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“We pull no punches when it comes to dealing with heavy issues”, James Michael Sixx:.A.M.

Interview : Adrian Hextall

Photos / Links: http://sixxammusic.com/

With every release garnering more and more critical approval, Sixx:A.M are on a roll. With the individual members now able to focus on the band 100% (no end of the road celebratory tours to worry about!) 2016 has been Sixx:A.M’s year. With Vol.1 No Prayer for the Damned released earlier this year, Vol 2 No Prayer for The Blessed  is now out as well. 

MGM got to speak to vocalist, writer, musician, producer and more… James Michael

MGM:   Looking at this year, Sixx.A.M. are now on a bit of a journey because I understand it’s this first time in the sort of ten years now of the band that you’ve actually all been able to focus on the band and nothing else, no other distractions?

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JM:  Well, that’s true. This has been, you know, an incredible year for us and we knew that this was going to be the turning point for Sixx:A.M. where we kind of went from being a project to being a full time touring band and that really brings us to why we decided to write and record two full records and release them in one year. You know, we just figured that it was the way we needed to kickstart this next phase of Sixx:A.M. life, where we actually are focused on Sixx:A.M. as you mentioned and that is literally why we decided to put out two records this year. We wanted to give our existing fans and hopefully the new fans that we make on, you know, being out on the road this whole year. We wanted to give them a lot of music to absorb and, you know, it’s been a heck of an introduction to Sixx:A.M. for people that didn’t know about us. So, it’s it’s been going very well and we’re really, you know, we feel like everything is going according to plan and, you know, as we just released Volume Two this week. Yeah, and so we’re very, very excited. This is I think that when we look back on Sixx:A.M. career, this will be an important year for us and it was a year that we knew was going to be important. We’ve treated it that way.

MGM:  Yeah, and with the regards of the two volume’s, I mean, you’ve got Prayers for the Damned which came out about six months ago now, I think, and of course Prayers for The Blessed, which is out now. Was it a plan to have those two albums as a part one or a part two, or is it the fact that that time was then available that you decided to do it that way?

JM:  No.  It was always a plan to do it that way. You know, we knew.. we knew we were going to do two records worth of material and we also knew that we would be releasing them separately because to put, you know, twenty four or twenty eight songs on one album and release it at one time. That’s a lot of music for a serious music fan to absorb and then when you factor into that the fact that Sixx:A.M. music is definitely not on the lighter side of the emotional content. So, you know, our songs are very, very heavy and the messages are very elaborate and very detailed and we wanted our fans to be able to, you know, absorb volume one and get to know that music really, you know, really get to know that before we gave them more music. It was a very intentional thing for us to release, you know,Volume One and Volume Two separately but both within the same year. We didn’t want too much time to pass because the two.. the two albums are related both message wide and musically.

MGM:   I was going to ask you about I that.. I take it, I mean, with the titles alone and the fact that they are called Volume one and two clearly, as well, there’s a natural synergy between the two. What are the underlying themes that draw the two together?

JM: Well, I think that, you know, one of the big underlying themes that definitely threads between both records is this.. is the theme that started with our song Rise, which was the first single off of Volume One and continues with We Will Not Go Quietly, which is our current single, the first single off of Volume Two and they both are clearly, you know, a call to action. It is really about, you know, rising up, banding together and rising up to start making changes, you know and obviously that’s something that this globe isn’t is no stranger to right now when we look at what just happened in the United States, you know. One of the most incredible election cycles we’ve ever experienced and just witnessing, you know, half of this country rising up, you know, vocally and viciously quite frankly, to demand change is, you know, it’s.. it’s always revolutionary when it happens and I think that, you know, we felt that a year ago when we were writing and recording these records, we felt that energy starting to bubble under and clearly that momentum hasn’t stopped. So, that is one underlying theme that I think has been strong through both of these records and then, you know, and that’s on a very global level, but then I think also, you know, that same.. that same dissatisfaction on a very personal level too is something that I like about how the message of both of these records is working is that, you know, we deal with very large global struggles and then we also deal with incredibly intimate struggles on songs like Maybe it’s Time or Better Man or Things Like That. I think that that’s why these songs in these records are resonating with people because it is taking, you know, like I said very large broad global issues.  It’s also dealing with very personal issues and how the two affect each other, you know. So, and honestly Sixx:A.M. has never really been a political band. So, it’s a bit unusual for us to have dealt with so many things which feel like they are on more of a political level, but it would be irresponsible for us as artists not to address some of these issues that are are so global right now.

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MGM:  So, I was going to say that sandwich that happening in the world at the moment, you can’t just sit back and ignore it and think about the sunniest side of life when there is so much going on there.

JM:  It’s really true. I mean, yesterday I was feeling really depressed and I don’t .. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I was talking with a friend and like, well, what have you done today and I said, well, really nothing other than watch some news and I thought, oh, well there you go. You know, it affects us, it affects everyone. You know, in their daily life whether you.. whether you pay a lot of attention to it or only a little attention. It does find its way into your personal life and your personal decisions.

