Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige.se recently conducted an interview with former HANOI ROCKS singer Michael Monroe. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RockSverige.se: Do you read reviews?
Michael: I think one should allow people to have their point of view. To some people, it will sound like something else, and somebody else will say, “What are you talking about? It doesn’t sound like anything like it.” It’s all opinions and points of view and everybody has their own, and, luckily, we’re all created differently. Nine out of ten times, I don’t care what it says. A lot of people look at me in different ways and there’s all this categorization that I always try to… HANOI ROCKS was great because we defied all categories. It’s always been rock and roll. It was never glam or punk or whatever. I guess our music was more punk than glam. You call THE ROLING STONES just rock. What I’m trying to say is, sometimes I read reviews and sometimes not. We always laugh at “sleaze rock.” We still don’t know what it means. I’m not a sleazy kinda guy. I never screwed around and I’ve never been with a groupie in my life. I’m not a sleazeball and I really don’t identify with that at all. Something that used to annoy me about reviews, but I kind of laugh at now. It’s seldom [that] you get to read a review that is 10/10. Critics should be people who are into the band and know the band’s history and really like it and that way they know what they’re talking about. If it is a great record, and there’s nothing wrong with it, why not give it 10/10? But they always wanna seem like they’re a little bit above the regular people and that they know something more than others. But I do read reviews out of interest and in recent years we’ve really gotten great feedback from all areas and people really seem to appreciate what I do with this band. I’m pleased about that.
RockSverige.se: How do you feel about fame? Is that a necessary evil that comes with being a musician?
Michael: A necessary evil is right. Maybe not that evil, but it comes with the territory and it’s part of my job description. Depending on what country I’m in, people will recognize me and ask for autographs and stuff. They often say, “Sorry to bother you. You must ne tired of people asking for autographs?” But I never complain about giving autographs. I actually carry cards with me that are already signed and I always have a pen with me. If nobody asked for my autograph, it would be a bad thing, as far as my career goes. It’s part of my job and I’m an entertainer and I wanna make people happy.
RockSverige.se: Do you have one valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout the years?
Michael: You learn all the time as you go along, but what I’ve learned is that I’m glad I’ve maintained my integrity and stayed true to myself and never compromised for the wrong reasons, even though I had a lot of pressure, especially from the labels. I stubbornly stuck to my guns and my principals. Even to a fault, where I stopped myself from selling millions when I could’ve. For example the “Not Faking It” album. They had this commercial on TV and they showed it all the time, like on the commercial breaks for “Headbanger’s Ball” on MTV. It said something like “Michael Monroe is the real thing. He’s the brains behind HANOI ROCKS.” And I was just like, “the brains behind HANOI ROCKS“? HANOI ROCKS had no brains and that was the best thing about the band. It was misrepresentative and I said that if I’m gonna be famous and make it big, I wanna do it on my own terms. I called the label and asked who approved the commercial. It made it feel like HANOI ROCKS was all calculated and we were spontaneous, which was one of the most important things. They said, “Well, when you sell millions of records like BON JOVI, then you can make demands like that.” I just said, “I don’t care, and I want you to take it off the air.” So they pulled the plug, but at the same time they pulled the plug on the whole album and it died. That’s for being stubborn. I don’t know how much it sold altogether, but somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. It was on its way to becoming a huge record, and maybe I didn’t have to so stubbornly stick to my principles, but I still feel good because I didn’t compromise my integrity and today I can look at myself in the mirror and feel good about what I’ve done with a clear conscience. My sleep is untroubled. [Laughs]
Read the entire interview at RockSverige.se.