12 Mar
Interviewing a Finnish legend

Hanoi Rocks are one of those bands that limitless musicians list as seminal, bridging the glam world of the New York Dolls with the gutter punks of the late 70s. When they dropped Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks in 1981 they seemed on the cusp of world domination, captivating Europe and London with 1000 volts…but that energy never reached its potential, and they never opened the door of widespread public awareness in the US. The Finnish five-piece has been credited by everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Pearl Jam to Nirvana as major influences, and were described as “the missing link between punk and glitter” by Rolling Stone, yet they never had a song make it on radio rotation (although “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” might crack the Best 100 songs of the 80s). After breaking up in 1985 (after their drummer Razzle was infamously killed in a drunk driving accident with Motley Crue singer Vince Neil behind the wheel), Hanoi Rocks reformed in 2002 and put out 3 albums, then disbanded again in 2009. Now Michael Monroe, the band’s iconic frontman, is back with a new band and new tour, and he recently launched the line-up at a special party at the Finnish Ambassador’s house in the Hollywood Hills (yes, they are cultural heroes in Finland). We took the opportunity to talk to the legendary singer, and this is what he had to say…

So what was the best part about reuniting with Hanoi Rocks? Was it a relief, a chance to finish unfinished business?
It was to finish some unfinished business. The best thing was that we made three very good albums and played some killer live shows during that time.

What was the single best memory from that brief reunion?
The fact that we finished it in style, with integrity.

Hit the Jump to read the full Q&A with Michael Monroe, get the full tour schedule, and see the video for “Dead Jail or Rock n’ Roll”

“Slash is definitely one of the best guitarists I’ve worked with over the years — his style of playing is perfect and he plays from the heart.”

Before and after Hanoi Rocks you’ve played with some great musicians. How do you compare playing with Slash as compared with Steve Stevens? What do you like about each guy’s unique style?
Slash is definitely one of the best guitarists I’ve worked with over the years. His style of playing is perfect and he plays from the heart. I think the best songs in my solo career so far, I’ve written with Little Steven Van Zandt.

You’ve had a long and interesting career, influenced many bands that became worldwide phenomenons. Is it difficult to see bands that took so much from you become huge? Or are you content with the life and success of Michael Monroe?
On the contrary, I’m quite happy to see others do well. It’s also very flattering to hear that I’ve influenced many people, especially musically. I’m quite content being Michael Monroe, no matter what.

How’s your relationship with Axl right now?
If you mean Axl Rose, I have only good things to say about him.  He’s always been very nice to me as a friend.

Is there any particular message or cohesive theme in your varied work over the decades?
Basically being true to myself, playing honest Rock’n’Roll from the heart and not compromising my integrity or selling my soul.

What is your most treasured material possession?
I guess my irreplaceable Selmer Tenor Saxophone made in 1939.

If we pressed Shuffle on your iPod while you went to the bathroom, what would we be surprised to find?
I don’t use an iPod.

You’ve just announced your new project, the Michael Monroe Band. Tell us about it — do you have an album coming soon?
I’m very happy and excited about the new band, especially working with Sami Yaffa and Ginger. We’re definitely releasing something this year, at least a song or two. A full length album in the early part of next year at the latest, I would think.

What was the motivation for the new band?
The motivation is working with some great people and also just trying to get better at what I do, as always.

What does Michael Monroe like to spend his money on?
On survival.

If you were Lost In a Supermarket, in what aisle would we most likely find you in?
Probably in the fresh fruit and berries section.

MICHAEL MONROE Spring 2010 Tour Dates:

March 11.San Francisco, Paradise Lounge
March 12 Hollywood, Viper Room
March 13 San Diego, Brick By Brick
March 14 Redondo Beach, The Brixton
March 15 Las Vegas, Wasted Space @ Hard Rock
March 17 Austin, Austin Music Hall, SXSW (with MOTÖRHEAD)
March 19 Austin, Rusty Spurs, SXSW
March 20 Austin, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, SXSW
March 21 Austin, Continental Club, SXSW

European Dates:

April 01 Helsinki, Tavastia (+ Stalingrad Cowgirls)
April 02 Helsinki, Tavastia (all ages + age limited 18+ with Stalingrad Cowgirls)
April 03 Turku, Klubi, (all ages + age limited 18+)
April06 Tampere, Klubi
April 08 Stockholm, Debaser
April 09 London, Islington Academy
June 05 Helsinki, Helsinki Live 2010 Festival (+ GUNS’N’ROSES)
July 10 Turku, Ruisrock

Hanoi Rocks’ “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” live

Michael Monroe’s “Dead Jail or Rock n’ Roll” with Axl Rose

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