MickPrimary2SerainaMarsAfter more than 40 remarkable years in the music industry, legendary guitarist Mick Mars is embarking on an exciting new chapter with the release of his debut solo album “The Other Side of Mars” on February 23rd. While Mars is best known as the guitarist of the notorious glam metal band Mötley Crüe, his upcoming album showcases his versatility across genres, from hard-hitting metal tracks to lush piano ballads.

For the album, he assembled an impressive roster of collaborators, including singer Jacob Bunton and pianist Paul Taylor. At 72 years old, Mars proves he still has creative fire left to burn, continuing to evolve his guitar playing and songwriting.


From his origins playing in cover bands in the 60s to arena-packing tours with Mötley Crüe at the height of 80s metal mania, Mars has led an extraordinary decades-spanning musical journey. With his health issues leading to his recent retirement from extensive touring, “The Other Side of Mars” provides a fitting culmination to Mars’ career, while also pointing to new creative directions still yet unexplored.

Amidst ongoing legal disputes between Mars and his former Mötley Crüe bandmates involving some interpersonal conflicts and controversies, we intentionally avoided discussing any of these disagreements or negative issues in our conversation by choice, not on demand. Our focus was solely on celebrating Mars’ impressive decades-long musical career and the creative process behind his new solo album.

Mars announced his retirement from touring last year, bringing to an end his tenure with one of the most successful and notorious rock bands in history. But the guitarist isn’t ready to hang up his guitar just yet. Instead, he’s focused on establishing his own musical identity apart from his estranged  Mötley Crüe bandmates.

“I needed to be Mick Mars, not a  Mötley Crüe parody or whatever you want to call it,” Mars told 519 Magazine in an interview before the album’s release. “I’ve had ideas that weren’t quite fit for  Mötley Crüe that I did for me as a solo artist. It’s not just about experimenting with genres, but also understanding the rhythmic aspects of music. I aim for a broader spectrum of ideas and sounds that come from my creative mind.”

This broader spectrum is evident throughout ‘The Other Side of Mars,’ which explores a diverse range of styles and influences. “It’s challenging to label it, but that’s how my mind works,” Mars explained. Songs like the piano-driven ballad “Memories” and the orchestral “Undone” showcase Mars’ versatility, while tracks like “Loyal to the Lie” and “Ain’t Going Back” deliver the crunchy riffs and attitude fans have come to expect.

“This album is quite diverse, but it still retains the Mars crunch,” Mars said. “There are songs like “Undone” and “Killing Breed” that lean towards orchestration and cinematic elements, which I love. It’s not progressive like Dream Theater or King Crimson, but it’s my take on music, more cinematic and meaningful, while still maintaining some heavy elements.”

Seriana Mars

Mars credits some of his appreciation for cinematic orchestration to an early love of classic film scores. “Surprisingly, my appreciation for that era’s music began when I watched the 1931 King Kong movie as a child,” he recalled. “The orchestration and everything about it just captivated me.”

But why release a solo album now, after so many years focused solely on  Mötley Crüe?

“When I was with Mötley Crüe, the band came first for me,” Mars explained. “When I’m Mick Mars, that’s when I can focus on myself, take time off, and work on my solo projects. It’s been an ongoing process, but I believe the end result has turned out quite well.”

Now on the other side of his  Mötley Crüe career, Mars has the freedom to follow his creative muse in new directions. He already has plans for his next solo release, which he says will explore even more diversity and range.

“The next album I’m working on, now that I’m not touring, will explore even more diversity, possibly dipping into different styles,” he revealed.

But ‘The Other Side of Mars’ still showcases Mars’ songwriting depth and guitar prowess. Songs like the conceptual “Killing Breed” demonstrate he still has plenty to say as a solo artist.

“”Killing Breed” is about dealing with someone like a boss who constantly berates and pressures you, making you feel inadequate despite your best efforts,” Mars explained. “Eventually, you have to say, “I can’t give you more; I’ve given my all.” That’s when you’re up against the “Killing Breed,” the person pushing you too far.”

As Mick Mars prepares to unveil his debut solo album, ‘The Other Side of Mars,’ on February 23rd, the guitarist is embracing a spirit of musical camaraderie. Mars collaborated with artists like Bunton, Taylor, and drummer Ray Luzier on the album, and intends to continue those creative relationships going forward.

“Yes, I intend to continue working with Paul Taylor,” Mars mentioned. “Jacob, on the other hand, has numerous commitments, so it’s uncertain. However, there’s a guy named Brian Gamboa on the album, who Paul introduced me to. He added a unique quality to “Killing Breed” and “Undone.” I’m open to exploring different voices and talents, even if it means deviating from the one-voice-one-album approach. Variety in voices and styles is something I appreciate.”

Seriana Mars

This willingness to experiment musically is a thread running through ‘The Other Side of Mars.’ “It might sound a bit strange, but sometimes I perceive music in colors,” Mars explained. “Occasionally, I envision an image when creating music, similar to stepping back to see a painting’s progress. It’s a method I’ve used for a long time.”

