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SoulMonster

Q&A with Michael Monroe - July 1, 2010

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Q&A with Michael Monroe - July 1, 2010

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:24 am

Michael Monroe is a living vocalist and multi-instrumentalist legend, mostly known from fronting the renowned rock band Hanoi Rocks through their glory days in the late 70's and 80's, the all-star projects Demolition 23 and Jerusalem Slim, as well as a prolific solo career. In 2010 Michael founded a new, self-titled band and has lately been touring the US. His music has formed an essential bridge between 60's and 70's punk and rock n' roll and the glam rock scene of the 80's that spurred such bands as Ratt, L.A. Guns, Poison and Guns N' Roses, but his music has had a much wider influence on the music scene and bands like Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains and Manic Street Preachers have all announced being fans, proving the highly influential nature of his work.

I hooked up with Michael to ask some questions about his whole career and his collaborations with Guns N' Roses and its members.

Q: How was the Hanoi Rocks' sound developed? Who were YOUR influences?
Little Richard, Rolling Stones, CCR, Alice Cooper, Stiv Bators, Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders Ramones, Cheap Trick, The Damned, The Ruts, Iggy & The Stooges, Faces, Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter, Slade, Nazareth, Sweet, Black Sabbath, UK Subs, Undisputed Truth, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, Dave Edmunds, Dr. Feelgood (the BAND), Free, The Heavy Metal Kids, Gary Holton, AC/DC (preferably w/ Bon Scott), Geordie, Sparks, Queen, Roxy Music, Doors, New York Dolls, Clash, Sex Pistols, Bob Marley, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Thin Lizzy, ZZ Top, Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Boys, Yardbirds, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly...the list is endless and not necessarily in this order...

Q: It's interested that Hanoi Rocks originated in Finland. What was the music scene in Helsinki in the late '70s early '80s?
50's Rock'n'Roll had a big revival in the late 70's in Finland. But generally the record stores had a very large selection of all types of music, so you could find a lot of cool stuff, regardless of what the current trends might have been in the rest of the world.

Q: How did moving to Stockholm, London and later on, moving to the US, affect the sound of Hanoi Rocks and your other projects?
Living homeless in the Stockholm streets for about 9 months, in the beginning of Hanoi, did add to our "street gang"/punk kind of attitude. Our sound evolved as we moved on and gained more experience along the way.

Q: In many ways Hanoi Rocks come across as the archetypical drugs, sex and rock and roll band and the band set the standard for bands to come. You are considered to have stayed mostly clear of drugs and booze but unfortunately this was not the case of your band members and tragedies followed in the wake of this lifestyle. Could your music have been made without the lifestyle, or is the lifestyle and the music intricately connected?
To us, the music was always more important than anything else.

Q: Any suggestions for bands of today that want to break through?
Stay true to yourself.

Q: The tragic death of Razzle in 1985 seems to have started the end of the band. Do you agree?
Yes.

Q: If the car crash hadn't taken place, and Hanoi Rocks had continued, how far do you think the band would have gone? It seems you were on the rise when it all imploded.
It's impossible to say. There's no way of knowing that...

Q: How is your new band doing and how has the tour been?
The new band is doing great! I love working with these guys and it just keeps getting better.

Q. You are renowned for your spectacular live appearances. Is it getting harder with the years to be physically active at stage and engage the crowds or will you never slow down like Iggy Pop?
There's no signs of slowing down for me.

Q: Do you have any new record release plans? What lies in the future for your new band?
We're currently working on finishing the new songs and planning to go into the studio in the fall. The plan is to get the record out early next year.

Q: Being in the music business for quite some time now you must be familiar with many legendary musicians and biz guys. For us GNR fans your connection with GNR is of course of interest. When did you first get in contact with GNR?
I met Axl at the video shoot for my song "Dead, Jail Or Rock'n'Roll" in New York City back in 1989. He just happened to be stopping by and came to introduce himself. We got along quite nicely.

Q: You were featured on both 'Use Your Illusion I' and 'The Spaghetti Incident!?'. How did this come to be?
They asked me to play some blues harp and saxophone on the song "Bad Obsession", which turned out really cool. I had made a compilation tape of the "Dead Boys" for Axl, since he had told me that he wasn't that familiar with the band. While I was in LA for the session, we were driving around Hollywood with Axl one night, listening to the Dead Boys tape. When "Ain't It Fun" came on, Axl lit up and said "We gotta record this song! Let's do it as a duet in Stiv Bators' memory!". They had been working on the "Spaghetti Incident?" album then and this would be a perfect track for it. He called Slash and the guys right away and got everyone together in the studio for it over the next few days. I was thrilled about this, since Stiv Bators was a dear friend of mine and one of my favorite frontmen/singers of all time. We did the song and it turned out magical. Against my manager's wishes - all I asked them for doing the song, was to have a dedication "In memory of Stiv Bators" and to spell my name right on the album cover. I'm still quite proud about that.

Q: Was it obvious when collaborating with GNR on material for Use Your Illusion I that the band was in big trouble? Could you foresee that a crisis in the band was imminent?
I didn't notice anything like that. There seemed to be a good vibe in the studio.

Q: Any comments on the current conflict between Axl and Slash?
No.

Q: Any bands that are grossly under-appreciated and you would like to endorse for us?
"Warrior Soul" is one, and there are many more...lot of the ones I listed as influences in my first answer.

Q: If you could pick a single concert from history to attend, which one would that be?
AC/DC with Bon Scott would've been amazing to see, I'm sure.

Q: If you could pick a single musician from history, who would you prefer to be?
Just myself. I wouldn't wanna be anyone else - who knows what kind of problems other people, especially musicians, might have...

Q: Any particular events in your life as a musician you are particular pleased with?
I've had the honor and privilege of working with lots of great people, like Little Steven, Johnny Thunders, Stiv Bators, Kory Clarke (Warrior Soul), GN'R etc.

Q: Richard Fortus recently mentioned that he has been writing songs with you for an upcoming record. How did you get in contact with Richard and how has the collaboration been?
Yeah, I hooked up with Richard last fall in LA and we did collaborate on a couple of songs. He's a cool guy and a great guitar player. I really enjoyed working with him.

Q: What can we expect from Michael Monroe, the legendary musician, in the future?
A great new record and some great shows with my new band!
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