MGM:  No, I can.. I can understand that and presumably there’s a whole process potentially that suggests that a volume three might be down the way, because you look at the full accessible of this, you say what happens in say twelve months time as a result of the new president’s coming in and how the world reacts to that.

JM:  Well, absolutely and, you know, I mean, I don’t know about, you know, technically a Volume Three but spiritually absolutely. You know, yeah, what is going to happen next, I mean, we are just at the very beginning of this New World that I think that we’re all starting to kind of, you know, go wow what just happened and what’s going to happen next and, you know, it’s terrifying but it’s also exciting and it’s, you know, it’s not the first time that we’ve.. that we as a as a global society have found ourselves in these positions of dramatic change and, you know, I’m confident that ultimately cooler heads will prevail and then some real strong leaders will come out of this and, you know, we will forge forward and find a way to make the world a better place.

MGM:  Absolutely.  I mean, it’s nice to hear from somebody like yourself that it’s neither one or the other at the moment either, I mean, a lot of people say, oh, it’s terrifying and obviously a lot of people don’t vote. Its very exciting, but of course we don’t know what’s going to happen yet. So, it’s good to sit back and take stock and actually watch it unfold, isn’t it?

JM:  It’s really true. You know, I think that there’s a danger in living in assumptions and, you know, we can all sit here and make assumptions and we can choose to make those assumptions is as dramatic in doomsday as we want or we can be hopeful about it. I think that, you know, we even know there is a choice to approach it either way. I think that we would definitely behove ourselves to be as positive as we can and really, you know, try to see any little glimmer of light. You know, again the most dramatic and big changes that have happened in the history of this world has been a big boiling point like this, you know, and so let’s just.. let’s just see, let’s stay calm and let’s see what happens next. Yeah.  I mean, certainly not going to be a shortage of emotional material to write about and deal with over the years to come.

MGM:  Very true, very true.  Now, looking back at the origins of the band, Heroin Diaries Soundtrack 10th anniversary. That’s quite a milestone to you because that triggered everything.

JM:  Yes. It really was. It kind of surprised me that there was I think it was earlier this year, we were maybe in the studio working on Volume Two and either Nick or DJ  said you guys realise it’s been ten years since we put the Heroin Diaries soundtrack out. Like, oh, my gosh, it really took me by surprise. I mean, so much has happened in that ten years and it’s really been such an incredible journey, but, you know, to be reminded of the the innocence of that time of Sixx:A.M., you know, formative, you know, time is very exciting and we’re, you know, we’re really starting to toss around some ideas of how we can, you know, celebrate the anniversary of the Heroin Diaries soundtrack.  We’ve got some neat ideas. Next year is going to be, you know, a big year on a number of levels but that’s one thing we really are very, very proud of and want to do something special to celebrate it.

MGM:  Now, the sound  we will look forward to that definitely. In terms of the sound as you say how you as a fledgling band back then to the way you are now. Every albums evolves to a course degree. Do you think that you’ve really found your sound now which you think you can still continue to evolve because these two together to me present a band that really has come all the leave after leave after leave over a ten year period.

JM:  Yeah. I think.. I think that, you know, at a certain point a band does discover what their sound is. That’s that thing that, you know, is identifiable and that when somebody hears a couple of notes of the song goes, oh, that’s Sixx Am and I think that somewhere along this journey we have found that sound, but the thing that to me, excuse me, that continues to evolve.. sorry,  is the voice. You know, we’ve not the voice as far as the singing voice but finding your voice as far as what is your message and I think that that’s something that for Sixx:A.M. has evolved really beautifully and very naturally and, you know,  we’ve become a band that the message is so paramount to what we do. It is so, you know, important when we’re creating music and our fans really have grown to expect that of us that we are, you know, we’re never going to take the easy way out as far as our messaging goes. We’re going to deal with matters of importance as I talked about on a global level, as well as on a personal level and we’re going to do it in a raw and honest way that hopefully, you know, taps into, you know, the people’s truth about the struggles that they have in their lives and I think that that’s why our lyrics in our messages have resonated with people. We pull no punches when it comes to dealing with the, you know, with those heavy issues and hopefully we find, you know, that glimmer of hope in every one of the issues that we take on. I think that is the voice that we’ve kind of developed gradually over the years and I think it’s something that our fans constantly remind us is an important part of what we do. 

MGM:  I would imagine you do. I’m..  I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re writing to you to just say thank you because you are picking up on the key on thoughts that they’re struggling with on a day to day basis as well and finding out how to deal with them from you?

JM:  Yes, absolutely and that’s such a rewarding position to be in as a band. I mean, it is really what you dream of is, number one, having an outlet for your art, for your expression and then also having a channel back to you where you can get that feedback from the fan and having people come and say, something that you did is very important to me and that.. that is, you know, that’s invaluable as a creator of music and I think that’s something that all three of us are very grateful to have that opportunity and to be in a position where we can do that.

MGM:  Now I envy that because that would be great because that must feel very rewarding when it all works out the right way for you?

JM:  Absolutely.

MGM:  James, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.

OUR REVIEW OF VOL 2, NO PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED IS HERE: 

Sixx:A.M. – Volume 2 Prayers for the Blessed Review

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