Tenth Street Entertainment president Chris Nilsson talks with Pollstar about Mötley Crüe’s final tour, the movie version of “The Dirt” and what it’s like to manage one of rock’s most notorious bands.
When members of Mötley Crüe held a press conference at Hollywood’s Beacher’s Madhouse in the Roosevelt Hotel in January to announce the band’s final tour, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee wanted to put to rest any doubts fans might have that the upcoming road trip would truly be the group’s swan song. After all, other bands have called it quits only to eventually reunite, whether it be weeks, months or years later.
To show they meant business, the bandmembers signed a legally binding “cessation of touring agreement” during the press conference, preventing any of the individual musicians from later touring under the Mötley Crüe name.
And fans are taking all that “final tour” talk to heart, buying tickets as quickly as shows go on sale. Earlier this week Live Nation and Tenth Street Entertainment’s Eleven Seven Music record label announced that nine shows had already sold out. Looks as if the Crüe will make its exit in grand style when it hits the road in July with special guest Alice Cooper.
While chatting with Pollstar, manager Nilsson talked about the band’s decision to hang up its touring shoes as well as the upcoming movie based on the best-selling tell-all biography penned by the group and Neil Strauss. With “Jackass” director Jeff Tremaine at the helm, “The Dirt” is expected to land in theaters in 2015, the same time Mötley Crüe wraps up its farewell tour.
During the band’s press conference at Beacher’s Madhouse at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Calif.
January 28, 2014
As the band’s manager, what was your reaction when the members of Mötley Crüe said they wanted to do one final tour?
It was a group decision. They had been talking about it for some time. To be honest, I can’t even tell you how long. I respect their decision, I support their decision. Their reasons for their decision are good reasons. They’ve always been a band with integrity. I think maintaining their integrity is important to them, as a group and their legacy. It was one of those things where they had the full support of us as managers.
How long have you been an artist manager?
I’ve been with the company for seven years but I’ve been managing for over 10.
Rock history is filled with volatile breakups, band dissent and conflicting egos. From a manager’s perspective, is this one of the smoothest exits from touring?
This band has done things differently. Everything that they do is special. Their decision wasn’t based on internal strife. Their decision was based on something positive, which is they want to preserve the legacy of Mötley Crüe. … They collectively think it’s time to do this. It’s not the decision of one member or two members. It’s a mutual decision. … I certainly think this is a spectacular way to end a 33–year career. I think it’s spectacular in the sense that because it’s a mutual decision and because they are at the top of their game, they can in the next two years create something for the fans that’s worthy of the fans’ dollars.
Was age one of the factors? Did bandmembers not want to see Mötley Crüe performing when they’re way into their senior citizen years?
I don’t think so. This band is not one to point at other bands and say, “You guys aren’t doing it the right way.” I think it’s right for this band. I don’t necessarily think age is a contributing factor because these guys are all creative in their own right. They all have other things that they do. I think they will all continue to be creative. But I’m not in the band. I can’t really say. There’s a myriad of reasons for a decision like this but it’s certainly not because they don’t feel they can’t get up on stage any more. To the contrary – they’re as good a band as they’ve ever been.
All I can say from somebody who gets to witness the band play, even though they’ve been doing this for 33 years and they’re not a new band, they still put on as good a show as I’ve ever seen them do and probably as good as they ever have in their career. They may have speculated into the future, but … I can’t answer that. [Age] certainly isn’t affecting their show as it stands today.
What were fans’ reactions to the news of one final tour?
I think it was really bittersweet. I saw a lot of fans who were genuinely very sad. This is a band that is a lot of people’s favorite band. I think today, there are a lot of bands that are popular but aren’t necessarily anybody’s favorite band, per se. … When it’s known that you’ll no longer be able to see your favorite band anymore, I think that can be very sad for people.
But the majority of the fans’ comments that I saw were all genuinely very positive. … They respected the decision of the band. They were certainly sad but they were also very, very supportive.
How have ticket sales been so far?
They have been fantastic.
Better than for past Mötley Crüe tours?
I think it’s different. … Mötley Crüe has had very strong ticket sales. They’re one of the few rock bands of their generation that continues to do the kind of business that they do. … We’ve done a lot of different permutations in terms of touring in the last 10 years. We went out with KISS last summer, they did a headlining tour with Poison. They did the Crüe Fest tour. All those tours were strong but I think ticket sales this time show a real sense of urgency to get a ticket right away. Our onsale was incredibly strong.
Mötley Crüe has always been known for making tickets affordable for fans but how do you set ticket prices for something as unique as a final tour?
