Michael Monroe is a rock n roll God. He is probably the most under appreciated rock star in the United States while being Mick Jagger in Finland. Hanoi Rocks was really important for that era of music. Currently Monroe is working as a solo artist, but with a great band behind him. His new album “Blackout State” is as good as anything he’s done. When Michael Monroe releases a new album it’s like being a kid in a candy store…you go and get it.
You can listen to the entire interview on the Nothing Shocking Podcast here (the interview starts at the 13:25 mark)
Bobby Thornton (BT): Hello Michael How are you?
Michael Monroe (MM): I’m very good thanks.
BT: Thank you so much for calling in I really appreciate you taking the time to do this.
MM: No problem. So do you like the new album?
BT: Oh I love the new album, the new album is great. “Blackout States,” “Going Down with the Ship,” “Old King’s Road,” all great stuff.
MM: Thank you. “Going Down with the Ship” is gonna be our next single I think.
BT: Right on well it’s a great song. Can you tell me a little bit about how this album came about and who are some of the guys you’ve got playing with you?
MM: It’s the same band we’ve had since 2010. The guitar player has changed. Dregon left to pursue a solo career now we have Rich Jones. The rest of the guys are the same. We’ve got Sami Yaffa on bass, Karl Rockfish on drums and Steve Conte the other guitar. It’s a great band. Everybody writes too. The last album we got the chance to get together in a rehearsal space and start songs from scratch. This time we didn’t have that opportunity so we wrote a bunch of stuff separately at our homes and then we got together a couple months later. We had a bunch of songs and we went into the studio after that and recorded 18 songs. That’s how it came together.
BT: Your stuff is obviously very consistent. You’re always delivering solid records. You draw a diverse audience, you’ve got the punk, the metal, the glam. What is your writing process behind that music?
MM: Well it varies. Some of the stuff like “Good Old Bad Days” off the new album I write by myself and it comes very easy. Something like “The Bastard’s Bash” I had the music for and I had like seven different titles and lyrics for it. By the time we got to the studio I asked Steven to help me out with it and the next day we finished the lyrics together. It depends a song like “Rock like Fuck,” that song we had just the music for it the working title called “Fuck Shit Up.” We had those three words and we wrote a song called “Rock Like Fuck” finally. So I wrote lyrics for that. That came together like that, it varies. There are a lot of great writers in this band. When Steve writes lyrics, we know each other so well that he can write stuff in my world. I can totally get into singing his lyrics.
BT: Are you ever concerned with any of your solo albums holding up to your previous work? You’re always putting out great albums.
MM: We seem to be doing pretty will. From “Sensory Overdrive,” to “Horns and Halos” to this one. Every album is it’s own thing so I’m not really concerned with the album beating a previous one. I don’t want to recreate the past albums. We always want to move on to the next thing. I think they’re all good records in their own way. I don’t take that kind of pressure.
BT: You play quite a few different instruments. How many different instruments did you play on this last record?
MM: Well I played the Sax and the harmonica. I didn’t have to play guitar since we have great guitar players. The nose flute or the nose whistle that’s on some song…I forgot which one. I’ve always played many instruments, the drums, guitar the piano. I took lessons for classical flute playing for about a year when I was fifteen. The saxophone I learned by myself. I was self taught with that. My mom made me take piano lessons when I was five. I like playing all kinds of instruments but one thing I don’t know how to play is the trumpet. I never learned the mouth positioning. I’ve never had a need to. I’m from a musical family. On the album “Piece of Mind” I play everything myself…well I play everything except the drums, but it still sounds like a band though. It’s great to have the band chemistry with the other guys, to get their input and different points of view. That’s why I prefer my situation now.
BT: Another question I had about “Blackout States,” “The Old King’s Road” where did your inspiration come from on that song?
MM: Steve had the idea for “Old King’s Road.” It’s basically about the past and the present. All the stuff that’s about past like “Good Old Bad Days” it’s not about being nostalgic. Obviously there were cool things back then but what I’m saying I’d like to see more of that stuff today. That’s just a celebration. It’s an homage to the old days but we’re still here doing it.
BT: The last Hanoi Rocks record, 2007’s “Street Poetry” are there any future plans at all with the Hanoi Rocks band?
MM: No, that was a rebirth of the band that we had with Andy (Mccoy), the three albums we did. That ran it’s course. I was prepared to do that for the rest of my life when it was fun, but it came to the point where it wasn’t fun any more and it was time to finally put that band to bed in it final resting place with its honor and integrity in tact. It was great a band.
BT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MM: Yeah, anybody who likes rock n roll and good music should check out the “Blackout States” album. For fans in the states that’s for your patience and we hope to get to play that part of the world soon. Enjoy the music and be healthy and be happy.