Mick Mars Reveals Why He Was Never Into Shredding: ’I Like Something That You Can Hum’

According to Mick Mars, playing fast was just never his thing and he always preferred to keep his lead guitar parts simple enough so that people could sing them.

Of course, during his long time in Mötley Crüe, we’ve only heard them do superb solos, so it’s not like Mars is making any of those stereotypical excuses that unskilled players often have. He’s more than a capable guitar player, and he continues to prove that with his solo material on his debut solo album, “The Other Side of Mars.”

And as he told Ultimate Guitar in a recent interview on their On the Record podcast, his hands just “didn’t want to go that fast.” Asked about what are his favorite solos that were not written by him, Mick offered:

“I don’t know, I’ve got a lot. There are three artists that I would have to put up there, like Johnny Winter, Michael Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix, well, four, Jeff Beck, of course, you know. Those kinds of people were really an inspiration to me. Robert Fripp, too.”

Mick Mars on perseverance & post-Mötley Crüe music | On The Record

It’s definitely interesting to see names like Robert Fripp or Johnny Winter here, especially knowing that Mars was a member of probably the biggest glam metal band out there. But another one of the usual glam tropes that didn’t apply to his artistic work, apart from the usual crazy lifestyle, were the more, shall we say, laidback guitar solos.

When reminded how these influences are very noticeable in his “melodic” solos, Mars replied that it was on purpose and then added:

“My hands just didn’t want to go that fast. Melody and tone were, to me, more fitting, I guess. I like something that you can hum.”

What’s more, Mars also says that people at concerts were often singing his lead parts, more so than the vocal lines.

“I used to hear a lot of people [at concerts] that were singing the solo, my guitar solo, and not so much the vocals,” he said. “So that is what I’m talking about. You know, something you can remember, something you go like, ‘Wow, oh yeah, I remember that.’ So, that’s kind of how I think.”

Being a glam metal band and a musician associated with this movement, the story about grunge is difficult to avoid. The new movement in rock music, which emerged in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, was the complete antithesis to glam metal, also known as “hair” metal. Ultimately, plenty of these hair bands lost in popularity or were just completely run over and went into obscurity.

However, despite what some may think, Mars has nothing against grunge. Sure, he may not be a Nirvana fanboy, but he respects it in his own way. Asked about the genre and how he felt about it, the guitar legend replied:

“I guess that I would have to say that was another younger generation than what we were and I’m always open, whether I like it or not, I like to see where the new younger kids are taking it.”

Motley Crue - Mick Mars's IEM (In Ear Monitor) - Girls, Primal Scream and Kickstart My Heart 2022

“That’s great to me,” he offered. “I mean, I like it. I might not necessarily like the music, but the progression of the music is great to see. I just enjoy hearing different ideas from young people.”

The story of grunge is an odd one. The movement subdued after a few years, but it made a huge mark that we can still hear today. Instead of lyrics about partying and questionable themes, as well as super-polished and somewhat sterile music, we got something more honest and genuine. But in today’s music industry, both genres live with their following.

The stance of producer Tom Werman is interesting, especially knowing that he was one of the go-to guys for glam bands. In an interview last year, he said:

“Even I started to be a little concerned about this certain sameness of the procedure that I would take to make records, which resulted in a lot of records having the sound that was pretty much the same among the hair bands in LA — the whole Warrant, Ratt, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe.”

Mick Mars - Undone

“It was time for a change,” he added. “And as I say in the book [his autobiography ‘Turn It Up! My Time Making Hit Records in the Glory Days of Rock Music’], I strove for perfection. I wanted everything to be neat, in time, in tune because that was how I figured you could make a powerful song [and] have a powerful production.”

“And eventually, not more than ten years later, bands avoided perfection like the plague. So I guess mistakes and clams and imperfection were kind of critical to the success of any street band, any grunge band.”

Photo: Shadowgate (Motley Crue 19 (3689109499))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.