There are a lot of different pricing tiers. It was said by Rick Franks and Joey Scoleri of Live Nation at the press conference that there are a number of tickets that are available for a very reasonable price. I think we try and price them in a way that allows most people be able to come and see the band … but we also try to price them so that they reflect what market conditions are, so we don’t see a large influx in the secondary market.
Live Nation is a good partner. … They have a lot of data on the right pricing strategy and we work closely with them to make sure that everybody who wants to come to the show can come to the show.
The band is also known for having elaborate staging. Is there anything you can talk about regarding the stage for this tour?
I don’t know yet. They haven’t told me. I think they’re starting to conceptualize what it’s going to look like. I think it’s also important to them that the production isn’t revealed until the first show.
There is going to be a film version of “The Dirt.” Will the movie have actors portraying members of Mötley Crüe?
Correct. It’s a fully scripted film.
Are any actors under consideration?
We have not gotten that far but it is something that is imminent.
What would a dream cast be?
I don’t know. I think it’s kind of the anti-dream cast. If you were to ask me what my dream cast is, I think the best way to do it is to get people that you don’t necessarily know that well. I think you want to buy in to the character as opposed to bringing your own preconceived notions about somebody who is already famous to the film.
Among the movies that have portrayed artists and bands, such as “Walk The Line” with Joaquin Phoenix playing Johnny Cash, or Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” with Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison, do you have any favorites?
I thought “Walk The Line” was an entertaining movie. I thought Joaquin Phoenix was great as Johnny Cash. It certainly peaks your interest about Johnny Cash. I’ve never been a huge fan of how musicians are portrayed in film, necessarily, because it’s hard. I think what we’re going to try to do, or what Jeff is going to try to do with “The Dirt,” is create a film that is a really, really interesting character study that just happens to be the band.
Will individual members be making cameo appearances?
We’ve talked about that. There’s nothing set in stone yet. I can’t speak for them but I imagine they think it would be kind of fun. I think it would be fun for the viewers, too.
When casting for the movie, will actors need some kid of musical background?
I don’t know. That’s really going to be up to Jeff. If I were the director I think I would look first and foremost for the energy of the character. And do they represent what is written on the [script] page and what was written in the book? There certainly have been some instances of actors who have made movies about musicians and have learned to [play music] because they study really hard before they made the movie. I think it’s kind of a clean slate as long as somebody is willing to really get into the character.
Is Mötley Crüe a tough band to manage?
I don’t think any band is easy to manage. It’s a hard business. Like any corporation with a number of members, there is always going to be interests that conflict. Each band is unique onto itself. Mötley Crüe has its own issues. They’ve been well documented. I think if they were a really difficult band to manage, they wouldn’t put on the kind of show they put on, they wouldn’t make announcements like they just made, and they wouldn’t be here 33 years later. Something’s going on that’s right. … I can say this – they were probably more difficult when they were in their 20s.
How did getting Alice Cooper on the tour come about?
I think it’s something that had been talked about for a while. Alice is a great showman. He’s a really hard worker … somebody … all of the bandmembers look up to. … Somebody we thought the fans would really like. It was the perfect storm in that respect. He was available [and] they never toured together. We’re really excited for him to be on the tour. … He’s a wonderful person as well.
What kind of role will management play after the tour?
I think touring is just one part of the overall business. Just because they’re not touring doesn’t mean people aren’t still going to want to engage with the band in all the other ways. We have the movie coming out in 2015. It all depends on what the band wants to do, too. It’s hard to say today – we have a tour to put out – but we’ll see.
Although the band has signed a “cessation of touring” agreement, does that rule out any one-offs or special occasions where the band might reunite if only to play a couple of songs?
I’m not really sure. One thing I will say is that I think it’s really important to them that they do what they agreed to do. They agreed that this will be the final tour. They called it the “final tour.” I can’t really speak on the specifics of the agreement but this is the final tour. This is it. This is the last hurrah.
What have you learned from managing Mötley Crüe?
I could talk to you for about 20 hours about it. … Not just from (Tenth Street Entertainment CEO/manager/founder) Allen Kovac, who has been doing this for a long time. I’ve learned more than I can say from him. I’ve learned more than I can say from the bandmembers themselves. This is my management school.
