Michael Monroe has long been at the forefront of breaking music barriers. The Finnish musician and multi-instrumentalist rose to fame as the singer for Hanoi Rocks and has served as the frontman for many all-star collaborations including Guns N’ Roses and Demolition 23 with Little Steven. He talks to State.ie about his new project, his memories of working with Axl Rose and his new album.
You have mentioned in previous interviews that your influences are Black Sabbath and Little Richard to name a few – what bands today would you listen too?
Warrior Soul are still a great band, Duff McKagan’s Loaded are really good and I liked them a lot. Foo Fighters are good. I listen to my old favorites a lot – Alice Cooper is amazing.
As a performer do you prefer playing the big outdoor festivals or the intimate indoor gigs?
I will play anywhere. Big, small – any place is great. I love performing live so it doesn’t really matter to me where I play as long as the crowd is into it and we all have a great time. I mean I could play this table, that room or the main stage – it doesn’t matter to me. I just love to play.
This new band has such an amazing line up – how did this project come about?
Thank you very much. Myself and Sami starting talking last summer after he came to Finland to play with the New York Dolls. They invited me on stage to jam with them and we had a great time, and then me and Sami hung out after the show and he said he would really like to work with me again. It was perfect timing, so we started putting the band together. Also I had hooked up with Ginger (ex-Wildhearts) last summer to write some music and in December he came out to the Alice Cooper show in Helsinki and said that he would really like to be part of my band. I was happy about this and it was a great fit, so I called Sami the next day and asked him what he thought. He agreed that if it worked out it would be great. So we tried it out and so far it has worked really well.
How is it being on tour with the new band?
It is great being on tour with this band especially and it is really a lot of fun playing live with these guys. Travelling is not that much fun, but it is all part of the process and getting to play live all over the world makes up for the traveling part.
You were at SxSW this year – how did that go?
It was great and we had a blast. The shows got great reviews and we had a great time playing. We opened up for Motorhead and then we did the Rusty Spurs and a roof top gig and the final party on the Sunday. We did four shows in total and it was an amazing experience. Before that we played 5 shows on the west coast and the response has really been great. All around it has been positive feedback and I am really happy that it has gone like this.
You unveiled the new mobile application at SXSW – How is that working out?
It is going really well. Some fans have joined it and some can just follow it on the website through the live feed. It is great to keep in contact with our fans and keep posting messages online to them and giving them updates to what we are getting up to everyday, and how the writing is coming along on the album. It makes them feel like they are with us and part of the band which is cool.
You mentioned the new album. How is work on that going?
We are writing at the moment, so we are busy in that process and we are planning to go into record in the fall in September. We were in New York for a couple of weeks, a few weeks ago and we did a couple of shows and in our spare time we did some writing. Then we played a one day festival with Guns n Roses in Helsinki and we had a few days around that time to do some more writing. We are writing constantly on the road so by the time we come to record we will have some really good stuff to lay down.
Was the formation of this band as much fun as Hanoi Rocks or Demolition 23?
Well they are two very different types of projects and each were at different times, so I would say that this band now is more fun than either one of them. I am having a great time with this band and I am really enjoying playing live with them.
What are your memories from the ‘Jail, Dead or Rock n Roll’ video shoot that featured Axl Rose?
It was great shoot. We were going to put a stage up in Alphabet city, which was a really dodgy area back then in New York. We wanted to really cause a riot there with police cars and everything, but then it started raining like mad. It was the worst downpour since 20 years and we had no plan B as no one was expecting it to rain like that. Luckily a sound stage nearby was available, so we went up there and put the police cars out on the street and I did some filming on top of them.
Axl happened to be walking by, he had stopped into a deli on the corner to get something to eat and he seen some commotion going on and had asked someone what was happening. The person said to him that it was Michael Monroe’s video shoot so he came to introduce himself. We got along really well and we are both big fans of Nazareth, so we started talking about them, and he had heard my album and he really liked it. He had never heard -Not Fakin It’ so he didn’t know that was a Nazareth song. The Loud’N’Proud album was never big in the States which is a shame. It is one of my favorites. I just came out and asked him if he wanted to come on stage for a few takes, he agreed and came up and did a cameo and he ended up being in the video. I get on great with him and I am always happy to see him.
Where are the band heading from here – what shows have you got coming up?
The next show we are doing after Download is Sweden Peace and Love Festival, and then we are going to Finland, and in August we are doing Summer Sonic in Japan, and then we are hitting the studio in September to record the album. I have always done well in Japan so I am really looking forward to going back there. I am just having a great time at the moment and I think that shows in our live show.