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| 29 October 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “A genuine rock star since birth, Michael Monroe innately knows exactly how to sing, swagger and walk the most glamorous and colourful of walks. One Man Gang, the former Hanoi Rocks man’s brand new offering on Silver Lining Music, is all about the fun of Friday nights, seven days a week, letting your hair down (or up!) for a dirty, dangerous, damn good time, and embracing a total escape into the rock ‘n’ roll dream. The album’s second single, “Last Train To Tokyo,” has the sort of sticky-yet-crispy riff that was designed to take over radios from Japan to Jamaica.” We spoke with Michael about the new disc, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: Michael, how are you?

Michael: Good. I’ve got an ear infection and flu, but I’m okay.

Toddstar: That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’ve got new album coming out in a little over a week.

Michael: Yeah. And going on tour and everything. I’ve had this for a while then and, I’m okay.

Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking time out for us. We’re really excited, especially with the recent launch of the video for “Last Train to Tokyo” and as I mentioned, you’ve got a great album coming out. What can you tell us about this album that some of your fans won’t grip up the first or second time they listen through.

Michael: It’s hard to say. Depends on the individual. I mean, they should, I shouldn’t hit home in the first person. Listen, it has a lot of depths to it and it has a lot of variety and, which keeps it interesting all the way to the end. So I mean, yeah, if you’re going to ask, you will never know like they say. I think it should be pretty clear that first listen.

Toddstar: The album, One Man Gang; twelve killer tracks, top to bottom. I love what I’ve heard. When you were putting this together, did you have a mindset of “I don’t want to do the same thing over and over?” This album shows a little more growth for you from your last album. What was your mindset going into the studio to write this album?

Michael: We had a bunch of songs and I just kind of shaped them into what it is as we went along. We recorded 18 songs all together for the album and then just picked out the 12 best ones. I like albums that when you hear the songs, you want to hear them again. I liked the direction it was going musically – I never plan anything in my life as far as “it will be this kind of album.” We went along with it and I kept writing and had the songs. I had so many songs to choose from that which is actually hard to get rid of. I guess there was a time when there was like 14 tracks, and I thought I couldn’t get rid of the other two and then just decided I’m going to have to. No matter how great the songs are, you know when going to get to 14,15, or 16 songs, it is too long. It was finished by December 2018; it was all mastered and finished. But I wanted to wait until we had proper management because we didn’t have management or a record deal. Our old deal was up and I didn’t have a team around, so I wanted to wait until we got good management – manager, record label, and a booking agent abroad, which we have now. I think it’s a good entirety as an album.

Toddstar: It is good. The title track “One Man Gang,” was the first single and video the latest single and video for “The Last Train to Tokyo.” Something about this song is the most contagious to me on the album. What made you choose this or what made this feel right for you to be the next single after the title track?

Michael: Well, I thought “One Man Gang” was self-explanatory, pretty much biographical. For “Last Train to Tokyo,” it just felt like a single to me all along from the beginning. I thought that was definitely going to be one of the singles and only just went to Japan in August and played there, and I want wanted to, we had to film the video while we were there. So that’s what we did. People in Japan are so passionate about rock and roll. I really like their mentality. The way they’re brought up; very considerate and polite. The people are sincerely into rock and roll. Plus they still sell physical products. They like CD’s, vinyl, and stuff. Since we finished the album I, I thought that was definitely a strong single track. So everybody at the label agreed.

Toddstar: You mentioned did some dates there in August and as you mentioned when we started this off, you’ve got a secure date starting up on the 22nd and then kick us off over in Norway. One big question I have is, is there a plan for the States on this? Here in Detroit, we need Michael Monroe. We need good solid rock and roll.

Michael: We need to play there too. And I love the American audience. People there appreciate good rock and roll, kind of guitar rock. Then we think it’s just a question of how are we going to tour there? It’s a tough one now cause it’s not that easy. Getting to play has a cost. A lot of money with work permits and everything and we’re not millionaires here. Playing on a little clubs for a couple hundred people a night is like beating your head against the wall really. You just end up losing money. So we got to figure out how to do it with the best way that makes sense. We’ve done some tours, but it’s like we always end up losing so much money. It’s ridiculous. I’m unfortunately not in a position to be able to get on a bigger tour, you know. I love the States – rock and roll was born there and is part of the culture, especially in Detroit. Some of favorite bands are from there. If I had, if I had a choice, I would be there. Play there tomorrow. That’s just the way it is, unfortunately.

