James Michael of Sixx:A.M. on Delayed Stardom — Exclusive Interview
Sixx:A.M. singer and guitarist James Michael is living proof that stardom sometimes comes when you least expect it. ‘This Is Gonna Hurt,’ the sophomore album from Sixx:A.M., just debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard albums chart. However, Michael’s success didn’t happen overnight.
“Yeah, my story isn’t typical,” Michael told Noisecreep during a recent conversation about the new Sixx:A.M. album. “I played in a band called The Riverdogs in the early ’90s and did some touring with them in Europe. I then signed a record deal for my first solo album in the late ’90s. I ended up putting out a solo album called ‘Inhale’ in 2000, but I quickly realized that I was more cut out to be in the studio, writing with and for other artists.”
“You see, I originally had this fantasy that I would put out a solo album that would sell millions of copies, and then become this huge rock star. But while I was waiting for my record to come out, I started working with people like Sammy Hagar and Mötley Crüe. Once my solo album did come out, it didn’t perform well commercially. But something interesting happened instead. Even though my solo record didn’t sell, all of these other records that I had written for started doing really well, and the checks started rolling in.”
Michael’s uncanny way around a pop hook was finally finding an audience.
“It was a great time, since I realized that the songwriting side was where I should be focusing my efforts. I get to stay in one place and work with different other artists every single day, and they can go out on tour playing the same 10 songs while I get to do new stuff. I then spent the next seven or eight years building on my career as a producer and songwriter.”
During that period, Michael’s songs and production credits appeared in the liner notes for artists like Meat Loaf, Scorpions, and Lillix.
“The Sixx:A.M. thing started when Nikki [Sixx] heard my solo album and asked me to come write some stuff for Mötley’s ‘New Tattoo’ album back in 2000. We kept in touch throughout the years, and after that we wrote together for other artists like Saliva and Marion Raven. So by the time we sat down to work on what would become the Sixx:A.M. band, we already had a working history together,”
Sixx:A.M.’s debut album, 2007’s ‘The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack,’ was a big success commercially and critically. After all of those years hustling for other artists, Michael’s voice was finally all over modern rock radio.
“It’s funny, but even after I thought my rocking days were over, Sixx:A.M. happens and I’m back on stage fronting a band [laughs].”