Editor’s Note: It was surely a pleasure talking to the man that influenced the likes of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Motley Crue, and countless of other bands! The man is an icon, there is no two ways around it. He is also a gracious person and he discusses his greatest hits album, his work and friendship with Slash of Guns ‘N’ Roses, and an overall career retrospective. Without further delay, here is my interview with Michael Monroe!
M.T.C.: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me Michael! July 7th, you released “The Best of Michael Monroe”, which is essentially a 30th Anniversary Collection spanning your career. What can fans expect from the record?
Michael: They can expect a very good presentation of what I’ve been about and what I’m doing now as a solo artist as Michael Monroe. It is a retrospective of a compilation of songs, it represents what I’m about. It has the best and most significant songs from my career, even from the “Demolition 23” album, there’s about two songs from each album. The “Demolition 23” album has been out of print for almost 20 years, and I think that it was one of the truly strongest albums of the old days. “Demolition 23” hasn’t been available for so long, and I included four songs from that one. Other than that, it’s pretty much two songs per album. There’s 2 CDs, the first one is from the older stuff, it has a version of the song “It’s A Lie”, which features Stiv Bators as a duet, the song is a duet, Stiv Bators offers a better version. I redid that song as it was supposed to be produced, but it didn’t make it into the studio, therefore he didn’t sing on that record. So that version was just me by myself, and it didn’t have that same magic, so I wanted to include that version of “It’s A Lie” with me and Stiv singing together.
“It’s A Lie” by Michael Monroe and Stiv Bators
The 2nd CD is the last three albums that I have done, I’ve done with my current band, who has been together since 2010, the only changes that have been made were that we added Dragen as the current guitar player, and he’s with the longest standing member, who is Rich Jones, it’s the best chemistry that we have right now. Best chemistry that I’ve had with these two guitar players. Another is the work that Slash and I did for “The Coneheads” soundtrack.
The record label had two versions to pick from, one version was never used and I pretty much had the only copy of that from back in 1993, so when I was putting this compilation together, I asked Slash, “what do you think”, it was a big hassle for me to ask him for permission to use and he was so cool, and he said, “don’t worry about it, the only thing you have to worry about is paying the songwriters for publishing to use it”. I said, “all right, I love you” *laughs*. It’s hard in rock-n-roll, and he is such a sweetheart! So, that was cool to add him on there, he’s been such a special person in my life and in my solo career, and he’s been my friend throughout the years and I’m so glad that he’s presented here.
“Magic Carpet Ride” by Michael Monroe featuring Slash(Steppenwolf cover)
The song “Get On”, there’s a Finnish rock band called the Hurriganes, in 1974, they put out an album called “Road Runner”, which is one of the greatest rock records of all time, that song “Get On”, is like a national rock anthem, it was on a bonus track on the album called “Horns And Halos” in Japan, which makes no sense since no one knows Hurriganes in Japan, I wanted to have that included in there. It seems like a very good rocker, everything has its place in a song, it was done live in one take, it’s a good one.
“Get On” by Michael Monroe
So, there’s four previously unreleased special tracks, altogether six real rare ones also included, I think it’s a very good presentation of what I’m about, I’m sure that when people are interested in my career or in rock-n-roll in general, they’ll like this one.
M.T.C.: You mentioned Slash a bit ago, what are a couple of ways that he has helped you out musically or just as a friendship with him?
Michael: I helped him out on the song “Bad Obsession”, which was on “Use Your Illusion”, and also with Axl, there was a great friendship with him back in those days, and in Hollywood, I made him a cassette tape of The Dead Boys, and he had never heard of The Dead Boys, when he heard that song “Ain’t It Fun” by The Dead Boys, he said “wow, this is a cool song”, they were working on “The Spaghetti Incident” at the time, so he said, “we gotta do this as a duet”, and I said, “wow, great, that would be so cool” and I asked him if we could put in the memory of Stiv Bators on the album, and he said, “yes, of course”, so I thought, “whoa, how cool is that”, so I didn’t want any money for it, like I said, all I wanted was that to be on the album for Stiv. All I said was if they could put “in the memory of Stiv Bators”, that was all I asked.
“Ain’t It Fun” by Guns ‘N’ Roses featuring Michael Monroe
I told my managers to stay the hell away from it, that they’re not going to touch this and I’m not going to negotiate nothing, this is paying homage to my dear friend, and with them having so many fans, it was a great thing for them to include Stiv in that. All of them guys, I love them, Duff McKagan is such a great guy, Slash was the key guy, he was there all of the time. I appreciate people who are consistent and don’t change, no matter what they do, they’re always the same. Slash has always been the same sweet guy, he’s only gotten nicer, he probably doesn’t want anybody to know, “don’t ruin my image”. *laughs*, But Slash has always been great, well-mannered, and polite. No matter if he was drinking or not, he was always just cool with me. I appreciate people like that, no matter what he did, he never changed, he was always consistent and that’s what I appreciate, it’s one of the worst things when you think you know, and when they get high or drunk or something, they become a stranger. I appreciate people like that who are consistent and great, and kind and intelligent.
M.T.C.: Just thought of a couple of questions just now, what are some takeaways that you have in your friendship and working with Stiv Bators? If you’re not comfortable answering the question, you don’t have to.
