When Nikki Sixx, James Michael and Dj Ashba get together, something special happens. The last time the supergroup aligned as Sixx:A.M., their first album, 2007 s The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack gave birth to the single, Life Is Beautiful, which became radio s most-played rock song of 2008. They joined the Crüe Fest tour and played for more than half a million rock fans with Michael at the mic, Dj on guitar and Sixx on bass. Recently, they rejoined to create This Is Gonna Hurt, their second album and the second soundtrack to a New York Times best selling book by Nikki Sixx. The 11-track companion CD hits stores May 3rd.
The idea for the album came one day when Michael stopped by Sixx’s Funny Farm photo studio. The pair was looking through some of the bassist’s recent pictures, which depicted people missing limbs, some who were incredibly overweight and prostitutes who all engage with Nikki for photographs included in the book THIS IS GONNA HURT. Michael and Ashba were struck by Sixx’s ability to capture beauty in situations where society judges it as other than. It made them think about their own assumptions and feelings and as they do, the group got together and wrote and recorded songs about the experience.
Michael says, The way Nikki had set the surroundings, you realize the photo subject has such an incredible story to tell. It was very thoughtful and very beautiful and I believe he was taking a picture of the person inside, even though the outside was not what we are used to seeing and certainly didn’t fit the average person s concept of what beautiful is. When I listen to the finished record, it s these images I see.
The title came quickly, Michael says of This Is Gonna Hurt. It just seemed so appropriate for what we were going to embark on. It was gonna hurt us to make this record and to discuss these topics. It was a painful experience but also something that ended up being pretty beautiful in the end.
Of course, this journey is one the band has embarked on before. When they made The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, they presented the horrors of addiction with the caveat that there was always hope. Their song Life Is Beautiful, with its infectious chorus and pleading melody, struck an immediate chord with thousands of people. Almost the minute it went to radio, we were getting Facebook and Myspace messages every single day saying, This song literally saved my life. Thank you so much, Michael says. Or posts like, My husband or my wife was a drug addict, and this song helped me through his or her addiction. To this day we get messages like that.
Other sources for inspiration on the record came from outside of the photography studio as well. The laidback, feel-good rocker It Sure Feels Right hit Nikki one day as he was driving in Los Angeles, the city he s lived his entire adult life in, and realizing that no matter how hard things get things always work out and how happy he is to live there. And the album s final song, Skin, came to Michael one night when he was playing the piano apart from the band. After working on This Is Gonna Hurt for eight months straight, he was overcome by the subject matter he d been singing about and was inspired to write a piano ballad just making sense of it all.
In the end, the group defied all odds and made a second record that built on the sound and positive message of The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack not because the needed to, but because they wanted to.
I think this record ended up affecting all of us on a much deeper level than we thought it would. The album is about being honest with yourself. When you sit down and start really acknowledging who you are and how you behave towards other people and how you judge other people, it s gonna be painful. This is gonna hurt.