Mick Mars Recalls First Reaction to Van Halen, Explains Why His Solo Album Took So Long to Make

Former Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars reflected on hearing Van Halen for the first time. Speaking to Guitar World in a new interview, Mars went all the way back to 1975, before Van Halen’s worldwide fame days, explaining how he was impressed by them from the very beginning.

The talk about Van Halen, interestingly enough, came while he was discussing his use of the Floyd Rose tremolo system. Reminded of how he’s “part of a generation of guitar players who benefited from the development of the Floyd Rose tremolo system” with “Kickstart My Heart” intro as one of the most famous examples, Mars said

“Yeah, though I never thought about it too much. I just play *me,* you know? I think it was the same with Edward Van Halen: he was pretty natural.”

Motley Crue Kick Start My Heart Carnival of Sins 2005

“I’d known him since he was 19 years old,” reflects Mars. “I’d watch him when I was playing in a band called Whitehorse and saw him grow as a player from there, using all these crazy hammer-ons.”

Of course, Eddie would later become known for his advanced use of the two-hand tapping technique. Mick’s Whitehorse days were some time in the early-to-mid-1970s when Eddie and his brother Alex were still playing under the name Mammoth with Mark Stone on bass guitar.

“When they [Van Halen] came out in 1975, I had a massive smile on my face,” recalls Mick. “He was such a great person. It was incredible to watch him develop.”

“Mötley Crüe didn’t come around until 1981, so we were separated a little bit by time, but we’d run into each other once in a while at places like Donington and other European festivals. We’d always hang out a bit and have fun.”

Take Me To The Top Motley Crue Live 1981

Despite his significant whammy bar use and despite making it big as a guitarist in the 1980s, Mick Mars admits that he’s not one of the “shredder” kind of guitar players.

“Even if everybody knows I’m not a shredder,” Mick offered when reminded how Mötley Crüe’s song “Too Young to Fall in Love” features one of his “shreddiest” solos. “Every now and then, it’s okay to stick in a fast idea like that. As long as it fits the song, I’m open to it.”

And speaking of serving the song, Mick’s use of whammy bar always managed to fit the context of a given piece. It wasn’t over the top. It served the songs, but it also made them more exciting. When asked about his use of whammy bar in a song like “Dr. Feelgood” and how he wrote his parts, Mick said:

“Usually, songs like that would start with a strong initial riff that will stick in your head. ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ was actually the same way. We were dropping all the strings down to D standard, so they sounded even thicker.”

Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood (The End)

“There were some tracks that had intros that didn’t feel right. So I would go home and sit with my guitar until I came up with something felt really good. Then I would go back to rehearsal and play it. The guys would all be smiling and looking really happy! That’s basically how I knew it would work.”

Now that he’s out of Mötley Crüe, Mick Mars has finally gotten some time to finalize his solo album. Recently, he unleashed the first single, titled “Loyal to the Lie,” which is his first-ever solo piece. The record is called “The Other Side of Mars” and is expected to arrive on February 24.

Stating that “there were a lot of stumbling blocks” in the process of this long-awaited album, Mars went on to explain why it took so much time to do this:

“I started writing this stuff during The Final Tour [2014-2015] with Mötley Crüe. Then that TV show [‘The Dirt’] came out, so we went back to playing. I had a lot of stuff written at that time but I couldn’t get it finished.”

Mötley Crüe - Live at the US Festival (1983)

“Then there was another stumbling block,” he added, “because I gave the record to a distribution company who didn’t distribute, so I had to get it back and it took me a little while to do that, but it’s okay!”

But despite these setbacks, it’s great to finally hear Mick’s solo material, and he’s incredibly excited about this:

“I’ve been wanting to do this solo thing for a very long time. First thing’s first, there are always priorities, I had to do stuff with Mötley… now it’s *my* time! In fact, I’m already working on my next album. Why stop the momentum, right?!”

Mick Mars - Loyal to the Lie

Asked about whether this is a band or the good old “revolving door of members” project, Mick said:

“It isn’t really a band. I’ve hired some singers – Jacob Bunton did a lot of stuff, Brion Gamboa is also on the record. He’s so cool… a contractor/construction guy with a voice like that? Come on! Listen to him on the songs ‘Undone and Killing Breed,’ that’s Brion. Then the other songs are all Jacob.”

Photos: Shadowgate (Motley Crue 19 (3689109499)), Carl Lender (Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum)

  • 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.