Michael: Stiv Bators was one of the most important people in my life and in my career, so I was a fan of his work especially his “Disconnected” album, and when we met, we became the best of friends, he was very highly evolved spiritually, he was very smart too. He knew of a lot of details about Americans and American government, and the conspiracy theories before anybody talked about them. He had a heart of gold, even though his image was messy as “nasty Stiv, evil boy”, he was still the sweetest guy, a real heart of gold, and as sharp as a razor. So smart, so intelligent, so spiritually in touch with the spirit world. There were nights where we talked about the “Dead Times Stories”, and when most people would have their bedtime, we would be up many nights in a row, and be like the living dead in the “Dead Times Stories”. He helped me a lot, he was the only friend I had when Hanoi Rocks was breaking up and he really supported me. He encouraged me to write my own songs, and when Hanoi Rocks broke up, I didn’t really have any plans for anything, but maintain Hanoi Rocks’ integrity, and that the memories remained intact and that it wouldn’t become a joke because of money and things like that. Stiv was so supportive and he really understood me, he was a great friend and I am privileged and happy that I knew him. And when Stiv came and produced his band from church, he asked me to sing backing vocals on his CD, on a project that Stiv was working on back then. We came to the video, and it was on scene in New York City, and that was in the summer of 1985, and that was when I decided to go to New York City as a solo artist. Stiv was a real key person for that for me to keep going.
M.T.C.: Let’s say Stiv wasn’t able to talk you into making music, what would you be doing with your life instead?
Michael: Well, I’m not exactly sure, f******A, I mean I lost my friend, I lost my band, and I didn’t have no plans. But thank God for Stiv because he helped me along the way. I guess before long, I would’ve had to get my s*** together before I become really dependent upon somebody else, before I had my solo career happen. He was the one that made it be there for me as a friend, and then Little Steven became my friend also, both Stiv and Little Steven inspired me to write songs with strong lyrics and where I had something to say. That’s what rock-n-roll is all about, writing songs that mean something, questioning authority, and maybe raise some questions that people wouldn’t normally think of asking or think about. It’s about being rebellious and telling the truth, meaningful songs that are not just superficial crap just to sell records. Make it a punk thing like what Bob Dylan was doing when he was writing his lyrics and were really not phony or anything like that. That’s what rock-n-roll is about to me, being real and singing from the heart. Phony rock-n-roll is a crime. Guys like me are so happy with bands like the Foo Fighters and bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses, especially with Slash and Duff back in the band. I’m so glad that they’re still going, there’s still good rock-n-roll out there, we’re just trying to keep the tradition alive. I’m doing what I do and I try to get better at doing that all of the time. There’s always room for improvement, which keeps me going, keeps me hungry, and keeps me wanting to strive for greatness. It’s fun doing this, I really enjoy working with my band now. The band that I have now is the best band that I have ever had in my solo career. We already have half of the next album written. That’s going to be happening before long, we’ll be going into the studio and putting out a new record. That’s what I do, just do the best that I can and that’s all I can do.
M.T.C.: Based on what you talked about earlier, is that what “One Foot Outta The Grave” is talking about, the new single that you’re releasing?
Michael: Yes, that’s a great statement! That’s why I released that as a single, to talk about the music situation of today. It’s all about the money and the payday, which sucks the soul out of rock-n-roll, I’ll have one foot outta the grave. In another words, I’m not dead yet, and that’s where I try to step in the music business, it’s been that way for a long time. And that’s why you need guys like us to remind us what it’s all about. That was the single that I have chosen for that reason. I think it’s a great true statement!
“One Foot Outta The Grave” by Michael Monroe
M.T.C.: Will there be a music video to coincide with that single?
Michael: The treatment is currently being written for the music video. Listen, it’s going to be a documentary from a guy in Finland and it will be in English, and that’s “The Michael Monroe” documentary, it’s going to be ready in the fall. It’ll be in movie theaters in Finland I’m sure before too long, it’ll also be out in the United States and everywhere. I am trying to get the connection that we have with the Foo Fighters to interview with, he was always a sweetheart to Hanoi Rocks and met up with him on the 1989 “Not Fakin’ It” tour in Santa Barbara, California, Slash and Duff have also agreed to be a part of it. It’s got some movie scenes as well, its got some stuff with actors, and also some clips of some footage from the old days here and there, but the documentary movie about Michael Monroe will come out next fall. The same guy that is making that movie is also the director for the music video “One Foot Outta The Grave”. It’s gonna be a rock video.
M.T.C.: I know that we have to wrap this up because of other engagements you have, where can people find you?
Michael: People can find me at www.michaelmonroe.com and keep up with me at my Facebook at www.facebook.com/michaelmonroeofficial and we are playing some festivals in Finland this summer and we are going to be touring the U.K. in November and December of this year! And hopefully we will expand and play in more countries, the United States is such a challenge because its a big place.
M.T.C.: Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day!
Michael: Thank you, it was a pleasure talking to you, let’s do this again!
And there you have it, go pick up a copy of the double-disc of “The Best of Michael Monroe here!
Check out Michael Monroe appearing at the following festivals: Click here for tickets and further information!
Saturday, July 22nd- Imatron Yot in Imatra, Finland
Thursday, July 27th- Kaviohuone in Naantali, Finland
Friday, July 28th- QStock in Oulu, Finland
Saturday, July 29th- Kuopio Rock in Kuopio, Finland
Thursday, August 3rd- Popfest in Porvoo, Finland
Friday, August 4th- Jurassic Rock in Mikkeli, Finland
Saturday, August 5th- Satama Open Air in Kemi, Finland
Friday, August 11th- Runnirock in Iisalmi, Finland
Friday, October 20th- Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki, Finland