Ruben Mosqueda of Oregon Music News recently conducted an interviewe with former HANOI ROCKS singer Michael Monroe. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Oregon Music News: You have a great band together. Ginger will be absent from the North American tour this fall. He left the band. What was the circumstance behind his departure?
Monroe: Basically he was at a point where he didn’t want to tour as much. He has a four-year old at home and he wants to spend quality time with his kid and pursue his solo career. Between his family situation, a solo career and doing this, it was too much. I’ll be honest, I was very surprised when he joined that he wanted to be a part of this. He has been the front man in the past and here he was in a supporting role. I asked him pointblank, “Are you going to be cool being the guitarist in this band?” Ginger said, “Oh, yeah.” I talked it over with Sami and he agreed that it would be cool to have him. A few months ago he started asking about the length of the album’s touring cycle and I let him know that I wanted to tour for a year. That didn’t work for Ginger so I asked him to hold on until we found a replacement. I called Dregen from the BACKYARD BABIES and the HELLACOPTERS since the Ginger thing had runs its course.
Oregon Music News: You brought in Dregen as guitarist to replace Ginger. How did you go about selecting him and what does he bring to the table?
Monroe: I called Dregen — he was the first guy that came to mind. I asked him if he wanted to be part of the band. He said, “Let me think about this over night and I’ll get back to you in the morning.” I waited and I got a call the next day from Dregen who said, “Hey Michael, let’s do it!” It was hard to find a guy to replace Ginger with his talent, looks, style and attitude, but I think Dregen is the only choice — absolutely. Ginger and Steve are both lead singers; the harmonies on this record are great. Ginger is a great guitar player and Dregen is more of a punk-style player; as a singer it takes him a little longer to learn the parts. With Dregen we just needed to practice a little bit more than with Ginger, but we’ll be just fine. As far as a guitarist, Dregen is a bit more punk and trashier than Ginger. We’re not going to have Dregen sound like Ginger; Dregen has his own style. Dregen is a wildman on stage. It’s a great fit because he’s hyperactive like me. (laughs) Let me say this: People who saw us before didn’t think things could get more energetic with Dregen. We have. I’m very happy that he was available and happy to do this.
Oregon Music News: Axl Rose [GUNS N’ ROSES] was admittedly a huge HANOI ROCKS fan. He even made a guest appearance on your “Dead, Jail Or Rock ‘N’ Roll” video. What’s your relationship with Axl these days?
Monroe: Axl‘s doing his own thing. I don’t have his contact information. I said hello to him through Sebastian Bach at the end of 2009 when Sebastian was on tour in Finland. He sent a text to Axl saying hello, along with a picture of Sebastian and I together. Axl replied with the message “Doesn’t that guy ever age?!” (laughs) Which was a great compliment. I have nothing but cool things to say about Axl. He was very good to me and HANOI ROCKS as he released our European catalog on Uzi Suicide. God bless him. He knows where to find me if he wants to talk.
Oregon Music News: When HANOI ROCKS disbanded the first time in 1985, how much of a role did Vince Neil [MÖTLEY CRÜE] play in that happening?
Monroe: (long pause) There was a car accident where, unfortunately, our drummer [Razzle Dingley] was killed. That was one of the reasons that HANOI ROCKS disbanded. As far as Vince Neil, I have nothing to say. It was an accident that surely all of us would like to put behind us already. I would never blame anybody for an accident — you can’t. What happened happened and I can’t change that. Everybody suffered from this and we’d like to put that behind us. Unfortunately for HANOI ROCKS, we couldn’t keep it together after that happened — it was a major blow for everybody. Let me say this, it wasn’t just that Razzle died, but Sami Yaffa left the band. We had no bass player and no drummer. The band was so much like a family; we were so young and close with those key losses we couldn’t keep it together after that.
Read the entire interview from Oregon Music News.