By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Former Hanoi Rocks vocalist’ Michael Monroe is back!!! After putting an end to the band that brought him internation acclaim, last year, Monroe has returned with a killer new band. The Michael Monroe band consists of long time Hanoi Rock bassist – Sami Yafffa, guitarist’ Ginger from the Wildhearts, Todd Youth guitarist formerly of Danzig and Jimmy Clark on drums. Recently, Monroe held a press conference in LA to introduce his new band and perform a few songs. The band totally kicked ass and will be playing a few west coast dates commencing on March 11.
We caught up with Michael to get the low down on the new band and his future plans. He’s what went down.
Hello Michael, first of all congratulations on your new killer band. Many of your fans are very excited about your new line-up. Tell us about the process of getting the new band together.
Thanks! It pretty much started with me and Sami getting together at the end of last summer when the New York Dolls came to play in Finland and I ended up jamming with them on stage at their show. After the gig me and Sami hung out and he said that he would love to play with me again. I said I would love to play with him too, so we started keeping in touch and working on some songs together. I also got together with Ginger to work on a couple of song ideas in July, but at that point we were mainly talking about just writing something together for my solo album. I went over to the States in early October and Sami hooked me up with Todd Youth when I was in LA. I immediately hit it off with Todd and we wrote a couple of songs right away. After L.A., I went to New York City to meet Sami to do some more writing and stuff. From then on me, Sami and Todd kept working on songs via the internet throughout the rest of the year. I also asked Jimmy Clark if he was interested in playing drums with me again after all these years and he said yes. We were thinking of a couple of possibilities for the other guitar, but then in early December I ran into Ginger at the Alice Cooper show in Helsinki and he said he would very much like to be in my new band too. I brought it up to Sami and Todd the next day and we all decided it would definitely be worth trying out. So we all got together in LA and started rehearsing and doing pre-production on January 12th, 2010. From the first day of rehearsals it felt great and the chemistry just locked into place between us.
Tell us a little about each band member and what makes them and important.
Sami has always been my best friend and “blood brother” throughout the years and he is the best Rock’n’Roll bass player alive on the planet! Todd is a very talented guitar player and knows everything there is to know about guitars, their sounds, equipment etc. He also has an endless supply of riffs and chords for new songs and is very easy to work with. He has a great positive attitude as well. Ginger is a brilliant, smart guy, a very calming influence and a lot of fun to be around. He’s a very gifted guitar player and songwriter/lyricist with a great sense of humor too. Jimmy is a good drummer and an old buddy of mine.
You recently held a press conference in LA in which you announced and introduced the new band. In addition, you performed as few songs as well. From what I’ve seen on the internet, you guys were fucking on fire. How did you feel during that performance, what was going through your head?
I was loving it! I was thinking how well the new songs worked in a live situation and how strong this band felt on stage. Also playing “Dead, Jail” Or Rock’n’Roll” live for the first time in almost 10 years was really exciting and magical. At end I just felt warmed up like I could’ve continued and played a full length show.
During the conference you mentioned that you have already wrote a few new songs, when can we expect to see a full length CD? And tell us about the direction that you are going in.
We’ve already written enough songs for an album, but we’re gonna keep writing to have more songs to choose from, in order to make the perfect record. We expect to have a full length CD out before the end of this year and probably a couple of tracks out for this summer. The direction is energetic Rock’n’Roll with good melodies, lyrics and a positive vibe.
Is this a true band or do you have final say on everything?
This truly works like a band and we make the final decisions together. No egos get in the way.
You have a few American west coast tour dates coming. Do you plan on adding anymore or extending the tour to the east coast as well?
Yes, we’re planning to do an east coast tour in May.
What do you have planned for your setlist, all solo material or will you include some Hanoi Rocks as well?
We’re gonna play some Michael Monroe solo, Demolition 23 and Hanoi Rocks material as well as some of our new songs.
Would you be interested(or do you have plans) to hook up with any of the major rock festivals this summer. If so, what ones?
We’re want to play as many as possible and some are being booked in Europe as we speak, but it’s too early to say which ones at this point.
Who’s idea was it to break up Hanoi Rocks this time around? Was it amicable?
It was amicable in the end.
Was it frustrating to you that Hanoi Rocks never made it as big as they should have in North America? In retrospect, what could have been done differently?
That’s all in the past now and I’m quite happy to let it go. I’m more excited about this band now and our future prospects.
Axl W. Rose was a big supporter of Hanoi Rocks, have you talked to him recently? And what do you think “Chinese Democracy”?
I haven’t spoken to him directly for quite a while, but I sent him my best wishes thru’ Sebastian Bach last December when I met Sebastian in Finland as he’s in pretty close touch with Axl. I think”Chinese Democracy” is a good record.
Do you still reside in Finland? If so, what is the music scene like over there?
Yeah, I still reside in Turku, Finland. There’s a lot of good rock bands in Finlad and some are doing very well abroad too, like “HIM” and “Rasmus” for example.
Who are some of your favorite current bands or artists?
I like Duff McKagan’s Loaded, Linkin Park and Foo Fighters, Warrior Soul and Kory Clarke’s other band Trouble, I also still like what Alice Cooper is doing and Motörhead etc. Perry Farrel told me he’s working on a new Jane’s Addiction album and I’m really looking forward to hearing that.
Any last thoughts for the readers of RockMusicStar?
Hey all you RocMusicStar guys – stay cool! And do yourself a favor – keep up with my new band on www.michaelmonroe.com and don’t miss a chance to check us out live. See you down the road. Rock like f**k! Love, Peace, Respect & Rock’n’Roll.
Thank you for your time and best of luck. I can’t wait to hear the new CD.
Thank you and all the best.