Bible, but your recent antics would put even Sodom and Gomorrah to shame. Did we fatwa you when your founder, Benzino, was dropping shitty records? We did not, and forever will our cheeks burn with shame. Did we condemn you for writing dubiously fawning profiles of undeserving artists? Nay, for in today's rock journalism, that hardly sets you apart. When the sexual-harassment lawsuits began -- documents claiming you tormented every woman who stepped through your door -- did we not give you one more chance?

Now we have learned what happens when we are lenient, for two of your employees, Alvin Childs and Leroy Peeples, have been charged with attempted murder for a late-night gunfight near the Source office! Police reports say the argument started over the music selections of the club. We can see that, but gunplay is a little extreme.

We blame ourselves, Source. Perhaps if we had punished you with the appropriate fatwa when Benzino was making an ass of himself, this never would have happened. But now it is too late. Fatwa! May your lives become as boring as your magazine! -- The Ayatollah of Rock

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts