I stood nervously awaiting my turn for the allotted ten minutes interview time with Michael Monroe, anticipating a night that was gonna ‘rock like fuck’ at the Islington Academy. The band were late arriving so it was straight to sound check, interviews, perform then fly straight out again that night. Michael extended a wet just washed hand before he sat to eat some fruit and clean harmonicas as he answered questions. He was like a coiled spring ready to rock, no messing about. Best known as the Hanoi Rocks’ front man, multi instrumentalist Michael has a rock ‘n’ roll career spanning over three decades, having worked with the likes of Stiv Bators and Axl Rose, Hanoi Rocks being cited by Guns N’ Roses as one of their major influences, and encompassing solo projects as well as band projects such as Jerusalem Slim and Demolition 23. In January of this year Michael held a press conference in L.A. to announce his new band, called simply Michael Monroe.
As I left after the interview Michael called out “Enjoy the show”. Watching Michael perform along with fellow band members in this impressive line up was as pure a rock ‘n’ roll performance as it gets. Bassist Sami Yaffa is no stranger to Michael, having played together with Hanoi Rocks, Jerusalem Slim and Demolition 23. Joined by New York Dolls’ guitarist Steve Conte, Ginger of The Wildhearts and drummer Karl Rockfist/Rosqvist, this band truly ‘rocked like fuck’!!
LORRAINE: New band, new tour, how’s it all going?
MICHAEL:: Great. Really great. Really happy about it. It’s going to be really cool. It’s starting out great. We did a great West Coast tour in the States, and we did South by Southwest, four shows over there, and we did some different shows in Finland, and we did one in Stockholm last night, and we’re having a bit of a break, and planning to go to the States again, do a little East Coast tour in May, and we’ve got a bunch of songs written already, and we’re going to put something out this year, a couple of songs at least, and a full-length album the early part of next year. That’s the plan.
MICHAEL:: We haven’t decided yet. We haven’t decided on a producer, we haven’t decided on a studio yet, but we will before too long. We’re not in a rush, but we’re not going to wait too long either. There are some great writers in this band, great musicians, everyone’s committed.
MICHAEL:: Oh, I love it. It’s like a dream come true. He’s the best rock’n’roll bass player alive on the planet.
LORRAINE: You haven’t played the USA since the early 1990s, so how did that feel? And how did playing
MICHAEL:: It’s great to play in the States, there’s a great rock’n’roll audience there still, and people were going to the places, they were packed, and so people still remember. They’ll be waiting to see me, and I’ll be waiting to get there.
LORRAINE: In the set at the moment, you’ve got a good selection of Demolition 23 material, your own solo material, and Hanoi, and new songs. Are you going to gradually bring in more of the new songs?
MICHAEL:: Yes. I think it’s a really good mix now, but we’re bringing in more songs: we’ve got three in the set right now and people seem to like them a lot. So it’s a nice balance right now and, obviously, it’ll evolve as we go on.
LORRAINE: So the band is Michael Monroe, but you’ve always said you’re a band person, and that it’s not all about you.
MICHAEL:: Yes. My name is Michael Monroe, and it’s lent itself to be playing all these songs and stuff.
LORRAINE: Everyone is involved in different things, so do you think it’s going to remain a solid line-up, or will people be coming and going, and maybe changing as time goes on?
MICHAEL:: It feels very solid right now. It’s kind of locking into place with Steve Conte and Karl Rockfist has joined us now, it’s taking shape and everyone is getting into this. I’m hoping it will stay together. And right now, everybody is prioritizing this, so it’s everyone’s priority, and I don’t see why it couldn’t go on.
MICHAEL: Yes, certainly. We’re going to Download festival, playing for Download festival and the sooner we get the album out, we’ll start playing them all, we’ll start touring heavily. As much as possible, we’ll play now. This first show is just to showcase the band.
MICHAEL:: Home. I’d like to be home. Right now, I live in the city of
MICHAEL:: Yes. Discipline, I guess. I exercise most days of the week, five days of the week at least, to keep in shape.
MICHAEL: Not non-negotiable but I just can’t think of anything else. This is what I do best…
MICHAEL: From then, I didn’t really think of anything much else to do. I’m quite happy to be… this is what I do best, and why mess with it?
MICHAEL: I’m still living it, but working on one. It’ll probably be out, at least in Finnish, at least next year. It has to be translated too. There’s a great Hanoi Rocks book, too, that was out in
MICHAEL: I always say “No compromise, no regrets”. That’s what Stiv Bators said. Follow your heart, treat others like you would like to be treated yourself, and stay true to yourself, maintain your integrity, and you’ll be alright.
Photos by RachelF