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September 30, 2014

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Hanoi Rocks frontman strikes again

Michael Monroe brings eponymous band to Wasted Space tonight

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Courtesy Photo

Michael Monroe from ‘80s outfit Hanoi Rocks is back with a new band tonight at Wasted Space.

Put on your darkest eyeliner and grab that leftover can of Aqua Net.

Michael Monroe of '80s glam rock outfit Hanoi Rocks bring his long hair and tight pants to Wasted Space on Monday. His latest eponymous project also features fellow former Hanoi Rocks member Sami Yaffa.

This time around, the Finnish frontman, whose résumé includes collaborations with Axl Rose and Slash, says he may have toned down the elaborately sequined stage costumes he donned in his early years, but he still knows how to keep the crowd's attention — it just no longer involves splitting his pants on stage.

The Weekly caught up with Monroe at the Finnish consul's home in L.A. — where Monroe was set to play a private cocktail party — to get a few fun facts on the rocker and what fans can expect at his Hard Rock show.

On his stage costumes: With Hanoi Rocks I was doing the more glittery kind of thing, but for now I've kind of toned down. It's more simple. I think of what's more easy to move in; I try not to wear stuff that gets in the way too much. I got to be able to do the splits without splitting the pants!

On splitting his pants on stage from the splits: That happened once with Hanoi Rocks at The Marquee in London in the '80s. I remember I had these silver-colored pants and they were PVC or vinyl — almost the same color as graphic tape. I was graphic-taping them and the more I taped them the more they split. It became part of the show, me taping my crotch on stage. At first I was distressed, but then I thought, "Well, that's something different for this show." I went to the roadies and said, "Help! Get me some graphic tape now!" I would have been screwed without graphic tape.

On the long hair: I've always had long hair. It feels like part of rock 'n' roll. When I was really young my mom wouldn't allow me to grow my hair as long as I wanted, so one summer I cut it real short, like almost a crew-cut. Then I said, "Okay, now after this I can grow it as long as I want, right?" But she said no deal. I had to leave home [to grow it out].

On the big-name collaborations: Slash is one of my favorite guitar players. He's a great guitar player, and he plays the right kind of guitar. He was a great pleasure to work with. The Guns 'N Roses sessions were great fun. With Axl we had some magical moments, doing that cover of the Dead Boys song "Ain't It Fun," and Little Steven. I think the best songs I've written for my solo stuff have been with [him], like "Dead, Jail or Rock 'n' Roll" [featuring Axl Rose]. He's a true rocker.

On glam rock and hair metal: Somebody said I'm the guy who brought the punk into glam. To me, a lot of the hair-metal bands that came after [Hanoi Rocks]. People say [we] inspired a lot of that stuff, but I think we were more into the music. To us, the music and the songs and the attitude were more important than the big hair and the posing. ... A lot of the bands in L.A. and the hair-metal scene seemed to play their hair dryers better than they played their instruments. So I didn't really feel like I was any big part of that.

On the crazy days of Hanoi Rocks: There was one incident in Israel where we almost got arrested. [Instead] we got deported because the guys threw a table out the window, and it landed on a taxicab and almost killed the driver. It could have hit [him], but luckily it didn't. The hotel manager came into the room — he opened the door with his own key — and there was broken glass all over the floor. He stepped on the glass and was jumping on one foot, [and] Nasty [the guitarist] hit the hotel manager over the head with his crutch. ... He had broken his leg in London falling down stairs at some club. There was a steep staircase at the club and they decided to see what happens when you jump headfirst with your hands behind your back — that's the kind of madness...

On sleeping with groupies: We were never into groupies or stuff like that. I had never been with a groupie in my life. It's inconceivable to spend the night with a total stranger and then never see them again; I could never imagine doing something like that. I guess that separates me from the stereotype.

On bringing rock 'n' roll to Finland: In Finland back [in the Hanoi Rocks days], even if you had long hair they would kill you. Us wearing makeup and jewelry, the way we looked, it was like, 'Forget it.' When we started there were some fights with audiences, like groups of rednecks coming after us. They demolished a bus once with crowbars and baseball bats. There were like 10 guys and I woke up — I was taking a nap in the back of the bus — with the window just falling on top of me. ... We got out of there just in the nick of time. ... I think Hanoi had a lot to do with the attitude changing. In the later years we became the biggest band in Finland, and that forced the people to be more open-minded about looks and stuff. We opened a lot of doors even for bands that are coming out of there now.

On Michael Monroe's sound: Good rock 'n' roll from the heart with good attitude and high energy you can't really ignore. With this band, I don't think many people will be walking to the bar and wandering off. I think it's going to grab your attention.

— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com

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