Upcoming dates for Mötley Crüe’s final tour:
July 2 – Grand Rapids, Mich., Van Andel Arena
July 4 – Milwaukee, Wis., Marcus Amphitheatre (Summerfest)
July 5 – Noblesville, Ind., Klipsch Music Center
July 6 – Cincinnati, Ohio, Riverbend Music Center
July 8 – Columbus, Ohio, Schottenstein Center
July 9 – Maryland Heights, Mo., Verizon Wireless Amph. St. Louis
July 11 – Des Moines, Iowa, Wells Fargo Arena
July 12 – Wichita, Kan., Intrust Bank Arena
July 13 – Tulsa, Okla., BOK Center
July 15 – Cedar Park, Texas, Cedar Park Center
July 16 – Dallas, Texas, Gexa Energy Pavilion
July 18 – Albuquerque, N.M., Isleta Amphitheatre
July 19 – Phoenix, Ariz., Ak-Chin Pavilion
July 21 – Los Angeles, Calif., Hollywood Bowl
July 22 – Irvine, Calif., Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
July 23 – Mountain View, Calif., Shoreline Amphitheatre
July 25 – Reno, Nev., Reno Events Center
July 26 – Ridgefield, Wash., Sleep Country Amphitheater
July 27 – Auburn, Wash., White River Amphitheatre
July 29 – Wheatland, Calif., Sleep Train Amphitheatre
July 30 – Chula Vista, Calif., Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Aug. 1 – Salt Lake City, Utah, Usana Amphitheatre
Aug. 2 – Denver, Colo., Pepsi Center
Aug. 3 – Kansas City, Mo., Sprint Center
Aug. 5 – Sturgis, S.D., Sturgis Buffalo Chip (Sturgis Rally)
Aug. 6 – Sioux City, Iowa, Tyson Events Ctr. / Gateway Arena
Aug. 8 – Tinley Park, Ill., First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Aug. 9 – Clarkston, Mich., DTE Energy Music Theatre
Aug. 10 – Toronto, Ontario, Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Aug. 12 – Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Blossom Music Center
Aug. 13 – Burgettstown, Pa., First Niagara Pavilion
Aug. 15 – Pelham, Ala., Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
Aug. 16 – Alpharetta, Ga., Verizon Wireless Amph. At Encore Park
Aug. 17 – Tampa, Fla., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Aug. 19 – Charlotte, N.C., PNC Music Pavilion
Aug. 20 – Virginia Beach, Va., Farm Bureau Live At Virginia Beach
Aug. 22 – Bristow, Va., Jiffy Lube Live
Aug. 23 – Camden, N.J., Susquehanna Bank Center
Aug. 24 – Mansfield, Mass., Xfinity Center
Aug. 26 – Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Aug. 27 – Allentown, Pa., Allentown Fairgrounds (The Great Allentown Fair)
Aug. 29 – Wantagh, N.Y., Nikon At Jones Beach Theater
Aug. 30 – Holmdel, N.J., PNC Bank Arts Center
Aug. 31 – Darien Center, N.Y., Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Oct. 10 – Oklahoma City, Okla., Chesapeake Energy Arena
Oct. 11 – The Woodlands, Texas, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Oct. 12 – Bossier City, La., CenturyLink Center
Oct. 14 – Louisville, Ky., KFC Yum! Center
Oct. 15 – Nashville, Tenn., Bridgestone Arena
Oct. 17 – Hollywood, Fla., Hard Rock Live
Oct. 19 – Jacksonville, Fla., Jacksonville Veterans Mem. Arena
Oct. 21 – Greenville, S.C., Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Oct. 22 – Greensboro, N.C., Greensboro Coliseum
Oct. 25 – Atlantic City, N.J., Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa / Event Ctr.
Oct. 26 – Uncasville, Conn., Mohegan Sun Arena
Oct. 29 – Syracuse, N.Y., War Memorial Arena
Nov. 5 – Biloxi, Miss., Mississippi Coast Coliseum
Nov. 6 – Southaven, Miss., Landers Center
Nov. 8 – Detroit, Mich., Joe Louis Arena
Nov. 9 – Moline, Ill., I Wireless Center
Nov. 11 – Green Bay, Wis., Resch Center
Nov. 12 – Madison, Wis., Alliant Energy Center Mem. Coliseum
Nov. 13 – Omaha, Neb., CenturyLink Center Omaha
Nov. 15 – Saint Paul, Minn., Xcel Energy Center
Nov. 16 – Fargo, N.D., Fargodome
Nov. 18 – Edmonton, Alberta Rexall Place
Nov. 19 – Calgary, Alberta, Scotiabank Saddledome
Nov. 21 – Vancouver, British Columbia, Rogers Arena
Please visit Motley.com for more information.