sixxamSplitting the 22 songs which together make up SIXX:AM’s two most recent albums, Prayers For The Damned and Prayers For The Blessed, was a job bassist Nikki Sixx specifically prepared for.

After a New Years Eve show with previous band Mötley Crüe, the musician had a few hours sleep and then flew to New Mexico with his wife, with the express purpose of sifting through the material. “I had all the songs in my phone and I just laid there on the beach for a week, listening to them and just making notes,” he says. “We were sending them back and forth. There were a lot of songs, and we had to figure out how they lived together.”

The second volume in the pair, Prayers for the Blessed, has just been released. Like its mate (released six months ago), it’s a remarkably compelling call-to-arms without specific disparagement or commendation for a definitive thing. It’s about the action. “The albums are not political – we are not a political band,” Sixx says. “But it would be shallow of us to not be a mirror of what’s going on around us.”

The lyrics in killer single Rise (from Damned) seem particularly fortuitous, but the best part of the track is the breakdown, in which classical strings accompany singer James Michael’s delicate falsetto, invoking a completely different era. It inspires the feeling that fighting for a cause is something people have done across the ages. That wasn’t deliberate. “It’s fantastic when people hear stuff, [and] we go, ‘That actually makes perfect sense,’” says Sixx. “As soon as it’s recorded and done, it’s like giving birth. We hand it off and everybody gets to have their own interpretation. I remember reading an interview with David Bowie and he said, ‘I really didn’t know what some of my songs were about until 10 years after I recorded them.’ I love it.”

With all three members of SIXX:AM coming from distinguished musical backgrounds, Sixx attests that not only is he a fan of his compadres, there’s never been any resting on individual laurels. “James had a lot of weight as the producer on his shoulders,” he says. (Michael has produced albums for Papa Roach, Alanis Morrisette, Meat Loaf and many others.) “DJ was extremely diligent about pushing himself as a guitar player. The lyrics were very important. There’s no filler.”

The live arena is where the trio come into their theatrical own, and Sixx is adamant that commitment and effort are paramount. “It’s a challenge, it’s exciting, it takes your breath away,” he says. “Rock crowds are not easy to win over. If you suck you’re going to get your ass handed to you, and you know that. It doesn’t matter if I was in Mötley Crüe or DJ [Ashba, guitarist] played with Axl [Rose] for a while. If you don’t f-cking bring it, you’re going to get your ass kicked. We take that really seriously.”

Prays For The Blessed and Prayers For The Damned are both out now, via Sony.

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