Country Crue: Nashville embraces heavy metal

From left: Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars of Motley Crue during a press conference in Los Angeles in January.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

From left: Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars of Motley Crue during a press conference in Los Angeles in January.

NASHVILLE — Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx have spent so much time hanging out with country artists for a Motley Crue tribute album that they know how to write the classic country song.

First, the subject of a country ballad isn’t that far from the life of a rock ’n’ roller, the blond lead singer said as he sat in a Nashville hotel next to guitarist Sixx.


‘‘You’re young and you go out drinking, drugging, and writing songs,’’ Neil said. ‘‘Bad stuff happens: you lose your wife, your house, your car.’’

‘‘And you write a song about it,’’ Sixx chimed in.

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Instead of a clash of cultures on the 15-song album, ‘‘Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Motley Crue,’’ released Tuesday, Nashville’s country crooners welcomed the teased-hair, leather-clad metal band whose rock anthems helped define the ’80s.

Backed by Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, who brought to the album his wide roster of artists including Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, and Brantley Gilbert, the multi-genre approach fits right in with younger fans of country music whose tastes fall all over the radio dial.

Motley Crue, in the middle of their final tour in the United States and Canada, had no input on the artists or how the songs were performed. The standout performances sound very little like the electric guitar-heavy originals, such as when LeAnn Rimes sings ‘‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room’’ with a horn section or when the Mavericks bring their Cuban country beat to ‘‘Dr. Feelgood.’’


Big & Rich, Darius Rucker, Gretchen Wilson, and Justin Moore also appear on the album. For some of the artists, it was the lyrics and emotions that drew them to the project.

‘‘More than anything this song is country, but it’s Southern rock,’’ Moore said of his version of ‘‘Home Sweet Home,’’ the album’s lead single. ‘‘It’s something you don’t hear very often anymore, so I am very proud of it.’’

For Neil, whose father was from Texas, this isn’t the country music he rebelled against as a teenager who loved rock ’n’ roll.

‘‘I saw Florida Georgia Line, and one of the guys has a Mohawk and tattoos,’’ Neil said. ‘‘I mean, you can’t get any more rock ’n’ roll than that.’’

Motley Crue performs at Xfinity Center in Mansfield on Aug. 24.

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