Mötley Crüe picks its Poison for tour

1980s hair-metal band, marking its 30th year, responds to fan requests

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If you go

What: Mötley Crüe, in concert with Poison and New York Dolls.

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 11.

Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Cost: $43.40-$98.45 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

Information: Call 360-816-7000 or visit Sleep Country Amphitheater.

The guys in Mötley Crüe admit that touring with a band like Poison would have been unthinkable at one point.

But that’s what’s happening this summer as Mötley Crüe heads up a triple bill that also includes opening act the New York Dolls, whose punky glam-rock sound was a major influence for Crüe.

“We’re friends. We don’t dislike them or their music,” Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee said of Poison. It’s just that Lee and his fellow musicians try to avoid touring with other big bands of the 1980s. “We feel like we made a really big impact and mark at that time, and why would we drag around some bands that are doing the same kind of thing on a tour with us?”

Mötley Crüe and Poison both launched highly successful careers from Los Angeles and came to epitomize the “hair-metal” look and sound of the ’80s. They also led wild lifestyles filled with alcohol, drugs, women and various other hedonistic activities. And both bands faced internal rifts that resulted in band members departing temporarily — Lee and singer Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe and guitarist C.C. DeVille of Poison — before rejoining the current lineups.

Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx is hesitant to take credit for the Sunset Boulevard music scene, saying the band was already off on global tours before the scene took off.

But his group and Poison are widely credited with breathing new life into the Los Angeles music world in the ’80s and creating a blueprint for dozens of groups that followed them.

Now both groups are facing milestones as they tour together. Mötley Crüe, which also includes guitarist Mick Mars, is celebrating its 30th year, while Poison celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first album.

Lee has a hard time grasping the fact that Mötley Crüe has hit the big 3-0.

“It’s the craziest thing,” he said. “I’m 48 years and I still feel like a 14-year-old. So I don’t know how really to explain that. For me, it’s a pretty big blur. I really can’t explain it. I just know it’s been a pretty amazing run, and I feel like we’re still going strong and we’re doing what we do.”

Mötley Crüe turned to the fans who’ve supported its long run as the band pulled together this summer’s tour. Many key decisions were fan-driven, including song selections and the choice to tour with Poison.

“As far as other elements of the show, in typical Crüe fashion, it’s like the Fourth of July on steroids up there,” Lee said. “There’s a humongous video presentation. We’ve got some beautiful singer/dancer girls that are part of the show. There’s just a lot going on. It’s almost a little overwhelming to take it all in 90 minutes.”

Lee’s drum kit is bolted to a circular 360-degree track. During his drum solo, his kit takes him on a complete circle. At one point, Lee is playing drums upside down.

At each show, one fan gets to strap himself onto a passenger seat on the kit and enjoy — or, at least experience — the thrill ride alongside Lee. The drummer is encountering a variety of fan reactions as they come aboard for the occasion.

For Lee, the fan involvement is all good.

“Any time the audience can be a part of the show, that’s when it gets really good for me because you can’t do that anywhere else in the world,” he said.