That method fostered a spirit of creative freedom and fun during the album’s recording sessions. “There was some anticipation, especially among the other musicians I brought in,” Mars recalled. “It wasn’t about reinventing the wheel, but for them, it was a departure from the norm. We experimented and had fun with it. Ray Luzier, for instance, understood the direction perfectly. Musicians like Paul Taylor have a certain approach, but they also appreciate breaking free from the norm. It’s about letting go and enjoying the creative process.”

After extensive touring for decades with Mötley Crüe, his highly publicized health issues, stemming from a decades-long battle with ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis, factored heavily into leaving his touring days behind.

“Most of it has to do with my health. My body has taken quite a beating over the years,” Mars explained. “I’m 72 now, and many of these health issues have been with me since a young age. Although I wasn’t diagnosed until my 20s, I knew what I was dealing with. The constant touring, traveling, and performing around the world became increasingly challenging. After 40 years, I decided to retire from extensive touring. However, I might consider small, one-off shows in intimate venues like the House of Blues.”

The physical rigors of touring can be taxing even on healthy artists, but Mars persevered through years of pain and mobility issues. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it is what it is,” he said, crediting sheer determination for powering through. “I got a bit lucky to have a little more flexibility. So that’s all good.”

His health struggles also impact basics like eating and drinking. “Sometimes I drink a glass of water and choke. And I’m not exaggerating, it’s stupid. I go, what? It’s not fun,” Mars said with a laugh. Singing would likely pose similar difficulties, making Mars’ signature guitar voice all the more vital.

Despite the challenges, he has no regrets about his years on the road, in fact, Mars feels he still has more to accomplish musically on his own, but the majority of It will center around writing and recording.

“A lot of people say the same thing I’m going to say. It’s like they won’t stop playing until they’re gone. And the same here,” Mars stated. “I just have to limit myself to my studio or small venues. And that’s what I’m doing now.”

The first single off the new album, “Loyal to the Lie,” immediately showcases Mars’ signature playing style, with a dark, horror movie-esque production. According to Mars, “I wanted to do something that was just big and mean. I like that stuff. Video noir. That’s why I named the last song ‘LA Noir,’ because it has that black and white old movie feel. That’s the vibe.”

Indeed, all imagery and videos surrounding the album release so far have been in dramatic black and white, befitting of the guitarist’s darker musical vision. “I’m not getting any younger. Black and white makes it better,” Mars stated.

The album also features an instrumental track that highlights a guitar lick Mars has had tucked away for over two decades. “I wrote that lick many years ago, probably 20 or 25 years ago. I needed one more song, and there’s a handful to choose from, but I decided to use this lick and see what I could do with it,” explained Mars.

Some songs and ideas on The Other Side of Mars also originated back when  Mötley Crüe was on their final tour in 2016-2017. “Things come and go, interruptions happen, like pandemics, and they slowed the project down a bit. But I’ve had ideas for quite a while,” noted the guitarist.

With  Mötley Crüe, Mars was used to collaborating with other strong personalities in the creative process. Working solo has allowed him total freedom over the musical direction. “Yes, it’s all fresh. No limits,” Mars declared.

The album was produced and engineered by legendary metal producer Michael Wagner, who also worked on  Mötley Crüe’s seminal 1981 debut Too Fast for Love. According to Mars, “Michael’s great. Not once, not one time did that guy ever tell me what to do, how to do. He recorded the way I heard things. I guess he captured it. He’s a great guy.”

After over 40 years with  Mötley Crüe and all the outrageous stories and antics that came with that ride, Mars surprisingly says he wouldn’t change a thing looking back. “That’s what made  Mötley Crüe,  Mötley Crüe. All the antics, everything that happened – it’s all part of it.”

What Mars is most proud of though, and what few fans may realize, is that he actually came up with the iconic band name himself back before the band was even formed.

“I was sitting with another cover band in the living room. We all lived together in this old Victorian house,” recounted Mars. “The bass player walks in and he goes, ‘Well, this is certainly a motley looking crew.’ And I went, ‘That’s the name of my band.’ So, I kept it for all those years.”

He saved the name until finding the right bandmates in Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. “I wouldn’t change anything. Crazy bastards,” laughed the guitarist.

Now with his solo album and potential touring on the horizon, Mick Mars is out to show he still has plenty left in the tank, and that his musical vision still burns strong. “It’s like a unit. It’s like I do things just a little differently than that. But I wrote with Motley, and now I’m writing for myself, so I can take it anywhere,” Mars asserted.

The Other Side of Mars drops February 23rd, showcasing over 40 more years of Mars’ one-of-a-kind guitar playing and songwriting. After helping pen some of the most iconic metal anthems ever, the guitarist is clearly not ready to hang it up yet. His solo career starts right here.

For all things Mick Mars check out mick-mars.com.

As seen in the February 2024 issue:

519 Issue 66 February 2024 cover web

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