Most of Mötley Crüe would probably tell you that they aren’t the greatest musicians in the world by any stretch. Rock and roll was never about complexity, and some of the best songs that the Crue would ever write had always been more about the attitude than the technicality.
There was a lot more in the air in the ‘80s than just hairspray though, and Vince Neil doesn’t necessarily look back on every album all that fondly.
When being interviewed through dissecting their work, Vince had mentioned that Theatre of Pain was the moment where things started to go a little bit off the rails, thinking that the songs got lost in the production. Coming off of their more demonic look on Shout at the Devil, the band’s pivot into glamorous territory never really sat well with Vince, thinking that the album lived and died off of ballads like “Home Sweet Home.”
Speaking in the retrospective, Vince said “thank God for ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘Smokin in the Boys Room’ because if it weren’t for those, there would be no other songs on that record. If you asked me to name another song on the record I couldn’t tell you.”
In the band’s autobiography, he went on to say: “Every night, though I loved singing [‘Smokin’ In The Boys Room’], Nikki would complain that the song was stupid and he didn’t want to play it. I felt like the only one sober enough to realize how bad some of those [‘Theatre Of Pain’] songs were. I was shocked the record went double platinum.”
This was also the first time that the band’s bad boy reputation was starting to catch up with them, with Vince having his car accident that killed Hanoi Rock’s Razzle Dingley before the album got started. That didn’t slow them down for a second though, with their checks getting bigger and trading in their tiny drug supply for an entire bagful of whatever they needed.
Vince wasn’t the only one to feel a little bit uncomfortable with the new direction of the band at the time, with Nikki saying “What happened with the band around then, there was a lot of sorrow and a lot of confusion. We just weren’t sure what we were doing anymore. I think the focus on that album was scattered.”
The band dealt with it the only way they knew how though, starting from ground zero again and coming back strong with the album Girls Girls Girls just a few years later. It may not have been that long to get back up on their feet, but you can understand why the manager was worried about any member of the band coming back in a body bag after the tour wrapped up.