Exclusive Interview: Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks
Man, I’m really glad to see Twelve Shots On The Rocks is out there. This record sounds a lot more like Michael Monroe, true?
It’s because of my input in the writing. Before, Andy used to write most of the songs. He wrote like 90% of them. Nowadays since I’ve come into my own as a songwriter I just have more input.
How did you know it was time to get Hanoi back together?
(laughs) I didn’t know anything! I didn’t plan it, I just met Andy in the Spring of 2001 at a four CD box set release party for Hanoi in Scandinavia. It just took me and Andy meeting at that time. That’s the first time I had seen him lively in…well, he had fallen off a balcony and broken his legs. He’d fallen off a third-story balcony. That was a very heavy thing for him to go through and it’s a miracle he’s alive, let alone that he could walk. He had changed as a person. I could see a difference. He wasn’t strung out or anything like that. I was interested in doing something with him. We jammed that night at a club. We had a lot of fun and decided to do a one-off concert the following summer in Finland in front of 50,000 people.
We did a “Hanoi Revisited,” we called it. It was a lot of fun to play with him for the first time. At that time, my wife of 15 years, Jude Wilder – who was also my collaborator and personal manager – she passed away unexpectedly about a week before that gig. That show was dedicated to her memory. That was a heavy, heavy time. I decided to concentrate on writing. The first song we wrote after that happened was “In My Darkest Moment,” which reflects that stuff. We kept writing until we got into the studio. We recorded a few tracks a looked at each other saying, “This sounds like Hanoi Rocks.” This stuff should have a name and it would be a shame if it didn’t get out to the people. We were the core of Hanoi Rocks from the beginning. We started it and that’s the coolest name there ever has been for a band, in my opinion. Also, why should we let all the years of work be taken away from us because of that accident? We had a band with history and it was time to educate people that it was Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy. It was a rebirth that I never thought was possible. Reunions I would never do. I would never do a reunion just to make a quick buck, ya know?
That’s what a lot of these guys seem to be in it for.
That’s right. Or to get laid and get a whole bunch of money, something stupid like that. I do this because it’s my life and it comes from the heart. I love being able to be creative and make a living. That’s what I want. I want to always get better at what I do and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve grown as people and evolved as songwriters, performers, and musicians. It’s exciting to see what we can accomplish now. It sounds better than ever before. We’ve mastered the studio sound but performing live is really what it’s about.
When you were working on Twelve Shots On The Rocks, were you able to use any riffs or lyrics that you came up with when Hanoi was together originally?
Yeah…the song “People Like Me” was pretty much an old idea that had no lyrics. Well, Andy had some lyrics like, (sings) “Oh baby, it’s hard to understand the things between a woman and a man.” I said, “I can’t sing that combo shit! How about like Scarface would say in the restaurant scene, ‘You people are a bunch of fuckin’ assholes! Why? You ain’t got the guts to be where you wanna be. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers!’” Then Andy said, like radio and MTV? I said, “Yeah! Radio and MTV, you need people like me!” “Moonlight Dance” was an old idea that Andy had. It was actually a joke about hippies. You know, hippies dancing naked tripping on LSD in a field. (sings) “Tear off your clothes and come with me and do the Moonlight Dance.” It was like a T. Rex kind thing. For “In My Darkest Moment,” that musical section in the middle that goes half a note up is a piano part I wrote when I was 14. I never thought I would use that piece for anything. We’ve got a lot of unfinished business here.
What about touring? Any US tour plans?
Yeah. We’re planning to come and tour here in the summer.
Will you be out with anybody or on your own?
It depends. We’re still working out the details. I was talking to Alice Cooper the other day in New York and he said he was really excited about maybe having Hanoi Rocks play with them. Maybe Velvet Revolver. I’ve been talking to Slash, too. It could be that kind of situation, which would be cool. We may just headline a club tour, do a few showcases first and get the buzz going. When people see this band live, that’s what it’s really about.
You’re also already writing for the next album, right?
Yeah, we’ve got about half an album written already. This is for the long-term. I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise. That’s all I’m concentrating on, Hanoi Rocks.
I’m glad you’re taking this seriously. Hanoi ranks up there in my mind with the likes of Alice Cooper, T. Rex, and my all-time favorite, Slade.
All right! Slade was the first band I ever saw live.
Here in the US, we get the shit end of the stick when it comes to Slade.
Yeah, they only know that one song, “Run Runaway.” Then that one band used two songs that were already hits and they ruined them. They made a career out of it. Unbelievable. I was totally blown away. I was pissed off that people didn’t know the original Slade. I heard they’re touring without Noddy Holder. That’s crazy!
I think they’re using the name Slade II.
Oh, well I’m glad they coined something other than just Slade. Slade is not Slade without Noddy Holder. No way!
The Guns ‘N Roses Greatest Hits came out last week and you show up on that on “Ain’t It Fun.”
Wow, that song is on the album? That’s great. That’s nice to hear. I don’t make any money out of it, though. I just got a session fee back then. I didn’t want to change their minds about putting that song out so I said, “Spell my name right and give tribute to Stiv Bators.” All I got back then was a session fee for playing the sax. It was disgusting how everybody was going after them like they were the Bank Of Guns ‘N Roses. Sylvain Sylvain was claiming that he had written part of that song that was written by Thunders and Johansen…”Human Being.”
I heard the New York Dolls were getting back together.
How can they get back together without Johnny Thunders? Why do they have to ruin a good thing? That’s exactly what I’m against. I can’t believe David Johansen would go for that. I thought he was the last stronghold, you know? They asked me to join them once and do something in Japan as the New York Dolls. Johnny wanted to put a band together called the New New York Dolls with me and Stiv as the singers. Heaven and hell. Him on guitar and Nasty on guitar. The New New York Dolls with two singers, me and Stiv. That would have been something, huh?
In the past couple of weeks I’ve read your name all over the place. Nikki Sixx called you an “anal astronaut”…
(huge laugh) Does that mean I’m a faggot? Is that the same as a “turd burglar”? (laughs) I just gave my honest opinion about these people and that’s all I’ve done. Childish comments like that…I can’t remember the last time somebody called me a faggot! That’s basic and as moronic as you can get. The only reason I said anything about him is because of that stupid album title of theirs. That gave bad taste a bad name. The name of their album is totally disgusting. They cling on to the fact that I mentioned them to try to give more publicity to them. Before this nobody in the rest of the world even knew they had a band. That was the first I’d ever heard of it. I won’t get into a “I know you are, but what am I” conversation. They should go back to kindergarten.
It’s been 20 years since the accident that took Razzle. Are you doing anything in tribute to him this year?
We’re doing it by letting more people know about the band. Most people only talk about Hanoi to mention that accident. Fuckin’ get over it already. Why don’t they talk about what the band’s about – attitude and music. That’s what the band was about. That tragedy really destroyed a lot of people’s lives and it has not been easy. It’s a miracle that we’re here together now as Hanoi Rocks. It certainly hasn’t been easy. I don’t need guys who weren’t involved with us, what was that guys name that wrote a big letter? Tracii Guns. If he was in Nikki’s band even then it’s none of his business. That just goes to show that they like taking the opportunity to get some publicity for themselves. “You’re welcome. No need to thank me for the extra publicity.”
Anything you’d like to say to the readers and your fans?
We’re looking forward to seeing you live. Please come and check the band out live. Check out the record, you won’t be disappointed. Stay real and stay true to yourself. No compromise and no regrets. Rock ‘n Roll lives!