Toddstar: The industry has changed a lot. You kind of talked about it a little bit. What’s, you know, going back to when you did your first solo album back in 1987 – Nights Are So Long. If you could talk to yourself then knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you give a young Michael Monroe in 1987?

Michael: Keep on doing what you’re doing. Stay true to yourself. I have all these years, no compromise, no regrets. I guess it has to do with being brought up in Finland, I never wanted to compromise in any way and wanted to be presented in the right way. And when the doing the, not taking it out of them, when they started advertising me as the brains behind Hanoi Rocks, I said that’s wrong. Hanoi Rock had no brains, that was the best thing about the band. I didn’t want to be misrepresented. The ad on MTV was on every night, every commercial break or on Headbangers Ball. I told them stop that commercial. I thought they were going to go and make a new one, but then they pulled the plug on the whole album. I still have no regrets, but that’s just the way it went. They said when you sell millions of records, you can make demands like that. For that reason, the business didn’t agree with me. In the past, records were better because people made music for music’s sake and not just not for marketing or how are we going to market this before there were any trends or genres. Bands and artists had more personality in the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s, before it became such a big business that the music suffered and everybody wants to sound like the, the guy that got popular with grunge or whatever. Everyone wants to start sounding the same, but it’s not as good as the original. Nirvana was a great band, then somebody came up with this grunge thing and it’s the latest fashion and then 200 bands tried to sound like them, but they are never as good as the original. That limits your creativity.

Toddstar: We were talking about what you would tell yourself 30+ years ago, but it does allude to the changing in the music industry because like you said, now it’s the business of music instead of the music business.

Michael: That’s well said.

Toddstar: Going back and looking at what you’ve done, and you mentioned the word personality, you’ve always had a huge personality. How different are you off stage than you are on stage Michael?

Michael: Not much different at all. It’s all about personality, emotion, and the spontaneity. I’m not much different; I wear makeup and dress up like I do every day. On stage you put a little bit more on – a little more flashy, but not that much difference then my usual life. I’ve never been the kind of artist that will put on a uniform to go on stage and then get off stage and change. I’m pretty much me 24 hours. Alice Cooper said that Jim Morrison died because he was trying to be Jim Morrison 24 hours a day. I figured I could Michael Monroe 24/7 but without the self-destruction. It’s just the way I am – not phony or fake, you know?

Toddstar: Well like you said back in 1989 you’re Not Faking It – which is what you get with Michael Monroe.

Michael: That’s right – hence the title.

Toddstar: I know you’re busy, and you’ve got a lot going on in person, your time to rest up and everything. So I’ve got one more for you. It’s a two part or one is when was the last time Michael Monroe was starstruck?

Michael: Alice Cooper’s always inspiring, and he said I was a great character. Also when Little Steven introduced me to Little Richard. That was something else. It’s like, wow, what a presence. And he just looked me up top to bottom and said, “Oh my.” I asked for his autograph. I got it on a picture from the 50’s, and he wrote ‘To Michael, God Bless.’ Great honor. And Keith Richards – Little Steven introduced me to him too. There’s a million stories in his eyes. That’s two times that I remember being, I starstruck. It’s nice when you meet people you admire and they turn out to be such cool people.

Toddstar: What’s it like for you when you get that starstruck, kid in front of you that is just so excited to meet you?

Michael: It’s always flattering. It’s nice talking to people like that and let them I’m for real. I’m always kind to people, no matter what. I was brought up good and polite and considerate. It’s nice to be able to talk to people, especially if I have the time. It doesn’t take a lot of my time to talk to people. If people stop me in the street and want a photo, an autograph, or whatever, I usually always do unless I’m in a terrible hurry. I don’t mind that at all because it would be a bad thing if nobody ever wanted my photo.

Toddstar: Michael, thanks again for the time. I hope everything goes well with this album and the tour and that you’re able to get something figured out that will bring you to the States. I wish you well with this album that drops on October 18th. Good luck with the tour and feel better.

Michael: Thank you very much. There’s great talking to you. All the very best.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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