Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview with Andy Mccoy and Mike Monroe of Hanoi Rocks

Text translated by Marko Syrjala and Petri Kautto from AOR-Europe.com
Pictures by Marko Syrjala

Hanoi Rocks held a public press conference at Sweden Rock 2002 and Metal Rules was there to witness it. Me and a few other reporters also had a chance for a little chat with the boys after the public press. I put together some Q&A's from both of the interviews. So Michael and Andy, fire it away!

 

The obvious question would be why? What is behind Hanoi's rebirth?

Mike: About a year ago we played a few festivals in Finland playing only Hanoi songs under a name "Hanoi Re-Visited" and it was really fun. So we started writing some new material and went in to the studio and it turned out so great we decided to call it HANOI ROCKS again! 

Andy: As usual we were even surprised ourselves… 

Mike: Yeah, how brilliant we were, what magic and genius, wow… (laughs). No, really it turned out so great we figured it deserves a name we came up with, Hanoi Rocks. We started Hanoi Rocks, the two of us, before all the other guys came so it was us for a few years before we actually got it going so... and now it just happened, it's like a rebirth, this is amazing…

 

It's not a reunion?

Mike: No, Sammy left Hanoi Rocks when Razzle died and Nasty doesn't even play anymore, he's a pharmacist now. I want to protect the name Hanoi Rocks which I have for years and we would never do just a reunion to get the old guys together and just to make a quick buck. It's not about that. 

Andy: We were offered a lot of money a few years ago but both me and Michael turned it down immediately.

 

Did you try and convince your former guitarist Nasty Suicide to play with you again?

Andy: I called him out of courtesy and told him what was happening and he was happy about this. 

Mike: Nasty came to see our show in Helsinki and came to the backstage and said that we played the Hanoi songs better than Hanoi ever did.

 

In my opinion he is right, today's Hanoi Rocks is musically easily better than ever before.

Andy: Yeah that's right. Everybody can hear that when we play live.

 

How's writing songs different compared to the old days?

Andy: Of course we've grown as people, both of us. Michael's also grown a lot as a songwriter. Mike: Over the years you get experience and both of us have grown a lot as people and as an artists and songwriters. It's pretty exciting actually. 

 

Andy, it's just you and Michael who write all the music now. How about Costello. Has he done any writing with you already ? He really has a long history as a songwriter with his other band Popeda and also as a solo artist?

Andy: Well...he has brought some riffs and ideas for us. But I don't know, we'll see if we are going to use some of them I just don't know at the moment. If there is good enough material from him why not use it??

 

How did you find the new musicians?

Mike: The bass player and the drummer are from my solo band, I've been playing with them for a couple of years. It's been a lot of fun and the other guitarist Costello joined in the beginning of the year. There's a good chemistry there, you'll see.

 

Is the musical style in the single (People Like Me) about the same style that we'll hear in the album?

Mike: Yeah, that's pretty much the style. The next single is called "In My Darkest Moment" which is a slow one but it is really one of the best songs we ever wrote together, it's gonna be in the album. There's some rockers in the album, good melodies, good music… all killers no fillers.

 

Andy, are you going to sing on the new album also ?

Andy: No. I don't have to because I have a singer in the band now .. (laugh) I'll do just background vocals this time.

 

Bands tend to say that their new album is always the best they've ever done. Is that the case with your new album?

Mike: I'd say you're only as good as your last album. Of course the sound is going to be better, the studios are so different these days. A lot of the Hanoi albums don't have great sound, but the songs carry themselves.

 

When will the full album be released?

Andy: August - September this year, we've already recorded part of it. Mike: I'm working on a solo album right now for SPV in Germany. I have a contract with them so I'm obligated to make a studio album. I've recorded about nineteen tracks in the studio before we left here and a few of the will be in the Hanoi album.

 

Do you already have some touring plans for autumn etc .. ?

Andy: Yes. We are doing these couple of gigs in Sweden now then we do some more festivals in Finland and then .. there are also some gigs in Japan late in August with Guns 'n Roses. When the album comes out there will be a full world tour to follow.

 

Andy, any more movie plans after The Real McCoy?

Andy: Making the movie was a gruesome experience, it lasted for three and a half years and making a film is just shit load of work. I've been offered a few films but I've turned them down, I'd rather play the guitar.

 

What's the rock scene like in Finland at the moment?

Mike: Well Hanoi Rocks is back so that's pretty big news… there's some good rock bands, The Flaming Sideburns, there's a cool funky band called Eternal Erection. The Rasmus has one good song but I've forgotten what it's called.

 

What can we expect from a Hanoi show today ?

Andy: We're just gonna play good rock music and hope people enjoy it.

 

Your latest single is called "People Like Me". Was there a conscious message that justified the rebirth of Hanoi Rocks?

