Editor’s Note: Madness To Creation is grateful for sitting down with legendary metal vocalist Michael Monroe(ex-Hanoi Rocks) on mental health awareness, performing around the world, and “One Man Gang”. “One Man Gang” has been in the works for awhile and Michael Monroe is certainly excited to unleash the album on the rock world. Fans can find Michael Monroe at the following locations:
Richard: Hi Michael, how are you doing? The new album is killer, its been four years since your last release, Blackout States, what have you been up to in that time?
Michael: Busy as hell, we put a compilation, “Michael Monroe, The Best” in 2017. We’ve had the new album done for a while I’ve just been waiting to get a record deal and management, i wanted to have a team to work on the record. We have management for the first time with UTA and a great new record label, Silver lining. We just wanted to give it a proper shot.
Richard: You have a new track, “Last Train To Tokyo”, it describes a night right out the Tokyo rock-n-roll scene, what’s your Japanese connection? What is playing a show in Japan like? How are you received over there?
Michael: Very well, it’s always been great in Japan. We first went there in ‘83 and ‘84 with Hanoi Rocks, as Michael I have been bigger than Hanoi. The Japanese people have a special passion for rock-n-roll, they are very considerate, very calm and peaceful and friendly, there’s just something about their mentality, even when they’re drinking they don’t get aggressive. The songs about being jet lagged and tired and it doesn’t matter because the vibe is so great there. We were in Japan a month ago for two festivals and we’ll be back next year for sure.
Richard: In “All Those Wasted Years” you said you have ‘no regrets for your wasted years’, is that how you’re looking back on your past 40 years of rock-n-roll?
Michael: Basically, yeah, I’m not one to say “We were crazy back then” and right it off as that. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I’ve moved on now and I have too many good things in my life and I can’t go back. I love what I’ve done and am doing. I wanted to capture Mick Jagger in that song, that roll out of bed sound.
Richard: Touring is always tiring, how do you stay physically and mentally healthy on tour these days? Do you have a regime that keeps you going?
Michael: Rock-n-roll, is the fountain of youth, I’ve never become an adult, a robot, if you can make a living like this, there’s nothing better. Playing with these guys makes up for all the hardships, the gigs make up for it. I stay in shape, it’s hard to stay in shape on tour but performing is the best exercise. I don’t go to the gym but I do my routine in the morning, stretches and crunches and all that, I want to stay in shape to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t drink alcohol and I’m a pescatarian.
Richard: Legendary rockers in their own right, Johnny Thunders (The Heartbreakers) and Stiv Baters (Dead Boys) cite you as an influence, who influenced you in your early stages of making music?
Michael: Little Richard is the king of rock-n-roll. I love Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin. I loved classical music, my grandfather was a cello player. My mom made me play piano and I discovered melodies that I would later transfer to other instruments. I saw Black Sabbath on TV in 1970, I thought that was a powerful sound, that singer with long hair could get wild on stage and i thought ‘I could do that’. That same year I saw Slade in Finland, my first live concert, really loud but great. Deep Purple was the first album I ever owned. For rock-n-roll, I got into The Rolling Stones, The Ramones. God, I loved CCR and their ‘Pendulum’ album. I got into Reggae, Little Walter and of course Bob Marley. I loved AC/DC, they played real guitars. Cheap Trick, they actually released an album in 2016, every song was great. Geordie “Hope you like it’ is one of the best albums of all time. I loved all things funk, Parliament, The Meters. I thought Warrior Soul and Jane’s Addiction were the best things to come out of the 90’s.
Richard: Its pretty well known that you’ve been able to stay relatively clean all these years in the music scene, how have you managed to stay sober in an industry that thrives on the party?
Michael: Well, I never even liked drinking, when i was drinking, I didn’t want to get my head messed up, I didn’t want to run away from reality, I wanted to face it and I never get hooked. If you have a problem always learn something from those experiences, a lot of people go to rehab, you have to make the decision yourself. Most people actually don’t do that much partying, no one wants to work with that these days, the competition is too great. But at the end of the day music has always been the most important thing to me. It’s just a question of choice.
