Former HANOI ROCKS singer Michael Monroe says that a reunion tour of the classic lineup of GUNS N’ ROSES “wouldn’t make any sense” unless Slash and Axl Rose were able to reconnect on a personal and creative level first.
During an appearance on Eddie Trunk’s podcast, Monroe brought up the subject of a classic GN’R comeback while answering a question about the possibility of yet another HANOI ROCKS run. He said: “Reunions suck. People ask me, ‘Do you think GUNS N’ ROSES will reunite?’ It wouldn’t make any sense unless Slash and Axl would reconnect and really get into a new kind of thing and start creating something new. Who wants to see guys put together forcibly and then go through the old stuff…? It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
After Trunk pointed out to Monroe that many people would likely pay a lot of money to see such a reunion take place, the singer reconsidered his position, explaining: “Yeah, I take that back. Of course, everybody wants to see it, ‘cause it’s their idea of the band and what, in their minds, it is. But if you’re Slash, truly you have a different point of view on the thing.”
He continued: “Years ago, I could not imagine working with [former HANOI ROCKS guitarist] Andy McCoy again, and Slash was one of the people that said, ‘Are you sure? Is there no way that…?’ I just said, ‘It’s irreconcilable differences. It’s impossible.’ But then, a few years later, it was kind of the same situation with [Slash]. [He and Axl] just couldn’t get along. And I said, ‘Oh, that’s a shame.'”
Monroe went on to say: “But, yeah, of course, everybody wants to see it, but, to me, in terms of a band, it’s kind of, like, it’s just for the money and just so everybody can say they’ve seen it. And maybe it will be a great concert… whatever.”
According to Monroe, a GUNS N’ ROSES reunion wouldn’t be the same unless one key ingredient was involved in the mix. He explained: “One thing we must not forget was Steven Adler, the original [GN’R] drummer. The first album [1987’s ‘Appetite For Destruction’], there’s a chemistry that is unlike anything they’ve done since. Because Steven Adler, he’s maybe not technically as great as [his replacement] Matt Sorum, who is also brilliant, but he had a kind of vibe; he was pushing, and he was playing a bit ahead of the beat. He had a style that was part of the chemistry, to me. The sound, the original sound of the band, he was an integral part of that.”
Monroe, who has known the members of the original GUNS N’ ROSES lineup for a long time and still considers Slash and bassist Duff McKagan to be “close friends,” also commented on the growing rampant speculation regarding a possible GN’R reunion. He said: “I think it’s kind of funny that people… In many of my interviews, people ask me, ‘What do you think? Are they gonna reunite?’ [And I’m, like] ‘I have no idea. You’re asking the wrong person. You’ve gotta ask them.’ But the thing is, they’ve said it many times… What’s the latest statement that they made? From my understanding, they’ve made it pretty clear that they’re not gonna reunite and there was no future plans for that band. Then, after a while, people start going, like, ‘Maybe it is [happening] after all. Maybe it is. They’re not denying it now. Okay. So maybe it’s really happening.’ And then rumors start spreading.”
Even though HANOI ROCKS was formed in Finland, their trashy, hedonistic, decadent hard rock/pop-metal boogie influenced many Los Angeles acts, including GUNS N’ ROSES and MÖTLEY CRÜE.
Asked in a 2007 interview if he ever felt jealous of GUNS N’ ROSES‘ commercial success, considering that GN’R openly cited HANOI ROCKS as a huge influence in the Axl Rose-fronted band’s early days, Monroe said: “No, I never felt that. Not at all. I was always happy for their success and they definitely earned it themselves. I’m thankful for them recognizing the HANOI ROCKS influence and talking about it in the press.”
He continued: “A lot of bands weren’t really that talented and they sold a lot of records and really just deliberately tried to fake something out of it with the looks and not having much to back it up with. But GUNS N’ ROSES really had their own thing and they were secure enough in themselves to quote HANOI ROCKS as an influence. Also, they released a lot of the old [HANOI ROCKS] catalog in America with their Uzi Suicide label. So they were definitely paying homage to us and they were being very cool.
“I’ve never been envious of their success — quite the opposite; I’ve been very happy for them. I was part of it. I played on their records and I was happy to be part of it. It’s always fun working with those guys. Slash played the right kind of guitar because he grew up with HANOI and mine and Andy’s playing. I actually did something with him for the movie ‘Coneheads’.”
Asked if he remembered the first time he met GUNS N’ ROSES, Monroe said: “I met Axl… he came to my video shoot in New York. I was shooting a video for ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock And Roll’. He showed up and just came to say hi and he introduced himself. I got to talk to him and he was a big NAZARETH fan and I was, like, ‘Wow, a NAZARETH fan!’ He didn’t realize that ‘Not Faking It’ was a cover of a NAZARETH song. He had heard the record and he was really into it and he liked the song ‘Dead, Jail Or Rock And Roll’, so I said ‘Why don’t you come up and do a couple of takes with us?’ He came up on stage and he ended up in the video. I got along with him great and I always had a nice time with him. I never had a problem with him. I hear all these horror stories, but he’s always been cool with me. It was fun working with those guys afterwards. Playing sax on their record and we did the duet ‘Ain’t It Fun’. That was magical and they have great star quality. A great band and it’s a shame that they didn’t stay together.”