Mike: "Radio and MTV, you need people like me!" At least this band has a place in the world, especially now that rock 'n' roll seems to have totally vanished from the face of the earth. MTV calls itself Music Television so it is their obligation to show people where good music comes from. Kids these days don't even know what rock 'n' roll is. It's a good time for us to remind people about it so that the name Hanoi Rocks won't be forgotten. All that has happened with Hanoi recently has been really amazing… but I haven't broken any previous promises. I've said that there will not be a reunion. This is not a reunion, this is a rebirth with new people. And it was me and Andy who started it in the first place and this just happened. 

Andy: It was always me and Mike… 

Mike: Yeah, then Nasty came along, then Sammy…

 

If I have understood, right after the break up Sammy has been active and has tried to reunite Hanoi Rocks many times ?

Andy: He did tried it only for the money. It wouldn't have been right… money does not motivate me to make art. 

Mike: A short tour with guys who don't get along with each other, staying in separate hotels and flying separate flights just to meet on the stage just to make a lot of money. Hanoi was never a bad band and I wanted to make sure that there's at least one band in the world that will not do anything for money. Some people say that were together now because of the money but that is not true, we're doing this because of music.

 

I read the guest book on Michael's web page (www.michaelmonroe.com) and it seemed that many people took it really personally when rebirth took place. We're you surprised about that?

Mike: Yeah, I mean some people who weren't even born when Hanoi started who call themselves "Make Monroe" or something, even take their name from me, criticise me and my decisions about my career and my band. What business is it of theirs! A lot of shit was thrown at me on my website… 

Andy: The feedback that I got was only positive… 

Mike: I think it's because I've been a purist when it comes to music and in Hanoi there were people saying that Michael has said this and this and now he's doing that… but mainly the feedback was positive. I am absolutely sure that we have a good thing going. After I made a decision, which was hard, knew that this is the way it is. I always try to keep an open mind. 

Andy: We both had the same problem with our solo careers… when you were looking for members to your solo band you could really see that there are many people who are in the music business for money. 

Mike: Some people wanted me to make an overnight sensation out of them and when that didn't happen they got bitter. Now, when I was not looking for a band, this happened. 

Andy: Yeah, it wasn't planned it just happened.

 

Michael, you have also your own studio album coming out soon, what's the news on that?

Mike: I spent 3 weeks in studio just before we left here and recorded nineteen new songs and a few of them are covers, then my old songs and maybe three or four will end up in the Hanoi Rocks album. The working title for the album has been "12 last reasons to die", it has 12 songs but 'm changing the name to "Anything you want". 

 

Who played with you on the album?

Mike: Lacu and Timpa so it's the same rhythm section as in Hanoi and Pink Gibson from New York is playing guitars and Andy will be probably in the few songs. It was cool to be able to write songs and then to be able to decide what's best for Hanoi and what's best for me.

 

Are you going to play any stuff from your various solo projects ? There was plenty of good stuff released during the years ..

Mike: No, we want to keep that solo stuff separated from this Hanoi thing completely. 

Andy: No solo stuff.. just Hanoi.

 

Andy's wife Angela (Nicolette) has a solo album coming…

Mike: What album .. ? I haven't even heard about that one ..?? 

Andy: Yes Angela is making her own album. 

Mike: Aha .. 

Andy: At the moment it looks like it'll be out in January. I've written songs to it but the music is different from that of Hanoi, it's not suitable for Hanoi.

 

You have also a keyboard player on stage?

Andy: We wanted to have more colour to our music. 

Mike: Yeah, the sound is better that way. He has a supporting role in the band.

 

Where did you find him anyway ?

Mike: He used to play for more than ten years in Finland with a band called Five Fifteen and ... that's it. He's a great player.

 

Is he hidden behind some curtain?

Andy: No, we don't hide anyone behind anything. When I was on tour with Kiss they told me that there's no one else other than them but there were two people behind the curtains singing background vocals. It was when I was playing with Shooting Gallery in 1996. Gene Simmons is a megalomaniac and very uncertain about himself.

 

But he is rich…

Mike: That doesn't make him any better. But yeah he is a good business man. John "Skinny" Reagan was playing with Ace Frehley's Comet and Gene went to stage and said to Skinny, "Gimme your bass!" Skinny said, "why should I give you my bass". Gene, "just gimme your bass." Skinny, "No, I'm not gonna give you my bass. You're gonna ask nicely. You're gonna say please." Gene was assuming that of course he would go "oh mr. Simmons, here is my bass" but instead Skinny said "fuck you man, who the fuck are you!" I thought that was great, perfect. The guy had to swallow his ego a little. Paul Stanley was very nice when I met him and Ace Frehley is a riot, he's the funniest man.

 

Andy, you have released a book (Sheriffi McCoy). Will there be more to come in the future ?

Andy: There will be one longer version of that book and it will be published in several languages. Michael is also very talented verbally. He used to write to a Finnish magazine called "Suosikki" once a month and I would laugh my ass off. They should publish them again 'cause there are so many funny stories there.

 

As the interview was ending we asked about the new album. It will be released on their own record label Akashic Rocks and then distributed internationally. The latest single will also soon be released internationally, they are finishing the contracts. Let's hope that their new album turns out great and that the rest of the world would soon hear how the reborn Hanoi Rocks sounds like!

 

HanoiRocks.com 

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