Richard: This album talks a lot about the ups and downs of Hollywood life, what would you tell an aspiring musician as they attempt to navigate the music industry these days?
Michael: Make music for music’s sake and stay true to yourself, do everything on your terms and keep it honest. if you succeed commercially then that’s awesome but that might not happen immediately. The business may have nothing to do with emotion, the most important thing is your personality and feeling, don’t think of money and fame, do it for the right reasons, fame can be fickle, it’s not a long way to the bottom, we do this whether or not we have nice things, or for people’s approval, it’s not something you do for admiration, its for your heart.
Richard: Do you actively seek out new music? Is there anyone making music today that really gets you going? Any new bands you love?
Michael: The Virginmarys, they have this track Bang Bang Bang and it’s perfect. I don’t think its a sign of old age to say music was better in the ‘old days’ [laughs], people made music to make music, if you were good people listened to you, now there’s no music in the music industry, you need to be more of an image than a band. But there’s always great music being made.
Richard: I’m sure over the years you’ve accumulated your share of fans, who has stood out? Any fans that really keep you going? Whats your connection to your fans?
Michael: Some have become friends, I always appreciate the fans more than anything else. I think what you put out is what you receive, intelligent lyrics attract intelligent people. My fans are quality people. That’s what that song “Hollywood Paranoias” about; the cheap culture and VIP treatments, the coke and champagne, living the high life. But it comes with a level of paranoia, people might find out you’re fake. There’s a lot of phony people in Hollywood. A lot of phony rock-n-roll and it’s a shame. I don’t relate to bands that play hairspray more than music. Their fans are just like them, they go for the party and hairdo. You don’t have to be an idiot to be a rock singer.
Richard: People only see the glitz and glamour of rock-n-roll but what would you tell a potentially global audience about mental health? How have you continuously tackled hurdles in your professional and personal life?
Michael: Art keeps me sane, it helps keep me mentally healthy, playing rock-n-roll has helped me be creative and realize my dreams. All of it, recording and touring and playing is a blessing. I don’t see any of it as a hardship. We are in charge of everything in our lives, we are in charge of our own life and we need to take charge of our actions.
Richard: What’s next for Michael Monroe and “One Man Gang”? Is America in your sights at all in the next year or so?
Michael: We’re touring the album as much as we can in Scandinavia, France and UK for the next year or so and going back to Japan. It’s a great band, people can tell it’s a great vibe, we have a great time together and that comes out in our shows.
And there you have it! Check out Michael Monroe in Europe and Japan this year supporting “One Man Gang”. Here are the tour dates below:
Fri. 10/18- Yokerho Domino in Rauma, Finland
Sat. 10/19- Tavastia in Helsinki, Finland
Tue. 10/22- John Dee Live Club & Pub in Grunerlokka, Norway
Wed. 10/23- Pustervik in Haga, Sweden
Thu. 10/24- Fryshuset Klubben in Sodermalm, Sweden
Fri. 10/25- High Voltage Rock Club in Kobenhavn, Denmark
Sat. 10/26- Headcrash in Hamburg, Germany
Sun. 10/27- FRANNZ Club in Berlin, Germany
Tue. 10/29- La Maroquinerie in Paris, France
Wed. 10/30- O2 Academy Islington in London, United Kingdom
Fri. 11/1- Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, United Kingdom
Sat. 11/2- The Crauford Arms in Wolverton, United Kingdom
Sun. 11/3- Engine Rooms in Southampton, United Kingdom
Mon. 11/4- The Mill, Digbeth in Birmingham, United Kingdom
Tue. 11/5- The Garage in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Wed. 11/6- Manchester Club Academy in Manchester, United Kingdom
Thu. 11/7- The Fleece in Bristol, United Kingdom
Fri. 11/8- The Sugarmill in Stoke-on-trent, United Kingdom
Sat. 11/9- Vauxhall Holiday Park in Yarmouth, United Kingdom
Mon. 12/2- Umeda CLub Quattro in Osaka, Japan
Tue. 12/3- TSUTAYA O-EAST in Shibuya City, Japan
Sun. 8/30/2020- HRH Sleaze IV in Sheffield, United Kingdom
For tickets and further information on any of the gigs listed above, click here.