Wanna be a roadie? Guess what? BEING A ROADIE SUCKS. I spent a couple days on tour with Mötley Crüe for this big GQ article that dropped today, and I have a newfound appreciation for the rigors of going on tour and setting up an entire goddamn stage in a new city in a differently shaped arena night after night after night. For back-to-back shows in different towns, the average roadie has to get up at 5 a.m. to start unloading shit out of the buses, then they gotta spend all day assembling the stage, and then they have to wait until the show is over at midnight to break it all down, load it back into the buses, and then sleep in the back of a bus (one of the crew members showed me the beds in the back of one; the bus had 10 little tiny bunks) for maybe four hours before you have to get up and do it all over again. Not much time for sex and drugs in that workday. Guitarist Mick Mars told me that the Rolling Stones tour with TWO stages, so that one can be built in the next city in anticipation of their arrival. This is costly, as you might have guessed.
It's a military operation, and you cannot get in the way of it. When I was hanging out backstage, I was in the way of pretty much everything, and so my primary goal was to not get yelled at by anyone. I failed many times. There are a bazillion people backstage, and it's impossible to keep track of who the fuck is who between the roadies and managers and techs and tour people and band people and arena people and label people. The org chart probably looks like a spirograph.
Anyway, whenever these big GQ profiles go up, I inevitably have a lot of extra material that we couldn't use. And since I'm one of those dipshit writers who can't stand the idea of cutting one word out of anything, I collect the scraps and make a whole other post out of it. Those extras will run at GQ tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a preview:
* At one point, to avoid being in the way, I went outside to the loading dock and hung out in the rain. And while I was standing there, this big black school bus rolls right up to the back door. I could see black lights and red velvet curtains decorating the inside. Mötley's tour manager was NOT pleased. He went running up to the bus yelling, "No no no no no!" And this one young guy gets off as a stream of wasted middle-aged people carrying Dos Equis bottles came storming out after him.
"What is this?" the tour manager asked.
"We're throwing my father-in-law a birthday party."
"Well, you can't be here!"
And then I watched as all the drunkies piled back into the black bus and drove off to the regular parking lot. There's nothing better than drunk people who just say FUCK IT and try to go wherever they please. Speaking of which …
* You might think a Mötley Crüe concert would be nothing but old guys, but you would be wrong. There were young people all over the joint. I saw plenty of teenagers who had discovered the band on their own. At the Dallas show, I met one shirtless kid ("Where did your shirt go?" "I was hot") whose three favorite bands were Opeth, Paramore, and Mötley Crüe, which had to be some kind of record for weirdest three favorite bands. I saw countless father-daughter combinations, including a dude named Greg who dressed up like Nikki and who was with his teenage daughter. "Back about '81 or so," he told me, "I saw a picture, just of the album cover. I knew there was an attitude. I was turned—can't say 'turned on'—but I was turned on to them right away, just by the look."
I also saw tons of women: young, old, whatever. The women outnumbered the men at both shows. I was too intimidated to talk to some of the groupies. Even at 38 years old, I don't have the confidence to walk up to a woman in a clingy dress and just start talking her up cold.
* And now, some Nikki Sixx quotes for your approval: "We're a unique animal, and when I look back on the history of rock, Elvis was a unique animal, Jerry Lee Lewis was a unique animal, Zeppelin, Queen, Mötley, Guns 'n' Roses—we're unique."
* Nikki, on coming back home after the "Shout at the Devil" tour: "It was one of the most vacant times in my life, because you dream for this thing and you get it, and I remember getting it and then grabbing it by its throat and just ripping its throat out every night—just fucking young and hungry and what's next and bigger, louder, just pushing the envelope, and a super-creative high. And I remember getting dumped at my house, which was an apartment. So I went from living in an apartment I could barely fucking get by in, to coming back and being a multi-millionaire, and not having no friends, no girlfriend, no fucking life. I had two plants that I'd gotten from some girls that were in my apartment—they were dead. There was nothing else in there; I had a bowl, I had a spoon, I had a fork. I came home, and I remember sitting in my front room like this, and I didn't really know what to do, so I called Tommy. I go, 'What are you doing?' He goes, 'I'm sitting here staring at the floor.' I go, 'Want to get some blow?' He's like, 'Yeah, let's get some blow.' And we just basically reenacted what was happening on the road."
* True story: Right after the show in Austin ended, one of the ladies next to me saw me jotting down shit in a notebook and asked me what I was doing. And when I explained to her that I was with GQ, she asked me who I'd profiled in the past. I mentioned the Kid Rock cruise to her, and her jaw dropped. "I WAS ON THAT CRUISE!" she screamed. And then she started punching me. Like, hard! It really hurt. Turns out her best friends' tits were featured prominently in the photos accompanying that article. You can see said tits right here. Small world! The woman did not care for the foul language in the story.
* After that woman punched me, I ran into another (drunk) fan and asked him what he thought of the show.
"They didn't play everything," he complained.
"Really?" I asked. "What didn't they play?"
"Shout at the Devil."
"Yes they did!"
And the dude paused for a full minute, and then was like, "Oh yeah! They did!"
* I asked another guy what he thought of the show, and he stuck his thumb sideways.
"Why not the full thumbs up?" I asked.
"Because I didn't get a handjob!"
* I was in the crowd in Dallas when a drunk girl grabbed me by the arm and leaned into me to whisper, "Buy me a drink" in my ear. And when she leaned over, she fell past me and toppled right into the aisle. An older man who came with her (the dad?) helped me get her back on her feet. I felt terrible. RAWK AND ROLL, AMERICA!
* I'd be remiss if I didn't include a quick list of my favorite Mötley Crüe songs here. They're pretty much the same as everyone else's:
1. "Kickstart My Heart"
2. "Primal Scream"
3. "Looks That Kill"
4. "Live Wire"
5. "Shout at the Devil"
6. "Wild Side"
And the worst? "Girls, Girls, Girls." I got nothing against the video, which is basically nothing but stripper footage, but that is a bad song. A cat could play that song on a xylophone, and probably has.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter@drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew's book,Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Lead photo by Michael Friberg/GQ; cover shot by Pari Dukovic/GQ.
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