Though often confused for one another, there is truly a difference between a cover band and a tribute band. A cover band simply plays the hits, while a tribute band mimics the band of their choosing to perfection. Motley Brue of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the definition of tribute band.
Established in 2012 as an ‘80’s hard rock cover band by Milwaukee hard rock mainstay Matt Danbeck (Mr. Deagun Jones) and his longtime friend, Pete Braun, Motley Brue quickly rounded out its lineup with Andy Martin (Conniption) and Eddie Martinez (Category X). Within a short time of formation, the band decided that the cover band route was already done to death in the Milwaukee scene, but didn’t quite know what to play.
“We were kicking around some ideas and I figured if you’re going to play a bunch of cover songs you should play the most kick ass band out there,” says Braun in respect to his favorite band of the 1980’s, Mötley Crüe
Not long after decided to play exclusively Mötley Crüe tunes, the band decided to take the tribute one step further by emulating everything that was the Crue on stage. Three years later the band is still rocking out the legendary tunes made famous decades ago. Some may wonder why a band of talented musicians would want to spend their free time playing someone else’s songs, so Braun puts it simply.
“We all have been doing these original projects, but in the last couple of years we realized that if you really want to get out there and make some reliable money, you got to play covers. That’s just the Milwaukee scene. We all love original music, but if you want reliable money, you have to play what the people want and the people want covers.”
Of course, it’s not all about money, either. Mötley Brüe is mostly about having fun and taking a break from their original projects. Once again, Braun has a simple answer why the cover scene is more profitable than the original scene.
“It works. Over the three years we’ve been together, every time we think about altering the formula, it all falls apart. We just stick to what we’ve got,” remarks Braun. “We’ve gotten a strong reaction from day one. All four of us love the Crüe and we’ve discovered that there are a lot of others who love it, too. It’s good quality American music.”
Of course, it’s not just the recognizable music that makes Mötley Brüe a local sensation, but the way they present it. Though only Braun dresses up the 1980’s regalia, wig and bandana included, the key to the band’s success is their dedication to studying the music and stage presence of the Crüe and replicating it. This is especially evident in the vocal delivery and overall passion seen in front man, Eddie Martinez.
“Eddie is the crucial piece. Eddie is one of the few guys in Milwaukee that can do it like Vince Neil,” says Braun, while Martin adds, “His range, his tone, it’s his natural voice. He’s not trying to mimic anyone, it’s his voice. ”
Rest assured, Martinez isn’t the only asset the band has, for despite what some might think, Mötley Crüe’s music is not as easy as it may seem.
“They’re wildly successful for a reason. Their songs are simple but they’re not easy. You listen to it and it sounds like it would be easy, but it’s not. It’s straight up rock’n’roll, but there are those little nuances. That little offbeat about how the kick follows the snare. There’s that little tiny difference that makes the song,” says Martin.
And it’s their mastering of these little nuances and odd notes that separates Motley Brue from the pack. Having seen the Brüe on two occasions, one thing is for certain that this band hits everything that is Mötley Crüe on the nose. Of course, not all aspects of the Crüe can be replicated this day and age, especially by men with families and responsibilities.
“That’s the biggest difference between us and the Crüe. The Crüe, in their heyday let all go for broke. None of us are willingly to go that extreme. I mean, we’ll go up there and rock out, but we still have our dignity,” says Braun. “Mötley Crüe is legendary for their antics. You know, backstage, groupies, titties everywhere. Truthfully, we’ve seen a little bit. We have some stories to tell, but most of the time it’s pretty straight forward,” says Braun.
“I like to rock out, but I have a regular job and a relationship focus. Just because I’m playing Mötley Crüe songs doesn’t mean I can act like Tommy Lee,” adds Martin, though he likely wouldn’t mind being the legendary rocker.
“All of that stuff is a little over the line for us. We pay tribute. We love those guys, we love their music, and we do everything we can do to study it and portray it the best we can,” remarks Braun.
Clearly their act is working, for although they get a strong reception in their hometown, it’s elsewhere in Wisconsin where the band finds its biggest crowds, which on average surpasses one hundred people. Strangely enough, most of their fans are women.
“This is the first band I’ve been in where our following is more so female. I’m used to the sausage fest, so I really enjoy that,” Braun says with a laugh.
No matter dominant demographic of their fan base, one thing is for certain with the Mötley Crüe – they’re keeping the legend of the Crüe alive and having a hell of a time while they’re at it.
Now that you’ve read the article, it’s time to witness the Brüe firsthand. The following video is a full set of the Mötley Brüe playing the Rebel Rock Stage at Milwaukee’s famed Summerfest in 2015, courtesy of Eddie Martinez.